NYTimes: Căsătoria durabilă

by - ianuarie 08, 2011

Sub titlul Sustainable Love: The Happy Marriage Is the 'Me' Marriage, Tara Parker-Pope scrie despre dragostea şi căsătoria durabilă. Foarte interesant, deşi nu trebuie să fii un geniu ca să îţi dai seama de lucrurile spuse acolo; interesant şi testul psihologic legat de subiect. Aşadar:
A lasting marriage does not always signal a happy marriage. Plenty of miserable couples have stayed together for children, religion or other practical reasons. But for many couples, it’s just not enough to stay together. They want a relationship that is meaningful and satisfying. In short, they want a sustainable marriage.

The things that make a marriage last have more to do with communication skills, mental health, social support, stress - those are the things that allow it to last or not,” says Arthur Aron, a psychology professor who directs the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

For centuries, marriage was viewed as an economic and social institution, and the emotional and intellectual needs of the spouses were secondary to the survival of the marriage itself. In modern relationships, people are looking for a partnership, and they want partners who make their lives more interesting.

Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam, called it the “Michelangelo effect,” referring to the manner in which close partners “sculpt” each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals. Dr. Aron and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called “self-expansion.” Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

To measure this, Dr. Lewandowski developed a series of questions for couples: How much has being with your partner resulted in your learning new things? How much has knowing your partner made you a better person? (Take the full quiz measuring self-expansion.)

The concept explains why people are delighted when dates treat them to new experiences, like a weekend away. But self-expansion isn’t just about exotic experiences. Individuals experience personal growth through their partners in big and small ways. It happens when they introduce new friends, or casually talk about a new restaurant or a fascinating story in the news.

The effect of self-expansion is particularly pronounced when people first fall in love. In research at the University of California at Santa Cruz, 325 undergraduate students were given questionnaires five times over 10 weeks. The new relationships had literally broadened the way they looked at themselves. “You go from being a stranger to including this person in the self, so you suddenly have all of these social roles and identities you didn’t have before,” explains Dr. Aron, who co-authored the research.

Over time, the personal gains from lasting relationships are often subtle. Having a partner who is funny or creative adds something new to someone who isn’t. A partner who is an active community volunteer creates new social opportunities for a spouse who spends long hours at work.

Additional research suggests that spouses eventually adopt the traits of the other - and become slower to distinguish differences between them, or slower to remember which skills belong to which spouse. It’s not that these couples lost themselves in the marriage; instead, they grew in it. Activities, traits and behaviors that had not been part of their identity before the relationship were now an essential part of how they experienced life.

All of this can be highly predictive for a couple’s long-term happiness. “People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self and add to who they are as a person,” Dr. Lewandowski says. “If your partner is helping you become a better person, you become happier and more satisfied in the relationship.”
articol: NYTimes / foto: corbis

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