“Let’s say the average marriage is lasting roughly seven and a half years,” she says, “and roughly 40 percent of first marriages, and 60 percent of second marriages, end in divorce.

Much more frequently than is discussed or written about, says Broder, one partner in therapy is more invested in the longterm success of the relationship.

For the person in the couple who may feel significantly more ambivalent, therapy may be a good-faith attempt at appeasement, even when, ultimately, that partner feels the relationship should end.

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Anne Ziff describes her work as “divorce prevention.” As a marriage and family therapist, she has been in practice since the late 1980s, and works in Westport, Conn., and New York City.

“Increasingly I see couples who are entirely committed but not married,” she says.

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“The therapist helped us understand what’s normal—or rather, healthy—and what’s not.

For instance, I grew up where screaming was normal in the house.”“I wanted to make a good-faith effort,” she added, “and I believe in him as a good person.” The phrase “good-faith effort”—or something similar—is repeated often by uncertain couples, along with the notion of giving the relationship “one last try.”Some professionals have less patience for unmarried partners in troubled longterm, live-in relationships.

“People who are ‘just dating’ rarely come to see a couples therapist.”When unmarried couples consult Ziff, she does not view them as any less serious than couples a generation or so earlier, who were quicker to marry and less likely to cohabit or date for long periods of time without marrying.