Diane Johnson looks dating and marriage in a NYRB review.
It used to be that on a date, the boy would pay for a Pepsi and the movie; that was it. Lori Gottlieb, in Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, estimates the cost to today’s woman of four months of dating, counting therapy afterward when it doesn’t work out, to be $3,600: online dating service, clothes, including expensive underwear, haircut, hair color, cosmetics, bikini wax, entertaining him, and gifts. Things have changed.
Studies have couples checking in annually about their marriages, online.
“You don’t wait to see the dentist until something hurts — you go for checkups on a regular basis…If people were to bring their marriages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that provide the same sort of benefit that a physical health checkup would provide?”
A survey reported on the Well blog shows fidelity as criteria #1 for a happy marriage.
But what about children? As an ingredient to a happy marriage, kids were far from essential, ranking eighth behind good sex, sharing chores, adequate income and a nice house, among other things. Only 41 percent of respondents said children were important to a happy marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990.
NYT: What Brain Scans Can Tell Us About Marriage. Looking at older couples:
“They have the feelings of euphoria, but also the feelings of calm and security that we feel when we’re attached to somebody,” Dr. Acevedo said. “I think it’s wonderful news.”
Can Pets Improve Your Relationship? PsychCentral article, summed up at the Well Blog this way:
Do you greet each other with excitement, overlook each other’s flaws and easily forgive bad behavior? If it’s your pet, the answer is probably yes. But your spouse? Probably not.
Newsflash? Daily Appreciation Helps Romance. In study-ese:
“Gratitude triggers a cascade of responses within the person who feels it in that very moment, changing the way the person views the generous benefactor, as well as motivations toward the benefactor. This is especially true when a person shows that they care about the partner’s needs and preferences.”
Couples’ lit spotlight: Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, by sex/relationship therapist, David Schnarch. The book samples actual sex therapy sessions to make its case.
Don’t care to read 400 pages about how differentiation? Try the six-point plan linked from Schnarch’s website, posted here minus the explanations:
- Operate from the Best in Yourself.
- Sustain eye contact with each other out of bed.
- Try Hugging ’till Relaxed.
- Make eye contact in bed.
- Change your style of sexual interactions.
- Pay attention to depth of involvement with your partner during sex.
Also via PassionateMarriage.com, here’s a Sex in Relationships Survey, which pretty much communicates what Schnarch is aiming at while rating your sex life on a 11 – 55 scale.
On the NYT’s Well Blog, a collection of divorce articles and assessment tools. Plus news:
Divorce rates have actually declined since peaking in the 1970s, and 10-year divorce rates have dropped dramatically with each generation.
More wisdom from For Better posted by the book’s author: The Science of a Happy Marriage.
While there may be genetic differences that influence commitment, other studies suggest that the brain can be trained to resist temptation…
A review and excerpt of Tara Parker-Pope’s For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, which surveys the research about what makes marriages work. From the book:
Is the story of your early courtship filled with nostalgia and optimism? Or is it tinged with negativity and regret? Do you remember getting lost in the rain together on your first date? Or do you just remember the fact that he refused to stop for directions?
Spouses who are in happy marriages often recount the early part of their relationship with laughter, smiles, and nostalgia — even when talking about difficult times like a job loss or financial struggles. Unhappy couples, however, tend to recast their past times together in a decidedly negative light.