Archives for May, 2010
In his interesting and provocative book, Monogamy, Adam Phillips suggests that “…the cruelest thing one can do to one’s partner is to be good at fidelity but bad at celebration.” Is he right? Maybe. To really sustain a loving and vital bond, you need to do more than just come home. You need to come home in a way that makes your partner know why you are coming home to them. Just eating the meal he prepared or walking around the paint cans in the kitchen she painted is not celebration of your partner. As much as celebration without fidelity lacks substance and drives suspicion, fidelity without celebration can feel like obligation or habit. Over the years, I have heard too many people struggling in relationships say “To live with a partner who just doesn’t notice you or what you do is lonelier than living alone."
What guarantees commitment in the face of attractive alternative temptations? Nothing. What maintains commitment in the face of attractive alternative temptations? Many things. There is no doubt that men and women are both equally drawn to look at what would be conventionally deemed as attractive. Whether we cite evolutionary studies that suggest that physical attractiveness served as a potential sign of high genetic fitness or fertility, the fact is that because of our draw to the attractive, Hollywood has survived, tabloids live off the pictures of the beautiful people and most people notice the good looking person who walks into the office. We have what researchers call an “attentional adhesion” to attractive people -- it is hard to take our eyes off them (Maner, Gailliot, Rouby& Miller, 2007). But…there are many expected and unexpected reasons that commitment to our romantic partners wins out over attractive alternatives.
Have you ever realized or been informed that the person you are talking to has already heard the joke or story you are telling? You are not alone. Destination Memory – defined as the ability to remember to whom you told what -- has been found to be weaker than other forms of memory regardless of age. This memory lapse can prove to be embarrassing and even professionally or personally damaging.
In a new and fascinating book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee draw upon the stories of different people to illuminate the theory and meaning of collecting and hoarding. They cover the continuum from owning and treasuring something for its meaning, to the creative consideration of the limitless meaning of “ things” hoarded, to the extremes of the Collyer Brothers found buried under 30 years of hoarding 170 tons of stuff. We all have stuff -- be it clothes, books, athletic equipment, antique furniture, cars, TV’s, magazines, CD’s etc. -- that has particular meaning to us . The question is whether attachment to our stuff leaves room for our partner!
In the previous blog “Worry may be Hazardous to You and Your Relationship,” we recognized that excessive worry is costly. It takes time and energy but brings little rewards. It often leaves the worrier feeling helpless, anxious, physically depleted and more worried. Interpersonally, it compromises relationships, leaving partners feeling swept into the worry, avoidant or angry. Worry need not be a life sentence or a relationship deal breaker. Drawing upon experts like Edna Foa and Reid Wilson who address coping with worries and obsessions, let’s consider some strategies for dealing with excessive worry -- what I call “CPR” for worries.