Why do we stay in bad relationships and marriages? (Marko Braković, psychotherapist)

It is no news that bad family relationships, conflicts and dysfunctionalities are counterproductive when a person with an example of that sort from their family enters the world of intersex relationships. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, so even the people with those types of experiences can later make wonderful parents or partners, since they usually form their own family life in order to break “the bad family tradition”. Dysfunctionality of a family never appears alone, nor is it born in a vacuum; it is more often a consequence of bad relationships stemming from far back in the family tree.
Speaking of grandparents, the following question rises – can their idyllic, or at least long-lived marital or domestic relationship, be an aggravating and not a mitigating factor when their grandson or son starts forming his own perspective on intersex relationships? The answer is seemingly easy: Of course not!

Are there two love stories that are the same?

If parents or grandparents (or everyone) were in long-lived marriages that survived all the troubles, generations to come should have the same relationships and good examples to look up to. Unfortunately, things are much more complicated than that.
I cannot count the times that I’ve seen in therapy people who are desperate and crushed over the failure of their marriage or relationship, and they only wanted their relationship to be “like the one their parents had had!” or “How come grandpa could do it and I can’t?”.
This is a particularly difficult situation for people who strongly believe that marriage is of vital importance and that a defeat in that area of their life is almost unacceptable. This kind of perspective is questionable because it doesn’t take into consideration a number of important facts:

  1. No love relationship is identical to another. Yes, there are similar stories, even astoundingly similar ones, but they are practically never the same. A relationship is formed by two idiosyncratic entities, two life narratives, two different systems of construct, two temperaments, as well as two different potentials, where not even they themselves can easily predict when they will develop and what they will develop into. If we were to represent this mathematically, we would probably discover how different all the possible combinations of all of these are, so that two identical outcomes are virtually impossible.
  2. Grandparents, and even parents, lived in another time, another economic system, another geopolitical context, a different, narrower spectrum of life choices, different cultural milieu, and often a different geographical location as well. All of these put together form an extremely important group of factors, and I say this acknowledging the risk of sounding deterministic, but at least we have to agree they are not negligible.
  3. Longevity of a relationship, as well as its survival, should not be identified with its quality. A lot of bad marriages survive. 2 out of 5 marriages in Serbia end in divorce within the first few years, one survives keeping its quality, and two survive with a questionable quality. If my memory serves me correctly, this is the official statistics. Factors such as pathological jealously, submissiveness, masochism, fear of poverty, being dependent on the partner, shame of getting divorced are only some of the factors that we don’t know about when we say that a marriage managed to survive. Duration is not merely a proof of quality. These factors also influence the duration. They help a marriage survive, but should we make that something to look up to or an excuse? I think not.
  4. And, finally, last but not least, we live in a digital era, where all aspects of life are economized. There is more and more competing and competition (even between partners). Is it a kind of a system that encourages depopulation because the rich don’t want to share the wealth with the increasing number of poor people? Is that the reason why there is an increasing number of single member families in the industrially most developed countries? In Japan, the statistics are absolutely unbelievable and devastating. Does that push people away from getting attached and becoming parents? I am inclined to respond positively to this.

Being grounded

If grandpa had a super-fast internet connection, was in debt bondage, and consequently had slave-like working hours, abundance of pornography of all kinds, ambitions of having to be rich and successful, strong competition in all fields – would that grandpa put up with grandma for 50 years and be understanding and patient? Could grandma, who now has to work in order to survive and raise her children at the same time, endure all that? These are important questions, which are being trivialized or not even being taken into consideration when a role model or an ideal is observed. Thus no wonder a person who romanticizes and looks at the past of their own family in a non-critical way goes through so much trouble. No wonder their whole world collapses.
Pink glasses and hope present the greatest danger to marital happiness and overall mental health. You write your own story, it’s yours and nobody can ever be like it. What will it be? Well, try writing it one day at a time, without too great of ideals and desires. Stay grounded.


Marko Braković
Foto: Sanja Rajković

Marko Brakovic (37) graduated from Belgrade University, Faculty of Philosophy, department of Andragogy, as one of the top students in his generation. He finished his post academic education in the field of Constructivist Psychotherapy. He holds psychotherapy sessions at special education clinic ‘’Entera’’. Together with his colleague Milan Radovanovic he runs and coordinates work with groups of young people that have problems mostly connected with adolescent crises. He writes blog and publishes articles in professional magazines on various topics such as promiscuity, premature ejaculation, couples psychotherapy, and chemical and non-chemical addictions.
He is the author and facilitator of the “What women want’’ and ‘’Seduction trough social networks’’ workshops. In the fall of 2014 Marko’s first novel ‘The Facebook predator’’ was published. This erotic psychological thriller received great critics and gained a large number of faithful readers in a short period of time. The second edition will be available soon.

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