How Much Is Your Relationship Worth?

I have a friend. Let’s call her Vanessa. One evening Vanessa noticed her husband’s wallet on the dresser in their bedroom and had an odd thought. You should look in there. Nah, Vanessa thought back. But the voice wouldn’t go away so she looked in the wallet. Over the course of several months Vanessa had to look at lots of things, like cell phone bills, bank accounts, and credit card bills for some other woman’s flowers.

What does adultery have to do with business?

Maybe if Vanessa and her husband had read a few of the hundreds of books on the market about how to keep the spark in their marriage, it might not have come to infidelity, but it did. As she tried to save her marriage, Vanessa introduced me to an industry I never knew existed. The ‘relationship industry’ includes such things as books, seminars, marriage counseling, and intensive retreats to improve the marital relationship. It’s big business.

Outfits like After the Affair promise to help you get over the pain of a straying spouse in a supportive, group therapy atmosphere. Affair Recovery offers an emergency marriage seminar for $1,500 per couple – not including lodging!

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Associates in Couples Counseling says relationships will benefit from retreats if the following are going on in a marriage:

  • Ongoing communication problems that you can’t seem to change.
  • A recent or unsettled relationship crisis such as an affair.
  • Recurring conflicts that remain unresolved.
  • Collaborations which frequently fail.
  • Distance & disconnection.
  • You want to rekindle your relationship or enhance closeness.
  • Intimacy problems.
  • Problematic joint parenting or troubles with your blended family.
  • One partner has ADD, an anxiety disorder, depression, or health problems.
  • You experienced a significant loss in the family leading to distance or conflict.

Soon they will offer Advice via email as a quick way to get practical, helpful, individualized feedback for your relationship at moderate cost. Funny, email was what got Vanessa’s husband into trouble in the first place. 

Is it worth it? Vanessa has attended several of these ‘recovery’ events in the past eighteen months. She has participated willingly in individual and couples counseling. She has spent thousands of dollars. Vanessa is still married, which was her goal. She’s also still really pissed off at her husband.

  • Lela-Wow, good post. What a tough thing to deal with. It is the ultimate betrayal.

    I’m not surprised to see a whole industry supporting the revitalization of marriage. With half of marriages ending in divorce it is a large market that is highly motivated.

    From an entrepreneurial point of view keeping a marriage together is good business. This goes beyond any moral or emotional reasons. One of the top indicators of success is a stable marriage.

  • Yeah, but…it’s an industry that would fail to thrive if it put forth 100% effort and were 100% successful. So one has to wonder…

    I’m reminded of the mantra of hairdressers and manicurists and real estate agents: repeat business and referral.

  • Drea

    It’s funny how the marriage-repair industry also operates off of social norms, such as being tight-lipped about expenditures/idealizing them, or simply putting trust in the fact that your SO is managing his/her budget for worthy causes. And, as has been pointed out, the fact that it’s more acceptable to stay in a marriage than get divorced. I hope your friend finds a solution that’s best for her in the long-run, so she’s not angry at hubby all the time!

    Great post!

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, very fascinating subject. The whole idea of “relationships” needs a retooling. The simple, sad fact is that we are led around by our noses by people who capitalize off of our emotions. It is interesting to note the ties between the gradual destruction of our natural environment for money’s sake while we wallow in emotional quagmire trying to “find the one” and “make our marriages work.” It is in the capitalizing vampires’ interest that we reduce our intellectual and emotional potential to going to school, entering a series of emotional-rollercoaster-like relationships only to finally settle on one that is devoid of life or happiness, get married, have children, and die. The world is literally crumbling while we remain blind and distracted by meaningless and parasitic “relationships.” It’s time for people to either wake up or be swept away, undone by their own myopia.