[A large scale of Americans were asked, “Looking back over the past 6 months, who are the people with whom you discussed matters important to you?” in 1985 and 2004.] The percentage of Americans who list a friend, a sibling, a coworker, a co-member of a group, or a neighbor as a close confidant — who have at least one member of those social categories that is an actual confidant — has plummeted on the order of 30-60% over the course of 19 years in our very recent history.
The percentage of Americans in 1985 who listed a co-member of a group as a close confidant was 26.1%. By 2004, that number had plummeted to 11.8% … In 1985, 18.5% of Americans had at least one neighbor who was a close confidant. By 2004, that number had plummeted to 7.9%
…More and more of us are increasingly dependent, increasingly focused on the spousal relationship at the expense of this much broader social milieu we used to have, [so] keeping a high quality marriage when we’re putting so much stock in this one relationship is crucial.
…Most people, when they think about intervening in their marriage, think about marital therapy. That’s fine, except that most people — when they think about marital therapy — they view it as the final stopgap procedure that you use because you’re about to divorce. They say, ‘Well, gosh, it’s been 15 years and I’ve sort of hated you all this time and now we’re thinking about divorce, let’s go see somebody about that.’ That is the wrong time, the wrong time to seek marital therapy because you’ve developed terrible patterns … you’ve developed scar tissue created from hurt and anger and frustration.
I want to suggest that the right time to intervene is earlier.
It’s not enough that you have this sort of decent relationship with this person. He also has to be your best friend. He also has to be your only romantic partner. He also has to be somebody who inspires you every day. He has to be somebody who is going to help your career. He has to be somebody who co-parents with you. He has to meet you on 25 different levels of intersection.
"Relative to any time in the past," Eli says in his talk, "we are depending on the marital bond more and more for these emotional, physical, career-related needs … and what that means is that the quality of your marriage is more important today than ever before … that keeping a high-quality marriage when we are putting so much stock in this one relationship is crucial." Watch his whole talk here.