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

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What are the essential qualities of a great relationship? 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 of Happy People and The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People has collected the most current and significant data from more than a thousand studies on relationships, and spells...
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The 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It

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Overview

What are the essential qualities of a great relationship? 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 of Happy People and The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People 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 hundred core findings is accompanied by a true story that shows the results in action.
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Editorial Reviews

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Psychologists and sociologists spend careers researching how relationships work, but most of us just muddle through. In this welcome addition to his 100 Simple Secrets series, Dr. David Niven uses a science-savvy, interdisciplinary approach to help daters and couples solve pestiferous problems. This lively yet thoroughly informative guide blends recent scientific studies about relationships and real-life stories.
Library Journal
Like a good Irish sermon, each of these 100 secrets is meaningful, satisfying, and quickly delivered. A pattern soon emerges: psychologist Niven (The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People) relates a bit of conventional wisdom, e.g., "There's no need to hurry," then uses an anecdote to illustrate it, e.g., movie mogul Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane Von Furstenburg waited more than 25 years to get married. A nugget of scientific study then confirms the analysis: "Marrying later in life has no negative effect on satisfaction with the relationship, or with life." Motivated readers will scurry for the featured studies, mostly from dissertations or academic articles in professional journals, like the one above from L.P. Juang and R.K. Silbereisen's 2001 report in American Behavioral Scientist. Libraries might also consider Warren Berland's Out of the Box for Life, which devotes brief sections to discrete issues (e.g., fat and anger) that readers work through by thinking "out of the box." Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Columbus Dispatch
“How does one find happiness, that elusive emotion? Social scientist David Niven has helped unlock the mystery.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060521967
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/27/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.37 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David Niven, Ph.D., bestselling author of the 100 Simple Secrets series, is a psychologist and social scientist who teaches at Ohio State University.

David Niven, Ph.D., es el autor de los bestsellers internacionales Los 100 Secretos de la Gente Exitosa, y Los 100 Secretos de las Buenas Relaciones. Es psicólogo y científico social, y enseña en la Florida Atlantic University.

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Read an Excerpt

100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships

What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It
By David Niven

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 David Niven
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061157902

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 theBoston 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



Continues...

Excerpted from 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships by David Niven Copyright © 2006 by David Niven. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
1. The Mundane Is Heroic 1
2. See Possibilities Where Others See Obstacles 3
3. Set Rules for Conflict 5
4. Anyone Can Find a Happy Relationship 8
5. It's Not How Hard You Try 10
6. You Have Nothing to Envy 12
7. Attitude Triumphs over Outcome 14
8. Don't Be Bound by Tradition 16
9. The Past Is Not the Future 18
10. No One Wins the Comparison Game 21
11. See the Love Around You 23
12. Doing Nothing Is Rarely a Solution 25
13. You'll Forget the Disagreement but Remember the Disagreeing 27
14. Pursue What You Need Forever, Not What You Want Today 29
15. Seek Harmony in Your Life 32
16. The Relationship Test: Are You Lonely? 34
17. It's the Little Things That Matter the Most 36
18. A Relationship Requires Two Equals 38
19. Beware of Fairy Tales 41
20. Cultivate a Common Interest 43
21. Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom 45
22. There's No Point in Putting On a Show 47
23. You Make Your Own History 49
24. Maintain Your Sense of Control 51
25. Money Can't Buy Love, but It Can Buy Stress 53
26. There Are No Mind Readers 55
27. There's No Need to Hurry 57
28. Friends Speak from Experience--Their Own 59
29. Drink Lesss 61
30. Decide Whether You Want to Win or Be Happy 63
31. A Sense of Humor Helps 65
32. Think Beyond the Engagement 67
33. See the Friendship in Your Relationship 69
34. The Most Time Is Not the Best Time 71
35. Reduce TV Time 73
36. The World Will Intrude on Your Relationship 75
37. Gentlemen Prefer the Same Things Ladies Prefer 77
38. Love Is Blind but Life Isn't Always 79
39. Balance Depends on Which Way You Lean 81
40. A Relationship by Any Other Name Is Just as Important 83
41. The Future Matters More than the Past 85
42. You Don't Have to See Eye to Eye on Everything 87
43. Be Open with Each Other 89
44. Accentuate the Positive in All Aspects of Your Life 91
45. It Helps to Be Friends 93
46. Foundations Are Created in the Beginning 95
47. Ambivalence Is a Negative 97
48. Share Housework 99
49. A Relationship Starts with Yourself 101
50. Let Go of the Burden of Pain 103
51. Develop a Healthy Calm 105
52. Think of Your Own Ideal 107
53. Stay Flexible 109
54. Think About Potential 111
55. Even in a Relationship, You Are Still an Individual 113
56. Rest Up--This Is Going to Take Some Effort 115
57. Like the Way You Look 117
58. Don't Romanticize the Past 119
59. Share the Praise and Share in the Blame 121
60. You Can't Find Without Looking 123
61. Meaningful Commitment Is Mutual Commitment 125
62. Friendships Predict Relationships 127
63. Prepare for Milestones 129
64. Don't Bring Your Job Home with You 131
65. We Assume Similar Preferences 133
66. Don't Let Secrets Eat You Up 135
67. To Find a Better Way, Look Where You've Been 137
68. Money Matters Less over Time 139
69. Recognize the Value of Shared Values 141
70. Understand What You're Looking For 143
71. Never Let Faults Stand for the Whole 145
72. You'll Need Some Relationship Friends 147
73. Don't Wait to Start Moving in the Right Direction 149
74. Music Can Bring Us Together 151
75. Define What You Need 153
76. Show You Care, Even When It's Hard To 155
77. Make Your Decisions for Positive Reasons 157
78. A Relationship Is Built on a Foundation of Support 159
79. The Pieces of Your Life Must Fit Together 162
80. Master Your Fears 164
81. We Are All Much More Alike than Different 166
82. Limit Your Interest in the Past 168
83. Get Your Reality from Reality 171
84. You Are Never Too Old to Find Love 173
85. We Look Inward to See How People Feel About Us 175
86. Be Willing to Evolve 178
87. Connect, See You're Capable, and Know You Count 180
88. Reliability Counts a Lot 182
89. You Are Complete by Yourself 185
90. Intensity Fades 187
91. Beware Second Opinions 189
92. Have Faith but Don't Forget Reality 191
93. Pay Attention 193
94. Nice People Don't Finish Last 195
95. Relationships Are like Modern Art 197
96. It's Not Easy, Even if It Looks It 199
97. Most People Are Looking for Experienced Rookies 201
98. It's for You--or It Isn't 203
99. See the Horizon, Watch Your Step 205
100. The Search for Perfection Is Endless 208
Bibliography 211
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