Relationships can be hard work and with 42% of marriages ending in divorce, researchers are studying the reasons why so many people are just not able to keep them together.
Psychologist Eli Finkel, a professor at the Northwestern University in Illinois, believes many of us are just too idealistic.
According to Finkel, our expectations towards our significant others are way too high and we ought to healthily lower our expectations if we ever want to find true fulfillment.
In an interview for The Atlantic regarding his latest book, The All-Of-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work, he elaborates on why our vision of marriage has changed in the last years, pushing us to expect more and more from our other halves than ever before.
According to him, the most significant changes in marital expectations around the world in the last century are the result of new pressures brought in by cultural changes.
On top of the presumption that love is everlasting, Finkel says that a new assumption has emerged where our partner also must help us grow.
As a result, this often leaves people relying too much on their partners for patting them on the shoulder, making them feel more competent, attractive, as well as fuelling their ambitions.
Unsurprisingly, this puts way too much pressure on the relationship, he believes.
“The idea of the book is that the changing nature of our expectations of marriage have made more marriages fall short of expectations, and therefore disappoint us,” he said.
He went on saying that the never-ending chase for an ideal relationship will inevitably smother its chances for long term success.
According to Finkel, we should not feel ashamed to ask less from our partners.
His advice for couples is to schedule fun activities regularly and spend as much quality time with each other as possible. Both sides should also be on the same page in terms of what they want their relationship to look like in the future.
The theories of Finkel are mirrored in a recent study in which researchers looked at the consequences of unfulfilled relationship expectations in nearly 300 young adults.
Even though most of the people involved were in their 20s and were not married, experts found that a large part of their relationship expectations did not match up with their realities, leaving them romantically unhappy.
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