A helping hand down the aisle

Women: For a cool $9,600, a psychotherapist will put you in the marriage frame of mind -- but won't find you any men.

January 23, 2000|By Dianna Marder | Dianna Marder,Knight Ridder/Tribune

For the single woman over 30 who has already maxed out on cosmetics, lingerie, gym memberships, weight-loss programs and self-help tapes comes a six-month intensive husband-hunting program with a price tag of $9,600.

Yes, for nearly the cost of your average Park Avenue face lift, Manhattan psychotherapist Marilyn Graman will get you ready for marriage.

She won't introduce you to any men, she'll just put you in a more receptive mind-set.

"Marriage Works -- A Step-by-Step Intensive Program Designed to Lead You Down the Aisle" starts in mid-February and requires such a commitment of time that participants who don't already live in New York will have to move there.

What do you get for your $9,600?

A talk with an interior designer on how women's living spaces can inadvertently shut out men, a home visit by an image consultant who will make your closet "man ready," a trip to a bridal shop so you can visualize yourself getting married, twice-weekly group lectures by Graman focusing on what's holding you back, individual weekly sessions with a Graman-trained "Guidess," two Q&A sessions with a panel of live men, instructions on acting like a goddess and five three-day-weekend workshops aimed at making you nicer to be around.

Which all sounds like it could be fun. But to spend that kind of money and not even drop one dress size?

Graman points out that the six-month course takes 276 hours, amounting to $35 a hour, which is far less than the cost of a Park Avenue therapist.

The course, she says, is not therapy but it is therapeutic.

Won't other people laugh if you tell them you're paying $9,600 for a marriage-readiness program with no guarantees?

"I suppose some would," Graman says. "But it's not a laughing matter that some wonderful women haven't found the way to fulfill their dreams."

And having a husband fulfills dreams?

Most folks, she says, want to be in couples. She's open on whether that means a traditional marriage, but she's convinced that almost everybody wants somebody. Men secretly want to be coupled, she says, "they just don't speak about it."

Cathy Petter, 40, of Stowe, Mass., went through other weekend workshops with Graman and is a fan.

"I saw myself as a remedial case," said Petter, who describes herself as the product of an unhappy marriage.

She first enrolled in Graman's "Having What You Want With a Man," a workshop whose content will be incorporated in Marriage Works. At the time, she was working in advertising and making $50,000 a year.

Petter didn't meet a man right away, so she kept re-enrolling every six months. She took the same workshop four times, spending about $1,400; she saw Graman in private sessions; and she joined a two-year advanced training program for $8,000 more.

"All told, I spent a lot of money at Life Works (the overall name of Graman's practice)," Petter says. "I hate to even add it up because I don't really want to know. I would choke on the number. It's definitely thousands."

Eventually she met her man through a dating service called the Right Stuff ($160).

"That was cheap -- $160 to find a husband," Petter says, dismissing all the rest.

Given what she's spent over time, Petter says, the $9,600 price tag seems reasonable because training with Graman was "absolutely worth it."

Want to know more?

For more information, check out the Web site -- marriage-works.com -- or call 877-741-8787.

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