Ariella Brown

Till Death Do Us Part (Unless the Math Tells Us Otherwise)

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Ariella
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too much calme
Ariella   10/10/2012 9:03:08 AM
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@SaneIT @Noreen In Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman, PhD with Nan Silver (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994) "three different styles of problem solving into which healthy marriages tend to settle" are identified.

At first blush, we would think that the "validating marriage" in which "couples compromise often and calmly work out their problems to mutual satisfaction as they arise" is the ideal paradigm.  However, there are also  other approaches that are found in successful marriages.  

In a "conflict-avoiding marriage, couples agree to disagree, rarely confronting their differences head-on." While we may think avoidance is not a good thing, (see http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/16/3-myths-about-happy-marriages/)  it does work for some couples who are at the opposite extreme of the third paradigm, that of the "volatile marriage." This one is much less calm: "conflicts erupt often, resulting in passionate disputes" (28). But the couple is equally passionate in its attachment. Of course, if each one has its own assumptions about how to handle conflict -- say, if one comes from a family that thrashes everything out in screaming matches, while the other comes from stoic, silent stock,  that can also be a source of friction.

How can all these work? In part because we are all different people with different ways of communicating our emotions and working through conflict. Some people want to go sky diving for excitment, while others are content to go on a roller coaster, and some find even that to be too much. But the real key to success in all of them is that there remains more positive than negative at a ratio of five to one minimum. The ones with less conflict need less on the positive side to counterbalance it, but they still need their own form of happiness and connection. 

Noreen Seebacher
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Noreen Seebacher   10/10/2012 8:16:00 AM
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Too calm to me means there is simply no chemistry or passion between the couple. And that is not a good thing.

Alexis
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Alexis   10/10/2012 8:07:45 AM
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You make a good point. What does "calm" really say about the couple?

SaneIT
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
SaneIT   10/10/2012 7:48:28 AM
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It's a delicate balancing act for sure.  I think Dr. John Gottman was on to something with his magic ratio, that balance is affected by so many things that we deal with day to day.  I do wonder if too much calm has a negative effect too, since that would probably indicate zero communication.

Ariella
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Ariella   10/9/2012 8:12:43 PM
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@SaneIt The difference in expectations and patterns do add to some stress. It struck me as so odd to see all women acting as housewives -- even those with no children yet -- in a 1950s movies, though some commentators said there was a stigma for someone aspiring to middle class status to have his wife work. But I also heard of some of my former classmates giving up their careers once they hit a certain number of kids because it was just too much to juggle the job, the commute, the childcare, and everything else they needed to do. 

Ariella
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Ariella   10/9/2012 8:09:51 PM
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@Broadway I'm sure that is at work, but it does more than grant a woman independence. It changes what a person expects from his/her partner. Not all women are marrying with a "good provider" in mind (though some still are), and not all men can expect their wives to take care of everything in the home and all the childcare.

Ariella
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Re: How about all eternity?
Ariella   10/9/2012 8:08:15 PM
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@CallmeBob yes, that was funny. I never thought about eternity, though, supposedly some have raised the question of what happens to those who marry again after the first spouse dies. As for football and sliding doors, so long as your wife is OK with giving you space during those times and not expect  a response, it can work.

Ariella
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Ariella   10/9/2012 8:05:59 PM
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@SaneIT It's true that marriages today are quite different than those that date from the early or middle 20th Century. The book VoiceMale, which surveys husbands of various ages contrasts the differences in motivation and attitudes toward marriages from long-time husbands.  

SaneIT
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
SaneIT   10/9/2012 7:30:04 AM
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@Broadway, I almost agree with you, my wife stopped working after our third child was born.  There is a lot of stress placed on the woman in the way of being an earner for the family as well.  When money gets a little tight her first thought is that she should go back to work, the competitiveness doesn't just hit the men.  Women are feeling pressure to have careers and add to the family income.  I agree that this causes a lot of friction between spouses especially when the two of them are in crunch time at work but I think the competitiveness comes from both sides.  I also think that the study shows us something else, quiet and calm downtime is important.  If you've got two people who rarely have quiet down time together those explosive moments do more damage.  In 1904 you quit working when the sun went down and you didn't spend half the night watching TV, playing WoW or on the phone with work, we've nearly lost anything that resembles quiet time as families in general.

 

Broadway0474
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Re: Expectations and fairytales
Broadway0474   10/8/2012 10:06:28 PM
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@CalmIT, this might be a controversial explanation, but perhaps the reason that marriages are more contentious nowadays is that both partners are more often than earners. In other words, women are no longer tied into losing marriages because they need financial support. They don't have to put up with a man's b.s. anymore. So for a man, the marriage may seem more "competitive" but for a woman it's a matter of them standing up for themselves/

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