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

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

by David Niven

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060521967
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/07/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.37(h) x 0.60(d)

About 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.

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


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.

Table of Contents

1.The Mundane Is Heroic1
2.See Possibilities Where Others See Obstacles3
3.Set Rules for Conflict5
4.Anyone Can Find a Happy Relationship8
5.It's Not How Hard You Try10
6.You Have Nothing to Envy12
7.Attitude Triumphs over Outcome14
8.Don't Be Bound by Tradition16
9.The Past Is Not the Future18
10.No One Wins the Comparison Game21
11.See the Love Around You23
12.Doing Nothing Is Rarely a Solution25
13.You'll Forget the Disagreement but Remember the Disagreeing27
14.Pursue What You Need Forever, Not What You Want Today29
15.Seek Harmony in Your Life32
16.The Relationship Test: Are You Lonely?34
17.It's the Little Things That Matter the Most36
18.A Relationship Requires Two Equals38
19.Beware of Fairy Tales41
20.Cultivate a Common Interest43
21.Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom45
22.There's No Point in Putting On a Show47
23.You Make Your Own History49
24.Maintain Your Sense of Control51
25.Money Can't Buy Love, but It Can Buy Stress53
26.There Are No Mind Readers55
27.There's No Need to Hurry57
28.Friends Speak from Experience--Their Own59
29.Drink Lesss61
30.Decide Whether You Want to Win or Be Happy63
31.A Sense of Humor Helps65
32.Think Beyond the Engagement67
33.See the Friendship in Your Relationship69
34.The Most Time Is Not the Best Time71
35.Reduce TV Time73
36.The World Will Intrude on Your Relationship75
37.Gentlemen Prefer the Same Things Ladies Prefer77
38.Love Is Blind but Life Isn't Always79
39.Balance Depends on Which Way You Lean81
40.A Relationship by Any Other Name Is Just as Important83
41.The Future Matters More than the Past85
42.You Don't Have to See Eye to Eye on Everything87
43.Be Open with Each Other89
44.Accentuate the Positive in All Aspects of Your Life91
45.It Helps to Be Friends93
46.Foundations Are Created in the Beginning95
47.Ambivalence Is a Negative97
48.Share Housework99
49.A Relationship Starts with Yourself101
50.Let Go of the Burden of Pain103
51.Develop a Healthy Calm105
52.Think of Your Own Ideal107
53.Stay Flexible109
54.Think About Potential111
55.Even in a Relationship, You Are Still an Individual113
56.Rest Up--This Is Going to Take Some Effort115
57.Like the Way You Look117
58.Don't Romanticize the Past119
59.Share the Praise and Share in the Blame121
60.You Can't Find Without Looking123
61.Meaningful Commitment Is Mutual Commitment125
62.Friendships Predict Relationships127
63.Prepare for Milestones129
64.Don't Bring Your Job Home with You131
65.We Assume Similar Preferences133
66.Don't Let Secrets Eat You Up135
67.To Find a Better Way, Look Where You've Been137
68.Money Matters Less over Time139
69.Recognize the Value of Shared Values141
70.Understand What You're Looking For143
71.Never Let Faults Stand for the Whole145
72.You'll Need Some Relationship Friends147
73.Don't Wait to Start Moving in the Right Direction149
74.Music Can Bring Us Together151
75.Define What You Need153
76.Show You Care, Even When It's Hard To155
77.Make Your Decisions for Positive Reasons157
78.A Relationship Is Built on a Foundation of Support159
79.The Pieces of Your Life Must Fit Together162
80.Master Your Fears164
81.We Are All Much More Alike than Different166
82.Limit Your Interest in the Past168
83.Get Your Reality from Reality171
84.You Are Never Too Old to Find Love173
85.We Look Inward to See How People Feel About Us175
86.Be Willing to Evolve178
87.Connect, See You're Capable, and Know You Count180
88.Reliability Counts a Lot182
89.You Are Complete by Yourself185
90.Intensity Fades187
91.Beware Second Opinions189
92.Have Faith but Don't Forget Reality191
93.Pay Attention193
94.Nice People Don't Finish Last195
95.Relationships Are like Modern Art197
96.It's Not Easy, Even if It Looks It199
97.Most People Are Looking for Experienced Rookies201
98.It's for You--or It Isn't203
99.See the Horizon, Watch Your Step205
100.The Search for Perfection Is Endless208

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