Perseverance is a blue chip trait, because life will inevitably become difficult during your Massachusetts marriage. The only thing to do, during those moments of difficulty, is power through and grind it out until the end.
Unless of course, that’s a completely stupid move. Which it just might be. Take, for example, continuing to invest resources into a failing decision solely because you’ve already invested resources. In business, this is called the sunk cost fallacy. It’s an attempt to undo the past and recoup the losses, but it’s a futile effort, because the time has passed.
The sunk cost fallacy is not just about money or business. It can also apply any time where time and energy are spent on something that isn’t necessarily offering any rewards. It’s small stuff, like not walking out of a bad movie or not dropping a hobby. And it also applies to personal, more unwieldy stuff, like staying in an unfulfilling job or unsatisfying Massachusetts marriage.
The reasons for sticking it out are similar. Who wants to be a quitter? There’s a personal conviction in sticking to something. Then there’s not wanting to feel like any time or money has been wasted. And then there’s ego.
Nobody wants to admit they made a bad choice, and maybe I’m not as good as I thought. Instead, the seemingly plausible but irrational response is to double-down. The self-confidence provides a kind of cover – yeah, ego again – that you’re just dealing with a rough patch and you can fix the problem.
It’s easy to become mired in the sunk cost fallacy. Even mice, per new research, has shown that have a hard time backing out of a decision. The long-held understanding is that when a person feels responsible for the situation – picking the movie or the business investment – stubbornness kicks in.
The sunk cost fallacy is certainly in play with jobs and relationships. When situations are defeating and offer no hope for a turnaround, it’s easy to remain in them if only to want to get those years back, to ensure you’re making good on your investment. But there’s an added layer in these instances, which is outside the fallacy and makes them less clear-cut. A job gives you a salary that helps support your family. Your marriage gives you a family, and kids are not sunk costs.
In order to avoid the sunk cost fallacy, in general, you need to forget what the past has brought and instead focus on the likelihood of a future payoff and where your time and effort are best spent.
Lives become intertwined. There’s not just an emotional investment, but a structural commitment. Marriages are hard to untangle, as they call for the need to sell a house, divide up bank accounts, and choose friends. Even if you’re not satisfied, that’s a factor in your commitment.
What helps is shifting from a security-oriented mindset to a growth one. The one question to ask yourself is: “What you will gain by staying and what could you gain by leaving.”
But evaluations about what defines happiness are subjective and decision-making isn’t a quantitative checklist. It’s not easy and it shouldn’t be.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.