VIDEO: Esther Perel on the Capstone Marriage

The Challenge of Preserving Individuality in Marriage

Esther Perel

With all the common elements inherent in most marriages—a shared living space, shared finances, and by some accounts, shared behaviors and mannerisms—it can be easy to view married partners in terms of how they act together rather than separately.



Esther Perel on changes in contemporary couplehood.

As the average age at which couples today marry increases, we’re seeing a new phenomenon that Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, refers to as the “capstone marriage.” Partners aren’t only choosing to marry later—a “capstone” to top off other major life events—but they’re entering unions only once they’ve each formed fuller, more individuated identities. This has changed the expectations partners hold of the degree of freedom and personal expression they seek in marriage.


In this brief video clip, Esther explains what having more differentiated identities mean for today’s couples.


“In marriage, we seek a steady, reliable anchor in our partner,” says Esther. “But more and more, the challenge for couples and therapists has become reconciling this with the wish to pursue what's exciting, mysterious, and awe-inspiring.”


In our newest Webcast series, The Changing Face of Marriage, Esther explores the trends that are defining marriage today, discusses how they fall among generational lines, and why the secret to a healthy marriage may even be seeing it as being like “a little company”—guided by principles of purpose, fluidity, and flexibility.

Topic: Couples

Tags: Esther Perel | therapist | therapists | couple therapy | marriage

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