9780061157905

100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships : What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780061157905

  • ISBN10:

    0061157902

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-12-08
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Summary

What are the essential qualities of a great relationship? What do people in healthy and happy relationships do differently? Scientists and academics have spent entire careers investigating the nature of relationships, dating, and marriage, yet their findings are inaccessible to ordinary people, hidden in obscure journals read only by other academics. Now the bestselling author of the 100 Simple Secrets series has collected the most current and significant data from more than a thousand studies on relationships and spells out the key findings in plain English. The advice is not based on one person's unique experiences or opinions, but offers for the first time the research of noted scientists studying the lives and loves of average Americans. Each of the findings is accompanied by a true story that shows the results in action. Love is hard to calculate: Researchers have proven that a partner's age, income, education, and religion are unrelated factors in the likelihood of relationship satisfaction. Always trying to win can lead to a major loss: People who feel a sense of competition with their partner are 37 percent less likely to feel that their relationship is satisfying. leave the past in the past: More than 40 percent of people report that jealousy over a previous relationship is a source of conflict in their current relationship.

Author Biography

David Niven, Ph.D., is a psychologist and social scientist who teaches at Ohio State University

Table of Contents

A Note to Readersp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
The Mundane Is Heroicp. 1
See Possibilities Where Others See Obstaclesp. 3
Set Rules for Conflictp. 5
Anyone Can Find a Happy Relationshipp. 8
It's Not How Hard You Tryp. 10
You Have Nothing to Envyp. 12
Attitude Triumphs over Outcomep. 14
Don't Be Bound by Traditionp. 16
The Past Is Not the Futurep. 18
No One Wins the Comparison Gamep. 20
See the Love Around Youp. 22
Doing Nothing Is Rarely a Solutionp. 24
You'll Forget the Disagreement but Remember the Disagreeingp. 26
Pursue What You Need Forever, Not What You Want Todayp. 28
Seek Harmony in Your Lifep. 31
The Relationship Test: Are You Lonely?p. 33
It's the Little Things That Matter the Mostp. 35
A Relationship Requires Two Equalsp. 37
Beware of Fairy Talesp. 40
Cultivate a Common Interestp. 42
Treat the Disease, Not the Symptomp. 44
There's No Point in Putting On a Showp. 46
You Make Your Own Historyp. 48
Maintain Your Sense of Controlp. 50
Money Can't Buy Love, but It Can Buy Stressp. 52
There Are No Mind Readersp. 54
There's No Need to Hurryp. 56
Friends Speak from Experience-Their Ownp. 58
Drink Lessp. 60
Decide Whether You Want to Win or Be Happyp. 62
A Sense of Humor Helpsp. 64
Think Beyond the Engagementp. 66
See the Friendship in Your Relationshipp. 68
The Most Time Is Not the Best Timep. 70
Reduce TV Timep. 72
The World Will Intrude on Your Relationshipp. 74
Gentlemen Prefer the Same Things Ladies Preferp. 76
Love Is Blind but Life Isn't Alwaysp. 78
Balance Depends on Which Way You Leanp. 80
A Relationship by Any Other Name Is Just as Importantp. 82
The Future Matters More Than the Pastp. 84
You Don't Have to See Eye to Eye on Everythingp. 86
Be Open with Each Otherp. 88
Accentuate the Positive in All Aspects of Your Lifep. 90
It Helps to Be Friendsp. 92
Foundations Are Created in the Beginningp. 94
Ambivalence Is a Negativep. 96
Share Houseworkp. 98
A Relationship Starts with Yourselfp. 100
Let Go of the Burden of Painp. 102
Develop a Healthy Calmp. 104
Think of Your Own Idealp. 106
Stay Flexiblep. 108
Think About Potentialp. 110
Even in a Relationship, You Are Still an Individualp. 112
Rest Up-This Is Going to Take Some Effortp. 114
Like the Way You Lookp. 116
Don't Romanticize the Pastp. 118
Share the Praise and Share in the Blamep. 120
You Can't Find Without Lookingp. 122
Meaningful Commitment Is Mutual Commitmentp. 124
Friendships Predict Relationshipsp. 126
Prepare for Milestonesp. 128
Don't Bring Your Job Home with Youp. 130
We Assume Similar Preferencesp. 132
Don't Let Secrets Eat You Upp. 134
To Find a Better Way, Look Where You've Beenp. 136
Money Matters Less over Timep. 138
Recognize the Value of Shared Valuesp. 140
Understand What You're Looking Forp. 142
Never Let Faults Stand for the Wholep. 144
You'll Need Some Relationship Friendsp. 146
Don't Wait to Start Moving in the Right Directionp. 148
Music Can Bring Us Togetherp. 150
Define What You Needp. 152
Show You Care, Even When It's Hard Top. 154
Make Your Decisions for Positive Reasonsp. 156
A Relationship Is Built on a Foundation of Supportp. 158
The Pieces of Your Life Must Fit Togetherp. 161
Master Your Fearsp. 163
We Are All Much More Alike Than Differentp. 165
Limit Your Interest in the Pastp. 167
Get Your Reality from Realityp. 169
You Are Never Too Old to Find Lovep. 171
We Look Inward to See How People Feel About Usp. 173
Be Willing to Evolvep. 175
Connect, See You're Capable, and Know You Countp. 177
Reliability Counts a Lotp. 179
You Are Complete by Yourself Intensity Fadesp. 181
Intensity Fadesp. 183
Beware Second Opinionsp. 185
Have Faith but Don't Forget Realityp. 187
Pay Attentionp. 189
Nice People Don't Finish Lastp. 191
Relationships Are like Modern Artp. 193
It's Not Easy, Even if It Looks Itp. 195
Most People Are Looking for Experienced Rookiesp. 197
It's for You-or It Isn'tp. 199
See the Horizon, Watch Your Stepp. 201
The Search for Perfection Is Endlessp. 203
Sourcesp. 205
Acknowledgmentsp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships
What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It

Chapter One

The Mundane Is Heroic

Some tasks we think of as difficult and their achievement noteworthy. Others we think of as boring and their achievement insignificant. Of course, the tasks that are noteworthy are often built on a foundation of the mundane. Firefighters study lifesaving techniques and firefighting protocols for years on end, and then one day they are called on to use their skills and knowledge to save a building and the people in it. Without the years of mundane commitment, there would be no moment of great achievement. We recognize that having a long-standing healthy relationship is an achievement. If you are married long enough, the local newspaper will take your picture and write up your story. But that achievement is built on a nearly infinite series of actions, including a daily, hourly, moment-to-moment commitment to each other. It is certainly not always easy, and the rewards are not always immediately apparent, but sacrificing your immediate preferences and being committed to sharing, caring, and listening are mundane but heroic steps toward your lifetime relationship goal.

Even before they dated, Kathy and William began working out together. Later, after they married, their interest and success in running led them to set a goal of running together in the Boston Marathon. After training for three years together working toward that goal, Kathy's best time qualified her for the race and William's did not.

William could have reacted in a variety of ways, all of them perfectly normal, given human nature. He could have wallowed in self-pity, dragging both himself and his wife down and making her feel somehow guilty for his exclusion. He could have asked Kathy to wait until they could run together. He could have resented his wife's ability to achieve and tried to sabotage her.

"A big part of me wished I was out there running the marathon, of course," admitted William. "So what did I do on race day? I went out to five or six locations and cheered her on." William chose to encourage rather than discourage. "I lived vicariously through her. Her success is my success."

William says that in working out together, as in life together, jealousy, envy, and other unpleasant emotions can visit relationships, but the most important thing to remember is that "we're a team every day—race day, too. We have to be able to give each other the freedom to be able to develop our own talents. To not stand in each other's way, but to stand with each other, helping if we can, watching if we can't."

The ability to maintain open, healthy communication in a relationship is associated with strong levels of such highly regarded personal qualities as self-restraint, courage, generosity, commitment to justice, and good judgment.

Fowers 2001

Chapter Two

See Possibilities Where Others See Obstacles

In any relationship, it is possible to find evidence that suggests the relationship will thrive or evidence that predicts it just won't work. Even the strongest, best relationships experience problems that suggest it might not last. And even in the most tenuous relationships, there are reasons to think it just might work well. The real question is which evidence you pay more attention to. Constant attention to the weaknesses of any relationship will weaken it. Constant attention to the strengths of any relationship will strengthen it.

It is perhaps the ultimate example of love and devotion trumping religious differences and the associated political differences: Pam is Jewish, Adil is Muslim, and they have been happily married for more than a decade.

Adil explains the effort it takes to keep his world in order: "When I am with my mother I say 'we' about the Muslims, and when I am here with my wife I say 'we' about the Jews. Sometimes I stop and don't know what to say—'we, they.'"

"The political issues can go on and on," Pam sighed. "But I always like to take things back to our lives, to here and now."

When they met, Adil was interested in asking Pam out on a date but worried she might not want to be involved with a Muslim. "I remember this tension, thinking if I should tell her right away that I am a Muslim," he recalled.

"I wasn't oblivious and I was well aware of the differences," she said. "But I thought I had the courage to manage." While both sets of parents were ultimately supportive, the society Adil and Pam chose to inhabit wasn't.

"People are so intense," said Pam. "Everywhere you go it is Jew, Arab, Arab, Jew. You can't just be." There have been many double takes, criticisms, and insults. Too many to count.

Determined and in love, Adil and Pam have worked to straddle the distance between Jewish and Muslim cultures, to exist in the open. In the meantime, symbols and sounds of coexistence permeate their home. Their dining room armoire displays a Koran next to a menorah. The family celebrates Jewish holidays alongside Muslim ones.

"It is possible for this to work," Pamela said. "A committed couple can survive. If we had considered only the difficulties, we would have nothing. But we saw past them, and now we have everything that matters."

"If there is anything our relationship might suggest about how our two worlds can get along, it is compromise," Adil said. "It's the magic word."

In an experiment performed with couples who were experiencing conflict, half of the couples were asked to discuss the best part of their relationship and half to discuss the worst aspect of their relationship. Couples discussing the positive side of their relationship reduced their stress level by 15 percent, while couples discussing the negative side saw their stress level increase 48 percent.

Sullivan 2001

100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships
What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It
. Copyright © by David Niven. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It by David Niven
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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