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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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|91.||Beware Second Opinions||189|
|92.||Have Faith but Don't Forget Reality||191|
|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|