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Tag Archive 'commitment'

Aug 29 2013

Partners who are very different understand something important about what makes a relationship work.

Published by under Knowing Relationships BLOG


Partners who are very different

By Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D. All rights reserved

For the past three years Marilyn Bronstein and I have been interviewing couples that have been together a long time and who have relationships they are very pleased with. (It’s been very interesting and very different from talking to troubled couples. The book will be available in October. We’re very pleased. More news about it on the sidebar.)With some of the couples in our research, the partners came from very different backgrounds – different languages, different cultures. To some extent we all have to deal with how we differ from our partner. This is the source of most of the challenges in a marriage, and the greater the differences, the greater the challenges. The people we spoke had to find positive ways to think about their differences. They have figured out something important for the rest of us. They have insights to share. First I want to share some examples of what we heard.

She:    It’s a beautiful dance that we get to do because our differences are actually not opposite. They mirror each other.

He:    There are so many Yin and Yang things about us.

This is the essence of emotional intelligence, this sense of how the two sides fit together, I am calling it “A Feeling for the Relationship,” as in “an intuition about the relationship.I saw it in those couples.    Send article as PDF   

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Apr 26 2011

How to Read Someone’s Intentions Like a Pro.

In almost every counseling and coaching session I end up teaching this particular tool, so I’ve decided to write down the mini-lecture. It’s the sort of thing that took me years to finally learn and appreciate. So rather than repeat it as many times as I needed it repeated to me, I’m going to write it out. Please read and re-read. Please pass it along. As far as I’m concerned, it’s gold.

“The dangerous man is the one who has only one idea, because then he’ll fight and die for it. The way real science goes is that you come up with lots of ideas, and most of them will be wrong.”  Francis Crick.

If you’ve settled into a relationship, really settled, you know your partner’s quirks and you know how your partner is unique and different from you. But if you haven’t settled in, sooner or later you are going to be challenged by something your partner does that doesn’t make sense to you and which, often, you won’t like.

It’s important to remember this: You don’t know this person intimately. Not yet. The only people you know intimately are people you’ve had previous enduring relationships with, and maybe not even them. You are still learning.

What mental habits do you need in order to help you understand this new person’s intentions?

Here’s the golden rule: Always have three guesses about what’s really going on. And then watch how things unfold to see which of your guesses is best.    Send article as PDF   

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May 31 2010

Little Steps that can Make a Big and Positive Difference in a Relationship.

What’s the biggest challenge in dating at midlife? I don’t think it’s finding an available single. The dating at midlife sub-culture is enormous. Census figures suggest that more than 30% of all adults are not married. It’s easy to find another single person who is looking for a relationship.  It’s even easy to get into a  relationship if you aren’t particular.  The real challenge is once you are in.

And it’s not so much the relationship per se that’s the problem. It’s the process of designing the relationship.

Every relationship needs a little tailoring. (I once read an interview with a fashion designer and the question was, how does an ordinary person, who can’t spend thousands on clothes, dress to look good. The designer said “tailoring.” He said that even those t-shirts the movie stars are wearing get a little bit of sewing here and there.)

The challenge is in finding a way to tailor the relationship to fit well for both of you. In other words, you both need to find a method for negotiating that relationship.

Every friendship has its little storms. The challenge in dating at midlife is creating a climate that, despite the ordinary storms, is so pleasant you want to settled down and live in it. How do you do that?

The Gottman Ratio.    Send article as PDF   

3 responses so far

Apr 25 2009

Between the STR and the LTR, the MTR, a stable, friends and benefits relationship.

Published by under Advice

The personals specify STR or LTR, (short term relationship or long term) as if those were the only choices. I’m not so sure. I think that there is a growing hybrid, the MTR, the mid-term relationship.

As one very smart and very attractive 50 year old woman explained to me, the problem is how to be “looking for long term relationships and dealing with the libido in the meanwhile.”

I think it is The Central Issue in dating at midlife. It is the thing that everyone struggles with.

I think the problem of how to have a sex life when single at midlife is equally vexing to both men and women. Midlife adults are sexually active and want to be. But how?

The best answer is a good long term committed relationship. It’s the best sex, the easiest sex, the most emotionally satisfying sex and the richest, most textured sex. Far and away, most of the people who report having the best and most frequent and most satisfying sex at midlife are people who are married or settled into in long term relationships. Then sex simply becomes part of pleasant domestic tranquility.

Midlife singles, by definition, are people who experience long sexual dry spells. These are people who, for one reason or another have backed away from long-term committed relationships. By 35 or 40 they’d tried for the Big One and they’ve either left or been left or have avoided it altogether.    Send article as PDF   

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Apr 25 2009

The Capacity for Commitment: The Fourth Stage Of The Midlife Transformation In Midlife Singles

Published by under Advice

I’m going to claim that the mark of maturity in couples is their ability to communicate. I’m going to borrow a phrase from Bill W., founder of AA, and talk about how mature couples engage in something I’ll call “A Searching and Fearless Intimate Conversation.”
Is it really so desirable that men and women share deeply about their lives?

Let me tell you a story. I was invited to a “salon.” That’s what it was called. It was an evening of culture, conversation and pot-luck at a the house of a wealthy widow. Before dinner and conversation a man who played classical piano gave a small recital. He played one of Satie’s pieces and before he played he gave us a little lecture on the piece. He said, “The composer said that this piece should be still, steady, and reliable, like the ticking of a clock in an empty room.” And then our hostess, the widow, who was certainly a mature woman, said, “Yes. That’s exactly how I like my men to be.”

So there are couples who would rather not have a lot of sensitive communication.

I realize that my own view of maturity comes from psychology. And I do wonder about that. Is it possible that psychologists are just describing themselves and setting themselves up as a model of maturity? I find their case persuasive and grounded in research. You’ll have to make up your own mind. That is the condition of being an elder. You have to think for yourself.    Send article as PDF   

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