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January 2011



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Pat LaDouceur, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 2nd 2010

“We don’t have time,” Maria said. She and Rob sat across from me in my counseling office. I had just suggested that they have a weekly “date,” and hour or two with each other. I know that if they do this tensions will start to ease, and they will start to enjoy being with each other again. But between work and family, friends and chores, most couples can’t seem to find time for just the two of them.

“We get home from work at five and make dinner,” Rob said. “Then we play with our daughter. She’s just five, and we want to make sure she gets quality time every day. We put her to bed at nine, and go back to work.” “When do you spend time with each other?” I asked.

“We don’t,” Maria said. “We’re hoping that our relationship is strong enough to hold us together until we do have time again.”

They wanted to put their relationship on hold for several years, banking on the goodwill they felt in the early days. But already there was strain. Although they smiled and joked, there were also misunderstandings. They had time for work, family, cooking, chores, friends – but not each other.

Below the Surface

Finding time is not always about schedules, or about packing too much into busy lives. Sometimes finding time is about emotion.

Couples often tell me that early on that it’s impossible to find relationship time. What I often hear underneath their words is that it’s uncomfortable to spend time together.

This makes sense. Most of us prefer to tackle problems we can solve rather than ones we don’t understand. It’s easy – or at least straightforward – to write a report, give a talk, have lunch with a friend, or get dinner on the table.

It’s much harder to talk about what’s simmering under the surface in a relationship. It’s hard to bring up disappointments and difficult moments without sounding critical. It’s hard to talk about deep longings and needs in a relationship when you’re not really clear how you feel, or when you’re afraid your partner won’t understand.

But when couples can’t talk about disappointments and longings, a kind of tension develops, and they start to avoid spending time together. It can happen almost automatically: that part of the brain that tries to keep us safe starts to focus on what feels manageable — work, friends, the to-do list. The intention is good, but the result is problematic – couples start to drift apart.

Read in Full:  http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=39439&cn=289

2 Heads Are Better Than 1 — With The Right Partner

Article Date: 30 Aug 2010 – 0:00 PDT

In the new age of coalition governments, the question of whether two heads are better than one is more relevant than ever. A study published in the journal Science, neuroscientists from UCL (University College London) and Aarhus University, Denmark, shows that two heads can be better than one – but only if you have the right partner.

The study, led by Professor Chris Frith of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL and Niels Bohr Professor in the University of Aarhus, found that two heads were better than one, but only when both partners were equally competent and could freely discuss their disagreements.

As individuals we are very good at combining information from different sensory sources to arrive at a judgement that is more accurate than from either source on its own. For example, we can better judge the speed of an approaching car by combining vision and sound. But, what happens when two people work together. Can two people combine their sensory information?

“When we are trying to solve problems, we usually put our heads together in teams, calling on each other’s opinions,” says Dr Bahador Bahrami, lead author of the study from UCL. “For our study, we wanted to see if two people could combine information from each other in a difficult judgement task and how much this would improve their performance.”

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/199194.php

Selection Responsible For Spouses Appearing To Grow More Alike

Article Date: 30 Aug 2010 – 0:00 PDT

Contrary to popular belief, married couples do not become more similar over time, according to a team of researchers led by Michigan State University.

Instead, people tend to pick their spouse based on shared personality traits, the researchers report in the latest issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

“Existing research shows that spouses are more similar than random people,” said Mikhila Humbad, lead investigator. “This could reflect spouses’ influence on each other over time, or this could be what attracted them to each other in the first place. Our goal in conducting this study was to help resolve this debate.”

The researchers analyzed the data of 1,296 married couples, one of the largest such studies to date, said Humbad, MSU doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. The data came from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research.

The researchers wanted to know if husbands and wives become more similar as the marriage progressed. They examined a host of personality characteristics and found that, in most cases, the couples did not become more alike with more years of marriage.

The conclusion: Spousal similarity is better explained by selection than gradual convergence.

The one exception to this pattern was aggression. “It makes sense if you think about it,” Humbad said. “If one person is violent, the other person may respond in a similar fashion and thus become more aggressive over time.”

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/199068.php

What Exactly *IS* a Hook-Up?

Defining the Hook-Up Culture: New Study
What is a hook up?

As a not-that-old, not-that-out-of-touch college professor who teaches classes on the sociology of marriage, family and gender this is one of my favorite questions to ask a class of undergraduates for three reasons: It wakes ’em up; everyone is interested in the answer; and it stirs up quite a debate.

But in the years I’ve been asking this question, there’s never been a class consensus. Some students tell me it’s sexual intercourse, with a zero-to-sex pick-up speed, within hours (and many beers) of a first meeting. Others tell me hooking up means making out or kissing, and might not happen until two people have hung out together in a group of friends for a while.

So a few months back, I put it to the readers of a young-adult spiritual seekers website called BustedHalo, where I’ve been a regular columnist for five years. More than 250 readers responded.

As college students head back to school, here are two of the headlines worth checking out:

• Only a third of college students define a hook-up as sex. Translation: For two-thirds of college students, “hooking up” means something less than sex-probably a lot of smooching and touching with clothes on. (Parents, yes, you can let out that sigh of relief. College kids, no, you don’t have to say you’re having sex to be cool.)

• Post-hookup, a follow-up date is rarely expected. While the majority of respondents would like these hook-ups to be emotionally meaningful, they’ve braced themselves for the worst: About half expect nothing – no phone call, no text message, no date – after the event. It was “just casual.”

See all the findings here.

Read in Full:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-101/201008/what-exactly-is-hook

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