Can love last forever through the ups and downs of life? Couples therapist Dr. Sue Johnson explains what it really takes to make a relationship work. This is really good.
Kindness Leads to Better Marriage
The Atlantic publishes good article summarizing John Gottman's research suggesting that kindness is a as key factor in successful relationships. Check it out!
Emotionally Focused Therapy Research
"Landmark study shows that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) can help couples understand their relationship better, reduce conflicts and create secure, loving bonds that can soothe brains."
This is such a lovely story from StoryCorps that I think is a great example of a loving relationship. Wishing this for everybody. If we can create this at home, perhaps we can take it to the world.
EFT MRI Hand Holding Study
More research on Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Principle investigators Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Jim Coan happy to share that the first brain scan study of EFT is now available in an Open Access Journal. EFT theorists explicitly claim that EFT affects a couple's ability to soothe difficult emotions by strengthening their attachment bond. I see this often as I work with couples taking them through the steps of Emotionally Focused Therapy. We now have some good evidence. Awesome.
MEN, MASCULINITY AND MARRIAGE
© Jaime Nisenbaum, Ph.D. Posted with permission from the author.
There is a growing body of research showing how the process of socialization of boys in our society leads to severe relational deficits later in life. One place where this lack of relational skills shows up very prominently is in intimate relationships and marriages. In my professional life as a clinical psychologist, as well as in my personal life as a husband and a father, I notice how the internalized messages about what it is to be a man in our society gets in the way of men becoming more empathic, caring, loving, and engaged in family life with our wives and children. The same body of research that has identified these issues is also helping men and their families understand and eventually change these deep-seated patterns.
Research shows that, at birth, baby boys are more emotionally expressive than baby girls but by the age of 4 years old the effects of the socialization of boys in curbing that emotional expression are already clearly visible. At that early age, research shows that boys have already received conscious and unconscious messages from parents, teachers, peers and the culture at large that being in touch with vulnerable emotions such as sadness, fear, and healthy needs for closeness and affection are not acceptable for boys. By second grade, many teachers say that they can no longer “read” the facial expression in boys who have been “trained” to hide their emotions.
When boys begin to shut off those vulnerable emotions in order to fit into the “code of masculinity” -- being tough, competitive, aggressive, and avoiding anything that is labeled “girly” or feminine -- they start a relentless process of cutting off and disconnecting from these essential parts of themselves. By the time men get married, they have been through many years of practice in severing their connection from these vulnerable and vital parts of themselves.
The negative consequences of that process on men’s mental health are devastating and range from chronic anger, anxiety, substance abuse, and violence towards themselves and others to apathy and depression. Man men also suffer from an apparent “lack of empathy” that trouble many marriages and relationships that come to my office for help. I usually explain to the men and the women in my practice that given what men are required to do to be “men,” how could it be otherwise? Empathy requires that we have access to our feelings so that we can resonate with the feelings of others. If men are taught to cut off from certain feelings, how can we expect them to be able to resonate with the feelings of others? While this explanation is no excuse for any kind of abuse, it gives a starting place for men to start re-thinking whether they want or not to continue to live up to the mandates of the “code of masculinity.”
Unless men resolve to address their internal state of disconnection, they will repeat in their relationship with others what they learn to do with themselves: to dismiss, ignore, and avoid the “troubling” vulnerable feelings and live their lives as divided and un-integrated selves.
The “code of masculinity” is maintained by both the men and women in our culture and both men and women suffer from this state of affairs. But I believe that it is incumbent on men to realize what they have been “programmed” to do and finally decide to do something about it for their own sake, and for the sake of their relationships.
About the author:
Jaime Nisenbaum, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and professor who specializes in men's issues. He has a practice in Berkeley and San Rafael, CA. For more information about him, visit his web site. www.jaimenisenbaum.com
Thich Nhat Hanh on Love
In every interaction we have with our partner there is the opportunity to heal. I guess that is truly what love is, a dynamic powerful healing agent. We, especially partners, are deeply connected and attached to each other. Science tells us that the way we communicate can impact each other's brains, for good or for ill. I guess we can build each other up or tear one another down. I image just like me, you too desire to do good. In this video, we get some tools for creating and maintaining love and secure attachment.
The 4 Mantras:
1. Darling, I am here for you.
2. Darling, I know you are there.
3. Darling, I know you suffer and that is why I am here for you.
4. Darling, I suffer. I do my best to practice. Please help.
Listen to this great video for a deeper understanding and advice on how to love.
Yahoo posted a nice summary of the research on relationship enhancers: The 10 Ways to Improve your Relationship.
1. Solidify your friendship.
2. Appreciate each other.
3. Concentrate on the present to ensure a future.
4. Don't Distort.
5. Share power.
6. Find common goals.
7. Understand anger.
8. Break negative cycles.
9. Focus on what's fixable.
10. Accept the unsolvable.
As the title of this suggests, most of this is based on John Gottman's research. Any of his books on relationships will give you detailed information on how keep on enhancing your relationship. It is good stuff. Common sense but important to be reminded of as we live our lives in this very busy complicated world. We need our partners now more than ever. But for various reasons, creating and maintaining a safe and secure attachment can get blocked. Use these principles to open up the flow between you and your lover.
Keeping the love alive over time. Ester has some interesting things to say about this. Happiness, security and and sexual spark in a long term relationship are something we can actually attain.
"I feel so special when you take time from your busy day to message me a sweet little note, then I know I am on your mind. I feel so safe when you hold me in your arms and tell me you love me and I am your world, I know you will protect me until the end of time. I feel so blessed to have you in my life, being loved by you makes my world a more beautiful place."~Karen Kostyla
Evelyn Schmechtig Cochran