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Does marriage counselling really work?

 Does marriage counseling work? (Photo: iStock)

Old ways have their place in society at all levels. But it is also natural that the old must give way to new ways and emerging trends that apply to the generations that live now.

Historians are however keen to underscore the role and place of the past and how it does shape modern ways. In circumstances where the old ways are completely abandoned and replaced by the modern generation, anthropologists still endeavor to provide a comparison and evaluate if the abandonment of the doctrines of our grandfathers has given us better results or injured our harmony in the process.

Family as the basic building block of any society and human existence is something that still occupies the heart of every social discussion that emerges. As such, there is an endless comparison between what we do now and what our forefathers did in their time to make society function better. The debate rages on endlessly.

While there were no elaborate church weddings where couples declared before man and God that they would stick with one another through sickness and health and walk together through the valley of death, the fact is that they did a lot better than us today.

The wedding bands that still adorn their callous hands are a testimony of love, patience, and endurance.  It would be ambitious to imagine there were no conflicts back then, but it is reasonable to argue that their conflict resolution tools and mechanisms were a lot more effective than today.

You see, the best way to address conflict is to start by avoiding it. There was so much work injected into the period preceding a marriage in terms of background research and compatibility tests before a union was allowed to proceed. It did not matter whether it was a second, third, or even tenth wife for the man, similar scrutiny was employed time and time again.

Older persons lay out elaborate investigative plans to gather the character, not only of the prospective man or woman but also that of the family tree. While today a man can, after five years of living together with his wife, wake up and discover that she has two children tucked away somewhere, this was impossible in the old setup where such truths were bound to be unraveled in time.

As such, it was guaranteed that when a man agreed to marry a woman it was from a point of full disclosure that took away chances of feeling betrayed in the future. Betrayal is known to be one of the key courses of family failures today because a lot of information is kept secret in the beginning.

A woman would make an informed choice to be married into polygamy or decline the arrangement from the onset because the entire profile of the suitor would be laid bare.

In understanding the family trees, society then removed any chances of one person marrying a relative. Lately though with the independence of the city generation, cousins end up married and only show up for introductions two babies later when the union is irrevocable.

In most cases such a couple ends up rejected, becoming social pariahs who then are forced to live in hiding in the name of love. But bigger problems await because when marital challenges set in there will be no family to fall back on or even consult.

The emergence of marriage counseling and psychology as a profession is something that academically consolidates a lot of background paper knowledge about how marriage is expected to function but whether it has ably replaced the old methods of guiding a family remains contested.

The fact that statistics of divorce among the elitist niche indicate rising figures puts to question the effectiveness of the profession in achieving the intended results. Some quarters argue that because it puts more emphasis on individual well-being, it largely forgets to approach the crisis from a reconciliatory standpoint leaving each party pulling away with a narrative of rights than compromise.

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