June 27, 2004

THE CLINTONS VS. CHOICE (via Kevin Whited):

Bill Clinton offers a surprising primer on marriage (Houston Chronicle)

In interviews before the book's release this week, Clinton discussed for the first time the professional assistance that he, Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea embarked on to decide their family's fate after the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Hillary Clinton, first of all, had simply to decide if she wanted to remain married. Clinton himself had to explore the "demons" that led him to veer so close to forever distancing his wife and daughter. He has said the family underwent not only individual therapy, but couples counseling and family therapy to assess and try to staunch the emotional damage.

Clinton's disclosure deserves attention for several reasons. First, though his marital problems were of spectacular proportions — harming not only his family, but disrupting the functioning of the U.S. government — the types of problems themselves were not all that unusual. Infidelity, unresolved conflicts from childhood, and the taking of a spouse for granted are frequent culprits in the roughly 50 percent of American marriages that fail. For the Clintons, as for many ordinary people whose marriages face collapse, mental health professionals can offer essential tools for restoring trust and function.

Even more useful, though, was Clinton's accurate portrayal of what counseling is really like: slow, difficult and without a guaranteed outcome. [...]

[C]linton was right in that, for any troubled family, quick fixes are illusory. In recent years, Americans have embraced a culture of voilà! We are fascinated by insta-marriage dating shows, prime-time makeovers and group-therapy reality TV. Clinton's account of therapy affirms that keeping real-life families intact needs patience, perseverance and hard work.


Anyone who can write the word "real-life" in relation to the Clinton family would seem to be referring to a different reality from the one we live in, but the durability of their marriage does teach another, equally valuable lesson for repairing damaged marriages. For the reality is that the Clintons had no choice but to stick it out. Hillary's political ambitions and Bill's eye on the history books made divorce impossible, so they soldiered through. Making divorce more difficult generally would likely have a similarly beneficial effect on other marriages.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2004 4:39 PM
Comments

It sounds to me like you have confused the rewards of remaining married with the ease of getting divorced.

They stayed married because of the rewards, despite the ease of getting divorced.

Most couples don't have political careers and their place in history on the plate when deciding whether to go their separate ways.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at June 27, 2004 5:22 PM

Yes, but if they couldn't divorce and remarry so easily they wouldn't.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2004 5:29 PM

Jeff:

C'mon now. I don't know how many times I've been told by generations before mine that divorce was unusual because nobody ever considered it. I don't recall any of them telling me they were sorry about that and envied our modern ways.

By the way, don't you just love it when modern progressives talk about their "demons"? I don't know why he suffered through all that interminable counselling when he could have just called an exorcist.

Posted by: Peter B at June 27, 2004 5:38 PM

They don't talk about divorce anymore, but when was the last time they were in the same city for more than 3 hours?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 27, 2004 6:05 PM

Prior to the 60s, divorce condemned most women to a life of poverty. Divorce was uncommon because it was unaffordable to everyone but the wealthy. Divorce is a disease of affluence.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 27, 2004 8:33 PM

Hillary will never be President without divorcing Bill. But she had to get into the Senate first.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 27, 2004 9:12 PM

I think that if Hilary had left Bill during his Presidency b/c of his infidelity she would actually gained more support from the electorate.

Posted by: Bartman at June 28, 2004 8:44 AM

I think that if Hilary had left Bill during his Presidency b/c of his infidelity she would have actually gained more support from the electorate.

Posted by: Bartman at June 28, 2004 8:44 AM

Peter:

I'm not talking about generations prior. I'm talking about the advisability of comparing chalk and cheese.

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