Pocket: My ListJust be optimistic about the future of your relationship. In a study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Edward Lemay, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, found people who predicted that they would be satisfied with their relationship in the future were more committed to their partners and treated them more kindly in the present-day.
Couples' quality of life linked even when one partner diesIn previous work, Bourassa and colleagues had found evidence of synchrony, or interdependence, between partners' quality of life, finding that a person's cognitive functioning or health influences not only their own well-being but also the well-being of their partner. Bourassa and colleagues wondered whether this interdependence continues even when one of the partners passes away. To find out, the researchers turned to the multinational, representative Study of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), an ongoing research project with over 80,000 aging adult participants across 18 European countries and Israel. Specifically, they examined data from 546 couples in which one partner had died during the study period and data from 2566 couples in which both partners were still living. As one might expect, the researchers found that participants' quality of life earlier in the study predicted their quality of life later. And the data also provided evidence for interdependence between partners -- a participant's quality of life earlier in the study was associated with his or her partner's quality of life later. Intriguingly, the results revealed interdependence between partners even when one partner died during the study; the association remained even after Bourassa and colleagues accounted for other factors that might have played a role, such as participants' health, age, and years married.
Adam and Eve“They’re always inventing new ways not to be aware of the canyon between them, but it’s a canyon of tiny distances: a sentence or a silence here, a closing or an opening of space there, a moment of difficult truth or of difficult generosity. That’s all. They’re always at the threshold.” “Of paradise?” the angel asked, watching the humans reach for each other yet again. “Of peace,” God said, turning the page of a book without edges. “They wouldn’t be so restless if they weren’t so close.”
A Celebrity-Divorce Expert Tells AllI've known instances where a member of that couple has told their publicist before they've told their significant other. I can't tell you who, but it's happened at least once to me, and once to a friend of mine. The hair and makeup people, they always seem to be the first to know. Sometimes the publicist, the hair and makeup people, the car driver, the security — they'll have a little pact where they all tell each other what's going on.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg eviscerates same-sex marriage opponents in court | US news | The Guardian“Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition,” said Ginsburg when Justices Roberts and Kennedy began to fret about whether the court had a right to challenge centuries of tradition. “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she explained. “That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down … Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”
"We" are partnersIn another study, from 1998, participants answered questions about their level of commitment to their romantic relationship and then performed a task in which they were asked simply to share some thoughts concerning the relationship, as many or as few as they wished. These thoughts were subsequently analyzed for plural pronoun use (“we” and “our” rather than “I” and “my”), a subtle indicator of the extent to which participants had fused their identities with those of their partners.The study found that participants who were highly committed to their relationships used many plural pronouns, whereas participants who were not especially committed used fewer. Interestingly, this tendency to exhibit a fused, interdependent identity was observed when participants listed thoughts about their relationships with their romantic partners, but not when they listed thoughts about their relationships with their best friends. Continue reading the main story Write A Comment
Self-identity and shared traits in marriageMarried research participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that assessed whether they possessed each of 90 personality traits and whether their spouses possessed each of those same traits. Next, to test their gut-level certainty about these assessments, the participants performed a computerized task in which they indicated, as rapidly as possible, whether they possessed each of the 90 traits. The computer measured response times in milliseconds.How did they fare at the computerized task? The participants were significantly faster at determining whether a given trait applied to them if it applied to both them and their spouses — or neither them nor their spouses — than if it applied to one of them but not the other.In other words, it is easier for you to assess whether you yourself are funny if you and your spouse are both funny or both not funny. If you and your spouse are dissimilar when it comes to humor, you experience some amount of identity confusion: You have less intuitive certainty about whether you are funny.
Flow versus programmed livesAnd [their white-collar partners] think the world is going to be fine and predictable and stable and they're going to be middle-class their whole life, and how nice is that? And [the blue-collar kids] wanted that feeling for themselves, so they kind of said, "This person has it. Maybe they can teach me to feel the same way." It also went the other way. One thing about growing up middle-class is often middle-class kids are involved in a ton of activities. They're going to sports and art camps and tutoring and all these activities that take them away from their families. And they then met their blue-collar partners, who kind of just hung out with their families. These activities are expensive, they're time-consuming, and so their childhoods were more unstructured and informal. As a result, some of them gained these relationships with their families that were more informal and more emotionally intimate. And the partners from these middle-class, white-collar families were in awe of that and really wanted it for themselves.
Managing life versus living in the flowPeople from professional white-collar backgrounds tend to want to manage things. They want to oversee and plan and organize. And their partners who come from blue-collar backgrounds, working-class backgrounds, often tend want to go with the flow more. They let things come and feel free from self-imposed constraints. An example may be with emotions. People from professional white-collar backgrounds want to manage their emotions more often, meaning they want to think about them before they express them, consider how they feel, plan how they're going to express them if they do at all, and say it in this very intellectualized manner. And their partners who come from blue-collar backgrounds who believe in going with the flow a lot more expressed their emotions as they felt them and did it in a more honest way.
Marriage as a story told by twoMoreover, divorce is a kind of anti-story: It is the spectacle of narrative breaking down, both personally and publicly. Narrative works by agreement, and the whole point about divorce is that it represents the end of agreement. In divorce the story of life is deemed unfit to continue because the participants cannot agree on a common truth. The truth has to be broken in two; there now have to be two truths, two stories, two versions. The end of marriage is in a sense the end of universality and the beginning of point of view. Onlookers are often forced to take sides, for the reason that it is impossible to believe in two stories at once.
Structured conversation leading to intimacyThe 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.
The shame of being married to a MAMIL, a Middle Aged Man In Lycra
Robert Frost on running (or marriage)And you were given this swiftness, not for haste, Nor chiefly that you may go where you will, But in the rush of everything to waste, That you may have the power of standing still — Off any still or moving thing you say.
Savoring joint memories"Relational savoring refers to the practice of purposefully focusing one's attention on a positive relationship memory, a time in which one felt especially adored or safe with one's romantic partner." Basically, that means sharing and reliving positive memories together, from recounting an amazing vacation or replaying your first date to revealing your first impressions of one another. In short, Borelli says, it's conversations that start, "Remember when we...?"
‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration by Andrew M. Francis, Hugo M. Mialon :: SSRNIn this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.
Metta and resentmentMany studies show that people cite close relationships with family and friends as integral to the meaning of their lives, yet those in the habit of feeling devalued and responding with verbal aggression when they see a bath towel on the floor, for example, will devalue their loved ones who forgot to hang it up and risk damaging their most important relationships with accumulated resentment. To control the meaning of our lives, we have to train ourselves in new habits that make life better, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. Instead of automatically, habitually reacting to irritations and unpleasantness with resentment, self-pity, or aggression, we can train ourselves to respond in ways that will increase a state of genuine self-value while making other people feel valuable. In fact, this might be considered just a westernized learning-theory version of metta meditation, the ancient Buddhist practice of making oneself happier by wishing love, kindness, and happiness for others.
Don't ask for it, go for itIt's time to forget about being lovable. And in fact, it's time to forsake someone else's idea of what gives you a spark or no spark. Block the "other" from this picture. No more audience. You are the cherished and the cherisher. You are the eminently lovable and the lover. You are a million brilliant sparks, flashing against a midnight sky. Stop making room for someone else to sit down. Fuck "good" partners. Fuck waiting to be let in. You are already in. You are in. Cherish yourself.
The hidden language of marriageEven the worst marriages exist in languages that only the two participants speak. They're a series of gestures and secrets, inside jokes and barely perceptible facial expressions. And when a relationship turns sour, speaking that language becomes a curse, something constantly inviting your spouse in when you might want only to keep them out. And then, finally, you succeed. You forget how to speak it. You lock the other out. We think of the end of a marriage as a series of legal documents signed, a court hearing and a contract. But it comes earlier than that, and it's far more mundane. It's realizing you knew someone at one time, but you don't any more. And they — willfully or accidentally — have been complicit in that act.
“Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as perfect unity between soulmates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out,” says Lee. “Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it.” In one experiment, Lee and Schwarz had people in long-term relationships complete a knowledge quiz that included expressions related to either unity or journey, then recall either conflicts or celebrations with their romantic partner, and finally evaluate their relationship. As predicted, recalling conflicts leads people to feel less satisfied with their relationship — but only with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind. Recalling celebrations makes people satisfied with their relationship regardless of how they think about it. In a two follow-up experiments, the study authors invoked the unity vs. journey frame in even subtler, more incidental ways. For example, people were asked to identify pairs of geometric shapes to form a full circle (activating unity) or draw a line that gets from point A to point B through a maze (activating journey). Such non-linguistic, merely pictorial cues were sufficient to change the way people evaluated relationships. Again, conflicts hurt relationship satisfaction with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.
We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood. It was as children that we first came to know and understand what love meant. But unfortunately, the lessons we picked up may not have been straightforward. The love we knew as children may have come entwined with other, less pleasant dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, in short: suffering. As adults, we may then reject certain healthy candidates whom we encounter, not because they are wrong, but precisely because they are too well-balanced (too mature, too understanding, too reliable), and this rightness feels unfamiliar and alien, almost oppressive. We head instead to candidates whom our unconscious is drawn to, not because they will please us, but because they will frustrate us in familiar ways. We marry the wrong people because the right ones feel wrong – undeserved; because we have no experience of health, because we don’t ultimately associate being loved with feeling satisfied.
The problem is that knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by. It can take years and situations we have had no experience of. Prior to marriage, we’re rarely involved in dynamics that properly hold up a mirror to our disturbances. Whenever more casual relationships threaten to reveal the ‘difficult’ side of our natures, we tend to blame the partner – and call it a day. As for our friends, they predictably don’t care enough about us to have any motive to probe our real selves. They only want a nice evening out. Therefore, we end up blind to the awkward sides of our natures. On our own, when we’re furious, we don’t shout, as there’s no one there to listen – and therefore we overlook the true, worrying strength of our capacity for fury. Or we work all the time without grasping, because there’s no one calling us to come for dinner, how we manically use work to gain a sense of control over life – and how we might cause hell if anyone tried to stop us. At night, all we’re aware of is how sweet it would be to cuddle with someone, but we have no opportunity to face up to the intimacy-avoiding side of us that would start to make us cold and strange if ever it felt we were too deeply committed to someone. One of the greatest privileges of being on one’s own is the flattering illusion that one is, in truth, really quite an easy person to live with. With such a poor level of understanding of our characters, no wonder we aren’t in any position to know who we should be looking out for.
All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out. An urgent, primary task of any lover is therefore to get a handle on the specific ways in which they are mad. They have to get up to speed on their individual neuroses. They have to grasp where these have come from, what they make them do – and most importantly, what sort of people either provoke or assuage them. A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.
In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.
We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship. In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive.
One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.
“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.” John Gottman elaborated on those spears: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”