Donahue: I also think it can depend on where they are developmentally when they meet—like if one is at school becoming a doctor and the other person is the supportive person. When that balance changes, it can be another factor in dissolution. Doctors and nurses come to mind.
Brown: That’s so true. I’m thinking of all these examples.
Of doctors and nurses?
Donahue: Yes, because of the way they come together. People who go through medical school are striving toward a goal. They develop close relationships with the people around them, who are often nurses. Then when they get out of residency and are in a research job or private practice, they’re in a different place. They’re not looking at life the same way.
What about lawyers?
Donahue: Lawyers are 80- or 100- or 120-hour-a-week workers in this area. So it’s the issue of availability.
Are there any other types of relationships that often run into trouble?
Donahue: Long-distance relationships—people who see each other sporadically, think they’re in love, make the commitment, but then they actually live together and it’s a bad move.
Is that happening more because of the Internet?
Donahue: The Internet is huge. People hide behind the image they project via the Internet, which is not the person. You get hooked on the imagery, not the reality.
Technology introduces speed and immediacy. Today’s generation expects everything instantaneously. There’s no time for reflection.
Brown: Also, there is much less face-to-face time where you can have a conversation.
Donahue: It’s a safer thing dealing with the Internet or the BlackBerry—someone who is once removed.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking about getting married?
Brown: Slow down. Get to know each other. And talk about the difficult stuff that you don’t want to talk about. Talk about it gently, carefully, but get it out there.
Donahue: You have to learn to disagree. It’s okay to disagree. Disagreeing is part of life.