I have friends that have stayed in relationships or marriages for years. What I have observed in them all is “why” they are still together. They fight, fool around and sometimes destroy property and sometimes are physically abused. I, myself stayed in a marriage for 13 years. It was full of fighting, throwing stuff and splitting from each other numerous times. Yet we all came back and in some cases still as dysfunctional as ever. I was able to finally leave after I stopped trying to convince myself that it was for the child. I’ve asked my friends why they’re still together. I get answers like a comfortable zone, or tired of playing the single game or doing it for the children. Why do people make themselves unhappy sometimes for years and years?
I think it’s fear of change, fear of the unknown, and fear of confronting one’s vulnerable, naked emotions.
I hope that you don’t mean that all relationships are charecterized by fighting and cheating and throwing stuff? Certainly many aren’t.
As far as why people stay together, I tend to assume that relationships are like icebergs: outsiders don’t see most of what is going on. It’s realy up to the person that’s in a relationship to decide if the bullshit they put up with (and all relationships involve putting up with some degree of bullshit, even if its just your SO’s habit of squeezing the toothpaste from the middle and leaving the cap of the milk) is worth the benefits they gain. Frankly, O’d ut up witha LOT more from my husband in return for the compainonship, the humor, the laundry, and the sex I get. I count myself fortunate.
Now then, are there people who make choices that I wouldn’t make, who put up with bullshit I wouldn’t swallow for gains that I wouldn’t value? Hell yes. But that’s true about everything. Are there people who make choices that seem downright pathological to me? Sure are, and again, that’s true about everything. But I’m never quick to assume pathology unless there’s actual abuse going on–who am I to critize that someone is willing to accept a cheater for the sake of having a dedicated coparent, or tolerate an idiot in return for nightly oral sex?
That’s such a broad question.
Heck, many people do things over and over again that are not in their long term best interest.
maybe people stay in shotty relationships:
to be the martyr
cuz they are co dependant
cuz they don’t feel worthy of better
maybe they are addicted to the ups and downs of an unstable relationship. fighting and making up… is sure more lively than peace.
maybe they get OTHER things utta the realrtionship than just a relationship. ie. money and security and status
maybe they don’t think it can be better than what they have
my mother stayed with my father “for us kids” She knew this man was physically/emotionally/sexually abusive and that he had numerous girlfriends on the side and yet she felt this was preferable to the stigma of divorce and having to trade our house (which really should have been condemned the conditions were so bad) for an apartment.
She actually said to me “but we would have had to live in an apartment!” Gee mom … and no one would rape me at night… I thought it seemed a good trade shrug
My take is she has no self esteem and no backbone… Some people get trapped in a cycle of abusive relationships… I know I almost did… but some people don’t seem to realize there is something better out there.
No, I didn’t mean all relationships suck. It’s kinda like someone working at the same job for years and years and hates it. When asked they say its security, close to home…I realize that all relationships have their ups and downs. I’m referring to repetitive negative actions. Hell I did it for thirteen years. What did I learn? If a couple (partners) tried to resolve their problems,and weren’t able to,
then a dissolution would be in the best interest for both. When national stats show 50% of marriages end up in divorce, there’s no telling what percentage of non-married relationships end up in the crapper.
You may be interested in Cecil’s column on the 50% statistic.
My opinon is this: People get used to what seems right in a relationship based on their formative relationships (I’m guessing childhood). Some of us (through counseling in my case) learn that good relationships do not involve disrespect (of either partner) and are able to rise above the dysfunction. Examples: a childhood friend of mine continually takes up with men who beat her. She sub-conciously equates this as right because her father beat her. OTOH, I was able to rise above typically damaging Adult Child of Acoholic behavior after two years of therapy.
It’s like that Eagles song: " so many times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key "
It takes two people to make a relationship. Sometimes one pulls more than their share. In a sucessful relationship, this dynamic shifts back and forth from partner to partner. The relationship where one is doing all the work is doomed. I’m wondering if more people are not being taught how to be successful in relationship. … oh well, my 2 cents.