From time to time, I come across a quote that makes me pause, feel into an issue in a way that I hadn't before, or maybe helps us to restore a measure of grounding. Some things that will be included in this section of my website will be written by others, some may be my own musings.
"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. a merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist. a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky." Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
"Instead of looking to a relationship for shelter, we could welcome its power to wake us up in areas of life where we are asleep and where we avoid naked, direct contact with life. This approach puts us on a path. It commits us to movement and change, providing forward direction by showing us exactly where we most need to grow. Embracing relationship as a path also gives us a practice: learning to use each difficulty along the way as an opportunity to go further, to connect more deeply, not just with our partner, but with our own aliveness as well." John Welwood
"I know what I have given you. I don't know what you have received." Antonio Portia
"You are the sky-everything else is just the weather" Pema Chodron
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
"In between a stimulus and a response is a space. In that space in our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." Victor Frankel
"Part of us has to die to transform; and a part of us dies if we don't. Which part will prevail? Jett Psaris
"If it is clear, then, that we are not contented with the idea of health as a simple absence of psychoneurotic disorder—we can say in this context that health is not ease. The life of a healthy individual is characterized by fears, conflicting feelings, doubts, frustration, as much as by the positive features. The main thing is that the man or woman feels he or she is living his or her own life, taking responsibility for action or inaction, and able to take credit for success and blame for failure. In one language it can be said that the individual has emerged from dependence to independence, or to autonomy.” DW Winnicott
Can we predict couples who are likely to get divorced?
John Gottman's research on predicting divorce (1992) tried to do just this by interviewing nearly 100 couples:
The researchers focused on a particular a set of 7 variables in this study, to determine which were predictive of the success or failure of the relationships they observed. These variables were:
1. Expression of fondness/affection 2. Expression of negativity towards spouse 3. Expressiveness vs. withdrawal 4. We-ness vs. Seperateness (how much they identify as part of the couple) 5. Level of traditionality regarding gender roles 6. How couple reported dealing with conflict: Volatility, Chaos, or Glorifying the Struggle 7. Marital Disappointment or Disillusionment
Variables increasing likelihood of a couple staying together:
- A husband’s expression of fondness towards his wife
- Both the husband’s and the wife’s expression of we-ness
- Expression of positivity or happiness in their marriage, especially on the part of the husband
The single most powerful predictor of divorce in this study was the husband’s disappointment with the marriage, which, at the time of their interview, was significantly correlated with both his own and his wife’s marital unhappiness, his belligerence towards his wife, and his wife’s contempt and anger towards him. The husband’s disappointment in the marriage was also correlated to his wife’s faster heart rate during the marital interaction (increasing the likelihood of flooding).
Couples who score high in the Chaos dimension may end up divorcing because of their approach to the continual unforeseen circumstances they find themselves in. Couples who score high on this dimension feel out of control of external events and usually do not know how to problem solve or get back on their feet. Instead, they just accept that life is hard and they continue to struggle to survive instead of growing closer or learning new ways to deal with life’s problems. Unfortunately, the philosophy of passive endurance, that life is hard and there is nothing a person can do about it, does not help their marriage survive.
On the other hand, couples who Glorify the Struggle have a better chance at staying together than couples who do not. These couples may be in the same turmoil as the couples who score high in chaos, but the difference is their perception of the hardships. Quotes like “Marriage is the hardest job in the world, but it is well worth it” demonstrate the couples’ feelings of hopefulness and togetherness (“we-ness” in Gottman-speak). Glorifiers go on to tell in detail how certain traumas and intense experiences made them feel closer to one another. Hence marriages with this outlook on hardships grow stronger and get better as time goes on. Glorifying the Struggle correlates negatively with divorce because hope and commitment towards the other is stressed.