Often when we meet someone new and fall madly and deeply in love, we cannot wait to introduce the person to our friends and family. Obviously if we think they are the best thing since sliced bread, everyone else is going to love them just as much – right? Not always. Sometimes, no matter how great we think a person is, our friends and family, for one reason or another, disagree. When this happens, the lack of support for our relationship can jeopardize not only our relationship, but also our health.
So what should you do if your friends and family are disapproving of your current relationship?
How Partners Affect Each Other’s Moods During Important Life Discussions: Relationship Matters Podcast #24
In the 24th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Ashley Randall (Arizona State University) talks about her research on how men and women experience cooperation within a relationship differently and how romantic partners influence each other’s daily moods (for better and for worse). The research, coauthored with Jesse Post, Rebecca Reid, and Emily Butler (all of Univ. of Arizona), focuses on the premise that our romantic relationships influence our overall health and well-being. Relationships have the capacity to either serve as a buffer against stress’s negative effects in our lives or, in contrast, add to the daily stress we experience.
The Scene: My three-year old daughter and I are at Grandma H’s viewing where I racked up parenting fail #315, because I did not want to talk about death with my kid.
The Kid: Who is that? (She asks after spotting the casket at the front of the room in which a coiffed and suited Grandma H resides.)
Mama: That’s Grandma H.
The Kid: Is she old?
Nailed it, right? Ok, not so much. I would like to say that my daughter and I had a deep conversation about death and dying after Grandma H’s viewing…that I was able to talk to my daughter in an age-appropriate and snappy way. It was fall after all, a seemingly good time to talk about dying, given the decay around. I could hear myself now, “Grandma was like a leaf…”
But, I let the moment pass. The month before Grandma’s funeral, I fast-forwarded through the part in the Lion King when Mufasa dies. How do you explain that to a three-year-old? My apparent inability to discuss death with my kid is not that unusual. In Western culture (and in my white, Protestant, middle-class background), most of us do not have explicit conversations about death and dying1. I did not talk to my daughter because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing and of having to explain that I am mortal, too. I wish I had been as quick as a friend who, after she asked him about dying, took his daughter to a graveyard to explain that he would die someday and turn into the dirt she loved to play in.
The notion that women cope with relationship problems or breakups by eating is widespread. Films like Bridget Jones’s Diary perpetuate the stereotype that attacking a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or devouring a bag of potato chips soothes a broken heart, or at least helps women deal with relationship troubles. But is there evidence that relationship problems actually lead women to eat more? Or is this a myth that Hollywood perpetuates?
My friend Hope came over the other day seeking relationship advice. Hope’s mother set her up with a man from her work (so Hope was skeptical), but he called and they spoke on the phone for well over two hours. Not a bad start, so Hope agreed to meet him for drinks. When he walked into the bar, her jaw dropped. He was Gorgeous (yes, with a capital G). Not just the run of the mill, attractive-enough kind of man, but George Clooney caliber. Way to go, Mom!
They spoke for several hours and had a few too many cocktails. Both said that they had a great time and wanted to get together again. After giving the server his credit card, Hope used the restroom. When she returned, her date then left to do the same. She waited at the table for him to return. The server brought back his credit card for his signature. She continued to wait. And wait. And wait. After about 15 minutes, Hope called his cell phone to see if he was ok. No answer.
Though partners in satisfying relationships tend to be similar to one another, they rarely agree on everything. Sure, not every couple has heated arguments, but everyone experiences at least smaller conflicts from time to time. Picture the following scenario: It’s a mundane Tuesday night, you and your partner have just finished warming up leftover pizza, and the two of you plop down on the couch to watch some mindless TV. (Surely this doesn’t just describe my marriage, does it?) You’ve had a long day at the office, but your favorite TV show is about to come on. But then your partner mentions that he wants to watch a different show that comes on at the same time. One option is to tell him to go to the other room to watch his stupid show, but that would mean you wouldn’t be spending any time with him. Another option is to sacrifice, whereby you give up your preferred programming for the sake of your partner’s preferred show. Whether or not you are willing to sacrifice may depend on how much self-control you have at your disposal. In other words, do you have enough willpower to make this sacrifice?
In my last post, I discussed the research showing that couples who receive social approval of their relationships from their friends and family are more likely to report greater relationship satisfaction and more enduring relationships. One of the key points researchers have made in this area is that it is the perception of support/approval that matters most. This means that, regardless of the actual level of support your relationship receives from your friends and family, it is your own perception of that support that most strongly influences your relationship and health outcomes.1 And yes, I did just say relationship AND health outcomes, because research has shown that not only do people in socially-supported relationships (same-sex AND mixed-sex) report greater relationship satisfaction, love, commitment and duration, they also experience fewer mental and physical health problems. That’s right; if everyone you know disapproves of your relationship and you’ve been suffering from depression, anxiety, increased stress or even more frequent physical ailments, it’s quite possible that these experiences are connected.
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Parenting can be tough. You may not get enough sleep, you may struggle with the ever elusive work-life balance, and you may all too regularly find yourself in debates about proper attire, proper nuitrition, and proper amounts of television to watch. Any one of these experiences can make your brain feel like mush, but there are actually several ways that parenting may in fact benefit your brain.
For our articles on parenting, please click here.
In a previous article, I mentioned that having sex dreams is associated with feelings of love and intimacy with romantic partners on the following day. This finding begs the question: What else do we know about sex dreams? Much has been theorized (beginning with some wacky ideas from Freud1 and psychoanalysis, which I won’t go into here) but when you examine the research that has used modern scientific methods, it becomes clear that we don’t know very much. Sex dreams have been documented worldwide, but the frequency of sexual content in dreams is really tough to estimate (some early studies estimated 5-10%,2 while others peg the frequency around 80%3). In addition, some studies have found gender differences (men having more frequent sex dreams than women2), but that has not been replicated in all samples; for example, in a sample of Brazilian participants, sex dreams appeared roughly 10% of the time in both men and women.4 Some of these discrepancies in the research could be due to inconsistent frequency of dreaming in general, or less willingness to report sex dreams in some samples.
Are you dating someone and finding yourself wondering, “Where is this going?” You can easily measure your current level of commitment to the relationship to make an educated guess about whether you guys will stay together. It’s not magic. It’s not a gimmick. It’s just statistics. Give it a try: Take our relationship quiz. (I recommend you take the quiz before reading further so that you can give your natural responses.)
Editors' note: This quiz is part of an informal project on great relationships conducted by contributor
Melissa Schneider, LMSW, and is not supervised or conducted by ScienceOfRelationships.com,
other contributors, or the academic institutions affliliated with other contributors.
I think we can all agree that the word “Commitment” gets tossed around a lot. Will he commit? She has commitment issues...We all say it, but what does commitment really mean? To some, it means not cheating, and for others, it means dating exclusively or maintaining a marriage. For most of us, commitment involves some sort of obligation or promise to the other person.
Our partner site, ThoseLoveGeeks.com, has just released a new podcast where they chat with Dr. David Buss about the evolutionary roots of hooking up. Check it out!
Our daughter was barely 3 years old when she started asking about the birds and the bees. She wanted to know how mommies got babies inside their tummies and how babies came out of their tummies. Her curiosity has always kept us on our toes. Our son (now nearly 8 years old), in stark contrast, has always been relatively uninterested in learning about the “facts of life.” The last time we raised the topic, he responded, “Do we have to talk about this stuff again? I just want to be a kid!”
Regardless of your child’s curiosity level, most parents find themselves broaching the topic of sex education at some point with their children.
If you could ask any question about relationships, marriage, family, or parenting, what would you ask? Coincidentally, we have published a book that answers 40 of the most common questions. The book is edited by the creators of ScienceOfRelationships.com, and includes contributions from us and many of our colleagues. The key difference between our book and the other books on relationships out there is that all of our contributors are relationship scientists and teachers at colleges/universities who are true experts on relationships. We take that expertise, add in a little research, and present things in an easy to read format on your Kindle (or other device of choice).