In my earlier post I looked at some considerations that have created an anomaly – a dysfunctional couple who score high in marriage satisfaction. I looked at a conventional psychological model, called the Investment Model. (1)
This model applies three tests or considerations: 1. satisfaction; 2. dependence (based upon perceived alternatives; and 3. investment level.
Homer and Marge, despite being rather pedestrian in appearance, have each had opportunities for romantic dalliances. Forget that Homer is actually less than attractive, he has managed to stumble into more than a few opportunities to test his faithfulness.
When these opportunities present themselves, Homer always ends up rejecting them in favor of remaining with Marge. One can never be sure what you might choose to do unless you are presented the opportunity to be unfaithful.
Ultimately Homer chooses to accept the flaws and faults in favor of the relationship. Of course, he has such incredibly romantic ways of describing his choices, such as his quote: “Marriage is like a coffin, and each kid is another nail.” Pretty much nails it, right!
Another time he explains to his friend, Ned: “I used to worry Marge was too good for me. She was always thinking of ways to improve me. But then, part of her died. And she doesn’t try anymore. So we’re all where we want to be.” Really touches your heart, doesn’t it!
Of course, Marge has her temptations as well, like her almost affair with her bowling instructor, Jacques, after Homer had given her a bowling ball with his name engraved upon it. How could any woman not be moved by such romanticism? Despite everything, Marge opts to reject the bowling instructor and walk into the sunset with Homer. Later, when Homer is trying to reassure Marge that she is the only love of his life, he explains: “Why would I want Purina when I’ve got Fancy Feast right here?” Ultimately, for each of them, the alternatives are not as good as what they already have.
The investments they have in each other, including their house, their possessions, their neighborhood and neighbors, and, of course, their friends, make it too risky to throw away for another possibility.
One kind of investment that couples might often underestimate is the time and effort they have spent, with positive results, in working through conflicts and disagreements. Every time couples are able to successfully work through challenges they build additional currency in their relationship.
Some couples, like Homer and Marge, argue frequently, but come to accept each other’s flaws. These experiences help couples become extremely invested in their marriage. If they were to divorce they would lose everything.
Think about this – it is pretty rare for childhood sweethearts to marry, have children, and create a full life together.
Of course, there is no reason that parties should ever remain in an un-fulfilling marriage, but there are many many options for parties to find support to work through difficulties and re-vitalize their marriage. When you have a considerable investment in the marriage it is certainly worth making the additional effort to not just save it, but to transform it.
One marriage enrichment program, Retrouvaille, has been quite successful in rejuvenating threatened marriages. This is a resource that is really worth checking out.
A local marriage support program, called Couples on the Brink, is another resource that has been very successful in providing support and direction for couples who can benefit by exploring options before choosing divorce.
support@Doherty Relationship Institute.com
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(1) Rusblat, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model. The Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 16, 172-186.Tagged with: healing process • Marriage enrichment resources • productive conflict resolution