expectations” of one’s spouse and of the institution of marriagernitself. And what exactly is it that today’s newlyweds (and notso-rnnewlyweds) expect from a spouse and a marriage? Based onrnpublished case histories and transcribed therapy sessionsrn(names changed, of course), they expect to create a union whilernmaintaining independence. They expect privacy without beingrnalone, and feedback without judgments. They expect to bernneeded within the bounds of their own convenience, and tornfeel safe without feeling crowded. They expect to enjoy supportivenessrnwithout feeling dependent. And in many cases,rnthey expect to continue dating after marriage. They take forrngranted above all their right to be understood, and their partners’rnobligation to honor that right. And if it all goes haywire,rnthey expect to escape the relationship without suffering guilt.rnSo how does the world of mainstream marriage counselingrnrespond to the rampant infantilism it blithely labels “unrealisticrnexpectations”? It responds by reassuring couples that eachrnspouse’s feelings, opinions, reactions, desires, and needs arernvalid unto themselves and deserving of respect and recognition,rneven as all of the above are clashing with the other spouse’s feelings,rnopinions, reactions, desires, and needs, which are, ofrncourse, equally valid unto themselves and therefore equally deservingrnof respect and recognition. Therapists operate from thernsame assumption as their clients: you have an absolute right tornbe understood, and vour only responsibilit}- is to enjov your ownrnspecialness. The memorable Dr. Gale again; “You are a uniquernperson in a unique relationship with a unique partner, and yournlive in a unique society at a unique point in history. Your relationshiprnis unlike any that ever was, or ever will be.”rnConsider for a moment the full implication of those words.rnIf v’ou, your mate, your society, and your historical context arernall unique; if your relationship is unlike any that ever was orrnLIBERAL ARTSrnPOST-THERAPY THERAPYrnOn May 20, the San Jose Mercury News reported the results ofrna study by the Washington Department of Labor and Industriesrnwhich shows that repressed memories—or the belief inrnthem—can be extremely harmful to psychiatric patients. Afterrnundergoing treatment in which therapists encouraged them tornrecall abuse or mistreatment suffered during infancy, the patientsrn—all but one of whom were women—fared much worsernpsychologically than before the return of their “repressedrnmemories.” Before this recovery, “ten percent had thought ofrnsuicide. After three years of therapy, 67 percent were suicidal.”rnEight women were so distrauglit that they engaged inrnself-mutilation.rnBut there is little basis for believing that the “recoveredrnmemories” which cause so much harm are authentic. Accordingrnto Elizabeth Loftus, the author of The Myth of RepressedrnMemory, “When people are exposed to lots of suggestions—rnaggressive questioning, hypnosis, sexualized dream interpretation,rnre-enforcement of satanic imagery—they may developrnthese beliefs and memories in response.” What is interestingrnis that none of the women who supposedly suffered torturernand mutilation while in diapers bear any telltale marks on theirrnbodies—in fact, the only mutilation occurred after they werernurged to remember their past abuse.rnever will be, by what possible means do you develop empathy?rnWith whom do you identify? How do you learn compassion?rnWho are you? Where are you? What are you?rnThe success of therapy (in the therapist’s view) dependsrnfirst on the patient’s willingness to adopt the language ofrntherapy. Today this hurdle poses little problem, because thernlanguage of therapy has become the language of the culture.rnThe hordes of contemporary Self-ists and the world of MernTherapy are finding mutual reinforcement and validationrnthrough the shared exaltation of uniqueness, celebration ofrnfeelings, and worship of self-esteem. On both sides the vocabularyrnis repetitive, self-serving, and hideously claustrophobic.rnOne can spend days reading tomes by “experts” on the subjectrnof marriage and never once come across the words duty,rnwisdom, or sacrifice. And here, in the observation of what is notrnpresent, reality finally reveals itself. The origins of marriage inrnmost cultures are fundamentally religious. And the foundationrnof religion is one of obligation, devotion, and selflessness, whichrnmeans that the language of religion—the moral law that Dr.rnHendrix so assuredly dismisses in favor of the unconsciousrnmind—is by nature judgmental. But the language of therapyrnis, as we have seen, determinedly nonjudgmental. The languagernof therapy now being the language of the culture, wernthereby suffer the disappearance of such words (and thereforernsuch ideals) as wisdom, obligation, and sacrifice, even as we endurernthe corruption of terms (and therefore concepts) likernrights, abuse, and victim.rnIn the value-free world of therapy (the verv existence ofrnwhich defines a value, just as nonjudgmentalism is a form ofrnjudgment), lost people encounter only silence on what theyrnneed most—directions to the world outside the Self: some perspectivernon their place in humankind, a sense of historic connections,rna basic understanding of right and wrong, and anrnawareness that selflessness can be a form of freedom.rnSo we have come full circle: divorce in this country is not thernproblem, it is a symptom; and therapy, as it is often practiced,rnis not the cure, but rather an aspect of the disease. Not only isrnthis circumstance disheartening in itself, it is also responsiblernfor producing some of the most boring people on the face ofrnthe earth.rnA clinical psychologist once volunteered to me that thernbirth-order combination in my marriage—my husband and 1rnare both first-borns—was the “worst possible pairing,” the pairingrnwith the highest odds against success, because both spousesrntend to be bossy, opinionated, and controlling (the proof ofrnthis theory being, of course, the statistics produced by the studyrnof failed marriages between first-borns). At the time she toldrnme this, I was, as she knew, preparing to celebrate my 30th weddingrnanniversary. So her birth-order information struck me asrnone of those tidbits that’s interesting, even accurate (yes, we arernboth bossy, opinionated, and controlling), but utterly irrelevant.rnIt was all quite funny to me, so I said, “That’s it! Wernshould have called the whole thing off. It was never going tornlast.” She paused for a moment, then replied earnestly, as ifrnfrom another planet, “I know a really good book on birth order,rnif you’re interested.”rnI was completely at a loss. What are you supposed to dornif you beat the odds for 30 years—apologize? Only now do Irnrealize how I should have responded to her: “Gather thernfollowing materials: a pair of scissors, paste or glue . . .”rn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn