In this excellent TED talk, american psychologist Barry Schwartz talks about the “Paradox of Choice””. The premise being that freedom in the western world today, is best represented by having many choices or options.

According to Mr. Schwartz this is not always so, as a high amount of choices often introduce a certain amount of paralysis as well. In effect, we are paralysed and have a hard time deciding out of fear of it being the wrong choice. In return, once we do commit to a choice, we often experience a lessened sense of happiness since what if the other choice had been better?

His generic advise is to have low expectations so that there is room for surprise and less room for feelings of failure. To some extent I think this can also be seen in the challenge of relationships in our day and age.

It is socially acceptable to change partners regardless of kids or family thus introducing the option of the grass might just be greener on the other side so why should I settle for less? In other words, the golden age of perseverance seems to be over (and that is true for many areas, not just relationships).

This widespread tendency is also seen across the royal houses of Europe; even princes and princesses gets divorced nowadays (and that might be a good thing) but it does prove that the public opinion of what is socially acceptable as right or wrong has moved a lot in the past years. Which, as a little side note, reminds me of a quote from The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski:

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.”

I guess that in our day and age, having patience and also the will to suffer for a period of unhappiness or stress, to realize potentially great benefits in the end, is something most people are unwilling to do. Maybe change of this kind brings with it an increased sense of happiness in peoples lives, but it most certainly also leaves families and especially kids, in stressful situations.

In some cases, staying together also has its issues, so it’s up to all of us to find that spot, in between the slow death or the quick change of partners when issues arise. Anyways, give it a go, it can’t hurt to actually reflect a little, can it? :)