The Rubber Band Effect in Marriage

On 2/15/15, the horrible news broke that a Santa Clarita resident shot and killed his wife and then turned the weapon on himself. The couple was going through divorce and people that knew them said the husband was a good man and couldn’t believe this happened.

While I didn’t know them, I attribute many incidents like this and more commonly less severe incidents to the rubber band effect. So what’s the rubber band effect?

Imagine a brand new rubber band symbolizing a healthy, happy marriage. It’s not being pulled or stretched, it’s just laying there with no tension. As stress in the marriage increases the rubber band is stretched. A healthy marriage is a able to recover from the rubber band’s stretching and return to the relaxed state. However, as a marriage becomes less satisfying and as stress in the marriage grows, the tension in the rubber band increases even when nothing stressful is happening. In that stretched out state, the marriage becomes one major crises away from snapping. Eventually that crisis occurs, such as financial issues, health problems (yours or a loved one), legal problems, etc, just to name a few. Once that rubber band snaps, so does the marriage, whether that’s divorce, infidelity, domestic violence, addiction, emotional abuse, emotional withdrawal, or other destructive behaviors.

In order to prevent the rubber band from snapping in your marriage you should always be aware of the level of tension that exists between the two of you and your ability to restore it to a relaxed state. This can best be assessed by discussing how well you think the two of you communicate and how many unresolved issues their continue to be. Generally, the definition of a happy marriage is a couple that knows their issues and can communicate well about them. You don’t have to be issue free to be happily married but you do need good communication. If you feel that their is constant tension in your marriage and the rubber band is in danger of snapping, please contact goodmantherapy (661)310-1231 for your first free session.

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