Exclusive: The Unhappy Relationship Trap
What makes a happy marriage or long-term relationship? Knowing this will solve a lot of your problems.
Having a happy, healthy, long-term relationship is something that most of us aspire to.
Whether it’s the elevator relationship of traditional marriage or the relationship anarchy of Ro Moëd, most people want to know what makes a long-term relationship, perhaps even marriage, work (and what makes one fail).
Much research has been done in this department to figure out what predicts a happy marriage (or relationship) over the long haul, what factors come into play, and what things we can do to avoid falling into the unhappy relationship trap.
Two main theories predict a happy or unhappy relationship. We’ll dive into both.
What Makes a Happy Relationship?
In 2019, I wrote an article on Medium called Relationships Won’t Make You Happy. The story spoke from the heart and dropped some wisdom from my personal experiences.
Full disclosure: I used to be a bit of a mess in my younger years.
I was a big ball of scarcely-controlled chaos, an inferno ready to take on the world and see (and do) it all. Once I got my act together, matured a little (okay, I matured a lot), and eventually settled down into a more stable groove in life, I kept running into the same problem.
I’d date someone, and, a few months in, I’d find out they were miserable.
That’s when I learned that happiness is a prerequisite for a healthy long-term relationship.
The Stress Generation Model of Relationships
C.L. Hammen developed the Stress Generation Model in 1991. It states that unhappy people run into problems in their relationships and cannot cope with the problems brought on by a long-term relationship over the years.
In other words, unhappy people are usually unhappy because they’re ill-equipped to deal with life’s problems. They lack the skills to address their issues and work through problems, rendering them unhappy.
While long-term relationships bring us a lot of joy, they also bring us a lot of stress. Someone with a low stress tolerance introduces more challenges into the relationship by piling on more problems than would exist otherwise.
This is the unhappy relationship trap.
An example might be a man who’s unfulfilled in his relationship burying himself in work instead of addressing the problems he faces with his partner. This further isolates him and his partner, putting an additional strain on the relationship itself.