Therapy in LA
Therapy in L.A.


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  psych bytes
October 1999


Judith Wallerstein is a well-respected researcher in the area of divorce. But in her 1995 book, The Good Marriage, she turns her attention to understanding the elements in marriages that have survived and flourished. She has conceptualized nine tasks that are actualized over the course of a lifetime and distinguish good marriages. These tasks build a relationship with integrity and staying power that can withstand inevitable life stresses

The Nine Psychological Tasks of Marriage
  1. To separate emotionally from the family of one's childhood so as to invest fully in the marriage and, at the same time, to redefine the lines of connection with both families of origin.
  2. To build togetherness by creating the intimacy that supports it while carving out each partner's autonomy. These issues are central throughout the marriage but loom especially large at the outset, at midlife, and at retirement.
  3. To embrace the daunting roles of parents and to absorb the impact of Her Majesty the Baby's dramatic entrance. At the same time the couple must work to protect their own privacy.
  4. To confront and master the inevitable crises of life, maintaining the strength of the bond in the face of adversity.
  5. To create safe havens for the expression of differences, anger, and conflict.
  6. To establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship and protect it from the incursions of the workplace and family obligations.
  7. To use laughter and humor to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom by sharing fun, interests, and friends.
  8. To provide nurturance and comfort to each other, satisfying each partner's needs for dependency and offering continuing encouragement and support.
  9. To keep alive the early romantic, idealized images of falling in love while facing the sober realities of the changes wrought by time.

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