National Break-Up Season

Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2008 @ 04:21 PM
Four out of ten people likely to think twice about their relationships

Image by Khalid KhalilAccording to a new dating study by Yahoo!, the period from December to Valentine’s day should be known as "National Break-Up Season." Far from a scientific study, the report suggests that the promise of a new year often leads people to reassess their relationships as they think about the future.

Says Yahoo!, "The two primary reasons leading to a break-up were not having a shared view of the future with a partner (48 percent) and feeling unfulfilled or in a rut (41 percent)."  Most often, the report says, it's the more mature daters (aged 30-39) who reconsider their relationships on the basis of conflicting views and goals.

While this study may not present any earth-shattering revelations, there is no question that the two reasons for break-up offered by Yahoo! are often cited by those who are unhappy in relationships, whether they are simply dating or already married. 

Of course, that's what dating is about, isn't it?  People obviously need to spend time together to discover whether their views of the future are compatible enough to ensure they can commit to working together toward a common goal for the rest of their lives. There's no surprise that the lack of a common vision leads to break-up during the dating phase, or that the lack of a common vision would lead to a stale dating relationship that is unfulfilling or "in a rut."

Image by SpiralzWhat is a surprise, however, is that it happens so often during the marriage phase. Apparently, a vital discovery that should be made while dating often goes undetected until the commitment has been made and rings exchanged. 

Why is this such a common mistake?  Many blame it on the fact that Western society and culture idealizes romantic bliss. But is the perfect relationship simply a fantasy, or is it possible to attain? And what is a perfect relationship?

This question brings to mind the recent post entitled "Doing Well versus Feeling Good: The Self Esteem Debate."  If "doing well" is more important than just "feeling good" on an individual basis, what happens when this same concept is applied to each human connection: marriage, family, community and beyond? Could doing well be more important then feeling good when defining the perfect relationship?

For instance, beginning with the connection between just two people who feel some initial attraction, which comes first? Working together toward a common goal?  Or feeling fulfilled? Learning about the common vision you share with that other person (a "doing" aspect)? Or feeling romantic?

Just as the right kind of self-esteem comes from working through problems and mastering them, maybe the right kind of relationships don't just happen automatically. Maybe instead of giving up on a marriage when it doesn't live up to ideals of Hollywood romance, couples could find fulfillment in working through and mastering their problems, and from coming out on the other side of them with a higher regard for the marriage and their love for one another.

Of course it takes two. It's very difficult to make a marriage when only one partner is doing the work. So perhaps a "Break-Up Season" where dating couples take a hard look at their ability to work through problems together is not a bad idea.  Better to do it during the dating phase than exchange the rings and find only one is willing to work during marriage.

Tags: marriage, dating, David H. Olsen, National Break-up Season