Is keeping up with the Joneses ruining your marriage?

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Is keeping up with the Joneses ruining your marriage?
Is your relationship/marriage in credit card debt? Trying to keep up with your neighbors & friends?

Is keeping up with the Joneses ruining your marriage?
I have three very close friends. I have known these friends for over 20 years. They are supportive of me and I of them. One of the reasons I love them most is because there has never been a need for us to compete over “stuff.” They don’t host Botox parties; boast breast enlargements, and diamonds that cost more than a down payment on a car. They are real, and they help “ground” me when I am with them. I have never heard either of them say anything bad about one of my other friends, nor do I worry about what they will ever say about me. I know if they talk about me, it is in my own best interest.
I work with many types of women and men. Men are less likely influenced by what they “need to have” to fit in than women are. One of the women acquaintances I have is really funny at parties. She is able to laugh at herself describing in detail everything she has done to keep up or save face with her friends. Her life is about acquiring stuff, more and more stuff, and then from what I understand they have huge garage sales and sell all the stuff cheaper than they bought it. Their sense of pride then comes from how well they did at selling their stuff, which they compare to their other friends who sold stuff. If they make a lot of money from the stuff, even though they lost more due to buying it in the first place, they celebrate with the money they made to buy more stuff. It is insane.
Cosmetic surgery can fit into this keeping-up mode also. It is quite common that when one woman gets a face lift or breast augmentation, her other friends seek the same procedures. They don’t necessarily need cosmetic surgery, but in their effort to keep up with their social circle they begin building reasons as to why they need it. This need to keep up isn’t exclusive to beauty, stuff, or home décor; it spreads deeper into our children.
One of my colleagues who run a math program for enriching children’s math scores told me that the best way to get new students is to convince one of the moms that this will help her child achieve great success in life. From this one mom, she can recruit enough other moms to blindly enroll their child in this course. The child may already be an A math student, or a wonderful artist, but if his mom becomes concerned that he may fall behind and they may be viewed as inadequate parents, she will enroll him. This is all part of the keeping up with the Jones’ attitude. Birthday parties are now a Saturday event that extends for hours and costs as much as $5,000. How do you go back to Chucky Cheese and just have pizza, tokens and rides after that? Forget the fact that 75% of all Americans are in credit card debt. Keeping up with the Jones’ is important to ones’ psyche.

Article contributed by

Mary Jo Rapini

Counselor/Therapist

For more information go to: www.maryjorapini.com
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