The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage

David Kavanagh and Anne Sexton

Enquiries to: Jonathan Williams Literary Agency Rosney Mews, Upper Glenageary Road, Glenageary Co. Dublin Tel: +353 (1) 280 3482 Fax: +353 (1) 280 3482

DESCRIPTION The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage provides practical information, expert advice and fascinating facts about relationships, to create an engaging guide that will appeal to both men and women. The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage is written for couples whether they are living together, newlywed or have been married for years. The book is divided into five sections, with the bulk of the book devoted to the A to Z listings. Contact details for agencies and support groups will be included at the end of the book. It is estimated that the final book will be approximately 130,000 words and completed by the end of July 2010. SYNOPSIS How have your parents affected your choice of partner? What’s the best way to resolve an argument? When should you compromise? How do you fix sexual problems? Why do we need romance? What are the signs your partner is planning to cheat? In The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage, David Kavanagh and Anne Sexton set about answering these and other interesting questions. The book draws on findings in a range of fields, including anthropology, economics, psychology, sociology and neuroscience, as well as case studies from David Kavanagh’s personal experience as a marriage expert and systemic family therapist. The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage has a number of unique selling points: It is written by a male and female expert: • David Kavanagh is a systemic family therapist* who specialises in relationship consultancy and pre-marriage courses. He was the relationship expert for troubled marriages on the BBC’s You’re Not the Man I Married and is a regular guest on Irish television and radio. Anne Sexton is a freelance journalist specialising in sexual and relationship topics. Since 2004 she has been writing the popular ‘Sexed Up’ column for Hot Press magazine.

* Systemic therapy examines the interaction of people in the context of their lives, everyday environment and social groups, and how these patterns and dynamics influence behaviour. It is written for every committed relationship: • • • It offers advice on the practical, emotional and psychological aspects of planning a wedding It offers advice for couples in moving from co-habitation to marriage It offers advice on keeping relationships strong and healthy

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It explores potential trouble spots over the life-cycle of any relationship

It offers advice on the practical aspects of relationships and marriage, such as: • • • • Child care and parenting Dealing with in-laws Managing money Sex and libido

It includes questionnaires and exercises: • • • To help couples deepen their understanding of themselves and one another To explore how couples will manage the essential tasks of creating and maintaining a household To help couples recognise the influence of their respective families on their expectations of love and marriage

It is written for both men and women: • • • It includes insights from the worlds of economics, sociology, anthropology and neuroscience, to broaden the book’s appeal It avoids blaming one sex or the other for relationship problems It avoids hackneyed explanations of what the sexes are like

It is packed with useful, relevant and fascinating facts: • • • It debunks common marriage and relationship myths It explores how obscure influences, such as television or fortunetelling, can affect your relationship It shows how new technologies have changed the nature of betrayal and infidelity

It is accessible to everyone: • • It avoids counselling jargon and long-winded therapeutic language It deconstructs therapeutic concepts, making them easy to understand

It is written in an easy to read A to Z format: • • This offers variety and novelty to keep the reader interested It can be read as set out from A to Z, used to explore a set of related topics or dipped into from time to time

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MARKETING ANALYSIS Our main target readership is couples in serious relationships, considering marriage or who want a better experience of marriage. Many books about relationships are inaccessible to the average reader. Men, in particular, may feel uncomfortable with language instructing them to ‘get in touch with’ their feelings or to access their ‘inner child’. For that reason, this book is written in a factual and pragmatic way, using no-nonsense language. For thousands of couples, the wedding day is one of the most exciting and stressful experiences they will have together. Most brides want their day to be perfect and look for practical advice and information in magazines and online to ensure a perfect wedding. Our book appeals directly to this market and explores the psychological and emotional aspects of planning a wedding, which other sources rarely cover. Marriage is still the most popular form of committed relationship. However, in the past twenty years, co-habitation has become increasingly prevalent. Our book reveals how to manage the change from co-habitation to marriage and the potential positive and negative consequences of this change. In the past ten years approximately 2.5 million marriages took place in the UK and a further 250,000 couples married in Ireland. We believe that our combination of practical advice, useful information and fascinating facts will appeal to a large section of this market. ADDITIONAL BOOKS We hope to build on the success of The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage with additional titles in the same format. We plan to begin work on The A to Z of Being a Grandparent and The A to Z of Dating & Mating in the near future.

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COMPETING BOOKS We believe our book answers the need that couples have for a no-nonsense guide to the fundamental aspects of relationships that affect every couple. Our book presupposes an already healthy relationship and offers information and advice to create more connection and intimacy between partners. Although there are no books that fall into exactly the same niche as The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage, there are a number of books that cover some similar topics. Making Marriage Work for Dummies Steven Simring, Sue Klavans Simring and Gene Busnar (2001) This book offers advice on how to deal with problems such as conflict, infidelity and in-laws. Explores marriage myths, the marriage life cycle and suggests ideas on how to keep a marriage strong. The Relate Guide to Better Relationships: Practical Ways to Make Your Love Last from the Experts in Marriage Guidance Sarah Litvinoff (2001) A guide to improving marriage, using case histories, quizzes, tasks and discussion points. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work John Gottman and Nan Silver (1999) The Gottman Institute has studied hundreds of couples. Here John Gottman examines the four signs of a troubled relationship; debunks many myths about divorce; and reveals surprising facts about couples who stay together. We Can Work It Out: How to Solve Conflicts, Save Your Marriage, and Strengthen Your Love for Each Other Clifford Notarius and Howard Markman (1993) This is a practical advice book to help couples resolve conflict and avoid divorce.

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WRITERS’ BIOGRAPHIES David Kavanagh David Kavanagh is a systemic family therapist who specialises in relationship consultancy. He runs a very popular pre-marriage course for engaged couples, based on the most up-to-date research and advice on successful relationships. David Kavanagh has appeared on numerous television shows, including RTÉ’s The Afternoon Show, Seoige and O’Shea and TV3’s Ireland AM. He was the relationship expert for troubled marriages on the BBC’s You’re Not the Man I Married and a regular guest on TV3’s The Morning Show with Sybil and Martin, offering expert advice to viewers’ relationship questions. He was also the expert judge on the Late Late Show wedding competition where he judged hundreds of couples on their levels of romance. He will appear on RTÉ’s The Battle of the Sexes, a two-part documentary to be aired in November 2009. Numerous papers, including the Irish Independent, the Irish Examiner, the Daily Star, The Sun and the Evening Herald have consulted him. He is a regular contributor to several Irish radio stations, including RTÉ’s Radio 1, 2FM, 98FM and Newstalk. Anne Sexton Anne Sexton is a freelance journalist specialising in sexual and relationship topics. Since 2004 she has been writing the popular ‘Sexed Up’ column for Hot Press magazine. Anne’s column is renowned for its irreverent take on modern sex lives and is credited with attracting thousands of female readers to the magazine. Anne is well known to the press as an expert on sexuality and relationships. She has appeared as a guest on a number of Irish television shows including RTÉ’s Capital D, Seoige and O’Shea and TV3’s Ireland AM, Midday and The Morning Show with Sybil and Martin, and has contributed to RTÉ’s The Battle of the Sexes, a two-part documentary to be aired in November 2009, and David McSavage’s show The Savage Eye. Anne is a regular guest on Irish radio including RTÉ’s Radio 1, 2FM, 98 FM, Red FM and Newstalk. Her work has appeared in several Irish newspapers, including the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent and the Evening Herald. During October 2009, she presented ‘The Ladies Room’, a chat show on Real Radio, a Dublin-based pilot station. We believe that our combined training and experience make us an ideal team to write a unique guide to relationships and marriage which is both witty and informative and has a wide appeal.

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PERSONAL MARKETING The authors believe we can make a positive contribution to promoting and marketing our book. Print Media The A to Z format of our book lends itself easily to magazine and newspaper features and sections of the book could easily be reworked to suit these media. Anne Sexton has print media contacts, and these could be used to market the book. Television and Radio The authors both have extensive media experience and links in Irish television and media. These will be useful in promoting the book in Ireland. We believe this could be leveraged into publicity in other English-speaking territories. Web Media David Kavanagh has access to the Irish wedding market through his premarriage course website. We also believe that a complementary website could be created for the book. This would feature exercises, questionnaires, surveys and case studies. Other The book could be sold at pre-marriage courses, wedding fairs and through wedding websites.

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INTRODUCTION: HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Is there a magic formula for making a relationship work? No. Well, yes, sort of. But first, let’s deal with a little bit of bad news: there’s no one-size-fits-all relationship remedy to transform all twosomes into loving and passionate unions. If there were, none of us would break up or get divorced. But we do – all the time. The truth of the matter is that you need good basics to begin with – think mutual respect, not a mutual love of Star Wars (although there’s no harm in that either!). While there’s no magic formula for successful relationships, there are a number of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. Remember Newton’s Third Law – for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. This means that your behaviour and your attitude both have a pretty powerful influence on your relationship, and that all relationships, even good ones, sometimes need a nudge in the right direction. But you already knew that – that’s why you bought this book. Here’s the good news: if the foundations are solid, then there’s a lot you can do to influence the quality of your relationship. Think of a house: as long as the structure is properly supported, you can knock a few walls down, add an extension, renovate and redecorate until you’ve got the house or relationship that works for both of you. Even in the best relationships, things can go awry. The stresses and problems of everyday life may bog us down; sometimes we hold on to the past and allow it to push us around; and at times we act out in ways we don’t

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really understand because we haven’t examined our feelings, motivations or the pressures and influences that have shaped us. That’s where this book can help. The A to Z of Relationships & Marriage is a practical guide to getting the best out of your relationship. We look at the most important influences on your personal development and how these can affect you and how you interact with your partner. Even the happiest and best-intentioned couples can make obvious and not-so-obvious mistakes. This book details the complete experience of relationships and marriage and offers practical advice and information to help you gain the skills to negotiate the tricky times and make the good times even better. The book can be read as set out from A to Z, dipped into from time to time, or used to explore a set of related topics. It’s up to you. However, we suggest you take time after reading each section to think about what you’ve read and how it relates to your life. We have included a number of case studies to illustrate how other couples have tackled their problems. The names have been changed, but the case studies, and all the couples referred to throughout the book, are people who have consulted David Kavanagh in the past. In addition, we have included exercises and questionnaires. Do them. Some are fun, some not so much, but they are all useful. Most importantly they are designed to help you and your partner gain a deeper understanding of yourself and one another. Understanding why you act the way you do is a powerful tool – it allows you to step back, examine your attitudes and behaviour, and decide if you need to make changes in your life.

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One word of warning: do not use this book as a tool to berate your partner. During an argument you might feel tempted to point to an entry and say ‘See, that’s what you’re doing wrong!’ Don’t! We encourage you both to read the book, and if possible to do the exercises and questionnaires together, but it’s not necessary. Leave the book lying around where your partner might spot it if you wish, but do not try to make him or her read it against their will. You will cause more problems than you are likely to solve that way. Throughout the course of your relationship you might encounter some problems you cannot solve on your own. Many of us are too embarrassed to admit that we can’t fix them and so we suffer in silence. Do not be one of those people – it takes a particular kind of strength to admit that you need help. At the very end of the book we have included contact details for agencies and professional services. Use them if you need to – they are there to help. Finally we would like to remind you that a good relationship is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. Your loved ones can be frustrating, infuriating, difficult and demanding at times, but admit it – so can you. With determination and persistence, your relationship can achieve more intimacy. Intimacy allows you the freedom to grow as a person with your best friend, lover and helpmate at your side. What could be more important than that?

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ACCEPTANCE AND ACCOMMODATION
It seems obvious to say: we all have personality traits, foibles and idiosyncrasies, most of which we learnt as a child or as a young adult. If you bossed your brothers and sisters, you may be tempted to boss your partner; if your partner’s mother gave in every time she cried, she may expect you to do the same. Quite often, we may not even realise that we do this – certain mannerisms are just a part of who we are. This is why acceptance and accommodation are important. In any relationship you need to accept that you both have personality traits that play a part in how you relate to one another. You need to accept your partner’s foibles, but, it is equally important to accept your own. Acceptance comes from the understanding of the ‘I’ that we each bring to the ‘Us’. However, true acceptance goes further: it is recognising and understanding that you come from different family backgrounds, and that these have helped shape the people you are today. Accepting your partner includes accepting his or her family. You don’t have to love them, or even like them, but you have to accept that they are part and parcel of who your partner is and, at very least, tolerate them for your partner’s sake. Family gatherings are often a true test of acceptance. Accommodation is the everyday expression of acceptance – the things you do to let your partner know that his or her social, family or romantic needs are important to you. Accommodation could mean making allowances for an overbearing sibling; time apart to spend with friends; or sticking at your partner’s side at a party if he or she is uncomfortable in large gatherings.

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ACTING OUT
We have all heard the term ‘acting out’. A person who is acting out is expressing negative feelings by engaging in self-destructive or attentionseeking behaviour and may be motivated by factors that she or he is not consciously aware of. Let’s say you are at a party and your wife runs into an ex-boyfriend. They have not seen one another for many years and they have a great time catching up. Your wife is not flirting or acting inappropriately, but you cannot help but wish she was not talking to him. You may not be able to acknowledge this to yourself – that would mean admitting to feelings of insecurity and irrational jealousy. Instead, these feelings are suppressed, only to come to the fore as acting out. Acting out can take several forms – throwing a tantrum over a minor issue, sulking or perhaps drinking excessively. Any behaviour that cannot be rationally explained is considered to be acting out. Acting out can affect your relationship if you do not have the emotional maturity to recognise what you are thinking and feeling, or if you do not know how to behave appropriately in spite of your feelings. Taking our example above, a wife is more likely to be sympathetic to a husband’s twinges of jealousy than to a drunken tantrum. If you believe your partner is acting out instead of admitting what is bothering him or her, you should wait until he or she has calmed down and talk about what has happened. Trying to reason with your partner when she or he is acting out may just add fuel to the fire.

For more information, see: Conflict; Defence Mechanisms; Emotional Intelligence

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AFFECTION
Affection is any act, behaviour or touch that makes another person feel valued, loved and appreciated. An affectionate touch is non-sexual, but not all nonsexual touches are affectionate – poking your husband in the stomach may be playful, but if it is painful then it is not really affectionate. Holding hands, hugging and a kiss on the cheek are all examples of affectionate behaviour. Affection is important for the long-term happiness of a relationship. For most couples, passion fades after a few years, but affectionate behaviour shows your partner that you care for, and feel connected to, her or him. Some couples are affectionate with each other in public, while for others ‘public displays of affection’ are embarrassing. Public displays of affection are often used to signal commitment to a partner and to warn potential rivals to stay away. A survey of students at Middlesex University in the UK found that the majority of the respondents felt that passionate kissing or fondling in public was less embarrassing than holding hands. This was seen as a sign of commitment and was unacceptable behaviour on a casual date. In some cultures and indeed for some couples, affection is a strictly private activity. If your parents were affectionate in public and private, chances are you will feel comfortable acting in the same way. Marianne and Joe regarded themselves as a ‘practical’ couple. Neither of them felt comfortable displaying affection in public. Marianne, in particular, distrusted public displays of affection. For years her parents had pretended to be happily married, and had acted affectionate in public but not in private. Because of this, Marianne believed that affection was a ‘waste of time’ – a front to be put on for other people. Marianne and Joe were

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challenged to hold hands the next time they went to the supermarket to see if this could have any benefits for their relationship. They claimed to have felt ‘silly’ initially, but that once they got over their discomfort, they enjoyed the experience and felt closer to one another. Whether this was the result of holding hands or simply because they faced a challenge together, it is hard to say. However, the couple resolved to be more affectionate in future. There is nothing wrong, per say, with keeping affection private, as long as there is enough of it your relationship. The level of affection a couple displays towards one another is linked to what is called ‘positive sentiment overide’ – simply put, this means that a couple needs enough happy times and loving behaviour to cope with the difficulties that life throws at them. Affectionate behaviour builds up your store of positive sentiment. Scientists have theorised that affectionate behaviour is important because it contributes to human survival. From an evolutionary perspective this makes sense. It’s a simple case of two pairs of hands are better than one – a committed couple will raise their children together; these children have two adults to help protect, educate and care for them. Affection is associated with emotional health because it makes us feel valued and loved. When we give and receive affection, our brain releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin makes us feel bonded with one another, and researchers think it may be important for our physiological health as well. Affection and oxytocin have been found to lower stress hormones levels, reduce blood pressure, improve mood, boost the immune system and may have a whole other range of benefits too. The message is simple – affection is good for you.

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AGE DIFFERENCE
Here’s something you may not know: many Bible scholars believe that Joseph was about thirty years older than Mary. These days, in most countries it is illegal for a man in his mid-forties to marry a teenage girl, and even if it were not, most people would be horrified at the very idea. Age difference and the importance we give to it is part of our cultural heritage. In other cultures and at other times in history, people had very different ideas to what we believe these days. However, there’s one common thread across many cultures: men tend to marry women who are younger than them. This is because younger women are most likely to be fertile and to bear healthy children. Most research suggests that the closer in age a couple are, the better. In the developed world it is the norm for most of us to choose partners with an age difference of no more than five years either way. In real terms, an age difference of five years is so small that it is mostly indiscernible. The chances are that you will have similar health, interests, cultural reference points and levels of maturity. All relationships present challenges and there may be extra challenges in a relationship where there is a much greater age difference. If you are twenty years younger than your partner, the physical difference between you will become more marked as you both get older, which may affect your sexual relationship, and his or her health and vitality may become a problem. An age discrepancy can mean that you have different priorities. Take the example of Peter and Suzanne. Suzanne was thirty-five when she married Peter, who was ten years younger. After they married, Suzanne wanted to

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settle down and start a family, while Peter wished to focus on his career and still enjoyed nightclubs at the weekends. Although Suzanne had been willing to go dancing with Peter before they married, she had assumed that he would want a more sedate lifestyle after the wedding. Increasingly she found herself comparing herself negatively to the younger women in Peter’s social set, which made her feel jealous and insecure. After they married, both Peter and Suzanne began to feel discontented with their relationship. A number of these problems could have been avoided if they had had an honest discussion about what they expected from marriage, but the couple were blinded by romantic love and had not considered practicalities or challenges that their different ages posed. Couples do not exist in isolation but in the community of their social context. It may be more difficult for a partner who is much older or younger than you to integrate into your social circle. Your family and friends may feel uncomfortable about the age discrepancy, make your partner less welcome because of it or find it difficult to relate to your partner. However, the good news is that age difference is not a significant barrier to happiness if both parties are prepared to deal with the challenges.

For more information, see: Health; Lifecycle Stages

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AGEING
Ageing in an inevitable part of life. We all know this, but few couples consider how ageing will affect their relationship. We might amuse ourselves imagining what it will be like to be grandparents, but for the most part we take our looks, our sexual desire and personalities for granted – all of which change over time. If you are lucky, in thirty years time you will still be married, but the things that make you feel connected today may have passed. We rarely factor in illness and declining sex drives when we get married or commit to a partner, but these are issues many couples face. Ageing can affect our health, sex drive, energy and strength as well as our looks. While it is impossible to predict how you will change as you age, it is worth considering what it is that you value about your partner. If, for example, you admire your partner for her or his good looks, will you feel the same when time has taken its toll? If you were drawn to one another because you both enjoy nightclubs, heavy metal music or extreme sports, what will you share when you can no longer do these things? Many people believe that common interests are of great importance in maintaining a relationship, but while these certainly help, common values play a far greater role in the long-term as these are unlikely to change drastically in the future. Your relationship will change as you age but if it is based on enough shared values and genuine companionship this does not necessarily mean that it will offer you less happiness, intimacy or satisfaction.

For more information, see: Compatibility; Health; Lifecycle Stages; Sexual Problems

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ANTI-DEPRESSANTS AND ANTI-ANXIETY PILLS
While there is no doubt that anti-depressants are a godsend for the hundreds of thousands of people who need them, many psychologists, therapists and counsellors are concerned about the readiness of some doctors to prescribe drugs for emotional problems. An emotional problem can be defined as an issue that causes anxiety, pain or frustration and is rooted in the current context of a person’s life, such as bereavement, or has arisen through unresolved experiences, such as childhood trauma. Most of us trust our GPs, particularly if we have been with them for years, and accept prescriptions without question. While there is no doubt that most doctors want the best treatment possible for their patients, some may be too quick to recommend medication if a patient is experiencing an emotional problem. There is evidence that under difficult economic circumstances, GPs are more likely to look for ‘quick-fix’ solutions instead of referring patients to therapy, when this would be a more appropriate solution. Doctors may also neglect to explain the side-effects or long-term consequences of taking medication. Therapy is designed to help patients overcome emotional problems, but it is not always the correct answer. In cases of organic depression, antidepressants are the best way for patients to manage their illnesses. Medical problems need medical solutions, and no amount of therapy will help if your brain is not producing enough serotonin – a hormone that helps regulate moods. Patients suffering from illnesses such as bipolar disorder may manage their illness better with a combination of medication and therapy.

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Unfortunately, one of the failings of the medical and psychotherapeutic professions is the absence of dialogue between the two. Professional territorialism can mean that patients sometimes do not receive the best care possible. If you have been prescribed anti-depressants, ask your doctor to explain why, how long you should expect to be on the medication, what side effects you can expect, and what the withdrawals symptoms are. If you are unhappy with the prescription, seek a second opinion or ask your GP to refer you to a psychiatrist.

When Anti-Depressants Are Not The Answer: A Case Study Judith was a successful businesswoman in her early thirties when she gave birth to her first child. During her pregnancy, the baby was lying in a position that caused Judith constant pain, and because of this, she had difficulty sleeping. The birth took over twelve hours, and Judith was badly torn afterwards. To make matters worse, a trainee nurse stitched Judith’s vagina incorrectly. After the long and difficult birth, the baby was given to her to nurse before Judith had time to rest or recover. When she objected, the nurse was unsympathetic, accusing her of being a bad mother. After returning home, Judith suffered panic attacks and was overcome with a fear of death. She found it difficult to bond with her child and felt guilty that she was not immediately overwhelmed with love for her baby. To assuage her guilt, she spent large sums of money on baby clothes and toys. After a few weeks, Judith’s emotional stress was so great that she decided to consult her doctor. The doctor prescribed anti-depressants and 19

said, “Don’t go for therapy. It will bring up stuff.” The hospital staff failed Judith, as did her doctor. When institutions or those we place in a position of trust fail us, we tend to internalise those failures as our own. Judith needed time to rest, recover and process the difficult birth of her child, but she was not given the chance to do so. When she approached her doctor, he brushed aside her feelings of inadequacy and guilt. When Judith decided to stop taking her anti-depressants she suffered a number of distressing withdrawal symptoms, including ‘brain shocks’ – an electric shock sensation in the brain. After this, she decided to seek a second opinion from a doctor, who referred her to therapy. With therapy, Judith was given a chance to investigate the source of her emotional distress. After a number of sessions, she felt more bonded with her child, curbed her guiltinduced shopping sprees and stopped experiencing panic attacks.

Anti-Depressants and Libido One common side-effect of depression is the loss of libido. Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of many anti-depressants is also a loss of libido. Up to half of all patients taking anti-depressants may experience a huge decrease in their sex drive. A long-term lack of interest in sex can cause problems in a relationship and this side-effect is of real concern to people who need to take anti-depressants for several years. Researchers believe that this loss of libido may be because many antidepressants work by increasing levels of serotonin. These are known as SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Serotonin is important for the regulation of our moods, but too much serotonin can lead to feelings of 20

satiety, thus decreasing the desire for sex. Fortunately, there are antidepressants that work in other ways and have a less detrimental effect on libido. If you experience a loss of libido while on anti-depressants, ask your doctor to investigate alternatives.

For more information, see: Libido

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ATTRACTION
The first throes of sexual attraction can feel a little like a cross between destiny and being hit over the head with a piano. It can feel magical and a little disorientating. Scientists, however, take a less romantic view. Humans process a lot of information about each other, much of it unconsciously, to decide whether or not we find a potential partner attractive or not. This weeding out process can take place within an incredibly short period of time. Experiments suggest that when meeting someone new, people make up their minds in as little as three seconds and generally base their decisions on factors such as age, weight and physical attractiveness. From a very young age we are able to distinguish attractive faces from ugly ones. Even babies prefer pretty faces and will spend more time looking at them. It seems we have an innate sense of what is attractive, even though preferences can vary from one country to another or change with fashion. Scientists believe that certain attributes, such as a symmetrical face, clear skin and a fit body are always going to be alluring because they indicate that a person is healthy and fertile – important qualities if you intend to have children. No face or body is completely symmetrical, however. One of your feet, hands, eyes, breasts and even nostrils is going to be slightly bigger than the other. So don’t worry too much if you’re not perfect – nobody is! Evolutionary theory suggests that we seek out partners by looking for the ‘correct’ features because these indicate that a person is a suitable mate. These features tell us that a person has the correct hormonal balance. A person with a square, broad jaw has high levels of testosterone. This is why

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women are said to find it attractive in a man, but men prefer youthful or more childlike features on women. If evolutionary theory is correct, the features men and women prefer should be different. A strong jaw-line should get female pulses racing, while men should admire large eyes in women. However, recent research suggests that it is more complicated than that. Using computer graphics, psychologists at Trinity College Dublin manipulated male and female images to change the sex of the face. The researchers changed the faces to the typical dimensions associated with the other sex, but kept the shape of features the same. Students were then asked to evaluate the attractiveness of the faces. The psychologists found changing the sex of the face made no difference to its attractiveness – if a face was seen as attractive in its original sex, it was still regarded as attractive in the opposite sex. Likewise, faces that were seen as unattractive when unaltered were still seen as unappealing when the sex was changed. As we all know, sexual attraction doesn’t stop at the face – the body is equally as important. Most women opt for a broad chest and shoulders on a man, while men like a waist that is narrower than the hips. This is called the waist-to-hip ratio. Interestingly, if a woman has healthy levels of the hormone oestrogen, her waist will be smaller than her hips, even if she is overweight. However, even if you are good-looking, healthy and fit, not everyone is going to fancy you. Why we find one person attractive, but not another, can seem a bit of a mystery because it is a decision partly made on a subconscious level. Pheromones, or the way we smell, may be the reason why.

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Pheromones are chemical signals that can tell us whether or not a particular person is a good genetic match. These are rarely noticed consciously, although sometimes we might take a particular like or dislike to someone’s natural smell. Experts believe that we use pheromones to choose a partner with an immune system different to our own. This gives you the best chance of having a healthy child. The downside of this neat trick is that women who take the contraceptive pill may have pheromone radars that are out of whack. This can cause them to choose a partner with a similar immune system. Once they go off the pill and try to conceive, they may find their partner a lot less attractive without knowing why. If you met your partner while on the pill, it is worth bearing in mind that pheromones are just a tiny part of the sexual attraction equation and many scientists are sceptical about the role they play. The good news is that you do not have to be beautiful to be attractive. Most people think they would do better at dating and mating if they looked like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, but this isn’t necessarily true. Incredibly good-looking people make us nervous because, unless we are as beautiful as our partner, subconsciously we worry that they will leave us as soon as a better offer comes along. Beautiful people also seem less approachable, so average-looking folk tend to have better luck in love. They are less intimidating and so, since most of us are fairly average ourselves, we are more willing to chat and flirt with them. Just about every year researchers conduct studies that they hope will unlock the secrets of attraction. In recent years, scientists have found that

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couples who look alike are more compatible in the long term and that Chris de Burgh was on to something when he sang about the “Lady in Red” – men find this colour clothing the most attractive on women. However as yet, no study has been able to tell the whole story. It seems that why we are attracted to certain people and not to others is still a mystery.

My Chemical Romance One of the most common complaints couples have is that they no longer feel as passionate about each other as they once did. If you’re a romantic, brace yourself! Cupid, destiny or the movements of heavenly bodies do not create love – it is a concoction of chemicals as powerful as any known opiates. Love really is the drug. Here’s how it works. You meet a man or a woman and feel a certain je ne sais quois: he or she is attractive; you go out on dates and you get to know each other better; perhaps you have sex. Over time certain parts of your brain become aware that this particular individual could potentially be a suitable mate, so it’s not Cupid but Mother Nature who steps in to lend a hand. A number of very powerful chemicals, such as as adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine are released into your bloodstream, giving you a feeling of elation, joy and connection and, before you know it, you’re in love. Unfortunately, these chemicals have a shelf life. Their best-before date is usually within three years. After that, they tend to gradually disappear. The good news is that compatible couples can establish successful relationships even after the honeymoon period is over. If you get along and make love often

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you’ll also get the benefit of oxytocin, vasopressin and other endorphins. Oxytocin is really powerful stuff. Large amounts of it are released when a woman gives birth, causing a mother to bond with her infant. Known as the love or cuddle hormone, oxytocin is released during orgasm and it’s this mind-altering chemical that causes you to feel connected to your partner. During orgasm women release more oxytocin than men, but this does not mean that, chemically speaking, women have been given a raw deal – orgasm triggers the release of vasopressin in men, and scientists believe that this helps a man bond with his partner. Frequent ‘hits’ of oxytocin and vasopressin– and sexual pleasure too – help to keep a couple bonded. Think of the elderly couple walking hand in hand on the promenade eating ice creams. Perhaps their early sexual passion for each other has dwindled, but compatibility and the positive effects of oxytocin and vasopressin have cemented their relationship.

It’s All in Your Head Since the year 2000, scientists have been able to use new, nifty-sounding devices called functional magnetic resonance imagers (fMIRS), to study the brains of people in love. The fMIRS show the three parts of the brain that are used in romance: the ventral tegmental, the nucleus accumbens and the caudate nuclei. The ventral tegmental is a group of neurons at the centre of the brain. When people fall in love, the ventral tegmental works full tilt, producing dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter and hormone. Dopamine creates

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feelings of craving, exhilaration and ecstasy – it makes you miss your partner and motivates you to have sex with them. Along with the ventral tegmental, the nucleus accumbens forms part of the brain’s ‘reward centre’. The thrilling signals that start in ventral tegmental are processed in the nucleus accumbens, using dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin is important for a healthy sexuality, and oyctocin causes you to feel connected to your partner. The caudate nuclei is where your memory of how to do everyday tasks, such as riding a bicycle, is stored. Long-term love is stored here as well – just like a good habit.

Ten Attractive Qualities – Making Them Work For You We’ll admit the reasons we find one another attractive are fascinating, but if you are in a relationship, the chances are that you found each other appealing to begin with. The question is: how do you put this information to good use? In most relationships, how attractive we find our partner changes over time. Luckily, in a good relationship, this is more like a rollercoaster than a one-way ticket downhill. There are no quick-fix solutions to making your partner desire you all over again, but there are a few tricks that can help. Here are the ten most important attributes of attraction and some ideas to make them work to your advantage. Looks: Smooth skin, full lips, small noses and high cheekbones are appreciated in women, while women find men with strong faces attractive.

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You can’t change the hand nature has dealt you but you can improve it. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating – healthy eating, plenty of water, exercise and a good skin care routine (and if necessary, a trip to the dermatologist) work wonders to improve your skin. Don’t forget that make-up and grooming can improve a lot of flaws, and a good lipstick and gloss can give the illusion of fuller lips. Studies show that men think women who wear make-up look more approachable, confident and attractive, so learn what works for you and apply it. A weak chin can always be disguised with a beard, but a 2008 study found that most ladies love a bit of stubble, and find this look more attractive than bearded or clean-shaven faces.

For more information, see: Grooming

Voice: Researchers have found that women, particularly when they are ovulating, prefer men with deep voices. Men prefer higher voices in women, as long as it’s not ear-splitting! With time and effort, you can learn to modulate your voice. A far easier trick is to fake it when whispering sweet nothings into your partner’s ear.

Popularity: Think of a designer label. Stick it on a handbag, and suddenly it’s worth ten times the price of a regular bag. It’s the same with people. If a man or woman is generally regarded as attractive, we believe the group opinion. Essentially what we are doing is relying on other people’s judgments.

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Scientists think this might be an easy way to successful mating – since it takes time and effort to find a good partner, we are happy to let others do the legwork for us. How can this work for you? Not by trying to be the most desirable man or woman in the room and driving your partner mad with jealousy! Some people think playing with jealousy will increase their partner’s desire for them. This might be true in the short term, but this is a dangerous game and it’s not advisable if you want your relationship to last. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward when you go out. If your partner sees you receiving admiring glances from other men or women, it reinforces his or her belief that you’re a catch.

Social status, education, background and beliefs: We are more likely to be attracted to people who have similar backgrounds, levels of education and beliefs as us. There is not a lot you can do to change your background, but we all like people who agree with us. The next time you are on a date with your partner, bring the conversation around to a topic you both find interesting and agree on. This will enhance your feelings of connection and attraction to each other.

Body language: People who are charming and self-confident tend to attract other people. Lucky them, since this goes to reinforce their self-confidence! We appreciate confidence because it makes us feel good, and we believe that if someone has a healthy sense of self-esteem, there is probably a reason why.

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Good posture, a friendly smile and a relaxed demeanour all indicate confidence and are attractive to most of us. As a general rule, women prefer tall men. But don’t worry if you’re not. Your wife or girlfriend loves you whatever your height and, other than shoe lifts, you can’t do much about it anyway. However, you can stand up straight. People who have good posture look taller, more attractive and friendlier than those who slouch. Studies have found that women find talking face-to-face to be an intimate activity, while men feel closer and more connected when they talk or play side by side. If you want your partner to feel closer and more attracted to you, chose your seat accordingly. If you are unhappy, your body language reflects this – you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, so you slouch, avoid people’s eyes or cross your arms over your chest. Luckily, faking it can actually help improve your mood. Sit or stand straight and smile and you’ll instantly feel a bit better. The act of smiling tells your brain that you are happy and this triggers the release of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel happy. Happy people are almost always more attractive – except at 7 o’clock on a Monday morning.

For more information, see: Body Language

Listen: We like people who make us feel that they are interested in us, and what we are saying. Pay attention when your partner speaks to you, particularly if what she or he is saying is important to them. Validation of

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each other’s experiences is crucial to long-term relationships; and you cannot validate if you have not even heard what he or she has said.

Sense of humour: Attraction may be partly chemical, partly unconscious and partly still a mystery, but there’s one thing almost all of us agree on – a good sense of humour is an attractive quality. There’s a catch here – women like a man to be funny, whereas a man prefers a woman who laughs at his jokes. Sharing laughter is important. If needs be, steal jokes, watch comedies together and don’t be afraid to be silly.

Eyes: If you are talking to a friend, you look at them between 30 to 60 percent of the time. When you first fall in love, this increases to an incredible 75 percent of the time – you get lost in your partner’s eyes. When people fall in love, phenylethylamine is secreted by the nervous system. If you want to rekindle some of the initial passion, make this work to your advantage. If you look into your partner’s eyes 75 percent of the time, you trick their brain into believing they are falling in love with you all over again and phenylethylamine starts to pump. Obviously you need to choose a suitable moment to do this and be careful not to stare at them like a deer caught in headlights – that’s more likely to scare them. Another trick of the eyes is the dilated pupil. When we like the look of someone, our pupils increase in size. Researchers have found that when asked to judge between two photographs of the same person, which are identical in every way, except for pupil dilation, people believe that the photo with dilated

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pupils is more attractive. Low lighting causes the pupils to dilate, which is why it is so popular in restaurants. Consider making a candlelit dinner for your partner or taking them out and put this knowledge to good use.

Compliments and flirting: Letting someone know you think they are attractive gives them an ego boost. We tend to do this at the beginning of a relationship but then let this slide the better we know one another. Do not assume your partner knows you think they’re hot stuff – tell them, in words or by flirting with them. Don’t go overboard with compliments though – too many make most people feel uncomfortable. Keep the compliments specific and genuine and give them at the right time.

Changing your looks: Women instinctively know that changing their looks can keep a man on his toes. It is one of the reasons why women spend money on clothes, make-up and hairdressers. Updating your look, a new hair colour or dressing differently can make someone look at you with fresh eyes. Obviously you need to be sure that whatever changes you make are attractive and flattering. Just a word of caution here: your partner might not be pleased with a dramatic new look. If your wife loves your beard or your husband adores your long hair, it might be best to leave it in place and try a less drastic change.

For more information, see: Body Language; Crush; Grooming; Love Addiction

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BEDROOM
Your bedroom should be a haven away from your children and romantic space for you as a couple. This sounds obvious, but many couples allow children’s toys and domestic mess to invade their space. For most couples, the frequency of sex falls off after a few years of marriage, so it’s a good idea to have a sexy space to get you in the mood. The colour spectrum is divided into warm and cool colours. Yellows, oranges, and orange-based reds are warm colours, whereas blues, greens and blue-based reds are cool. For bedroom décor, blues and greens are said to be calming, pastels are relaxing, reds are exciting, oranges are happy and neutrals are safe. Include as many sensory treats as possible in your bedroom. Redecorating may not be an option, but a few accessories, in the appropriate colour, could give your bedroom a new lease of life. Consider the tactile qualities of cushions, sheets and throws when buying them. Satin sheets are expensive, clean ones are not, but they feel great too. An inexpensive CD player or music dock is a small investment but can make the bedroom feel a lot more private and relaxing. Almost everyone responds well to the smell of vanilla, and a couple of scented candles will make the room look and feel romantic. One last thing – one of you may be more likely to leave clothes strewn around the bedroom (and this is not always the man!). Try talking to your partner about this, or placing the laundry basket so it is convenient for the offending person. If none of this works, remember that some people are

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messier than others and this may just be one of the ‘for worse’ parts you have to learn to accept. Ask yourself what is more conducive to a happy relationship – picking up his or her laundry or constantly nagging your partner?

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BODY IMAGE
Do you like your body? If the answer is no, you are in good company. Very few women, and increasingly men, are satisfied with the way their bodies look. What exactly is body image? Sarah Grogan, author of Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children, defines body image as “a person’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings about his or her body” and argues that from as young as eight, most Western women experience some dissatisfaction with their bodies. This trend is not confined to women alone. Grogan notes that studies have found that from the age of eight, boys are concerned about their body shape as well. Most people know that what is perceived as the perfect body changes with the prevailing fashion of the day. The voluptuous curves of Marilyn Monroe were considered ideal in the 1950s, but the waif-like figure of Twiggy was popular in the 1960s; in the 1990s the so-called supermodels were mostly tall and athletically built, but fashion goes in cycles and it swung back to very slender figures. The death of a young model in 2006 sparked a huge media debate when it was revealed that she had been starving in order to conform to the trend for ‘size zero’ models. It is worth remembering that there is a huge industry dedicated to making us feel bad about our physical appearance. Every day we are confronted with images of perfect people on television, in magazines, on billboards, on public transport and even in toilet cubicles. We may know that models and actors are not representative of society as a whole, and that these images have been airbrushed to remove even the tiniest imperfections, this constant bombardment is difficult for some of people to ignore.

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We all know that it is important to eat healthily and take regular exercise – even if we don’t do it – but at the time of writing, Amazon UK listed over 52,000 diet books and more than 7,000 exercise DVDs, some of which promise miraculous results in a remarkably short period of time. But poor body image doesn’t always come about because we genuinely need to shed a few pounds – millions of men, women and children dislike their bodies regardless of their actual shape and size. The reasons why people develop poor body images are complex, and although the media plays a role, other factors, such as our peer groups, parents, teachers and friends, come into play. Some psychologists believe that body dysmorphic disorder – an excessive concern with perceived physical flaws – may have a biological origin and can be treated with anti-depressants. It is unfair, but society rewards those who fit into the prevailing aesthetic culture. Thinness in women and lean muscular bodies in men are associated with happiness, success, youthfulness and attractiveness, while overweight people are sometimes stigmatised as lazy, lacking in will-power and unattractive. Overweight children are more likely to be ignored by their peers and overweight adults may be overlooked for jobs and promotions. Not having a body that fits into the current aesthetic can affect our selfconfidence and make us feel unattractive. In extreme cases, we may even feel worthless, hopeless and undeserving of our partner’s love and attention. Feelings of body dissatisfaction may make us feel wary of being sexually intimate with our partners. Men may feel unable to satisfy their partners; and it is not uncommon for women to demand that the room is dark when they are having sex or to insist on wearing at least some clothes in bed.

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If your body image is affecting your self-confidence or your relationship, it is important to get help. A good therapist can help you understand the reasons why you feel so negative about your body and assist you to build a more positive body image.

Body Image and Plastic Surgery Since 2000, there has been a huge increase of interest in plastic surgery. The back pages of men and women’s magazines carry adverts for cosmetic procedures, and surgery is a staple in many ‘make-over’ television shows. What was once the preserve of celebrities is available to all, and treatments such as botox or breast enhancement may be seen as ‘empowering’. Figures from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) showed a 45 percent increase in breast augmentations and a 94 percent jump in patients seeking tummy tucks between 2000 and 2008. Certain procedures did become less popular over the period – nose reshaping and liposuction both experienced a significant dip. However, despite turmoil in the American economy in 2008, the ASPS reported an increase in cosmetic procedures between 2007 and 2008. An astonishing 12.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in America in 2008, a three percent increase on 2007. American trends in plastic surgery are not unique. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported that there was a threefold increase in the number of cosmetic procedures performed in the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2008. Like the US, the most popular procedures were breast enhancement and tummy tucks, both of which rose by 30 percent between 2007 and 2008.

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Although women accounted for 91 percent of the procedures, men are increasingly turning to plastic surgery. Male breast reduction and male forehead lifts increased by an incredible 44 percent and 60 percent respectively between 2007 and 2008. The number of British men choosing plastic surgery is still relatively small. Only twenty-two men in Britain elected to undergo breast reduction in 2003, but this increased to 323 in 2008. In an interview with the BBC, consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS member Dalia Nield noted that this increase was partly due to the media highlighting the availability of the procedure. However, it seems possible that the upsurge in media scrutiny of male bodies in partly responsible too. The term ‘moobs’, a contraction of ‘man’ and ‘boobs’, seems to have first appeared in the British press in 2004. Between 2004 and early 2009, ‘moobs’ or ‘man boobs’ appeared in the British press over 500 times, and male celebrities and politicians are routinely mocked for their less than perfect physiques. It is hard to say whether the media is simply reflecting men’s concerns about their bodies or reinforcing negative body image, but psychologists believe that men are under more pressure to conform to body ideals these days than in the past. According to a 2007 study by the ASPS, with the exception of those seeking liposuction, body dissatisfaction is not the reason most people seek plastic surgery. The ASPS findings suggest that patients seek cosmetic procedures because they believe the maxim: ‘look as good as you feel’. The ASPS has an interest in promoting plastic surgery and its findings are rebuked by other studies, which have found that body image improves, at least in the short term, after a patient has undergone a cosmetic procedure. This suggests that body dissatisfaction is a significant reason to have the surgery in the first place. A 2009 survey of American female undergraduate 38

students found that those who internalised materialism and socio-cultural messages that promote beauty were more likely to desire plastic surgery. More worryingly, scientists have uncovered a link between cosmetic surgery and suicide. Studies from the United States, Canada and Denmark found that women who had undergone breast augmentation were two to three times more likely to commit suicide. The most plausible explanation for this is that people who elect to undergo cosmetic surgery have personality traits or emotional problems that put them at risk of suicide, but that these are undetected or ignored by plastic surgeons. It is estimated that three-quarters of people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) seek cosmetic surgery at some point and that up to 15 percent of American plastic surgery patients suffer from BDD. People suffering from BDD are more likely to self-harm and are up to 45 times more likely to commit suicide. Many responsible surgeons assess their patients’ mental health before electing to do surgery. However, those with mental health problems may slip through the screening process, which is not necessarily rigorous enough, and patients who are turned down by a surgeon generally have no problem finding a less conscientious doctor who is willing to do the work.

Eating Disorders The reasons why people develop eating disorders are complex and depend on the individual. Experts note that it is a combination of factors, including biological, family, socio-cultural and psychological reasons. Eating disorders are often linked to feelings of powerlessness and may have their roots in a dysfunctional relationship within the family. 39

Bodywhys, an independent voluntary organisation that deals with eating disorders notes that dieting and low self-esteem are two major risk factors for eating disorders. While it is not possible to draw a direct causal link between the media and eating disorders, Bodywhy notes that the media can influence those who are vulnerable to eating disorders. A culture that promotes a particular body shape can erode self-esteem and the constant promotion of dieting can contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food. According to Bodywhys, internationally there has been an increase in the number of people presenting themselves for treatment of eating disorders with sufferers at a younger age, and an increasing percentage of male cases. Figures from Britain show an 80 percent increase in the admission of girls under the age of 16 for the treatment of anorexia in the past ten years. The UK Department of Health figures also showed a 67 percent increase in the number of men treated for eating disorders in the UK in the last five years. Unfortunately eating disorders can be much harder to spot than problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, and in many cases partners may be unaware that their husband or wife is hiding a problem. Eating disorders pose a grave health risk and can lead to death. If you, your partner, friends or family suffer from an eating disorder, we strongly urge you to contact the eating disorder experts listed at the back of this book.

Eating Disorders: A Case Study Marie and her twenty-one year old daughter Nancy decided to seek therapy because Marie was anxious about Nancy, who suffered from an eating disorder. Throughout the consultation, Nancy remained quiet, letting her 40

mother do all of the talking. During their sessions it became clear that Marie saw Nancy as an extension of herself. When Nancy controlled her food, Marie became depressed; when Nancy ate, Marie was happy. Nancy was trying to establish a separate identity for herself, and since she felt powerless in the face of her strong-willed parents, in particular her mother, she controlled her food intake. Over the course of their consultations, it was revealed that the family were in denial that their son had sexually molested Nancy as a child. An eating disorder can be a symptom of sexual abuse. Since control over outside events is impossible, many victims control what they can control – their food intake. Furthermore, victims of sexual abuse may seek to make themselves less ‘attractive’ to an abuser by eating too little or too much. As this case study shows, Nancy’s eating disorder was a result of her sexual abuse and the power dynamics within her family. The promotion of thinness in our culture and ‘thinspiration’ websites can normalise eating disorders, which makes acknowledging that there is a problem more difficult. Furthermore, the media tendency to blame external factors, such as fast-food restaurants, for obesity, or celebrities for anorexia, can distort the reality that there are complex underlying reasons for most eating disorders. Parents whose children develop eating disorders may find it easier to blame external factors than admit there is a problem within the family.

For more information, see: Health; Vaginal Surgery; Weight Gain and Weight Loss

For more information on family dynamics, see: Brothers and Sisters; Family 41

BODY LANGUAGE
It ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it. Experts believe that in face-toface interactions between 50 and 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. Strangely enough, the words we use may be the least important part of any message; it is our intonation, and especially our body language that really tell others what we think and feel. For the most part these signals are processed subconsciously – we are rarely aware that we are reacting to each other’s body language and, unless we make a special effort, we do not know what signals our body is sending out.

Flirting & Courtship Gestures When we are in the presence of someone we find attractive, our body language lets him or her know. We start preening and sending out courtship signals. Women send out about five times as many flirting signals than men. Here are the most common ones: Hair: One of a woman’s first flirting signals is to play with her hair, either by tossing her head to flick her hair back, or by touching and playing with her hair. Even women with short hair do this. Mouth: Women pout, lick their lips and hold their mouths slightly open when they are flirting. This is because the lips mimic the vagina – when a woman is turned on, her vaginal lips swell with blood and become red. This is also why red lipstick never really goes out of fashion. Self-touching: When running her hands along her throat or thigh, a woman is subconsciously signalling to a man that he might get to touch her too.

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Hands and wrists: Women turn their palms upwards and expose the inside of their wrists when flirting. They may also adopt a limp wrist, which is a submissive signal. Over the shoulder glance: A woman will give a man a quick look over her raised shoulder if she finds him attractive. She will look just long enough for him to notice and then look away. Rolling her hips: Women walk with a wiggle because their pelvic region is different from a man’s. Walking this way is a subtle courtship gesture, attracting a man’s attention to her pelvis or her behind. Pelvic tilt: Most men like a narrow waist on a woman and by tilting her hip to one side a woman emphasizes this part of her anatomy. Knees, legs and feet: When a woman sits with one leg tucked under the other, she will point her knee at the man she finds most interesting. She may do the same kind of signalling with her feet. A woman may also unconsciously cross and uncross her legs while flirting or sit so her inner thigh is on view. Playing with clothes: Women fuss with their clothes, remove layers or play with their buttons when they are with someone they fancy. She may also slip her foot in and out of her shoe when she’s attracted to someone. Smile: A broad smile with lots of eye contact is a sure sign someone likes you.

Although women use more flirtatious body language than men, men also have a number of courtship gestures:

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Hair: Like women, men tend to play with their hair when they find someone attractive, either by mussing it up or by fixing it. Raised eyebrows: Men raise their brows and adopt a quizzical look when talking to a woman they find interesting. Clothes: Men use preening gestures, such as straightening their tie or pulling up their socks. The subconscious message is that he wants to look good. He may also fidget by buttoning or unbuttoning a jacket. This is a displacement activity and usually happens if a man is a little nervous when he is talking to a woman he fancies. Squaring: A man stands straight, pulls his muscles tight and squares his shoulders. This shows off his body to its best advantage. Crotch display: A man may sit or stand with his legs apart facing a woman he finds attractive. Perch: A man may sit on the edge of his seat, facing the woman he finds most interesting. Stance: By standing with his hands on his hips or hitching his fingers into his belt, buckle or belt loops, a man is drawing your attention to his genitals. This ‘cowboy’ stance is regarded as the number one male courtship gesture throughout the Western world.

Is My Partner Planning to Cheat? Before you decide if your partner is flirting with someone else, check to make sure they are sending out at least four courtship gestures at the same time. Taken separately, body language signals do not mean a lot. The context in

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which the body language takes place makes a difference as well – a woman might fidget with her clothes because she is nervous, not in the throes of attraction. Finally, it is important to remember that most of the time we are not aware that our body language is giving someone come-hither signals. However, body language can help you spot warning signs. These are not proof that your partner is up to something, but it’s worth paying attention, especially if your partner flirts with the same person repeatedly. Here’s what to look out for: Body betrayal: Your partner is sitting beside you, but her or his body is facing your ‘rival’. You may also feel excluded from the conversation if your partner is doing this, particularly if she or he is sitting with their back towards you. Secret signals: You catch your partner sharing deep meaningful glances, or intimate smiles with someone else when he or she thinks you cannot see. Mirroring: When we like someone, we tend to mirror their behaviour and synchronise our bodies and action. We sip our drinks at the same time or hold our hands in a similar way. Subconsciously we do this to be agreeable. Eyes: If you are talking to your partner but his or her eyes are focused on someone else as they are listening and responding, this is a sign that he or she is not really engaged in the conversation or paying attention to you.

What can you do? Firstly, remember the golden rule from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – don’t panic! Even if your partner is indulging in some extracurricular flirting, it does not follow that he or she has been unfaithful or

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is planning to cheat. Some people are just natural flirts or may be inclined to flirt under certain circumstances, such as one too many glasses of wine. Secondly, use body language to your advantage by using ‘ownership’ displays. Kiss your partner on the cheek, remove imaginary lint from his or her clothes, hold hands or give them a quick hug. All these gestures tell a rival to back off. Remember those photographs of Victoria and David Beckham after the Rebecca Loos scandal broke? In almost every photo, Victoria was pictured with her arms around David, holding him. This is a message to tell the world ‘he’s mine!’ The important thing to look out for here is your partner’s reaction. If they turn away from you, go stiff when you touch them or complain you are crowding them, you may have a problem. The best thing to do then is talk to your partner. Wait until you are alone and explain calmly how you feel and what it is about his or her behaviour that bothers you.

Flirting With One Another In many long-term relationships, people forget to flirt with each other. If you have been together for years, you may think this is not necessary. It is – at least every now and again! Make time for flirting. Arrange regular date nights where you go out and enjoy each other’s company. Dress up, and pledge not to talk about domesticity or children. Flirt with one another the way you would if you were trying to seduce your partner all over again. It may seem silly at first, especially if you have not done it for a long time, but flirting is a way of expressing your delight and attraction to each other, and that is important.

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Argumentative Gestures Body language reveals your emotions. We may say one thing, but if we feel or believe the opposite, our body language gives us away. We know this instinctively. Let’s say you have had an argument with your partner. She apologises, but she is tapping her foot and looking away. Such an apology would be hard to accept. When you have an argument, the body language you use can make the situation worse. All couples disagree, but psychologists have found that the way you argue is important. John Gottman conducted a ten-year study on married couples and found that criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are particularly unhealthy for relationships. These attitudes can be conveyed in your body language as well. When emotions are running high, your body language will probably be the last thing on your mind, but if you want to resolve the argument and keep your relationship happy, it is wise to avoid gestures that signal contempt or aggression. Here are examples of argumentative gestures you should try to avoid: Finger-pointing: Body language experts Allan and Barbara Pease conducted an experiment and found that if a lecturer points his or her finger while teaching a class, students found the lecturer aggressive, unpleasant and belligerent. The students also recalled less information from the lesson. So, if you want your partner to listen to you and feel positive about you, even though you are arguing, do not do this. When people point fingers at us, we

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become distracted because we are sizing them up and judging them instead of listening to what they are saying. Crossed or gripped arms: This is a defensive gesture. We cross our arms across our chest as a barrier when we feel insecure, when we disagree with what is being said or when we do not like the person who is talking to us. Research shows that if you adopt this posture when listening to someone, you remember about 38 percent less information. This is hardly a problem if a boring person traps you at a party, but if you are having an argument with a partner, and want to resolve the problem, you need to listen to what he or she is saying. If your partner is sitting with arms crossed, try and get them to uncross by making him or her a cup of coffee or hand them a glass of water. Not only will they be forced to uncross their arms, but a small act of kindness during an argument will help dissolve the tension too. Just one extra thing – if a person has his arms crossed but both thumbs up, he’s being protective, but he also feels fairly in control of the situation. Legs and arms crossed: By adopting this pose, you are literally and figuratively closed off to what your partner is saying. Clenched fists and crossed arms: This posture shows hostility as well as defensiveness. The person adopting this position looks as if she or he is barely containing their temper and might get violent. Eye-rolling: Rolling your eyes to the back of your head suggests that you have contempt for what a person is saying.

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Swat: Like eye-rolling, swatting an argument away with your hand suggests you feel scornful towards your partner and his or her viewpoint. This is the body language equivalent of ‘yeah, whatever.’ Back turn: Turning your back on a partner in the middle of an argument is the body language equivalent of stonewalling. You have refused to engage in the discussion.

Reconciliation Gestures An argument with your partner is not a political debate – being right or scoring points is less important than finding a resolution. The next time you argue, consider adopting some reconciliation postures. Try using ‘open’ body language – face your partner, uncross your arms or legs and keep your palms faced upwards. All these suggest that you are receptive to what is being said. Men should consider sitting down. Height tends to command respect, but it in an argument with a partner this can be a disadvantage – a man’s greater height can be perceived as threatening (even if you do not mean to be). Sitting, so you are around the same size as your partner, suggests you see eyeto-eye, whereas lowering your body so that you are smaller is a submissive gesture – not necessarily a bad thing if you want to end an argument.

Three Golden Rules for Body Language Just as it is easy to misunderstand or mishear what a person says, it is possible to misread body language. Experts have three golden rules to make sure you are getting it right – clusters, congruence, and context.

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You need to look for clusters of at least four gestures before you decode body language. A single gesture by itself means little. Let’s say you are having an argument and your partner uses the swatting gesture. He or she could be swatting a fly or have hair in their face. But if you see repeated swatting, or swatting along with eye-rolling, sneering and crossed arms and legs, your partner’s body language is telling you clearly that they strongly disagree with what you are saying. Congruence means that the words and body language agree. For the most part, we disregard what people are saying if their body language does not match their words. If your partner tells you that, ‘no, those jeans do not make you look fat’ and his body language is open or affectionate, believe him! If he is rolling his eyes or crossing his arms, he probably just wants you to hurry up and is not particularly concerned about your jeans one way or the other. It is important to consider the context before decoding body language. We cross our arms when we are cold; women wearing short skirts cross their legs; and people play with their hair or clothes when nervous or uncomfortable. Body language is a useful tool, but be wary of jumping to conclusions!

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BROTHERS & SISTERS
Do your siblings affect your relationship? Yes, and in more ways than you might think. If you were lucky (or perhaps unlucky) enough to have them, your brothers and sisters were your first peer group. From them you learnt how to play, share, and relate to others. Your siblings also taught you how to stick up for yourself, have an argument and, when they were breaking your toys or getting you into trouble, you learnt that life isn’t always fair. Siblings also give us our first taste of jealousy and competitiveness – almost everyone who has them has suspected, sometimes correctly, that their parents preferred a brother or sister. All this influences how you relate to your partner.

Family Types Psychologists say there are two main types of families – enmeshed and disengaged. Enmeshed families are very close – sometimes too close. They can be overly concerned about one another and too involved in each other’s lives, which means they’re always phoning up or calling over. Being a part of the family is much more important than being a separate individual. Disengaged families like a bit more space. Each member prefers to do his or her own thing and they have less sense of connection or loyalty to one another. If the family is really disengaged, they might not even talk to each other, without anyone thinking this is a problem. Most families fall somewhere between the two.

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Let’s say you come from an enmeshed family and your partner’s family is disengaged. It’s likely that you will want your partner to love and respect your family as much as you do and you might hope that you will develop close friendships with his or her family. In theory that’s a good idea, but it can be tricky in real life. Your partner may wish that your family would give you ‘more space’ as a couple, and even if his or her family like and respect you, they probably will not be keen to get involved in your life. Consider the example of Jeremy and Alice. Jeremy and Alice were happily engaged, but how often they saw their in-laws was a bone of contention. They visited Jeremy’s mother every Sunday, but Alice felt this was too frequent. Ideally, she wanted to visit her in-laws every fortnight and spend alternate Sundays with her own family or alone with Jeremy. Jeremy became angry and frustrated. He claimed that his mother would take this as a personal rebuff. Jeremy’s response is a strong indication of enmeshment. There’s not much you can do to change either your or your partner’s family, but by being aware of where the difficulties are likely to be, you can avoid potential problems. Read the next sections for some more examples.

The Quarrel Conundrum If you are close to your family, they are the people you turn to in times of trouble. But no matter how close you are, you need to separate your relationship with your brothers and sisters from your relationship with your partner. Unfortunately, this means that you really should not complain to your siblings if you have had an argument with your partner. Nor should you,

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in a fit of annoyance, tell them all the things your partner does to drive you crazy. Think how much you would dislike it if your partner did this to you; you would feel betrayed and embarrassed. This does not mean you can never ask your brothers and sisters for advice, but consider carefully what you say. A litany of complaints, condemnation and blame makes long-term friendships between your partner and your family complicated, if not impossible. We all say things we do not really mean when we are annoyed. Once the row has blown over and you have made up with your partner, you will probably forget all the complaints you made about her or him, but your family may not. They may never see your partner in the same good light again. Is this what you really want? On another note, it is rarely a good idea to criticise your partner’s family, even if he or she is at loggerheads with them. Support your partner, let him or her know you understand why they are upset, but do not add fuel to the fire. Families sometimes argue and generally make up, even if it takes time. No matter what the row was about, and even if you really dislike the family member in question, this is not an invitation for you to share your feelings. As the expression goes, you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family. Your partner’s siblings are always going to be family – but you may not be.

Partner versus Siblings Picture the scene. It’s a Sunday afternoon and you are visiting your family for lunch. It has been a good meal and you have been having such a nice time that

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your father decides to open another bottle of wine. At some point later the talk turns to an emotive topic – let’s say politics. Your partner is emphatic about something and your brother is disagreeing pointedly, so the discussion begins to get a little heated. Listening in, you realise that your partner does not have a clue about the subject at hand. It’s a little embarrassing – your partner has had one too many glasses of wine and sounds foolish and uninformed. Now your brother wants to know what you think. This can be a recipe for disaster. One of the problems any relationship can face is who to put first, your family or your partner? It’s a tough issue but the answer is simple – if you want your relationship to work – put your partner first. It’s not always easy, especially if you disagree with your partner, as in this case. Problem number one is that, even if you strongly disagree with your partner, it’s a bad idea to say so publicly. Problem number two is that, no matter how much your brother may have annoyed and upset you over the years, you are used to sticking up for him. Here’s an example. Neil and his brother Ben had an argument. After they made up, Neil and Ben went for a walk. While they were out, Neil’s father asked Susan, Neil’s new wife, to take sides. After she refused to criticise her husband, Neil’s parents both turned on her. When Neil and Ben returned from their walk, Neil discovered that a full-blown row had erupted between his wife and his parents. He was put in the difficult position of having to choose between them. He sided with his wife and it was several weeks before his relationship with his mother and father was back to normal. It is not

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uncommon for families to choose their new in-law as the scapegoat for the family’s problems, so be aware of this. Months later, while visiting Susan’s family, Neil had an argument with his wife’s younger brother, Peter. During the quarrel Peter swore loudly at Neil but Susan said nothing. Consider the situation: Susan defended Neil against his parents but not Peter. Why? Peter was family and Susan reacted instinctively by being protective of her younger brother. In most situations, that’s a good thing, but here it stopped her from sticking up for her husband. It is not surprising that Neil was angry and hurt. He felt that Susan cared more about Peter than about him. Neil’s family is disengaged while Susan’s family is enmeshed. This meant that Neil found it easier to step back from his family to support his wife, but Susan did not. For many months Neil resented her behaviour and it took a long time for him to forgive Susan for this betrayal. Do not use your family type as an excuse for your behaviour. No matter how enmeshed your family is, it is still important to support your partner; he or she is your family too. If you really strongly disagree with your partner, try to live by that old golden rule: if you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If possible, try to change the topic or defuse the situation – ask an unrelated question; knock over your glass or stub your toe! There is one exception to this rule: some couples thrive on debate and are happy to argue about a topic for hours. That is because both people enjoy the mental exercise and do not take the disagreement personally. In such a scenario, it is perfectly acceptable to take an opposing viewpoint to your

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partner in public. But do not let the argument get personal and if it does, stick up for your partner. In an ideal world, your loved ones would get on, but that rarely happens. One of the most hurtful things you can do is to criticise your partner publicly, and that’s exactly what you are doing if you choose a sibling over them. If you disagree with your partner, save that discussion for a time when you are alone together.

Sibling Constellation and Relationships Did you know that many family therapists believe that the order in which you were born into your family affects your development and personality? As a general rule, eldest children are over-responsible and controlling; youngest children are spoilt, under-responsible and demand a great deal of attention; middle children are the peacemakers who really do not know where they belong in the family. Psychologists believe that this is because parents expect great things of their eldest child. They assume that he or she will be academic, ambitious and successful. This child has also had the benefit of parents’ full attention for a few years. After three or more children are born, middle children may feel neglected, as it is generally the youngest who gets spoilt. Most family therapists will tell you that the best mix for a happy relationship is an eldest and a youngest child – someone who likes to take charge and someone who likes to be taken care of. When two elder children marry, they may fight over who takes the most responsibility; two youngest children may become dissatisfied because they both feel they should be

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pampered by the other; and two middle children might be afraid to upset each other. That is not to say these combinations will not work well – of course they can. If you and your partner have ‘incompatible’ birth orders, do not worry! Some researchers believe that the importance of birth order has been overstated, or that the traits associated with birth order only come to the fore when surrounded by our family and that these may disappear in other relationships. The eldest child may act in a bossy manner towards her sisters and brothers because it is a lifelong habit, but that does not mean she will be a bossy wife or friend. Finally, there is nothing you can do to change your birth order, but if any of the above sounds familiar to you, it is certainly worth remembering how your sibling constellation can cause clashes with your partner. Stop and think before you react.

Nieces & Nephews Being an in-law means you will sometimes get called on for babysitting duties. This can sometimes be difficult. Children are often amplified versions of their parents. This is great if you like the parents in question, but not so great if it is the other way around. You may disagree with the way your partner’s brothers and sisters raise their kids, but unless the child is being abused or neglected, it is none of your business. It is better for your own relationship to avoid unnecessary conflict with your in-laws, so don’t go seeking trouble by commenting on or criticising someone else’s parenting style. If you are babysitting, respect the parents’ rules – do not try to win affection by breaking parental boundaries.

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Furthermore, be wary of overly zealous in-laws who want you to have a very close relationship with their child. Sometimes this is an excuse to dump the child on you. The best way to deal with this is to perfect the art of making a good excuse. But before you say no to baby-sitting, consider the fact that all parents need a break from childminding duties, and that you may be glad that your in-laws are willing to return the favour at some point.

Labels At work you might be the boss, but as soon as you get back to your parents’ house, you are the baby. When we are growing up, our parents give us labels, such as the drama queen or the clever one. In addition, one of your parents may have being hoping for a child of the opposite sex and have treated you accordingly. For example, fathers sometimes treat one daughter as a son, encouraging pursuits and interests traditionally seen as masculine – this daughter’s label is the tomboy. Until they are teenagers, most children try to please their parents and so act according to the label they are given. This means that whatever your label was, it had a much greater impact on your personality than you realise. It is not uncommon to find two people marrying because, unconsciously, they see a balance in their respective roles, thus Jack the Joker marries Sensible Sarah. The label your family gave you may cause you to be over-sensitive in certain situations. Consider two sisters: Claire, the clever one, and her sister Polly, the pretty one. Growing up, both girls probably felt a bit jealous of each other. Claire might feel insecure about her attractiveness, while Polly might

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believe she is not smart enough. Claire is likely to get upset if her partner criticises her looks, clothes or hair or if he openly admires other women. But she is just as likely to be upset if her partner dismisses her intelligence. As far as Claire is concerned, this is her defining characteristic; if her husband casts doubts on her intelligence, Claire’s idea of who she is has been threatened. The same is true for Polly. She may be very prickly if her partner slights her intelligence; and although she might wish to be admired for more than her good looks, she certainly wants her partner to believe she is beautiful. It is possible to outgrow our labels, but for the most part they are hardwired into our self-image. When you visit your partner’s family, pay attention to how your partner behaves around them or ask him or her what their label was. You can use this information to gain a deeper understanding of him or her.

Finally, remember these golden rules for dealing with brothers and sisters. 1. Put your partner first. 2. Do not criticise your partner’s siblings. 3. Everybody has a different experience of family. Do not expect your partner to share the loyalty or closeness you feel for your family. 4. Your family and your partner do not always have to get along. 5. Always treat your nephews and nieces like precious china in a very small china shop – handle with care!

For more information, see: Family, Family Conditioning

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COMPROMISE
Ask anyone what makes a successful relationship, and the necessity of compromise is bound to come up. Most people – including psychologists, marriage counsellors and relationship experts – believe that willingness to compromise is essential for a happy relationship. Here is an example: John wanted to spend his holiday golfing; his wife Catherine did not mind the destination as long as she got some to spend time with her husband; and their children wanted to visit Disneyland. In order to keep everyone happy, John decided to take the family to Florida, but asked Catherine if she would be willing to let him spend three days on the golf course instead of in the theme parks. Catherine felt this was a fair compromise, provided they scheduled a few romantic dates together after the children had gone to bed. John agreed. In this instance, John and Catherine reached a compromise that allowed them, and their children, to get what they wanted from the family holiday. We all know that compromise can be tricky. Here is another example. Thomas and Gina were engaged and planning to marry. Gina wanted to keep her surname instead of taking Thomas’, but he was unhappy about her decision. They considered using both surnames, but they agreed that this double-barrelled name was too long and unwieldy. Gina suggested that Thomas take her surname instead, but he was unwilling to do so, since this was not ‘tradition’. Because neither of them wished to change their names, the couple reached an impasse and they were worried that their inability to find a compromise meant that their marriage was doomed. Interestingly, psychologists have found that sometimes compromise is

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the worst thing you can do. If one person always compromises – particularly if this is done automatically without letting his or her partner know – there is a good chance that, sooner or later, he or she is going to feel resentful. In a case like this, it is compromise that has caused a problem. We find it hard to compromise when we are asked to give up our ideals, dreams or something we believe is central to our sense of self. This is why Gina was unwilling to take her husband’s surname – she felt her surname was a part of who she was and losing it would mean giving up her identity as a person. If we agree to compromise our ideals simply to resolve an argument, our feelings are unlikely to change, and again, we may feel we have compromised too much of ourselves for the relationship. This is not a successful strategy for long-term happiness.

How to Compromise There are instances when you should compromise and times when you should not. It is never a good idea to compromise your values and principles – doing so may lead to far greater problems in the long run. Instead, you should accept that you and your partner are individuals who see the world differently and that neither one of you has all the answers. Always look at the situation from your partner’s perspective before deciding whether or not you need to compromise. For some ‘hot-button’ issues, such as money and sex, you both may have to compromise. For example, if one person wants sex to be romantic and the other prefers something a little more daring, you may find that agreeing to do what your partner wants means that he or she will be more willing to please you as well.

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Be willing to compromise for each other’s families. In-laws can be difficult and demanding, but when you marry someone, you marry their family too – at least to some extent – and finding a way to get along will help you to avoid conflict. It is necessary to find a workable compromise when it comes to childrearing and discipline. Children, even young children, learn very quickly that their parents disagree, and are well able to pit parents against each other and exploit this to their own advantage. Psychologists such as John Gottman believe that we have to learn to accept conflict and difference as part of a good relationship. Gottman tells the story of how he and his wife Julie, who is also a relationship expert, once had a problem that took five years to resolve. Couples who are happy and have strong relationships still have terrible fights now and again and are not always able to find a neat compromise to solve the problem.

For more information, see: Conflict

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CONSUMERISM
To a greater or lesser extent, consumerism is the economic model of the developed world. Put simply, this means that our economy depends upon the consumption of goods and services. For a consumerist economy to function, people must have cash or credit to make purchases, and the confidence and the desire to do so. For people with enough disposable income – and for a good few without – many purchases are influenced by desire rather than need. No one genuinely needs a sports car or five shades of red lipstick – we buy them because we want them. This desire can come about for a variety of reasons: to cheer ourselves up; as status symbols; as a reward for working hard; or simply because we wished to upgrade the possessions we already own. Whether or not consumerism is a good or bad thing is beyond the scope of this book. What is important is that a preoccupation with the accumulation of wealth, goods and status symbols can have serious consequences on your relationship. This preoccupation is called materialism. As early as the 1950s, the German-American intellectual and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm explored the idea that consumerism and materialism could have be toxic for interpersonal relationships. Fromm believed that people become addicted to acquiring status symbols because we want to be seen as a success by others and fear that our loved ones will brand us a failure if we do not. From the 1990s psychologists have been putting Fromm’s ideas to the test and have found that this is indeed the case. Oliver James, a British psychologist, has chronicled the negative impacts of materialism in his books Affluenza and The Selfish Capitalist.

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James notes that English-speaking nations suffer twice as much emotional distress as mainland Europe and cites a wealth of evidence that supports his contention that materialism in these societies is a key factor in creating this distress. James notes that studies have found that people who are strongly materialistic tend to have shorter relationships and that these relationships are less satisfying and fulfilling. Materialists were also more likely to argue with their partners, insult them and swear at them. Even worse, materialists tend to be cynical, distrustful, self-centred and manipulative. Psychologists believe that because materialists place a great emphasis on wealth, status and image they are more likely to devalue intimate relationships and chose partners who fulfil their desire for wealth and status.

Consumerism and Weddings Even for people who normally would not dream of spending large amounts of money on themselves, an extravagant celebration is an accepted and expected part of the wedding experience. It was not always so. In America and Europe weddings were mostly simple affairs with the community being invited in for a supper and a dance to celebrate the nuptials, normally at the home of the groom. Historians and sociologists have pointed out that bridal magazines have made consumerism a traditional part of weddings. Celebrity weddings are often dissected and advice is given as to what products and services should be purchased in order to create the perfect day. The venue, the dress, the flowers, the food and even wedding favours are all discussed at length and each purchase is seen as contributing to the overall style and tone of not just the wedding, but, by extension, the couple themselves. 64

From the nineteenth century on weddings in the United States began to get showier, although religious leaders and authors of etiquette manuals decried the new extravagance as bad taste. However, as advertising became increasingly important to the profitability of magazines, more elaborate celebrations were routinely seen as desirable. Although the white dress and it concomitant symbolism of virginity is no longer strictly adhered to, it is still the most popular colour for weddings. Queen Victoria is said to have popularised white when she chose it for her wedding in 1840. Most young women simply wore their best dress. Better off families may have had a dress handed down from mother to daughter, but this could be any colour. It was only the upper classes who could afford to have a special dress made for the day. In rural Ireland, most young women owned just two dresses – an everyday outfit and a Sunday ‘best’, which through lack of any alternative was the default wedding dress. It was only after the levelling of class differences and greater affluence in many countries after World War II that the special white dress became a tradition. These days the wedding dress is a large ticket expense, and designer dresses can cost several thousand pounds. Many people believe that a diamond engagement ring is traditional, but it is a relatively recent phenomenon. Tiffany’s first introduced the solitaire diamond at the end of the nineteenth century – a style that is still considered to be the classic engagement ring. However, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, engagement rings were no longer particularly popular, partly because of the expense, but also because they were regarded as old-fashioned. In 1938 De Beers, the diamond cartel, responded by turning to advertising to increase sales of engagement rings. This worked, and by 1943 between 75 and 65

98 percent of American brides received an engagement ring. Despite the turmoil in the global economy from the end of 2008, the wedding industry has remained remarkably buoyant. In the United States, the wedding industry was worth $61 billion in 2008, with couples spending an average of $21,814 (approximately £13,000) on their big day. In 2009, wedding planners in the UK estimated the average spend was between £15,000 and £20,000, while in Ireland most couples spend around €27,000 to get married. For many couples, spending large amounts of money and even getting into debt is justified because a wedding is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ celebration.

Consumerism and Relationships: A Case Study Jeffrey and Anita were in their early thirties and planning to get married, but the cost of their wedding and their different attitudes towards spending was beginning to take a toll on their relationship. Since they both had well-paid jobs they had been planning a luxurious day for their friends and family, but Jeffrey was anxious that his parents would disapprove of how much money they were spending. Jeffrey was also worried how their spending was affecting their finances. Although he earned in excess of €10,000 a month, he claimed to always fall short of money before his next payday. Jeffrey realised that his financial woes were at least partly the result of the extravagant gifts he routinely bought his fiancée, such as designer clothes, shoes and handbags. Anita’s family was very wealthy and Jeffrey felt he had to prove to them, and to Anita’s father in particular, that he was able to take care of her. Jeffrey revealed that when he asked Anita’s father for her hand in marriage, her 66

father had enquired how large a diamond ring Jeffrey had bought. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, Anita did not see anything wrong with her father’s attitude and ascribed it to his wish to ensure that she was well looked after. While this couple had practical problems with money management, a far greater and more serious issue was that they had different value systems. Although Jeffrey also enjoyed the finer things in life, Anita felt them to be her due. During therapy, the couple realised that they had contrasting beliefs about money and that this could become a flashpoint in their marriage. When Anita saw how much her attitude towards money bothered her future husband, she agreed that they needed to rein in their spending and save for the future.

For more information, see: Weddings

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CRUSH
A crush or an infatuation is an absorbing passion for someone. It means you think about him or her all the time and imagine that, if you were together, life would be blissful. Most crushes are based on unrealistic expectations and sometimes the object of your affections has no idea you have any feelings towards them. They might not even be aware you exist. It’s not all bad. A crush can lead to a successful romantic relationship, as long as you learn to revise your expectations so that they are more realistic. After all, most of us are a little infatuated with our partners. It becomes unhealthy only if you idealise a person so much that love becomes impossible, because the real-life person will never be able to match up to your fantasy. Most people stop becoming seriously infatuated as they get older, but even if you are in a happy long-term relationship, it is possible to find yourself drawn to another person. This is normal human nature. A crush can be caused because we subconsciously feel inferior to the person we admire; we may have difficulties at home or work and daydream about starting a new life; or we might be sexually bored with our partner. If you are already in a relationship, the important thing to remember is that most infatuations do not last very long. If you want your relationship to work, do not act on a crush and, if possible, minimise contact with the person. If they return your feelings, you are risking infidelity, and possibly your family life, for what is most likely a temporary obsession. For more information, see: Attraction; Love Addiction; Infidelity

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DIET & LIBIDO
Here is something to bear in mind when doing your weekly shop: the food you eat greatly affects your energy levels and your diet can dampen your libido or increase your sexual staying power. If you put junk in, you get junk out, and following a sensible, healthy diet is an easy way to increase sexual desire and fitness. Here’s how: Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans and vegetables, give you energy. Wheat germ and whole grains high in vitamin E are essential for sperm and sex hormone production. Protein is found in meat, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans. A lack of protein in your diet can cause your libido to flag. Vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, C and folic acid are important for a healthy sex drive. These can be found in whole grains, eggs, fish, vegetables and fruit. It is important to drink enough water; a well-hydrated body is more energetic and has better sexual endurance. Your muscles and lungs need water to function at their best and dehydration can also cause vaginal dryness.

Something Extra? Almost every year a new study or book claims that certain foods really are aphrodisiacs, which increase your sexual desire or are nature’s answer to Viagra. We say: there’s no harm in trying! It has been suggested that the fish oils in coldwater fish, such as salmon and halibut, may promote a healthy sex life. Fish oils contain the omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA

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(docosahexanoic acid). Fish oils may help improve blood circulation in the genitals or influence the part of the brain that responds to sexual pleasure. It has been claimed that bananas, honey and flaxseeds all increase testosterone production, which is important in both men and women for a healthy sex drive. Celery and the amino acid arginine are both believed to help men sustain erections. Pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts and fish, such as salmon, cod and halibut, are all sources of arginine.

Eating for Sex Sharing a meal is probably the most popular form of seduction, but a heavy meal can leave you feeling more sluggish than sexy. A romantic meal should be fairly light – a good choice is grilled lean chicken or fish and a salad. Alternatively, try a dinner of finger foods and aim for a variety of flavours and textures – raw vegetables served with dip; olives; sushi; oysters; French bread; cheese; grapes; strawberries; melted chocolate. But if your partner is more bangers and mash than caviar and crackers, that’s the way to go. A romantic meal has to be enjoyable – that’s much more important than a food’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities. Champagne is the drink of choice for romance and seduction, but go easy on it. Too much alcohol can cause you to flag.

Legendary Aphrodisiacs Throughout history, certain foods have been described as aphrodisiacs. Often

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this was because of the shape of the food, such as cucumbers, or because it contained many seeds, suggesting fertility. The French are said to have dined on three courses of asparagus on the night before getting married. Asparagus is packed with potassium, phosphorus, calcium and vitamin E, important ingredients for increased hormone production. The ancient Greeks believed that beans increased fertility, and legend has it that St. Jerome, father of the Latin Church, warned nuns against eating them lest they break their vow of celibacy. Hot spices, such as ginger, peppers and chilli supposedly warm the blood, leading to increased desire. According to Haitian lore, basil is the gift of Erzulie, the goddess of love, and was used to keep a partner from straying. Rosemary is said to play on our senses. Medieval women would add sprigs of the herb to their bath water in order to allure men. In the 5th century BC, Hippocrates prescribed honey for sexual vigour. Traditionally, Indian bridegrooms drank honey on their wedding day in preparation for the wedding night. The word ‘honeymoon’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon custom of drinking honeyed mead for a month after marriage to promote fertility. Oysters have a reputation as an aphrodisiac, but this is most likely owing to their resemblance to the female genitals. However, oysters are high in zinc, which is important to keep the male reproductive system healthy and it may increase fertility in both men and women. Casanova was apparently fond of them, eating up to fifty a day. Well, if it worked for him…

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Is Chocolate Sexy? Many people believe there is a connection between sex and chocolate. Chocolate as a Valentine’s Day gift, chocolate body paint and many chocolate adverts all play on chocolate’s supposed seductive and ‘sinful’ qualities. An Italian study found that women who eat chocolate regularly had more sex but the results were far from conclusive. The chocolate eaters tended to be younger, which means they would have higher sex drives naturally. However, chocolate does have some proven ‘feel-good’ qualities – it causes the release of serotonin, which is linked to sexual pleasure and happiness; chocolate is also a source of phenylalanine, which raises endorphins, our natural anti-depressants. But, perhaps most importantly of all, most women just love chocolate.

Sweet-Tasting Sperm Many women are not that keen on the taste of sperm. That’s fair enough – it isn’t the most delicious way to get your proteins. The food a man eats can make the taste sweeter or more potent. Red meat, coffee, smoking, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, heavy spices, junk food and garlic are major offenders. Drinking plenty of water, eating fruit or drinking juice, particularly pineapple, wheatgrass and cinnamon, and sticking to lean proteins all help. There are also commercial products available that are said to improve the taste of sperm, but the jury is out on whether or not these really work.

For more information, see: Health; Obesity; Weight Gain

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DISMISSIVENESS
Ignoring or refusing to acknowledge your partner’s experiences, feelings or beliefs is called dismissiveness. If your partner came home from work and told you that his or her boss was a bully, you could react in a number of ways. You could listen and ask him or her to explain the situation; if you have had a tough day yourself you may launch into your own complaints; or you might think he or she is overly sensitive and tell him or her not to take the boss so seriously. If you reacted in either the second or third ways, your partner would be aggrieved. He or she was trying to share something with you, but you were unwilling to listen. Dismissiveness can happen in many ways. For example, you may be happy to hear about your partner’s work troubles, but dismiss his religious beliefs out of hand, or think his political opinions are naïve and foolish. Many people do not see dismissiveness as a great ‘crime’ in relationships, generally because it happens subtly. However, dismissiveness invalidates a person’s experiences and this creates an obstacle to open and honest communication. Constant dismissiveness lowers self-esteem and leads your partner to believe that you do not regard his or her feelings as important or that your care and love is not really available. Ultimately, by constantly invalidating your partner’s experiences may cause him or her to seek support and companionship elsewhere.

For more information, see: Conflict

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EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Emotional intelligence can be broadly defined as the ability to recognise and regulate emotions in others and ourselves. An emotionally intelligent person finds it easy to grasp the emotional climate of a situation and act accordingly. Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman popularized the term ‘emotional intelligence’. Goleman suggested that this ability was often a far more useful and important skill than a high IQ, because we need emotional intelligence every day – in work, with friends and with our partners. In relationships, an emotional intelligent person will recognise what his or her partner is feeling and know whether sympathy, space, taking charge or making changes is the best way to act. When our words and behaviour match, we say they are congruent. As a rule, we tend to believe those whose behaviour is congruent with what they say, and distrust those whose actions and words do not add up. If someone says “I love you” with a scowl, you would be rightly suspicious. However, in many instances we modify our behaviour instead of expressing our emotions. Sometimes we do this because it seems smarter, more reasonable, or because of social norms. We grit our teeth instead of shouting at a waiter who brings us the wrong order, or smile when our loved ones tell embarrassing stories about us in public. An emotionally intelligent person should be able to pick up that this is a smile of annoyance, not pleasure, and repair the situation if possible. Our ability to read emotions, and how we react to them is first taught to us by our families. If your family had difficulty in handling anger, you may have learnt that anger should be suppressed, not expressed. However, in most

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marriages there will be times when you will feel anger towards your partner or when he or she will be angry with you. Anger is a healthy emotion and when it is processed properly, it does not cause harm. In a relationship it is important to learn to recognise each other’s emotional buttons. These could be family relationships, sex, money or work. Imagine your husband got a phone call from his sister who lives in a different country. She calls to tell him that she will be flying in to visit the family, but will not have a chance to see him. Your husband might say this does not bother him, because he is not close to his sister. Three days later he snaps at you because you forgot to collect his dry-cleaning, although you had promised to do so earlier that day. It would be very tempting to react by telling your husband that you are his wife, not his slave and that you too had a busy day. It is perfectly understandable to feel anger that a promise was not kept or that your partner snapped at you, but in this case it is counter-productive. An emotionally intelligent couple would have avoided having an argument because one or both of them would have realised that the husband’s anger was not caused by the forgotten dry-cleaning but rather by his sister’s phone call. It can be challenging for one or both of you to connect the phone call with his annoyance – but that is what emotionally intelligent people are able to do. An emotionally intelligent person would recognise that his sister’s behaviour has made your husband feel inconsequential or overlooked, which is why he has over-reacted to your forgetfulness. We are not all naturally emotionally intelligent, but with time and patience we can learn to recognise what are our and our partner’s ‘hot-button’ issues and how these emotions cause us to behave.

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Recent research suggests that emotional intelligence may play a role in sexual satisfaction too. Researchers at King’s College London found that emotionally intelligent women achieved more orgasms and had more satisfying sex lives than their less emotionally clued-up sisters. The researchers believe that this may be because an emotionally intelligent woman is better able to communicate her desires and expectations to her partner. Paula Hall, a sexual psychotherapist for Relate, the UK’s largest relationship counselling and sex therapy organisation supported these findings. According to Hall: “Emotional intelligence is most important in terms of overcoming problems. It’s often situational, you are tired or stressed or having relationship problems, for example. If you are aware of your own emotions and can identify the issues and communicate them, you are more likely to be able to resolve the difficulty.”

For more information, see: Acting Out; Body Language; Communication; Emotions

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FAIRYTALES
We all know that real life is nothing like fairytales. Unfortunately, there are just not enough handsome princes for everyone! When we were children, our parents read us fairytales for amusement and education. From fairytales we learnt that getting lost in the woods was dangerous and that it was not a good idea to break into a neighbour’s house and eat their porridge. However, not all the lessons we learnt from fairytales were as practical and as useful as those. From the 1970s, feminist scholars began looking at the portrayal of men and women in fairytales. Many concluded that these seemingly innocent stories have a worrying subtext – that women in fairytales are generally portrayed as either wicked or victims. Consider Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel – all these heroines are described as good and beautiful, but they find themselves in awful scrapes until a handsome prince rescues them; they get married and live happily ever after. Romantic novels and stories for adults often follow the same basic plot, leading some scholars to conclude that these stories encourage women to aspire to unrealistic ideals in their own relationships. While it would be ridiculous to suggest that fairytales are solely responsible for what our society regards as acceptable male and female behaviour, they do reflect certain attitudes and ideals that are still current. For example, despite the social changes brought about by feminism, assertiveness is still seen as a desirable quality in a man; in women it is often regarded as pushiness or aggressiveness. The lessons we have learnt from fairytales may influence our attitudes and desires. Although we know that relationships take work, we may still

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hanker after a ‘happily ever after’. A woman may develop ‘learned helplessness’ and expect her partner to ‘rescue’ her. This could be in little ways such as expecting her partner to deal with pushy salesmen or look after the family finances. Equally, a man may be attracted to a woman who seems to need his help since this makes him feel like a hero; a woman who is well able to tackle rude waiters or earns more money than him may make him feel less of a man. For the most part, you will not be consciously aware of these needs and desires. Deirdre wanted her future husband to be her knight in shining armour. Over time, she developed helplessness in the face of everyday difficulties and depended on her fiancé in a very unhealthy way. This only came to light when the ‘prince’ in her life suffered the loss of a grandparent and he broke down in tears. In seven years, this young woman had never seen her strong, dependable lover express any vulnerability, weakness or sadness. Her only response was one of panic. How could she possibly cope if he was the one who needed rescuing? It is worthwhile considering how you would ideally like your partner to behave and ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable or perhaps partially based on fairytale ideals.

For more information, see: Idealisation; Romance; Weddings

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GOALS OF MARRIAGE
Why do people get married? Between 2008 and 2009 over two thousand Irish couples were surveyed and asked to name five reasons why they were planning to marry. Most could come up with only a few answers. The majority responded that they wanted to show commitment; that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together; or that they wished to start a family. However, a worrying number of couples responded that family pressure had played a role; that they felt marriage was expected by society; or that because they had been together for so long, marriage was simply the next logical step. Wishing to spend the rest of your lives together and have a family are valid reasons for marriage. However, in the developed world it is quite possible to do this without getting married. Yet people still choose to marry. In some countries there may be financial and legal benefits to being married, and to raising children in a union recognised by the state, but very few couples mentioned these practicalities and they rarely prompt people to get married. Despite the fact that marriage is a big decision and should be a positive step in a couple’s relationship, when questioned further, most couples were unable to say how getting married would benefit their relationship. What are the benefits or goals of marriage? Family and relationship therapists believe that marriage has three major goals: the creation of a family; happiness; and the personal growth of the individuals involved. The vast majority of couples marry with the intention of having children, so starting a family is the most obvious goal. However, there is a great difference between having children and the creation of a loving family, which is much harder to achieve. It demands time, skill and lots and lots of patience.

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Therapists suggest that a good rule of thumb is to strive to become the parent you would like your partner to be and to develop within yourself the qualities, that you value in your partner or valued in your parents.

For more information, see: Childcare & Parenting; Children & Marital Satisfaction; Families

Therapists believe that most people get married in the hope that this will increase their store of personal happiness. A good marriage can and will increase happiness, but even the best marriage can help only so much. If you are a naturally pessimistic person or regularly suffer from low moods, marriage is very unlikely to change you. However, spending time with those who cherish, value and care about you creates positive sentiments, and you feel happier as a result. Marriage does not form a barrier to the stresses and strains of life, but a good relationship can make them easier to bear. Our closest companions are often the ones who bear the brunt of our bad moods and complaints; because of this it is important to spend enough time together where you act in a loving manner towards each other. This is called ‘positive sentiment override’. Without enough positive sentiment, the setbacks of life and the struggles and difficulties of marriage can overwhelm you. Lack of positive sentiment makes a relationship unstable; a husband or wife in this situation is likely to question the relationship and conclude that the marriage is not contributing to his or her personal happiness.

For more information, see: Stress

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Marriage affords an opportunity for personal growth. Therapists believe that this is one of marriage’s most important goals. When prompted, most of the couples interviewed said they believed that marriage would help them to grow and develop – in that it would help them to become more mature and responsible adults. However, very few of us think through the implications of how this might work. When we are single or living alone, we do what we like. If we choose to spend our free time watching sport, cleaning the house, playing computer games, shopping, drinking with our friends or working, there is no one to stop us – we please ourselves. Marriage helps us grow because it holds up a mirror to our shortcomings. While we might well have disliked things about ourselves as single people, most of the criticism directed at us was self-criticism. When we marry or live with a partner, it is a lot harder to hide from our flaws – there is always somebody willing to tell us.

For more information, see: Conflict

When people get married there is a period of adjustment (For more information, see: Newly-weds & the First 12 Months). Quite often people behave in ways their partners dislike, but without meaning to hurt or annoy them. Very few of us can withstand constant criticism – even if we are genuinely in the wrong and have behaved in a selfish, immature or inconsiderate way. Most people take criticism to heart and we begin to see ourselves based on the complaints of our loved one. This spurs on some to make improvements; others get defensive and decide that their partners are unreasonable or impossible to please.

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One of the smartest things a couple can do is to have regular discussions about their relationship. You could decide to do this every three or six months. During this ‘state of the nation’ a couple discusses how the relationship has changed and developed over the last period, what positive adjustments both parties have made, and where improvement is still needed. Positive feedback is just as important as problems and complaints. Positive feedback reinforces our goodwill to grow and develop as people and makes us more willing to tackle problems. A frank and honest discussion about the marriage also offers a chance for both people to reflect on the relationship, reaffirm why they are together, discuss what they hope to achieve as a couple, and reignite the meaning behind their marriage.

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GROOMING
One of the most common complaints in a long-term relationship is that one or both of you has ‘let yourself go’. Let’s face it, it is a whole lot easier to be sexy when you are dating, but when you have children, a job and responsibilities, making the effort to be attractive to each other can take a back seat. It would be unfair to expect busy mothers to groom themselves like supermodels every day of the week, just as it would be to expect a man to spend four hours a day in the gym keeping in shape. Life gets in the way of looking good. Having said that, physical attraction is part of a happy relationship, so it is wise to pay attention to your looks.

Grooming Sins Poor hygiene: Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Unless you are living through a severe drought, there is no excuse for not showering daily and cleaning yourself thoroughly. The smell of a freshly soaped body is a turn-on for most people; certain sexual practices require a good level of hygiene; and dirty hands and fingernails spread germs when you are intimate. Body hair: It might be natural, but most men do not like extraneous underarm, facial, pubic or leg hair. While it is impossible to be silky smooth one hundred percent of the time, you have to make an effort, especially if sex is on the menu. Most women aren’t keen on nasal hair, ear hair and unruly underarm hair on men. Make sure this isn’t you! Clothing: It is not our job to tell you what to wear – there are plenty of magazines for that! It is suffice to say that it is important to make an effort for your partner at least some of the time. This goes for both men and women. We

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might not all have a natural flair for fashion, but anyone can be neatly and appropriately dressed with a little bit of effort. Dress to suit your body shape. If you don’t know how to, get some advice. Many large department stores offer style advice as part of the service. Too much effort: This used to be a female sin but, with the advent of the modern metrosexual male, either sex can be guilty. Good grooming for a special night out takes time, but it should not take so long that you are constantly late. Furthermore, it is not particularly sexy to be overly concerned with your appearance. Not enough effort: How long does it take to brush your hair, clean your teeth, wash your face and put on a clean shirt? Five minutes. It’s a small job but one that makes a huge difference to your general attractiveness. Grooming displays: Some people believe that being intimate means sharing every aspect of your life. That is not true – your partner does not need to see you clip your toenails (especially in bed!) or trim your nose hair. Some things are best kept private. For more information, see: Obesity; Weight Gain

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IDEALISATION
Most people have an idea of what relationships should be like, but very few live up to this ideal. Our ideal relationship can be constructed from a number of sources. These could be films, books and love songs, especially those that describe love and passion in glowing terms or depict relationships that seem to be pretty close to perfect; we may compare our relationships to those of celebrities or friends and family and decide that we want our relationship to be like theirs seems to be. The first important example of any relationship that we encounter is our parents’ relationship to us and to each other. If your parents have a relationship that is loving and affectionate, you are likely to base your relationship ideal on their example. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you idealise relationships, you may start to think that your own is less than perfect. It probably is, but that is true for all relationships. Many adult children are unaware of the matter on which their parents clashed or the arguments they have had, which means we have a very limited understanding of what our parents relationship is or was like, or all the work, time and patience it took to make their relationship successful. It is also important to remember that your parents are very different to you and your partner; they have reached an older lifecycle stage; your siblings and you are probably all adults or at least older than your own children if you have a family; and they may be more financially secure. It is also worth remembering that expectations of marriage have changed – these days, young couples expect marriage to provide much more personal happiness and romantic fulfilment than their parents’ or grandparents’ generation.

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From the late 1960s until the early 1980s the divorce rate in the USA and UK doubled every ten years, although in Ireland divorce was not introduced until 1995. While increasing divorce rates meant its social stigma was gradually eroded, divorce was still more likely to be regarded as a personal failure as well as an attack on community and family values. This meant that many people were willing to put up with less personal happiness or prepared to work through the tough times. Today many of us regard divorce as a suitable option for those personally frustrated or less fulfilled than they believe they deserve. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your parents have had many more years to iron out the kinks of living together. In doing so they have endured financial hardship, personal grief through the loss of their own parents, sacrificed their dreams and ambitions so that you could receive the best things in life that they could offer you and also experienced profound and fundamental shifts in the very nature of the society in which they lived. It is more than likely that you and your partner may have to endure similar changes and challenges during your marriage. Being realistic about the rest of your lives together may provide you with the necessary resilience and fortitude to tide you through the tough times. The realism of our parents’ and grandparents’ views of marriage may offer us just enough wisdom to help preserve our own.

For more information, see: Fairytales; Romance

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LOVE ADDICTION
Can you become addicted to love? Many psychologists think so. Love addiction can take two forms. Addicts are either consumed by an obsessive passion for a particular partner or they find long-term relationships impossible because they are constantly chasing the thrill of falling in love. Fixated love addicts will deny or ignore a partner’s obvious flaws and negative traits. They have difficulty separating the reality of their relationship from their fantasy version of it. They also may be more concerned with their partner’s looks, wealth or social status than his or her personality and behaviour. These love addicts will forgive a partner who constantly cheats on them, abuses their trust or mistreats them. They romanticise every aspect of the relationship, even the arguments, and justify destructive behaviour. Love addicts may also fear change and can find it impossible to get over a relationship that has ended. The second type of love addict craves the rush of falling in love. When we fall in love and have sex, chemical reactions takes place. These chemicals cause us to feel excited, euphoric and connected with our partner. Love addicts become bored once the chemical cocktail wears off and so they look for a new fix by finding someone new. Both these forms of love addiction may be partly explained by science. Anthropologist Dr Helen E. Fisher, a professor at Rutgers University and author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, believes that infatuation is similar to a cocaine high. Brain imaging technology shows that the parts of the brain which respond to addiction are

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the same as those that respond to images of our partners. It seems possible, then, that love addicts are dependent on the chemical aspect of love. They crave the high their addiction gives them and it begins to take over their lives. Like any other kind of addiction, love addiction can seriously interfere with your health and well-being. If any of the above sounds familiar, it is important that you take stock of your relationship history. Should you see a pattern of unhealthy and destructive relationships, you may need to consider professional help.

For more information, see: Addiction; Attraction

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MARRIAGE BUSTERS
A marriage buster is any significant event, experience or difficulty that puts a marriage in jeopardy, and may lead to separation or divorce. Marriage busters can happen at any time in a relationship. Even a couple who have been happily married for thirty years can experience a crisis of this magnitude. Marriage busters do not always spell the end of a relationship – some couples manage to weather the storm, grow through the crisis, and deepen their relationship, but many do not. Common marriage busters include infertility, the illness of a parent and the disagreements regarding the discipline of children. Unless a couple is aware that they may have trouble conceiving, infertility is not a problem for which most of us plan. Most couples presume that marriage will give them the right and ability to have babies. If a couple has not discussed how they will proceed if their hoped for children do not arrive, the discovery that one partner may not be able to have children can cause great strain. Fertility treatments may not be possible or too expensive, nor do they always work. Adoption is not an option for some people, and disappointment may lead to blame or guilt. This can cause irreparable damage. A husband or wife who blames their partner for not giving them a child may decide to end the relationship and try again with somebody else.

For more information, see: Fertility & IVF

What would you do if your mother needed constant round the clock care? Should you take on the responsibility or send her to a nursing home?

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How best to handle this situation can cause a huge clash in a relationship. For many of us, loyalty to our parents suggests we should take in a sick mother or father, but if your partner is against the idea, accepts it with bad grace or vetoes it, this can cause feelings of resentment and anger. If you and your partner agree to approach a nursing home, feelings of guilt can gnaw at you. Accepting another adult into the home can exert enormous pressure on a family in terms of space, privacy and expense. If your mother clashes with your partner, interferes in your relationship or spoils the children, this can make home life unbearable. Your partner may feel that she has been asked to sacrifice too much and that her needs and feelings are being ignored. This may to lead to resentment, conflict and the withdrawing of intimacy and affection. Couples may discuss what they would do if such a situation arose, but ultimately it is impossible to know until it happens. When discussed in the abstract, it is easier to put feelings aside and concentrate on practicalities, but once confronted with the situation, emotions play a big part in our response.

For more information, see: In-Laws

A third common marriage buster is the discipline of children. There are a number of different parenting styles and disagreements about how best to raise children can result in a serious breach in a relationship. To make matters worse, older children are generally clever enough to recognise how best to use this divide to their advantage. Once children become teenagers, they may ‘prove’ that one or other style of discipline was not successful. This can cause a huge rift between parents, particularly if teenagers misbehave or get into trouble. You may believe that your partner has been too authoritarian, while 90

she accuses you of being overly indulgent, and both of you may blame the other for children’s bad behaviour. This can manifest itself in contempt or lack of affection towards each other.

For more information, see: Childcare; Parenting

Many people believe that infidelity is an unforgivable act of disloyalty. The discovery of an extramarital sexual liaison can put a marriage in serious jeopardy. The straying partner may decide that being caught gives him or her an opportunity to call time on the relationship; or the betrayed partner may feel that trust cannot be re-established. Infidelity is often a symptom of more serious relationships problems. A couple that are unwilling to deal with these problems may use infidelity as a reason to separate. Most therapists believe that marriage busters can cause infidelity. The good news is that, with a willingness to confront the reasons why infidelity has happened, genuine remorse and a sincere effort to forgive and forget, infidelity is not necessarily a marriage buster by itself.

For more information, see: Infidelity

Gottman’s Marriage Busters John Gottman is one of the world’s leading researchers on why marriages survive or fail. With a team of researchers at his University of Washington laboratory, known as the “Love Lab”, Gottman has studied hundreds of couples having arguments. After years of research, he is able to predict with 88 to 94 percent accuracy if a marriage will fail. His research shows that 91

certain negative behaviours are more corrosive to marital happiness than others. These are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Criticism: Criticism is the act of attacking or being negative about one’s partner. Most couples argue and have complaints from time to time. A complaint is a statement about wanting something to change; a criticism is a negative statement, with the underlying message that someone should change. Here is an example of a complaint: “I am upset because you promised to pick up the groceries and now we have nothing for dinner. I want to be able to rely on you when you say you’ll do something.” This same issue could be phrased as a criticism: “You said you’d get the groceries, but you just couldn’t be bothered. I can’t trust you do anything. You don’t care about anyone but yourself.” Criticism is something women should be particularly aware of. Studies show that women are consistently more critical than men. Defensiveness: Defensiveness is a refusal to accept that any of your partner’s complaints may be valid. Defensive people are unable to admit that they have flaws. When you are having an argument, agreeing with your partner when you are in the wrong defuses tensions and makes a resolution easier to achieve. Taking our argument about the groceries above, here is an example of defensiveness: “It’s not my fault. You can’t expect me to do everything. You know how hard I work. You could have easily picked up the groceries yourself.” A smarter strategy is to try a response such as this: “I’m sorry. I was distracted at work and it slipped my mind. I know my memory isn’t the best, but I will try to do better in future. Maybe you could help by reminding me next time?” Contempt: Contempt tells your partner that you have no respect for him or 92

her. Sarcasm, disrespect and extreme criticism are all forms of contempt. People who use contempt are unable to argue without belittling their partners. Let us return to our couple arguing about the groceries: “I think saying I don’t care about anyone else is unfair. When you criticize me like that, it makes me angry and upset.” Here our forgetful partner does not resort to contempt in the face of criticism. Contempt would look something like this: “I don’t care? Give me a break! You’re so selfish, you wouldn’t know what caring looked like. When was the last time you did anything for anyone except yourself? Let me think. Hmmm, uh, that’s right – never!” Stonewalling: Stonewalling, or “giving the silent treatment”, is a refusal to talk to your partner, negotiate the conflict or look for a resolution. Stonewalling is silent contempt – the message is that you cannot be bothered to resolve the argument. If an argument is getting heated, you may feel that a break is necessary. This is fine, but you should let your partner know. Say something like: “This is getting too intense. I need a break. I’d like to go for a walk and calm down before either of us says something we’ll regret. I’ll be back in an hour and we can finish this then.” Stonewalling would be more like this: “Yeah, whatever. I’m going out.” Men are more likely to use stonewalling than women. In the face of their partner’s anger, men may feel unable to respond, and therefore they choose not to engage. This is rarely a good strategy because stonewalling adds extra fire to an argument and makes the person on the receiving end frustrated and angry. Furthermore refusing to acknowledge or discuss a problem simply prolongs the argument.

For more information, see: Conflict 93

ROMANCE
What exactly is romance? The dictionary defines romance as a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love, a love affair and, somewhat unfortunately, as an exaggeration or lie. Romance and falling in love are part of the universal human experience. People have always fallen in love and studies have shown that the way we experience this romantic high is remarkably similar across cultures. Accountants and artists, Aborigines, New Yorkers and Zulus, Roman centurions and UN peacekeepers, men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals all experience love in much the same way. While the experience of love is universal, some social historians have argued that romance is a product of the modern world. As the West became industrialised from the eighteenth century onwards, the old certainties of family, religion and class slipped away, to be replaced with a greater emphasis on the individual and individual fulfilment. Romance, say these thinkers, is nothing more than the idealisation of someone we find incredibly sexually attractive, and a part of our modern preoccupation with finding meaning in a life shared with a loved one. What we see as romantic, at least in books and movies, has remained remarkably consistent for hundreds of years. From the classics to modern comedies, romantic stories follow the same basic plot – meeting, misunderstandings and marriage. Lovers meet and are separated, complications ensue, and finally the pair are reunited. “The course of true love

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never did run smooth,” says Lysander in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and this idea still informs most of stories we regard as romantic today. Before Valentines Day in 2005, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a British-based professional writers’ group, surveyed its members to ask which romantic novels were their all-time favourites. Perhaps unsurprisingly Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice topped the poll; with Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca and Wuthering Heights making up the top five. The popularity of these novels, and their status as the pinnacle of romantic fiction reveals an interesting divergence between fictional romance and its real-life counterpart. With the exception of Pride and Prejudice, which is a comedy, the novels explore a dark romantic terrain: Jane flees the wouldbe bigamist Rochester, only to be reunited after he has been blinded and lost a hand; Scarlett pines for Ashley, driving Rhett, her husband, away, who leaves her with the classic line “My dear, I don’t give a damn”; Rebecca’s romantic hero has shot and killed his first wife; and finally Cathy is separated from Heathcliff because she marries the wealthy Edgar and dies regretting her actions. As you can see, these books are all female authors, but the propensity for disaster, loss and death in romantic stories is not confined to female writers alone. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet the young lovers commit suicide; and in one the highest-grossing films of all time, 1997’s Titanic, which was written and directed by James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jack saves the life of Kate Winslet’s Rose, only to die of hypothermia. It’s rather odd when you think about it – what is romantic in fiction would be a

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terrible tragedy in real life. It is certainly true to say that what we consider romantic is governed by a set of shared assumptions, rules and behaviours. By mutual agreement we have decreed that roses are romantic while a far more practical gift, such as a parsley plant, is not; the city of Paris is romantic, and despite being equally historic and offering a huge range of candlelit restaurants poor old London is not; jewellery is romantic, electronic gadgets are not – at least for most women, although their men might disagree. Social convention is not the whole story – there also seems to be a biological drive for romance. Using functional magnetic resonance imagers, scientists have found evidence that the parts of the brain at work when we’re in love are different from those that govern sexual attraction. According to the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, we have a biological drive to find that special someone. Fisher believes that people have three separate emotionmotivation systems: one for mating, a second for reproduction and a third for parenting. These are lust, attraction and attachment or love respectively. Lust kicks off the whole thing, attraction helps us chose a specific partner, and love is supposed to keep the show on the road, at least until the children are old enough to fend for themselves. Fisher says romantic love is a part of the attraction motivation system, not an emotion itself, and is distinct from the sex drive. She believes romance allows us to focus our energies on one person at a time, facilitating the greater likelihood that we will settle down and have children. Whether it is biological, social or cultural or some combination of all

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these forces, for most of us romance is a very important part of our relationships, and that lack of it can lead to great unhappiness, loneliness and feelings of low self-worth.

It’s Just Not Like the Movies! Are you a fan of romantic comedies? If so, they could be ruining your love life. Psychologists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh found that fans of ‘romcoms’ often fail to communicate with their partners because they believe that if two people are meant to be together, their partners will know what they want without having to be told. Real life is not like the movies and even the most loving and romantic partner is unlikely to be psychic! The researchers studied forty top ten box office hits from 1995 to 2005 and found that these films set up unrealistic expectations of relationships; and that, although we know that the films are not true to life, we are more influenced by the media than we realise. As part of the study, one hundred student volunteers watched Serendipity, a romantic comedy from 2001. A control group of one hundred volunteers watched a film by David Lynch. Quizzed afterwards, those who had watched the rom-com expressed a stronger belief in fate and destiny. Kimberly Johnson, one of the researchers, explained: “Films do capture the excitement of new relationships but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet, whereas these are qualities that normally take years to develop.”

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Romance in the Real World Women are more romantic than men, right? Well, not always. Men, especially Anglo-Saxon men, are often unfairly deemed unromantic, but that could be because men and women tend to ‘score’ romantic actions differently. Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology based at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, carried out a study of 3,500 women and 3,000 men from around the world to find out what the sexes regard as romantic. The men were given a list of possible actions and asked how romantic they thought women would perceive these. The women were given the same list and asked how romantic they found each gesture. Wiseman found that the men were pretty clueless – they dramatically underestimated the romantic value of most of the actions. Wiseman believes that men’s unromantic behaviour is not the result of laziness or lack of caring – they just don’t know what women find romantic. Many men believe that grand gestures are romantic, and while women do enjoy them – particularly on Valentine’s Day – they also enjoy the little gestures that show that their partner is thinking about them. Romance can be any act that demonstrates enthusiasm for your partner. It can be a big or small gesture, but as most couples’ therapists note, the little things are often far more important to long-term happiness. These are the everyday actions that show your partner that you care – taking the children off your partner’s hands for a weekend, running a bath, spending a day or evening together as a couple, or even just pitching in more with the housework. They may not sound like much, but these gestures are far more beneficial than expensive

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gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays and Christmas. Interestingly a study by the Council on Contemporary Families in the US found that couples who share the housework equally are happier and frequently have more sex too. The wives reported more sexual interest in, and affection towards, husbands who were willing to help out. Of course, it may be the other way around – that couples that are affectionate, romantic and sexual on a regular basis are more likely to help each other with the chores. It is worth remembering that for many men, having sex and being romantic are the same thing – having sex is a physical way of telling their wives or partners that they love them – while for most women, romance should ideally happen before sex. Luckily, it is easy to bring a little bit of romance into your daily life. A proper kiss in the morning, a text message to tell your partner you love him or her, a cup of coffee in bed, or even the simple act of stroking your partner’s hair all tell your loved one that you care. Not all couples can afford holidays or special weekends away, but everyone can maintain the romantic aspects of their relationship with small gestures. This is important because romance keeps you connected as a couple and as lovers. Without romance and sex, you might as well be housemates. For romance to be appreciated, it has to be genuine. Buying your partner flowers once a week is a lovely idea, but if it is done because you fear her disapproval if you forget, it is no longer romantic – it is a habit, just like taking out the rubbish for collection. Wonderful meals in restaurants are a mainstay of romance, but if you take your partner out for expensive meals once a month to make up for never spending time with her, this gesture will

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soon be seen as a bribe. Angelo and Bettina are an example of this. They were an attractive couple who had been engaged for a few months. Angelo declared that he was, in his own words, “very romantic” because he took his partner to the best restaurants twice a week. At this, Bettina shot him a filthy look and asked suspiciously, “So what is my favourite type of food and where exactly is my favourite restaurant?” Angelo flushed with embarrassment – he had no idea. In his fiancée’s estimation, Angelo may have been generous with expensive dinners, but he was not very romantic. In the last few decades, children have become the centre of family life in a way that was unthinkable for previous generations. Parents have become conditioned to believe it’s necessary to put children first – often to the detriment of their relationships. Ignoring children’s needs is certainly not the answer, but for long-term happiness couples have to see themselves as lovers, not just parents. The care and attention once lavished on a partner is often directed towards children, leaving no time or energy for romance. With the many strains and stresses on parents, it is easy to let romance and sexual satisfaction take a backseat, and couples are often surprised to find that sex and romance don’t happen ‘spontaneously’ the way they did during the first few years of a relationship. It might not sound romantic, but it’s important for couples to schedule romance into their lives. Lack of romance can leave a couple feeling dissatisfied with their relationship. After all, the romantic evenings you had together while dating weren’t as unplanned as you think they were. Dates

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were arranged, restaurants chosen, flowers bought, outfits and lingerie were worn, all in an effort to woo your partner and there’s no reason to stop doing this simply because you now have two children and a mortgage. It is essential to make your relationship a priority and to spend time together as a couple without the interference of little ones – get the babysitter, send the kids to the grandparents or simply lock the bedroom door.

What Women Want: Romantic Gestures Richard Wiseman’s study, discussed above, asked 3,500 women to rate the romantic value of different actions. The women in the study decided that the following ten gestures were the most romantic. The percentage shows the number of women who assigned the maximum marks on the romance scale to each gesture. 1) Cover her eyes and lead her to a lovely surprise – 40% 2) Whisk her away somewhere exciting for the weekend – 39% 3) Write a song or poem about her – 28% 4) Tell her that she is most wonderful woman you have ever met – 25% 5) Run her a relaxing bath after she has had a bad day at work – 22% 6) Send her a romantic text or email, or leave a note around the house – 22% 7) Wake her up with breakfast in bed – 22% 8) Offer her a coat when she is cold – 18% 9) Send a bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates to her workplace – 16% 10) Make her a compilation of her favorite music – 12%

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Romance, Men & Money Although men may not be very good at scoring the value of romantic gestures, they are more likely to spend large sums of money on romance. Valentine’s Day is big business – a 2008 report found that over £1 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day in Britain, and that 37 percent of British men expected to spend more than their partners. American men spend nearly twice as much as women on Valentine’s gifts. Americans spent $17 billion on Valentines Day in 2008, and despite the global recession, America’s National Retail Federation estimated that consumers would spend $14.7 billion in 2009. There is a good reason why men spend more on Valentine’s gifts: romance is socially constructed as something men do for women, not the other way around. That is not to say that men do not appreciate romantic gestures – most do – but very few are on the receiving end of them. Between 2007 and 2009, over 2,000 Irish brides-to-be were questioned about the romance in their relationships. The majority had received romantic surprises from their fiancés on numerous occasions, including flowers, weekends away together and surprise dinner dates. However, when asked how many had arranged a romantic surprise for their men, on any occasion excluding Valentine’s Day or birthdays, only a paltry five women had done so! Women may grumble, but it seems that sometimes men really are the more romantic sex.

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Making Romance Last The extreme excitement we feel at a beginning of a relationship cools down over time. There are good reasons for this. If we were constantly in a height of romantic and sexual passion, we would not be able to deal with the practicalities of life, such as looking after children. Most therapists will tell couples that in order to keep romance strong we need to do a variety of things: commit; communicate; listen; stay attractive; appreciate one another; compromise; accept each other’s flaws; share a sense of humour; respect one another; argue constructively; forgive transgressions; build on the relationship; and remember not to take each other for granted. All these are important. However, in her book Why We Love, Helen Fisher claims it is possible to recapture some of the biological aspects of romance in your relationship too. Experiments have shown that exciting experiences enhance feelings of attraction. Danger stimulates adrenaline, and adrenaline is closely related to dopamine – the chemical most associated with romantic love. This does not mean you have to take up extreme sports or risky hobbies; a fairground ride or a scary film could work just as well and any novel activity, even visiting a new restaurant, can increase feelings of romantic love. While spending time together is important, time apart can increase dopamine too. Dopamine is associated with feelings of reward. If you get a reward too soon or too easily, dopamine production falls off, while a delay stimulates it. Time apart from your loved one makes you appreciate the time you have together.

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We all know that sexual intimacy can create romantic bonds, and there is a neurological reason for this too – after orgasm, the brain releases chemicals associated with attachment. Regular sexual activity keeps these chemicals pumping. It should be noted that certain medication, particularly antidepressants can lower libido and cause emotional blunting. This means that your ability to experience the chemistry of love can be affected. If you are taking anti-depressants and experience these side-effects, talk to your doctor about changing your medication. For more information, see: AntiDepressants and Anti-Anxiety Pills

For more information, see: Attraction; Dating

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CASE STUDIES
Life would be easy if all relationship problems followed a simple cause-andeffect pattern. Some do, but when a relationship reaches a crisis, generally there are a number of issues at play; it is not always possible to say that one person is at ‘fault’; and to complicate matters, many people refuse to look at the problems – instead, they may decide to protect themselves by laying the blame elsewhere. To show how this works, we have included a number of case studies of real couples.

CASE STUDY 1: MAUREEN AND ANDY Maureen and Andy were in their thirties. They had been married for five years and had two children. Maureen was a stay-at-home mother, while Andy worked as a building surveyor. As well as taking care of the children, Maureen was in charge of all the household chores. Stated problem: Maureen and Andy felt that the romance had gone out of their marriage. Specifically Maureen complained that Andy never complimented her. She felt unappreciated and unloved. Digging deeper: In consultation, Maureen revealed that she was frustrated with her role as a stay-at-home mother. She wanted to work outside the home as well as look after the children. Maureen’s desire to look for paid employment was complicated by two factors: first, Andy was a traditionalist and he worried that the children and the home would be neglected; secondly, Maureen believed that, after being at home for so many years, she would find it difficult to fit into a work environment and that she would have trouble talking to strangers. As a stay-at-home mother, Maureen was very close to her

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children, but Andy was almost completely uninvolved in his children’s lives. Andy’s mother had stayed at home. Like his father, Andy firmly believed that a mother’s work was looking after the home. Maureen’s parents had divorced when she was a child – growing up, she was much closer to her mother than to her father. Furthermore, Maureen and Andy were not physically affectionate to one another. Solution: Both Maureen and Andy needed a change of attitude. This was achieved by consultation, therapy work with the couple, and some practical, hands-on experiences. Firstly, meeting a family similar to his own, but where the mother worked outside the home, challenged Andy’s traditional beliefs. Seeing how this family got on, and that both the husband and wife split household chores and child-minding duties made Andy realise that, with effort from both partners, children from dual-income homes are just as well looked after and loved as children from more traditional family set-ups. Andy was also set the task of doing all the household chores so he would have a better idea of how hard Maureen worked every day. To help Maureen overcome her fear of talking to strangers, she agreed to work for a day in a crowded market. At first Maureen was hesitant, but after a few hours she relaxed and began to enjoy herself. This gave Maureen the confidence that she would be able to deal with the interpersonal challenges of work. Once these issues had been resolved, it was time to tackle a deeper problem in the family – Andy’s distant relationship with his children. Andy never spent time with them alone, and if Maureen needed time away from the children, her mother took over the childcare duties. In consultation, Maureen realised that she had been excluding Andy from their children’s lives and that 106

she had not seen Andy’s role as a father as particularly important. Since she had not been close to her own father, Maureen saw she was repeating her parents’ pattern and that her mother’s experience of divorce had influenced this attitude. In a separate consultation, Andy recognized that his traditional beliefs had held him back from breaking through Maureen’s exclusion and that this too had prevented him from creating real relationships with his children. Once the couple saw how they had each contributed to the issue, they resolved to make real changes to their child-care routine. Finally, the couple got to grips with their original problem – the lack of romance in their relationship. Maureen and Andy both acknowledged that the lack of romance, compliments and physical affection was not the problem itself, but a result of their other problems. To help rekindle a more physically affectionate relationship, both Maureen and Andy agreed to play their parts. Maureen had a makeover to remind Andy that she was more than just a mother – she was a woman and a lover as well. Andy took over all the household duties while Maureen was being pampered and he cooked a romantic meal for them to share as a couple. Aftermath: In consultation several weeks later, the couple said that they had been able to apply a new understanding of each other to their daily lives. In the intervening weeks, Maureen had found a part-time job and was enjoying work. Furthermore, Andy saw Maureen working as an opportunity for him to get more involved as a father as he had to take more responsibility looking after the children. The couple seemed happier, more relaxed and their body language was more positive, affectionate and flirtatious. Both Maureen and Andy felt they had grown closer as a couple.

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Breakdown: As you can see from this case study, a number of different factors contributed to Maureen and Andy’s marital problems. Firstly, both Maureen and Andy followed patterns that they had learnt from their own families. Most of us do this and, in this case, it led to a parenting style that excluded Andy from parenting. Secondly, Maureen’s frustration with her role as a stay-at-home mother illustrates how work and employment outside the home can be important to many people’s sense of self-worth. Not everyone feels this way, but Maureen felt undervalued and unappreciated as ‘just’ a mother. Because of this, she lacked confidence in her abilities to succeed in the workplace. Thirdly, as the sole caregiver and housekeeper Maureen was constantly busy. This left the couple very little time together. Andy realized that, in addition to helping with the children and chores, time together was more important than a spotlessly clean house. Finally, this new understanding of each other, plus a little effort to dress up and spend time together as a couple helped reignite the romance and attraction in their relationship. A satisfying physical relationship is a cornerstone of a happy marriage and both Maureen and Andy learnt that it is important to stay connected sexually.

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KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU: 20 QUESTIONS FOR COUPLES
We all think that we know our partners really well, but how well is that exactly? You may know how your partner feels about children or that they had a crush on their English teacher in school, but it’s amazing how much information we do not share. Do the following exercise with your partner. Answer these questions for yourself and for your partner. Once you have done it, swap answer sheets and give your partner two points for each correct answer, but subtract a point for every wrong or half correct answer. 1. What stresses am I facing right now? 2. What is my fondest unrealised dream? 3. What is my biggest fear? 4. What’s my all-time favourite film? 5. What is my favourite time for lovemaking? 6. What is my favourite way to spend an evening on my own? 7. What personal improvements do I want to make in my life? 8. What one thing am I most proud of about myself? 9. What am I most proud of in my career to date? 10. Name one of my best childhood experiences. 11. Who is my greatest source of support other than you? 12. Name an important event in my life and how I felt about it. 13. Who was my best friend in childhood? 14. What am I most often sad about? 15. What is my favourite food?

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16. What would I consider to be my ideal job? 17. What was my most embarrassing moment? 18. Where was I born? 19. Who is my favourite relative? 20. What would be the first thing I’d buy if I won the lottery?

The point of this exercise is not to get a great score (although, well done if you did); it is to stimulate sharing. Consider your partner’s answers. How well did you know what your partner would answer? If you didn’t know many of his or her answers, why is that? Did your memory fail you? Or have you both been holding out telling each other about your past, family life and your innermost fears and dreams? It is easy to forget to do that. Oddly enough, at the beginning of a relationship couples tend to share snippets of personal information, but the better we know one another, the more likely we are to let daily concerns, such as work or children, dominate our conversations. Most of us do not know our partners as well as we think. The point of this exercise, and of our book, is to make you consider the many unknown factors that influence who you are and how this affects how you relate to each other.

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CHAPTER BREAKDOWN
INTRODUCTION A to Z TOPIC LIST
Acceptance & Accommodation Acting Out Addiction Adolescence Adoption Affection Age Difference Ageing Alcohol Anger Anniversaries Anti-Depressants & Anti-Anxiety Pills Arranged Marriage Assertiveness Attachment & Attachment Theory Attraction Autonomy Bedroom Benefits of Marriage Bisexuality Body Image Body Language Brothers & Sisters Boundaries Brain Development & Personality Bullying Cancer & Serious Illness Careers Change Child Abuse Childcare & Parenting Children & Marital Satisfaction Co-Dependency Co-Habitation Common Interests Communication Compatibility Compromise Confidence & Self-Esteem Conflict

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Consumerism Contraception Creativity Crises Criticism Cross-Complaining Crush Cuddling Dating Decision-Making Defence Mechanisms Denial Dependence & Independence Diet & Libido Dishonesty Dismissiveness Divorce Dreams Dysfunction Ego Emotional Abuse Emotional Development Emotional Infidelity Emotional Intelligence

Emotions Empty Nest Engagement Environment Ethics & Morality Ethnicity Fairytales Family Family Conditioning Fantasy Fathers Femininity Fertility & IVF Finances Flooding Forgiveness Friendship Gender Genes Genograms Goals of Marriage God & Religion Grandparents Grief

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Grooming & Hygiene Guilt Happiness Health Health & Marriage Holidays Home Homosexuality Honeymoon Humour Hysterectomy Idealisation Immaturity Individualist Society Individuation Infidelity In-Laws Insecurity Intimacy Jealousy Kegel Exercises Kissing Lapdancing & the Sex Industry Libido

Lifecycle Stages Loneliness Love Manipulation Marital Rape Marriage Busters Marriage Contract Marriage Myths Masculinity Masturbation Memories Menopause Mental Health & Illness Monogamy Mothers Mystery Neglect Newlyweds (& First 12 Months) Obesity One-Parent Families Only Children Orgasm Passive Aggression Past, Present & Future

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Patriarchy Personal Development Personality Types Play Power Predictors 0f Marriage Success Pregnancy Pre-Menstrual Tension Projection Quality Time Regression Rejection Relationship Patterns Remarriage Repair Attempts Repression Retirement Rituals Role-playing Romance Scape-goating School & College Secrets Self

Sensuality Sex Sex & Technology Sexual Problems Shame Smoking Social Construction of Marriage Socio-Emotional Development Soul Mates Stepfamilies Stereotyping STIs Stress Suicide Superstition Symptoms of Marriage Breakdown Systems Television Testosterone Therapy Trauma & Post-Traumatic Stress Trust Unconscious Mind Unemployment

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‘Upgrading’ Your Partner Vaginal Surgery Values Vasectomy Viagra Victim Violence & Physical Abuse Weddings

Weight Gain & Weight Loss Wish List Working on Your Relationship X Chromosome X-Partners XXX Pornography Y Chromosome ZZZ Sleep

IN-DEPTH CASE STUDIES QUIZZES AND QUESTIONNAIRES FOR COUPLES FINAL THOUGHTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP WHERE TO GET HELP

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