I BEGAN AN intense exploration of love relationships in 1975 in response to a question from a student in a marriage and family therapy class that I then taught. I remember the day clearly. It was a Tuesday morning, and I was twenty minutes late. I had just come from the county courthouse where I had been granted a divorce. I was hoping the students would have wandered off by the time I arrived, but when I opened the door I saw that they were all there. I had no choice but to stand in front of them, a living testimony to all that I did not know about marriage. As it turned out, the students knew where I had been, and they greeted me with a surprising amount of compassion. I learned they had spent the last twenty minutes talking about their own relationships, something they had never done before in class. Three of them had already married and divorced, three had never had a serious love relationship, and the remaining six were in troubled relationships. At the end of the class, a recently divorced student asked me this question:
Why do couples have such a hard time staying together• I thought for a moment
and then responded. That is a great question and I think I will spend the rest of my career trying to find out.
Two years later I met Helen, and we began a conversation about this question that has lasted to this day. After thirty years of being immersed together in the study of relationship dynamics, we have………