Some oft cited reasons to choose to stay together:

  1. Kids

    I know plenty of folks disagree with this. But kids are a great reason to choose each other. Not for the kids sake. But for your own sanity. Someone to talk it out with. Someone to share it with. Someone else to be responsible. So in a really, really selfish way, I actually buy this one.

  2. Love

    Emotions temporarily making choosing to be together easy and difficult all at once. Love tells us to stay together. Other emotions pull us apart.

    I think we’re so perfectly taught that love fixes things; love overcomes hurdles; etc. that we turn love into the choice. I choose to love her, and therefore I stay with her.

  3. Sunk cost

    When leaving is too much work, or the inertia of choosing something else is too overwhelming, we decide to just let sunk cost make the choice for us. It’s a bad place to be, but one that I see a lot of people come to peace with and continue.

  4. Because the pros outweigh the cons over a running average

    The idealist in me says this is the only reason we should ever choose to stay in it. It’s never this simple, but man oh man I wish it could be.

    It’s critical that it be a running average because any given incident is likely to be all pro or all con. It’s hard to see the silver lining in the moment.

    I don’t think we’re very good at calculating running averages, but in a lot of ways I think the best relationships that I’ve seen are the ones that can understand their past and predict their future based on the running average.

But none of these feel very satisfying to the larger thesis. So there has to be something else to it. I just haven’t found it yet :-/