• Cover: April 24, 2014
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The Non-Starter Marriage

A look at the growing trend of unions that dissolve in less than a year, sometimes before the thank-you notes can even be sent out.

Page: 4 of 5
  • Surprisingly—or then again maybe not—even therapists who are in the business of helping couples make it work and stay the course sometimes believe the make-it-snappy break-up is in fact, the most sensible solution. "If the couple hasn't given each other the opportunity to gain communication skills, potentially they're throwing in the towel too soon," explains Jocelyn Charnas, PhD, a therapist in private practice in New York who often counsels couples before the wedding. "But people get married for certain reasons and they want to move on with their life. I don't want to judge that either way."

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    If there's a stigma to walking away too soon, perhaps that's as outdated a theory as Mad Men-era ideas on household chores and gender roles. A landmark 2002 study by the CDC found that three percent of marriages (more than 60,000 annually) end before the paper anniversary and one can only imagine that number's increased. How else to explain the mini-cottage industry that's sprung up to fit these needs? Take the website WeddingGiftRefund.com, which offers an insurance policy on wedding gifts: Pay an upfront fee, and if the couple splits before the year is out, you'll be reimbursed. (For the record, despite what Emily Post may say about splitting before the first anniversary, the divorcees interviewed here all agree: No one expects the gifts back.)

The Non-Starter Marriage
A look at the growing trend of unions that dissolve in less than a year, sometimes before the thank-you notes can even be sent out.
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