Westporter Anne Ziff Publishes First Book
Westport-based therapist co-authors a guide to 'Marrying Well.'
By Carol King April 19, 2010In her recently published book, "Marrying Well: The Clinicians Guide to Premarital Counseling," Westporter Anne F. Ziff hopes to provide sound advice to working therapists as well as th0se outside of the profession.
Pre-marital couples counseling can help couples maintain long, healthy and happy marriages, Ziff said.
"Marriage used to be considered a commitment that lasted until 'death do you part,'" she said. "Today, its more like a commitment that lasts until the divorce. This is something that I have cared about forever."
A family therapist with offices in Westport and New York, Ziff co-wrote the book with Elena Lesser Bruun, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.
The book is aimed at clinicians because pre-marital counseling is a relatively new professional sub-speciality, Ziff said. "In pre-marital counseling, the therapist has to listen to two people yet remain impartial," she explained. "A lot of therapists work with couples but few focus on pre-marital counseling. Our role is to guide couples to better understand themselves and to thereby make informed decisions about the marriage they are contemplating."
She points out that marriage itself has changed over time. "The problems today's couples face are unlike that of their parents or grandparents," she said. "We hope this book will promote a more realistic, accepting and respectful attitude toward different forms of marriage and marriage arrangements."
"Marrying Well: The Clinicians Guide to Premarital Counseling," which was a two-year collaborative process, was released by W.W. Norton & Company (www.wwnorton.com) last week. The publisher was drawn to the book because it addresses new territories that impact the tradition of marriage, notes Kevin Olson, marketing director for W.W. Norton.
"What makes this book special is that the couples in the book that are covered are quite diverse in their challenges -- age differences, same gender, ethnic differences, etc.," he said. "The book covers the history of marriage and marriage counseling in a unique, comprehensive way. It also talks about the differences in secular and pastoral counseling. Pastoral being almost compulsory when marrying in the church, for instance, and the pros and cons of such an approach in comparison to secular counseling."
The breakdown of a marriage can be ugly, Ziff said, and can cause pain that goes beyond the husband and wife. The impact of a divorce on children, for example, can result in poor academic performance, behavior problems and an increased risk for alchohol and drug abuse.
In the long run, it is less costly, both financially and emotionally, for couples who obtain pre-marital counseling. "I have seen marriages break down that did not have to happen" Ziff said. "Had there been education before the marriage that addressed the impact of marriage and children, the relationships might have been saved."
And if a marriage does dissolve, pre-marital counseling may minimize the adverse affects of a break-up. "If a divorce does become necessary, counseling will likely result in reduced acrimony and minimize the adverse affects on the children," Ziff said.
In their book, Ziff and Braun provide studies of couples who sought pre-marital counseling. Readers will meet a 40-year-old man, never before married, engaged to a woman with two children who resent their mother's plans remarry. Another study details a 55-year-old caucasian man who wants to wed his 25-year-old Chinese student. Another study addresses the impact parental opposition had on a couples' plan to wed.
The book offers practical advice for all couples, even those who don't choose to walk down the asile, noted Ziff. "Although we speak in the title of 'marrying,' this is a book that helps all couples with the goal of commitment -- whether marrying or not -- to learn to relate to one another with more self-awareness, and with more satisfaction," she said. "That, in my opinion, is what sets this book apart."
The book also defines the eight marital stages that most couples experience as well as shares research findings on couples therapy and premarital counseling.
According to a review of the book, written by Linda Carter, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry and director, Family Studies Program, New York University Child Study Center, "Broad in scope, Marrying Well is a fascinating, occasionally provocative, yet evenhanded treatment of a very sensitive topic that provides an excellent overview of this fast growing field. This is a must-read book for every professional involved in helping couples prepare for and succeed at married life."
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