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Theories on the maintenance and breakdown of relationships

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Introduction

´╗┐RODNEY MARUFU OUTLINE AND EVALUATE THEORIES OF MAINTANANCE AND BREAKDOWN OF RELATIONSHIPS (24 MARKS) Economic theories are a group of theories which argue that people keep an eye on what they and their partner are putting in and getting out of a relationship and they may choose to move on if a better ?deal? is offered by someone else. The social exchange theory is an economic theory which was proposed by Homans in 1971 who acknowledged that relationships involve rewards and costs. Homans argue that we run relationships by keeping an eye on the exchange of costs and rewards. According to this theory, the overall balance between rewards and costs in a relationship will determine whether or not we are satisfied. For example, if the rewards outweigh the costs, the relationship is in profit and it is likely develop. However, if the costs outweigh the rewards, the result is a state of ?loss? which will lead to dissatisfaction with the relationship. So basically, the social exchange theory suggests that we are selfish as we want to minimise costs and maximise the rewards we are given. Another economic theory is Thibault and Kelley?s interdependence theory. It is an extension of the social change theory. It argues that people keep an eye on the rewards and costs in their relationship and then compare their current relationship with previous and alternative relationships. If the current relationship is more rewarding than the previous relationships, people are more likely to be satisfied. ...read more.

Middle

The study lacks population validity because not every couple in a relationship are married, so there may be differences in the way married couples and unmarried couples behave. For example, married couples may be more likely to show commitment in their relationship as they may plan to spend the rest of their lives with their partner. Another study that supports the investment model was done by Rhahgan and Axsom in 2006 which looked at a group of women living in a refuge. They found that each of the three factors (satisfaction, investment and comparison levels for alternatives) contributed to the women?s commitment to stay with their partners. The investment model however, fails to explain why some people who not committed in their relationship stay together, so there may be other factors, other than commitment, which determine whether or not a couple will stay together. Another economic theory is Walster?s equity theory. According to this, couples keep an eye on what both they and their partners are putting in and getting out. If it is roughly equal, they are likely to feel satisfied with their relationship. However, if it is unequal, the relationship will be inequitable and will cause problems. This feeling of inequity will lead to the ?loser? in the relationship to feel dissatisfied and the ?winner? to feel guilty. If it is a short term relationship, one partner may just end it and if it is a long term relationship and both partners have invested in the relationship in terms of time and money, they may repair the relationship. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also they their last stage tends to be the grave-dressing phase as they tend to tell people who was to blame for their break-up. Another strength is the fact that Duck argues that relationships are better studied as process rather than states. This suggests that his model is good and can be used as a marriage guidance to identify the stage of dissolution reached, and also to identify which strategy is appropriate to be used when people reach certain stages. However, the problem with this model is the fact that it assumes that everyone will reach all the stages during their break up. This is a problem because it fails to explain why some people who break up do not go through all the stages. For example, it fails to explain why some people break up with their partner without letting their partner know why they are breaking up, or without actually discussing their problems first. Also this model assumes that everyone will reach each threshold in order. This is a problem because it might not always be the case. For example, some people may first break up with their partner and then tell them that they were not satisfied with their relationship, or some people may tell people that they have broken up with their partner before actually letting know their partner know they have broken up. In addition to this, the model fails to explain why the breakdown occurs- it only describes what happens when people reach each threshold. ...read more.

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