A New Refrigerator

Posted on August 29, 2013


I am a frugal man.  You can call me “cheap,” and I will not be offended.  It’s not that I am completely unwilling to part with money; it is more that I like to feel that I got a reasonable value for my money.  When making a purchase, I do not automatically buy the cheapest option of the item I seek.  Rather, I weigh the cost-benefit.  How much more do I get for the more expensive one?  Is it worth the price differential?

Therapy ain’t cheap.  I have often observed that it is bunches cheaper than attorney fees.  A quick web search puts the average cost of divorce at $20,000.  That number is probably way low, but let’s work with it anyway.  Research on marital therapy indicated that about 90% of distress couples reported improvement and about 70% reported recovery from the distress.  One of my supervisors told me of a colleague that would tell clients, “Saving your marriage will be about the cost of a new refrigerator.  Is it worth it to you?”  I haven’t tried it out on a client yet, but I think it is a great way of putting things in perspective.

So how many sessions is that?  In the research they were looking at 10-12 sessions.  In my experience it is much more variable than that and it is really hard to tell on the front end.  Some seriously distressed and escalated couples progress very quickly, and moderately distressed couples sometimes take longer to make changes.  Some couples are experiencing transformation in their relationship in 5-6 sessions.  Others are still working on it a year later.

The financial question is “Would you spend a couple grand to have a 70% chance of avoiding a looming $20,000 expense?” If you think it through further, if you left the present marriage and married again, statistically, the next marriage is still a 50-50 chance of divorce.  A much more important questions is, “What is it worth to get to a place where you feel loved and valued by your partner, where you can turn to your partner for comfort and support where you know your partner has your back, where you don’t walk on eggshells?”  More than a new refrigerator?