Tag Archives: love research

Happy Couples Give Spouses Their Attention

“Happily married couples respond to one another’s bids for attention 86 percent of the time,” says Dr. Michele Gannon in an article for Hitched Magazine. She continues, “They ask one another questions, communicate understanding and respond positively when their spouse asks them to. They say ‘Yes’ to one another as often as possible. However, research has found that in unhappy marriages, couples respond to one another only 30 percent of the time.”

This finding intrigued me, and made me pause ask myself when my husband and I interrupt one another, how often we offer our full attention. I don’t think I’m nearly up to 86 percent, and frequently ask for a minute to finish what I’m doing. Whether it’s for something fun or something important, I’m going to work on providing my attention when asked. Ask yourself if you might improve in this area with your spouse, and even with your children.

Some other interesting research-proven habits for happy marriages Dr. Gannon shared in the article include showing admiration and fondness for one another, prioritizing affection and sex, making time for one another, helping one another grow, and cultivating forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the keys to a happy marriage in my opinion, and an area in which we can all make improvements. So I read with interest Dr. Fred Luskin’s forgiveness steps. In part, he advises:  “Successful forgiveness requires that we allow ourselves to feel deeply our hurt, disappointment and anger. We need to ask ourselves whether the betrayal or disappointment is a deal breaker or not. If we stay in the relationship, we need to allow ourselves to feel our pain, soothe ourselves, and then be willing to widen our hearts, surrender and risk pain and disappointment again. All of this can happen even if our partner is not willing to take responsibility and change.”

The research findings are from the web site Greater Good Science. I found it to be a truly interesting resource with lots of research-based advice on living a more fulfilling life. For instance, “How well do you know your partner?” shares that knowing your partner’s long-term life goals will make your relationship more satisfying in the future.

Another interesting article I read recently is “The line between no expectations and doormat” by Patty Newbold at Assume Love. It’s about how our expectations can get in the way of our love. Here’s an excerpt:

“You are not a doormat if you take out the trash when your husband fails to. If you were not married, there would be trash to deal with. If you take out trash AND have a husband to love you, you are well ahead of the game. Where you shoot yourself in the foot is when you let yourself expect that if your husband loved you, he would do more around the house or be as prompt as you are with chores. Now, you have trash to take out and what looks like an unloving husband, even though it’s the same husband and the same bag of trash. And while you’re stewing over the garbage, you may very well miss out on some great loving. He might have walked in the door ready to kiss you, but turned right around when he sensed your mood. He might have wanted to tell you he sucked it up at work today and did not quit on the spot because of his commitment to your wellbeing.”

In sum, she says, “When I let go of my expectations, I was completely shocked by how much love I could see in my marriage.” I’ll be interterviewing Patty Newbold soon and sharing her incredible story with you.

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How Does the Brain in Love Differ Around the World?

We’ve known for some time that scans of the brain can show unique patterns of activity when the subject is in love. Regions light up similar to a cocaine addict who is using cocaine. But 2010 was the first time researchers expanded their study outside of Western cultures. How do brain scans of people in love differ around the world?

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York wanted to assess patterns of brain scans from two countries in which they thought views of love were least similar. They compared American and Chinese scans, because cultural interpretations of love in the two countries can be quite different. For example, they report that in surveys, individuals from China describe romantic love in less positive terms than do Americans. Chinese people have more arranged marriages, and some view romantic love as getting in the way of family decisions. Chinese surveys included a higher proportion of negative words associated with love, such as “anxious”, “scary”, and “depressing”.

Because of these differences in reported perceptions of love, researchers wondered if the brain scans of individuals in love might show significant differences. They did not. It turns out love is universal when it comes to neurological reactions. The results were published in the New York Times.

Although cultural differences may exist in how love is expressed, the brain’s neurological reaction to romantic love remains the same. Brain scans from Americans and Chinese individuals lit up in the same manner, regardless of the country of origin.

I know from my surveys that I have many readers from across Asia, as well as in other parts of the world. Cultural differences regarding love and marriage certainly exist. However, I think it’s rather cool that we know we are all affected by love in the same biological way. I think it means we are more similar than we are different. It’s one of the reasons why a global community like this blog can be effective, supportive, and far-reaching. I encourage you to participate in discussions in different posts to offer the unique perspectives from where you live in the U.S. or around the world.

Please leave a short comment (with or without your name) saying hello from your part of the country or world.

Photo Credit: ©Olaru Radian-Alexandru/PhotoXpress.com