Grit, Goal Setting, and Social Support as It Pertains to Family Dynamics and Romantic Relationships

Grit, Goal Setting, and Social Support as It Pertains to Family Dynamics and Romantic Relationships

Valerie Lynn Blanchard-McGehee (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2940-9.ch004

Abstract

This chapter explores interpersonal relationships in family dynamics and romantic relationships as they pertain to grit, goal setting, and social support. Individuals in various types of relationships will be explored, such as married and non-married couples, couples with children, and couples without children. In addition, this chapter will examine the influence that partners and family members have on one another and the several outcomes that result in different kinds of family and relational supports. The chapter will also explore the importance of using all three methods (grit, goal setting, social support) in conjunction with one another, since the three are vital to long-term success in interpersonal relationships and positive family dynamics, regardless of environmental or socio-economic differences in each case. Examples with evidentiary and anecdotal support will be used to explain the benefits or detriments of having or not having these traits in interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. These examples were selected to be inclusive and to relate to family, parental, and spousal relationship structures.
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Grit

Grit is a word that can be defined in many ways. Martin Seligman (2014), a lead expert in the field of Positive Psychology, describes grit as, “the combination of high persistence and high passion towards the fulfillment of an objective.” Angela Duckworth, a psychologist who coined the term grit, defines it as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals” (Duckworth et al., 2007). Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, describes individuals with true grit to have dedicated a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice, or about twenty hours a week for ten years, to their practice.

What does grit look like? Grit is the high school student from a low income, high crime neighborhood who has a 4.0 grade point average, perfect school attendance, attends his after school job for four hours, then comes home and makes dinner for his family as a co-parent to his younger siblings because his single mother must attend work at her night job. Grit is a single mother who raises three children while working the night shift in order to pay for private school, because public schools in her district are not the best option for their future. Grit is also the couple who just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, who despite their good and bad years, they stayed married because they knew they were stronger together than apart and could rely on each other through the hard times. Grit is the couple that creates goals for themselves and achieves those goals when their partner supports them and holds them accountable. With enough grit, parents of children with severe illnesses can sustain long hours driving to a specialty hospital to endure numerous surgeries and hospital stays, persevere through financial hardships from the ensuing medical bills, and tough it out together. Despite their long days of worry and stress, they know they can rely on each other to get through the hard times and overcome adversity together as long as they choose to never to give up.

When a relationship is perceived by both parties as being a great success despite times of adversity, the reason for the success is never a singular one. Both parties have given great effort, time, and energy towards the maintenance of the relationship. The two individuals made sacrifices when necessary, and developed resilience when faced with turbulence. Success in a marriage or long-term partnership of any type cannot be gauged through numerical processes, but there are consistent measurables seen in every successful partnership regardless of the individuals’ differences.

Achieving difficult goals and leading a rewarding life of success can be seen as a sign of talent, intelligence, or even luck. Although these character traits are nice to have, they are much less important than the ability to overcome great adversity and persevere towards completing a goal. Some people are inherently tenacious, while others have developed fortitude and grit as the byproduct of failure or experience. These same principals can be applied to every facet of one’s life: financial freedom, enduring long-term meaningful relationships, or being a great parent.

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