Cost vs. Benefits Relationships in a Consumer World

Have you ever heard parents of teenagers say things like, “What am I getting out of being a parent to this kid?” and “When do I start getting something in return?” It sounds like these parents love their children but are stressed by the job of parenting. This kind of cost-benefit language used from well-intentioned parents can lead good parents to emotionally disconnected families and communities.

According to Dr. William Doherty, the author of Take Back your Marriage, In the late 1960’s shelters were set up for teens who run away from what they thought were over controlling parents. Nowadays, the majority fits the category of “throwaway youth” whose parents have said “enough.” What has changed is parent’s commitment to accept long periods where their “cost” outweigh their “benefits” from the difficult job of parenting.

Then, it is not surprising that in this new consumer world we are less loyal to our children, to our mates, and to our marriages. Selfishness can be the “chronic illness” of any relationship. As soon as the question, “What’s in it for me?” becomes the focus, the relationship may be experiencing a break down. And when a marriage breaks, focusing on what you are not receiving, looking at any imperfection in your spouse, or what deficiencies your kids possess, etc. will only set you up for failure.

Reasons people give for getting a divorce reveal how they think about marital commitment, of course they are a few exceptions to be considered, but the most popular reasons are:

  1. “The relationship was not working for me anymore”
  2. “Our needs were too different”
  3. “We just grew apart”
  4. “She or he has changed too much”
  5. “I deserve more”
  6. “We had no real intimacy”
  7. “He or she is boring”
  8. “I just want an open relationship”

As a Stronger Relationship Counselor, I believe that when people are able to change their attitude or behavior, and care more about each other than they do about themselves, relationships can work. Usually in successful marriages and families each member and both partner’s needs are mutually met and love is nurtured and fostered by serving and helping each other. If you find yourself developing selfish tendencies and cost vs. benefits thoughts, or maybe considering divorce as an easy exit to a troubled marriage, it may be a good time to evaluate your positivity or negativity contributing to the relationship.  If you want your family or marriage to last, the key is to be your best selves to each other. Think about “we” instead just about “me”.

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