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Well, for one thing, it's the best model our society makes available for raising and supporting kids. That's not to say it is necessarily a very good model, but I think if you have to choose between your kids growing up with their parents in a stable and functional, if not especially warm or happy, relationship on the one hand, and your kids growing up with divorced parents on the other, it's very hard to find any way to justify the latter choice on the basis of their welfare.

Quite aside from that, though, I'm still not seeing any reason to assume that relationships in general exhibit this problem - only that it's not quite as uncommon as the highly atypical nature of my own experience led me to surmise.

(Or what I hope to be the highly atypical nature, anyway. If marriages like mine are anything except vanishingly uncommon, that's a serious problem. There are so many improbable circumstances around the way mine started that I've seen no reason to assume many similar relationships exist - but on reflection it occurs to me that I've failed to account for the possibility of stochastic convergence.)

> Well, for one thing, it's the best model our society makes available for raising and supporting kids.

You're not required to have kids.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is why even start a relationship if you don't get anything out of it. Never mind getting to the point where you start producing kids.

> You're not required to have kids.

No, but a lot of people want to. (A lot of people have kids without the formality of a relationship, too, but that's a whole 'nother kind of problem.)

I guess I'd say that for most people there are a lot of reasons to want to be in a relationship - good reasons and bad ones alike. With rare exception, nobody goes into a relationship expecting that it won't improve their life in some way, and if you're not seeing what you might get out of one, then I can't see any reason why you should start one.

It seems like a lot of people do eventually discover that they don't get out of a given relationship what they hoped they might, or what they previously did - but that's also a whole 'nother kind of problem, and because it often involves strongly felt responsibilities to people other than oneself, a kind that is rarely easy to solve even if there's no clear way to incrementally improve upon the status quo.

I don't think I've done a very good job explaining it here, but I'm not sure how I might do a better one.

Or most people don't put as much into a relationship as it would take to realize their goal? When you marry or have kids with someone, that someone is supposed to be your first priority in life. It's kind of like thinking about religious service, but not necessarily including that spiritual edge to matrimony. Kids aren't that first priority, because kids need both parents to be fulfilled, and the couple is supposed to be those who best fulfill each other. Your plan of marriage shouldn't be centered on what you'll get out of it, but what your significant other will get of it, because you are specially positioned to be that provider of happiness and comfort and vice-versa. Live for the other and your own happiness is reciprocally secured.

That's the ideal, sure. It doesn't reliably work out that way even for those couples who go into it with exactly the intent you describe, though, and it only takes one to defect - although I agree that both often do.

Because sometimes you just can't help it, or very difficult not to.

I don't see how.

Relationship can be exciting, it can be incredibly difficult to resist.

To be fair, that would be getting something out of it.

Some of my most well-adjusted friends have split parents, who were happy alone. A couple staying together, unhappily, "for the kids" seems much more toxic to me. But this is anecdata, YMMV.

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