Can This Marriage Be Saved? by Paul Popenoe Other Books by Paul Popenoe MODERN MARRIAGE: A HANDBOOK FOR MEN MARRIAGE BEFORE AND AFTER MARRIAGE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT DIVORCE - 17 WAYS TO AVOID IT Introduction: Marriage Counseling at the American Institute of Family Relations When the American Institute of Family Relations opened its doors in Los Angeles, California, on February 4, 1930, we were incorporated as a nonprofit organization dedicated to employing the resources of modern science to strengthen marriage and family life. At that time there was much talk about the rising divorce rate, but almost no concerted effort was made to check it. Our undertaking, with skilled services available to everybody at minimum cost, was the first of its kind in the world. In the beginning we had a group of four nationally known psychological consultants and eight medical consultants on whom to call whenever necessary. I myself did all of the marriage counseling with the sole aid of a retired psychiatric social worker, who also acted as the receptionist in our offices. To a large section of the general public in that day the purpose of marriage counseling was a mystery. Our first client, a woman, appeared at my desk with a poorly dressed, dejected man who she announced was penniless. Despite this liability, she wanted to marry him. She had been informed that our chief function was to promote successful marriages, and she suggested it was my responsibility to lend her companion enough money so they could marry and start a new home. Unfortunately, my assistant and I were unable to meet this challenge thus we failed on our very first case! Another client of those early days was an orange grower to whom I gave a personality test. He listened with interest as I explained the results and said, "That's just about right." Then he asked, "Do you believe in numerology?" "Not at all," I replied. "It hasn't the slightest scientific standing." "Well," he rejoined, "I consulted a numerologist before coming here, and he told me exactly what you have just told me only he didn't charge me so much for it!" Still another client reported to me that his wife complained he did not support the family adequately, but that their money troubles were really all her fault. She controlled the finances and would not let him have enough capital to carry on his business and make a living. "What is your business?" I asked, and he replied after a momentary pause, "I play the races." Most of our clients, of course, were burdened by far more serious worries. At that time Los Angeles had no Family Service, and people appealed to us with a wide range of questions they could not get answered elsewhere. A breakdown of our first 1000 cases shows that we gave assistance in premarital and child welfare problems, and advised on matters of education, law, heredity, and sex. Only 245 of our first 1000 cases were concerned with marital maladjustment amp field which now represents the major part of our work.