Love And Marriage
The Love Doctor
With all those June weddings on the horizon, West Bloomfield sociologist Terri Orbuch
reveals some interesting research on marital relationships.
Special to the Jewish News
I f June is the month when most people think
about weddings and marriage, then Terri
Orbuch is ahead of the crowd.
Orbuch, a relationship researcher at the
University of Michigan, ponders nuptials through-
out the year as she studies couples and their long-
term experiences, teaches about personal connec-
tions and counsels individuals confronting problems
The sociologist gets a chance to lighten up a bit
every Thursday morning when she becomes "The
Love Doctor" for The Breakfast Club, a radio pro-
gram broadcast on WNIC 100.3-FM. She provides
relationship insights at 7:10 and 7:20 a.m.
"I go on the air with a relationship-oriented topic
and give information and tips," explains Orbuch,
44. She has been doing the show since first being
invited on air for Valentine's Day.
"In the second segment, I discuss the topic with
[on-air hosts] Chuck Gaidica and Lisa Jesswein.
'Although I don't respond to call-in comments, peo-
ple can submit questions to me at the show's Web
site, [www.vvnic.com], and I will respond.
"I often use these issues as the basis for what I say,
and I've talked about jealousy, taboo topics and dat-
ing after divorce."
Orbuch, who also probes other kinds of relation-
ships besides the romantic ones, brings considerable
education and experience to morning radio. She has
a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as master's
and doctoral degrees in sociology from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also is
accredited by the American Association of Marriage
and Family Therapists.
An important source of her approach comes from
a study she has been directing for 16 years. Orbuch
has been heading up the Early Years of Marriage
Project financed by a grant from the National
Institutes of Health and administered at U-M.
Orbuch and a staff of 15 associates have explored
the relationships of 373 couples married for the first
time in 1986. There have been written surveys and
interviews to probe even the most intimate aspects
of subjects' lives — whether individuals have stayed
with their respective spouses, separated from them
Slightly more than 50 percent of the couples are
still together, and that number seems to fall closely
in line with national trends.
"We have found that marital happiness starts out
very high, but after a very few years, it goes down,"
she says. "It's not until after 25 years of marriage
that happiness goes back up. It's not until after 35
years of marriage that happiness goes higher than
the time when couples were [first] married."
Orbuch also builds her advice bank through expe-
riences teaching sociology at Oakland University,
where she does some research, and serving as a mar-
riage and family therapist, which often leads to con-
ducting relationship workshops.
Orbuch's fourth book, Thrice Told Tales: Married
Couples Tell Their Stories (Erlbaum; tentatively $30)
is based on the U-M study and will be released this
While this book is for the general public, her three
previous books — Interpersonal Accounts, Close
Relationship Loss and Attributions, Accounts and Close
Relationships — have been written for academic
'A lot of my research was featured in national
publications like Self Reader's Digest and Woman's
Day," says Orbuch, who lives in West Bloomfield
and has a private-practice office close to home.
"It became apparent to me that much of what I
had been doing really could be useful and told to
everyone. I became very interested in trying to make
the research I was doing accessible."
Dr. Terri Orbuch:
"We have found that
starts out very high,
but after a very few
years, it goes down.
... It's not until after
35 years of marriage
that happiness goes
higher than the time
when couples were