Why do so many unhappy couples stay together?

The experience of marriage and living in a relationship should be something beneficial, enriching and satisfying for both members. However, there are many cases where the couple’s dynamics are very different, and yet they resist severing the bond.

If it is true that There are many reasons people feel unhappy or unhappy in their relationship.There are many reasons why they prefer to continue. However, couple psychology still struggles to clarify why some couples are unhappy if they are able to break up, while others are not.

    The theory of interdependence

    One of the most accepted theories trying to explain this phenomenon is the theory of interdependence. Presented by psychologists Harold Kelley and John ThibaultThis assumption states that each member of the couple assesses their personal satisfaction with their marriage or bond, in relation to the costs and benefits of that relationship.

    In other words, if our partner demands a lot of time and resources from us, but compensates us because he covers our needs or, on the contrary, if he provides us little but also little of us, it is very possible that we let’s do it. maintain the relationship.

    The key to this theory is that even if the perceived costs do not outweigh the benefits, there is a good chance that the couple will stick together. Otherwise, it is highly likely that one of the two will end up severing the relationship..

    In this way, according to the theory of interdependence this balance is the basis of the commitment. To be more precise, according to Kelley and Thibaut, despite the discontent in the couple, the people who make it up will feel more engaged for these reasons:

    • The time invested in the relationship. Spending a long time in a relationship makes sense, people perceive that you have built something that is a great deal of anguish to break.
    • The members of the couple they are not able to find better alternatives to their current relationship.

    Current studies

    If the conclusions of the studies of Kellet and Thibault on the theory of interdependence can well be applied today, it is true that they are about fifty years old, and that ** the dynamics of the couple change gradually. as society changes **.

    It’s obvious to think that a person’s level of satisfaction in their relationship largely depends on what that relationship brings them. In other words, advantages. However, recent research highlights the role of individual norms or, in other words, the idea or conception that each person has of what a relationship should be. According to these studies, it is very possible for a couple to end up in a dysfunctional relationship. keep this link for the simple fact that your standards for dating are low.

    The cases in which people are truly dissatisfied with their relationship but maintain their commitment are difficult to explain by the theory of interdependence. However, studies by psychologist Levi Baker at the University of North Carolina provide other information that may help us. understand why many unhappy couples stay together.

      The results

      According to the results obtained by Baker and colleagues, engagement in the relationship is not so much based on the current level of satisfaction as on the level of satisfaction expected in the future of the relationship. In other words, people maintain their relationship because they believe the quality will improve over time or that eventually problems will arise.

      Therefore, when you make a prediction of whether or not a couple who do not feel happy together will maintain their relationship, the expectation of future satisfaction will be a better predictor than the current satisfaction of the couple.

      While there are surely many more factors, the assumption that expectations of happiness keep a relationship unfulfilling isn’t totally overdone, because at the end of the day, these are long-term relationships and it makes sense to think that the good will outweigh the bad in the long run. Classes.

      After analyzing the data, Baker found that unfulfilling relationships followed two trends. On the one hand, one of the components of the couple left the relationship when they hoped the situation could not improve and, moreover, he believed that he could find better alternatives outside of it. On the contrary, people stayed in the relationship when they hoped it would improve and, on top of that, they thought they couldn’t find anything better.

        The influence of personal and social factors

        Although the studies show clear trends, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are a variety of factors that influence the decision to end a relationship in which we are not happy.

        Personal factors such as beliefs about the importance of marriage and personal relationships they play a key role. For some people, celibacy is an unacceptable condition, much worse than living in a relationship in which there is no more love.

        The importance that society has placed on marriage or married life as an ideal state exerts a powerful influence on people, some of whom are desperate for a partner to share their life with, whether it makes them happy or not.

        In other cases, the factor that holds couples together is the existence of children. Develop a couple dynamic in which each of the components maintains parallel lives but preserving the same home, remaining together for the supposed good of the children Because, according to them, the division of the household is much worse for the children than the current situation.

        Another different problem is the one that surrounds it religious attitudes and beliefs around divorce. Those who have a close relationship to their religion may refuse to face a divorce both out of personal conviction and out of fear of being rejected in their religious community.


        Whatever the reason for the dissatisfaction, once people are aware of their partner’s status, they move on to assess your prospects or future options. If this person perceives that they have opportunities to find something better, they are very likely to break the relationship, in search of a fresh start.

        With that in mind, it’s easy to see why these younger couples perceive separation or divorce as something much more plausible than these older couples.

        In cases where they are unable to imagine a better alternative to the couple’s current situation, it is quite possible that they will maintain it; find ways to calm conflicts and see each other as life partners.

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