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Once a relationship is built, it enters the stage of continuation. The goal of this stage is mutual cyclical growth.
Mutual cyclical growth: A process by which commitment and trust in a relationship develop. According to this view, needing one’s partner encourages individuals to do things that are good for the relationship, which is perceived by the partner and encourages him or her to also develop commitment and trust.
While deterioration is the fourth stage, it is not inevitable. Positive factors that can prevent deterioration are investing time and effort in the relationship, working at improving the relationship, and being patient.
Negative factors that can lead to deterioration include lack of investment of time and effort in the relationship, deciding to end the relationship, or simply allowing deterioration to continue unchecked.
Factors that can contribute to avoidance of a relationship ending are finding sources of satisfaction, people who are committed to making the relationship work, or who believe that they will eventually overcome their problems.
According to social-exchange theory, relationships end when negative forces are in sway (when partners find little satisfaction in the affiliation, when barriers to leaving are low and when alternative partners are available.
An informal (not prenuptial) contract that helps couples clarify and communicate their expectations is often helpful.
Marriage contracts help couples to spell out their marital values and goals. Some important items to cover include whether a wife will take her husband’s surname, whether the coupe will have children, how the breadwinning functions will be divided, how will child-care responsibilities be divided, etc.)
Communication ability is a prime factor in satisfying relationships. Other factors include spending focused time together, sharing values, flexibility, sharing power, physical intimacy, emotional closeness, empathy and sexual satisfaction.
While it may seem that everyone has an affair, recent studies show that only 25% of husbands and 10% of wives will have an affair (however, it is likely that the incidence of affairs is underreported).
At the same time, 86% of respondents to a New York Times poll were “absolutely certain” that their spouses were faithful.
At least one woman in eight is subjected to violence at the hands of her partner each year, and about 2,000 women are killed.
In about half of the couples in which domestic violence occurs, both partners are guilty of physical abuse.
Male domestic violence often stems from factors that threaten their traditional dominance in relationships, such as unemployment and substance abuse. Women’s violence often arises from the stress of coping with an abusive partner.
Singlehood is the nation’s most common lifestyle among people in their early to mid-twenties.
There has been an increase in the number of never-married adults over the past 40 years. In 1950, 20% of women and 26% of men aged fifteen or older had never been married. By 1999, 25% of women and 30% of men aged 15 and older had never been married.
So while most people still get married, but the traditional family unit is becoming less common (traditional family comprises of 24% of family households versus 40% in 1970).
Part-time/limited cohabitation: Dating couples begin to spend nights together and one of the partners slowly brings more and more belongings to the other partner’s residence. No formal arrangement may have been made to share expenses, etc. This style may end due to an outside event (such as the end of a school year).
Premarital Cohabitation: People who expect to get married decide to live together beforehand. This may serve as a “trial marriage.”
Substitute Marriage: The couple decides to make a long-term commitment to live together without getting married. Many choose this to avoid legal and financial complications.
Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY. All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the copyright owner.