Even though the divorce rate seems to be on the rise every year, there are more and more couples that actually do stay together, for better of for worse. As a matter of fact, new research says that unhappy couples are staying married, despite the fact that they feel miserable together.
According to Science Daily, one of the reasons why many husbands and wives refuse to sign the dotted line on their divorce papers is not because of their own misery, but because they are more worried about how their partner will cope after a break up. Sure, the romance might be gone, but in some cases there is enough love and emotional support so much so that one partner doesn’t want to pull the plug on their marriage, simply because they are worried about how the other one would cope.
A study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says that one partner will often put their own needs and desires away because they think the other partners wants or needs the relationship to continue.
Samantha Joel, lead author and adjunct professor at the Western University in Ontario, Canada, says that after a certain amount of time, a lot of people stay in unhappy marriages just because they’ve already invested so much of their emotions and resources into the relationship. In other words, they are concerned about finances, their children, and whether or not the other partner will be able to cope in a single-income home.
Joel says, “The more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup. When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a break up," Joel said. "This is true even for people who weren't really committed to the relationship themselves or who were personally unsatisfied with the relationship. Generally, we don't want to hurt our partners and we care about what they want."
But at the same time, Joel points out that deciding the stay passed on a partner’s perceived dependence in a relationship can also act like a double-edged sword. That’s because if a relationship improves – with intervention like couples’ counseling or therapy – then that’s good news. But if things go downhill, then there is really no need to stay in an unhappy marriage, especially if no one feels happy or content.
After all, as Joel points out, who wants to be with a partner who doesn’t want to be in a relationship?