Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

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Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

There are a lot of different reasons someone can blow the trust in a relationship. It could be infidelity, emotional cheating, cleaning out the bank account and blowing it in Vegas, a shopping spree and hiding the credit card bills, or instead a string of little things so long it makes one wonder if they ever told the truth at all. Whatever the reason, trust is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Without trust there is no intimacy and without intimacy, no relationship. You can’t be intimate with someone you have to constantly be on guard around. So can you repair a relationship where the trust is gone? Certainly no one is perfect. Depending upon what you believe and what they have done, there are ways to build bridges back to trust. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience, forgiveness, owning up to what both parties have done and superb communication. It’s important to look at what led up to the violation. Oftentimes there are certain goings-on in a relationship, underlying problems that must be addressed so such a slipup don’t happen again.

Those who are the victims shouldn’t rub their partner’s face in transgressions. Nor should they ignore what contribution they themselves may have made to the situation. Only when each person is open and honest with each other can they make plans of action or rules of engagement that work for them, can they overcome these obstacles and rebuild trust. If both parties are still very much in love, engaged and committed to renewing the relationship then it has the highest likelihood of happening. But half measures will cause few returns. The person who has perpetuated the betrayal has to be sorry. But they should also be open and forthcoming in all aspects and ready and willing to change. The more open they are the faster the healing process will be. A betrayal can be implicit or explicit, meaning it may be something that was a spoken rule or just an obvious one. But it can’t be obvious to one person and not the other. When a transgression has occurred and the person lies or covers up their betrayal, these actions only make things worse. They also contribute to a longer and more difficult road ahead.

Of course every relationship and situation is different. That said there are a few things anyone going on this harrowing journey should keep in mind. If you are the betrayer, fess up before they find out. The longer you wait the more damage you will cause and the more time it will take for the relationship to recover. Plus, unburdening yourself from the guilt will also be a great relief. Decide then and there to have absolutely no dishonesty in your relationship ever again. If you can’t be honest with your partner, why are you with them? At the time of confession and even after, allow your partner to ask questions. Be honest in answering. You want to communicate and restore goodwill. If you are the victim, you shouldn’t keep asking questions just to shock or hurt yourself. At a certain point, you have decided to stay in the relationship or go. If you are staying, it’s important to find the path toward healing, not dwell on the past. Patience is the best characteristic in this situation. Practice it unendingly. Keep in touch with yourself and your feelings. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything to be fully present and listen to your partner as you work through things. Stay focused and if you are both meant to be together, you can get past this terrible time and find each other once again. For advice on keeping your marriage on the right track before transgressions start read, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love by Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom.

Want to be Attractive? Be a Nonconformist

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Want to be Attractive? Be a Nonconformist

It’s the guy who plays guitar and rides a motorcycle, or the spritely minx who shows a little skin and sports that daring tattoo. It’s the musicians, artists, actors and activists. Those mavericks with the devil may cry attitude. They shake their fist at society and takeoff, blazing their own trail, and mowing down whatever stands in their way. Those rebels, loners, artists and performers, they take our breath away. They are our adolescent crushes adorning teenage rooms in posters. The stars change from one generation to the next, but the attitude is the same. Their loving eyes fall upon us and tell us, yes we are special and can go our own way too. Hand-in-hand we imagine laughing at the dullards as we take off on wild adventures together with our very own teenage crush. So if you want to be attractive, there’s an easy way. Be a rebel, also known as a nonconformist.

Of course, lots of sitcom episodes teach us that any character that isn’t true to him or herself falls flat on their face, and hilarity ensues. Don’t let that be you. But a bigger question remains. Why are we so instantly attracted to the ones who at a moment’s notice break all the rules, and grin from ear-to-ear while doing it? University of Queensland psychologist Matthew Hornsey asked himself this question. He set out to on a series of experiments to find why nonconformists exude sex appeal.

The first thing Hornsey and his team found out was that nonconformists were attractive across both genders. It’s a general misconception that men prefer conformists. A large number of women try all their lives to fit in. But they do so to their detriment, at least as far as dating goes. So how did Hornsey come about this information? He conducted a total of five studies. The first had 115 college students as participants. Here, they were asked to rank the attractiveness of 20 profiles. They had to say how attractive they themselves found the person in the profile, as well as how the opposite sex would rank them. In each profile’s statement there was tailored in a unique way either a conformist or nonconformist statement. They said things like, “She is happy to go along with what others are doing,” versus, “She enjoys time to herself rather than going along with others.” Researchers found that the majority overwhelmingly chose nonconformist profiles more attractive, no matter their sex. Hornsey and his team were doubly surprised that women tended to act conformist in the company of men, when clearly the results of their study showed that women were more attractive when they were nonconformist. Researchers wrote that this was a holdover belief from an era when, “women were expected to be submissive, modest, subdued, agreeable.” The results of Hornsey’s work was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. To learn how to be a nonconformist read, The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau.

Can Marriage and Lust Coexist?

Happy couple in bed --- Image by   Darren Kemper/Corbis

Can Marriage and Lust Coexist?

It is a common misconception that people who have been together a long time inevitably see their passion fade. So can marriage and lust coexist?  In fact, research has shown that married people are having more sex than their single counterparts. For instance, a 2010 Kinsey Institute survey found that three out of five single people went without sex last year, as opposed to one out of five married people. In another study conducted by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth which studies families, married 25 to 59 year olds were more likely to have sex two to three times per week than their single counterparts. Usually couples have sex often in the early phase of the relationship but frequency slows down as time goes on. What often happens is people get caught up in the demands of a career and raising a family and so have sex less often. But studies have shown that married people enjoy it more. Laura Carpenter, a sex researcher from Vanderbilt University says, “While people get older and busier, as a relationship proceeds they also get more skillful—in and out of the bedroom.” Still, couples often blame dry spells on their marriage. It’s usually certain aspects of the marriage such as an all too familiar partner, arguing or household chores and the politics that can come with them.

Science can’t help us here. There are few studies that have looked into what a normal sex life looks like in mid-life. There is no recipe therefore on what can keep sex hot and lust going in a marriage. Still there are indicators. The eminent John Gottman, a pioneer in the field of couple’s research and head of Seattle’s Gottman Institute says that when men and women share their lives, they are more likely to engage in sex. Men who share in the household chores and childcare had sex more often than those that didn’t, Gottman’s research found. Other researchers have also found that the more a couple shared, the more sex they had. Other research has shown that it doesn’t matter who is the breadwinner. No matter the financial situation, long-term couples had the same frequency. On another front, it’s important to see a certain psychological paradigm that exists and how to overcome it, or balance it out. Our sexual feelings are filtered through our culture. Rules and norms on desire, fantasies and arousal lock us in to what researchers call “sexual scripts.” These are the roles, desires and fantasies we allow ourselves to take part in. University of Washington Sociologist Julie Brines thinks the trouble is we are still stuck in traditional sexual scripts. Even more problems occur when we are between scripts.  “I don’t think we have newer alternatives to traditional sexual scripts in marriage,” she said. Since couples relate differently in and out of the bedroom perhaps our sexual scripts should reflect this new dynamic. But one has yet to settle in.

Psychotherapist Esther Perel says the issue of losing passion in a marriage comes when we are too focused on our need for security. It comes to dominate our competing need for novelty. Perel says that, “couples who describe themselves as loving, trusting, and caring complain that their sex lives have become dull and devoid of eroticism.” What Perel does then is show couples how to, “reconcile our fundamental need for safety and security with our equally strong need for adventure and novelty.” It’s worth noting that her 2013 TED Talk has five million views on YouTube. Some suggest using one’s sexual imagination to explore what is interesting and novel to the couple themselves. Gottman found that desire was present most in couples who responded to each other’s feelings. Those that were adversarial shut down desire. These were the sexless marriages. Gottman also found that sex didn’t take a back seat to other things on the couple’s agenda.  “Couples who are going to have a lot of sex end up somehow being able to communicate to one another that it’s a priority,” the researcher said. “It is not going to be the last item on the infinite to-do list.” When one person wasn’t in the mood in these marriages Gottman said one would give the other person an alternative to intercourse. This is done so as to show love and concern for the spouse and their needs. Lastly, to keep the spark alive, Gottman said that sexual imagination needs one very important thing, a free and comfortable atmosphere conducive to play. For more on keeping the novelty in your marriage read, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.

The Five Date Rule

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The Five Date Rule

Some people have the time when sex is to first enter into a relationship inherent in their culture. But for most of us it can be hard to tell when the right time to sleep with someone is. It may feel right but are they right for you? They may have all of the qualities you are looking for but no chemistry. Will it come? Then if you like someone and you want to be with them, what is the right amount of time to wait so that you send the right message, without seeming like a prude? According to Sex and the City’s Charlotte York, three dates was a sufficient amount of time. Dating site singles247.com recently conducted a survey of 2,000 and found that, instead of a three date rule, today most use a five date rule.

According to this research, the modern woman desires four dates to be able to accurately assess the commitment level and seriousness of a date, and to see if he has real boyfriend potential. Over the course of the four dates the woman will subconsciously take stock of her date and how she feels about him. Does he have a good sense of humor? Can she trust him? Do they have chemistry? These are some of the questions she mulls over. Not only are five dates required, approximately five in-depth phone conversations and twelve text messages are also expected. A bouquet of flowers, a romantic gesture or a token gift could also help win her heart.

Four meals, three films and seven deeply passionate make out sessions should inhabit the time previous to an intimate encounter. Other things women take into consideration before sleeping with a man are whether or not he will make her feel good about herself and her body, if he will stick around after they’d been together and if he is a gentleman. If he appears too needy or he wants to get between the sheets too quickly, these are warning signs that may make a woman change her mind. According to this research, 40% of daters believe that they hopped into bed too soon with a potential mate and it ended up ruining the relationship. Of course we have to take this research with a grain of salt. People are all different. Certainly there are those who slept together on the first date and are happily married as there are those who waited a serious amount of time before being intimate together. It’s really about how two people feel about one another, if they are healthy for each other, can make one another feel comfortable, support one another and if there is chemistry. Most women have some sort of rule they generally follow. But sometimes someone comes along and blows that rule out of the water. Be that as it may, not everyone operates the same way so make sure to find a way that is right for you. For more dating advice read the New York Times Bestseller, Mars and Venus on a Date: A Guide for Navigating the 5 Stages of Dating to Create a Loving and Lasting Relationship by John Gray, Ph.D.

Should we Beta Test Marriages to Avoid Divorce?

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Should we Beta Test Marriages to Avoid Divorce?

A beta test, for those outside the computer world, is testing a product before its commercial release. The idea is to work out all the bugs to make sure things go smoothly when it’s ready for launch. So should we beta test marriages in order to avoid divorce? Millennials seem to think so. A recent survey of 1,000 adults found that almost half of Millennials support the idea of a trial period during which they could test drive a marriage to work the kinks out, or walk away if it wasn’t right for them. The older generation may be horrified, as they were infused with the idea that “’til death do you part” as gospel. But people are living much longer nowadays. Lots of generation Y and Millennials came from divorced parents. What’s more, their environment in the technical landscape is constantly changing, so being locked down to one person after marriage seems like a concept from the primordial past. This generation has more choices for dating and in all other aspects than people have ever had before. So 20-somethings are wary, anxious and skeptical of the idea of traditional marriage and so are finding other options, ones that work for their culture and social environment.

Jessica Bennett of Time says that this generation who has seen tremendous changes in society and are poised to see many more, especially in the realm of technology, should be given the freedom to revamp marriage and make it work for the modern world. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this however. Anthropologist Margaret Mead back in the 1970’s forecasted “serial monogamy.” That is marrying one person, getting divorced and marrying again, or being in long-term relationships one after another. Biologist and anthropologist Helen Fisher also believes that two people aren’t necessarily meant to be together forever. Generally speaking the honeymoon period lasts around four years. This equates according to Dr. Fisher with the time it takes to raise a child from infant until it can start walking and being more independent. After that time early humans, Dr. Fisher believes, handed over the children to be raised by the entire village. Men and women therefore were free to pursue foraging, hunting and other relationships. These were serial, short-term monogamous relationships in order to produce children in a healthy manner. Lots of Millennials nowadays, and many others and some divorced baby boomers and gen X and Y, are living together long-term. There are Millennials today shirking marriage altogether preferring long-term cohabitation to tying the knot. Many say they want to avoid the excruciating emotional and financial consequences should they be facing divorce.

There are those proposing open marriages, and others who say practicing a marriage that is “monogamish,” meaning partners can stray over pre-agreed upon conditions, can help to keep marriage going. Some are saying no matter what changes occur this is the beginning of the end of the institution. Others are not so extreme. Author Stephanie Coontz has an idea to help prolong the institution; five year contracts. Couples would consciously decide to “reup” every five years. A transition period in life or a major life event may also prompt a reup. This renewal would include “… new set of vows that reflect what the couple has learned.” Certainly it’s important to note that America has the highest divorce rate of all the countries in the West. What’s more, research has shown that the longer one waits to get married the higher the chance that the couple will stay together. In the last 40 years cohabitation has increased 1,000%. Many scholars believe that merely changing and updating marriage for the circumstances of the modern world can preserve it. Though these new practicalities may save the institution, it doesn’t help us make decisions in our love life in the first place. In fact, it may make decisions even harder to make. Researcher Melissa Lavigne-Delville says, “This is a generation who has not had to make as many long-term commitments as previous generations, so the idea of not having an out feels a little stringent.” But Lavigne-Delville admits “Divorce has happened for a long time. Maybe we should rethink the rules.” To learn more about marriage and how it’s changed read, Marriage: A History by Stephanie Coontz.