Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, by Arturo Varchevker

How therapy can transform marital miscommunication into constructive communication

Marital therapy has developed significantly in the last few decades and fulfils a very important role in helping disturbed couples in the process of understanding their difficulties. My new book, Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, provides an experienced and humane exploration of marital vicissitudes, and shows that in many cases pathological development is an unavoidable development that requires a sensitive and effective therapeutic input for successful resolution.

Both Freudian and post-Freudian theories have made significant contributions towards understanding and helping the human mind. Marital vicissitudes are of course part of the history and fabric of humankind and have been referred to in both historical and literary texts, such as in Shakespeare’s dramas. As we know,  marital problems have increased significantly in the last decades, due in part to economic pressures, social and cultural changes, and changing attitudes and expectations towards both marriage and divorce.

The vicissitudes of marital relationships provide a rich source for drama, as in Shakespeare’s plays

Married Life and its Vicissitudes draws the readers’ attention to the different contexts, such as social, cultural, familial and religious, that affect marital life and thus highlights the complexity of marital relationships. It acknowledges the vicissitudes that affect migrants, and emphasises that from an emotional development perspective getting married could be seen as another form of migration. The book also examines the most significant problems that affect marriages and the importance of developing a sensitive and effective way of treating them.

In particular, the book underlines the importance of exploring the presenting problem through the lens of the life cycle, because this highlights the differences in martial relationships that can be observed in couples who are at different stages of their lives. For instance, the emotional disturbances developed by a young couple may have quite a different meaning to a middle-aged or elderly couple. What happens in the couples’ early lives, what happens now, and what is going to happen in the future, are important issues that are explored in the various chapters, as well as the couples’ own sense of identity, psychic development, creativity, and various types of marital roles and pathology.

past and present, memory and expectation, interweave in all marital relationships

This book offers an important insight into marital relationships and integrates two interlocking aspects: first, the partners’ individual past histories, respective families culture, and expectations; and secondly, their present and future development. I suggest that the marital therapist should try to explore these two interweaving threads in order to understand and unblock pathology and help the partners to negotiate their differences in a constructive way.

As a psychoanalyst and family therapist with a broad and varied experience of treating families with a range of martial problems, I hope to deepen and extend our understanding of both marital relationships and possible therapeutic interventions, in order to help develop a therapeutic negotiation. The book offers a broad and insightful approach to marital therapists and may also be of interest to those wishing to learn more about this subject.

Arturo Varchevker is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, where he developed and chairs the Psychoanalytic Forum. He teaches in the UK and abroad, and his main area of interest in psychoanalysis is internal migration and psychic change. He is a marital and family therapist with a special interest in domestic violence and the impact of migration. His latest book, Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, is published this week by Karnac.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘In this book the author brings to the subject a depth of understanding derived from psychoanalysis, considerable experience of couple therapy, and work with families in crisis. Personal experience of married life is another indispensible requirement. The book has the sense of individual development in the context of the shared phantasies of marital relationships that underlie the everyday interactions of married couples, like the night dreams that underlie the waking thoughts of the couple. It therefore has depth as well as width, and speaks to all of us of what it is to be married. It can be recommended to those who treat families and couples in whatever context and to all who want to know more about their own marriages.’

– Dr Ronald Britton, FRCPych, Distinguished Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society