Only three in ten couples remain in healthy, happy marriages, as noted in the book "The Science of Happily Ever After."
Was there some common toxic issue found in the miserable marriages?
Emily Esfahani interviewed author and psychologist Ty Tashiro who shared the scientific studies conducted at the University of Washington in 1986 by John Gottman and Robert Levenson. With a team of researchers, they had couples attached to electrodes to track their physiology.
The couples spoke about their relationship, such as how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects’ blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couple’s back home and followed up with them six (6) years later to see if they were still together.
From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.
The body tells a story that words do not. The disaster couples looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples over time, it was found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.
The master couples, showed low physiological arousal, the opposite of the disasters. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. The masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.
John Gottman elaborated: “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.’”
In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.
He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. What was discovered was the key “bid” to why some relationships thrive while others languish.
Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, aka “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a robin outside the window. He may exclaim, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting (a bid) a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the robin.
Every relationship has interactions that are often conversations. The wife can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband. Though the bird-bid might seem minor, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects his interest.
By turning toward your partners to engage the bidder, shows interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”
These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy.
So the first scientific trait is attention; whether there is a “turning toward” or “turning away” reaction. This is how you respond and give attention to your partner. The active construction response is the type of attention that fosters a greater connection.
According to Shelly Gable, associate professor of psychology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, an important key to understanding a relationship’s strength is how it works in good times, not just whether it withstands the bad. Partners’ reactions to each other’s good news can better predict the quality of a relationship (and whether it will endure) than can a partners’ reactions to bad news.
The 3 wrong ways and 1 right way: Gable has found that out of four possible ways to respond to a partner’s positive news, only one the "active-constructive response" is good. Couples whose partners react in any of three less positive ways are at greater risk of separating.
Consider the following example Gable gives to illustrate: Your significant other comes home, beaming, and announces that he/she just got a great promotion at work. You could react with:
1. Active-constructive response. "That’s great, you’ve earned it, I’m so proud of you!" followed by questions. Conveys enthusiasm, support, and interest.
2. Passive-constructive response. "Great job, honey!" then shifting to the next topic. Like dinner.
3. Active-destructive response (what Gable dubs "finding the cloud in a silver lining response"). "Wow! Does this mean you’ll be working later hours? Are they going to be paying you more? I can’t believe they picked you out of all the candidates." Generally deflating.
4. Passive-destructive response. Can take either of two forms: "Wow! Wait until I tell you what happened to me today," which is very self-focused, or, "What’s for dinner?"—Ignoring the event altogether.
Positive reactions also magnify the uplifting effects of the good news for the partner who’s doing the sharing, Gable notes. A negative or semi-positive response to a partner’s good news, however, can undercut all the benefits derived from disclosing in the first place, such as fostering trust, intimacy, and satisfaction with the relationship.
Does your partner bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility? Contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.
Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. Kindness is a bond that leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship. In some people, the “kindness muscle” is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise.
Kindness is the second basic trait to whether a couple has a lasting relationship.
The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.
If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often. Kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis.
Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy or good news. Is there excitement or disdain? How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.
There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness.
Among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.
It is about the LOVE!!
Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of the 20th century is quoted as saying:
“When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many people you love actually do love you. I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.
The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can by testimonial dinners. You can print pamphlets that say how wonderful you are. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”
Warren Buffet’s late wife, Susan, was a famously kind and loving person, and Warren has often said that marrying her was the most important decision he ever made. When Susan had cancer, he visited her in a hospital in San Francisco, then flew to Georgia to speak with a class of college students. According to Alice Schroeder’s book, The Snowball, the students asked him about his greatest success and his greatest failure. It was at this lecture that he shared the quote above.
Now, go out and fill someone’s love bucket today!
Sex and Love Always a HOT Topic!
‘Sex and Love:’ an exploration of the humor, heartbreak and adventure in Millennial dating
New web-series explores technology and the modern dating landscape of Generation Y
In today’s world of texting and hook-up apps, where a relationship can be made or broken by a Facebook status, it’s clear that the dating landscape has changed immensely since Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks explored an early connection between technology and romance 16 years ago. In their upcoming web-series "Sex and Love," filmmakers Kyle Thomas and Mikal McLendon set out to explore dating, romance and sex as experienced by Generation Y, especially showcasing the ways in which technology, and our modern landscape, draw the drama, sentimentality and humor out of our search for sex and love.
ThisChicago Pride article is by Anthony Morgano
"Chicago provides the backdrop for Sex and Love… What better setting, than in the Heart of America, for exploring themes of romance and its many perils?" reads the series’ Facebook page. "In particular: the complex world of dating for Millennials — the new ‘lost generation.’"
"Sex and Love, a narrative dramedy, will touch on many themes relevant to Millennials as the show follows the love lives of two twenty-something roommates — a gay man and a straight woman — and their struggles to connect in a time when relationships can be won, nurtured and lost over text messages," it continues. "Unlike decades past, modern dating doesn’t have any formalities. It’s the Wild West. Whether you’re "seeing someone," hooking up, in an open relationship, or just sexting, ambiguity rules the day."
"Sex and Love" began the way so many creative endeavors seem to — over a couple drinks. Thomas and McClendon worked together previously, as director and writer respectively, on "Stiletto," the film-noir that won Hesperidian Productions the title of Chicago’s 2012 RAW Filmmaker of the Year. Both filmmakers have since split from Hesperidian Productions, with Thomas now working under the label Kyle Thomas Creative. Thomas and McLendon continue to work together as they did before Hesperidian, finding inspiration in their lives and the lives of those around them.
Thomas first approached McLendon ("at DS Tequila, I believe") at the end of 2013 and proposed the concept of a show about modern dating set in Chicago. McLendon instantly liked the idea, which touched on themes that he’d been pondering in his own life. Those same themes, the duo realized, were also being addressed in internet articles popping up in their newsfeeds that picked apart OKCupid or explained how to parse a lover’s text message for deeper meaning. Technology, they realized, is intrinsically connected to dating and it’s up to Millennials to figure out just how to balance the two.
"Every boyfriend that I’ve ever had, I met on Facebook — I was thinking about that the other day, like ‘oh my God, I’m a statistic!’ Because I straight up am," Thomas told ChicagoPride.com, laughing. "I’ve gone on a lot of dates, we all have, and one thing that I find very funny… is so many people are saying it’s so hard to meet people… and, granted, it’s not the easiest thing to find true love or husband material sitting at the back of the bar, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there."
"It’s really easy to meet people now actually, either on Facebook, or Grindr, OK Cupid, at the bars, you have so many venues to meet people," McLendon added — the duo’s conversation bounces off one another as they help fill out ideas and finish thoughts. "But because of that it kind of feeds back into itself where everyone is constantly looking for the perfect match or the best body or best whatever and so you end up with a situation where you could meet somebody and things might maybe be working, but they’re still looking and their attention starts to wander and things just kind of fall apart.".
"Thats why there’s so much disconnect, I think, with our generation when it comes to dating — because there are so many options, especially when you’re living in the city," he concluded.
Thomas and McLendon started pooling their friends ("we kind of talk about our dating lives all the time with our friends, so it wasn’t brand new or groundbreaking subject matter") and had similar conversations with them. It was clear that, despite differences in gender, race, sexuality and identity, there were certain similar stories and experiences that repeated in patterns. For example, finding a guy you thought you were seeing exclusively on Grindr or getting dumped by a text message are situations that are shared across, and at the same time very particular to, our generation.
The duo especially wants to explore technology and the way that it affects communication and the modern dating landscape. Texting is ubiquitous in the Millennials’ world, but many filmmakers shy away from it — understandably since sitting and reading somebody’s phone screen is somewhat less than cinematic. Thomas was initially wary of showing texting as well, pointing out the broad gap between seeing a drink thrown in someone’s face and sending them a meanly-worded quip, but in wanting to strive for an "authentic" experience, he and McLendon began exploring ways to show texting on "Sex and Love."
Together, they’ve brainstormed some interesting ways to incorporate texting into the show, ways to make it as emotionally engaging as it feels in real life. They also plan to explore the effects of Facebook, apps, dating websites and the like — things, they say, Millennials deal with in their everyday lives as they pioneer a new romantic world.
"We sort of grew up with this more traditional lens of relationships where there’s ‘the one’ for everybody out there and you sort of fall in love and live happily ever after, but then we grow up and its like BOOM — there’s Grindr and all these like online dating and sex apps and the bars are crazy… and we’re kind of the guinea pigs where we’re figuring these things out for the first time," McLendon told ChicagoPride.com.
"I think a great thing that the internet has been able to do is sort of expand the idea of what a relationship can be… The problem, I think, is that then you end up with people who are looking for different things or don’t know what they’re looking for or don’t know how to express what they’re looking for," he continued. "Everyone’s figuring it out as we go and then we have this technology that we have to figure out how to use as we go as well, and it’s very difficult but potentially funny and strange at the same time."
Thomas and McLendon admit that there are other shows that explore similar themes on TV right now, most notably HBO’s "Girls." McLendon sees Lena Dunham’s show as a very particular kind of experience, specific to "sort of privileged, white, New York, 20-somethings" that focuses mostly on character’s quirks. Whereas they touch on dating and technology and the way that Facebook and the like can affect relationships, he wants "Sex and Love" to focus on the modern dating experience in particular — "there’s a lot of material to mine here."
Another way Thomas and McLendon want to differentiate themselves, especially from "Girls," which has been criticized for lacking diversity, is by exploring dating through multiple perspectives and lenses. Thomas and McLendon are both gay men and see the show, set in Chicago, featuring scenes in Boystown. They want "Sex and Love" to reflect the growing diversity of the Millennial’s world, especially the increasing integration of the gay and straight spheres.
"There’s a lot of movement in society now, and you can see in the advocacy for gay marriage and gay rights and the tremendous support that we’ve been getting over the last couple of years, that [being gay] is becoming something that’s more normalized and you don’t necessarily have the stigma of ‘this is a gay show,’ or ‘we’re only gonna talk about gay people,’" Thomas said, discussing marriage as a new option for queer Millennials and teasing to ChicagoPride.com that two brides will walk down the aisle come season two. "Because it’s not, it’s real life, we’re living it every day and I think that is something that we really want people to relate with."
"The perspective is generational, so its more about the age group, Millennials, and our experiences and these things that we’ve sort of had to grow up with and have been conditioned to," McLendon added. "We want to explore that through various lenses… we want to incorporate as much diversity into that as we can because while we have shared experiences, it’s different depending on where you’re coming at it from."
"We dont want to be pigeonholed as a gay show," he added. "One of the leads is a gay man and one of the leads is a straight woman — and yes, our experiences as gay men will inform them, but I think that we want to try to be as universal as we can."
In addition to representing a diversity of identity, Thomas and McLendon want "Sex and Love" to represent a diversity of Millennial perspectives on dating and sex. The two already come from, if not opposing, definitely differing opinions on the matter. Thomas is an out-and-out romantic, someone who knows what he wants, and what he wants is intimate, passionate love and romance. McLendon, on the other hand, isn’t sold on the idea of monogamy just yet, dating without necessarily looking to find something stable or committed. These viewpoints, and others they see as sort of universal types among Millennials, are represented through the attitudes of the series’ four main characters as the series opens.
The show begins with Emma, who will be played by the beautiful and talented Kristin Anderson, who Thomas and McLendon worked with when she starred in "Stiletto." The career-focused Emma is turning 30 and beginning to re-evaluate her life, trying to decide if her goal-oriented path has really made her happy and beginning to explore dating and love. The show’s other main character, Connor, moves in with Emma as the series opens, fresh from being broken up with by his long-term boyfriend. Single, but not by choice, the hopeless romantic gay man must navigate a dating world that now includes precarities like Grindr and Scruff. Ian, a straight man, begins from a more casual perspective, preferring sex to love and dating for the fun of it, while Emma’s best friend Kassie is engaged to the woman she loves, giving a perspective of what happens when the search is over.
"I grew up raised on this idea, this fantasy, of true love and finding that partner, that person, that soul mate, whatever that be… I don’t necessarily go on my dates looking for a husband, but I do find that I’m drawn to this passionate romance that does have stability and longevity to it," Thomas said. "I’ve had a lot of friends that have introduced me to other ways of looking at things, but I think as a generation we did grow up on Disney movies and we’ve had this like ‘prince/princess’ sort of hope."
"I think that’s part of the issue though… in addition to growing up with that Disney lens, just looking at like the growing divorce rate, a lot of people grew up in broken homes, myself included, and so it kind of disillusions you a bit about marriage because it shows that marriage isn’t necessarily the end-all be-all and it isn’t necessary going to be such a great thing to aspire to because it doesn’t really work out for a lot of people," McLendon said. "I think that’s opened up a lot of people to thinking about dating and marriage, or whatever you want to end up with, differently — just having other ideas about what you can get out of the dating experience."
One the thing the duo wants to make clear is that they are in no way stigmatizing hookup apps, online dating, meeting people in bars or any of the like. "Sex and Love" will explore all of these processes, showcasing not only the humor and mishaps that we’ve all seen ensue, but also the uniquely modern twist they lend to romance.
"There are the happy, romantic, magical, beautiful moments that still do happen, technology hasn’t taken that away from us," Thomas insists.
"I know a lot of people are like ‘I hate Grindr’ or ‘Grindr is destroying relationships,’ but really I think technology is just becoming more prevalent in our society," McLendon said. "It’s just something that we have to adapt to and that we’re still adapting to and figuring out how to incorporate and its not evil — It’s not necessarily good either, but it is something that’s a part of our lives and we have to learn to kind of embrace it or at least live in the world with it."
"We’re more about exploring technology and its effect on relationships, rather than making a statement about it," Thomas concluded.
"Sex and Love" is currently in a stage of pre-production. Thomas and McLendon are both approaching and being approached by producers and talking to people who are helping to move the project to the next level. The duo is especially busy these days, juggling tasks that include finishing the season’s scripts and scouting talent, courting investors and working out budgets. Considering the project was conceived less than six months ago, things are moving along at fast pace and both filmmakers are excited for what lies ahead.
When asked how to categorize their show, the duo says this: "Sex and Love" isn’t as quirky as "Girls" or as campy as "Sex and the City" and they’re not a sitcom like "Will and Grace," despite the gay man/female best friend leads. They are, however, somewhere in the same vein as these shows that came before, those that explored romance through the eyes of a generation. "Sex and Love" will showcase the comedy of the Millennial dating situation, but also address the serious moments — the heartbreak, wonder and confusion that come with dating for Generation Y.
"When you’re in your 20s that’s basically what you’re doing — we’re all exploring, we’re figuring out what we want, how we can get it, what works, what doesn’t work," McLendon said. "We figure those things out as we go and make a lot of mistakes along the way and that’s what we want to capture with this show is that process."
Thanking You, My Love, on Thanksgiving, You Fill My Love Bucket!
Thoughts of you, today, well up in my heart
Happy memories fill me with joy
Appreciation for you runs deep
Nice feelings and experiences abound
Knowing you has made my life better
You are the foundation of so much gratitude
Open the hearts of many with your kind ways
Unconditional love is the greatest thanks of all
When You Realize That Marriage Isn’t For You What Happens to the Love Bucket?
Seth Adam Smith and his wife Kim had been married only a year and a half, when the groom came to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for him.
Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading. Following is in Seth’s own words:
I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.
Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?
Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.
Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?” (to fill her love bucket)
Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.
But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
Marriage is about family.
I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.
To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.
And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.
Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.
Author Seth Adam Smith
So, The Love Bucket DOES get filled but not for selfish reasons. The Love Bucket gets filled to SHARE.