I read this fascinating article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times entitled
The Happy Marriage Is the ‘Me’ Marriage and find it interesting that it came on the heels of my other post of today, about Anais Nin.
For centuries, marriage was viewed as an economic and social institution, and the emotional and intellectual needs of the spouses were secondary to the survival of the marriage itself. But in modern relationships, people are looking for a partnership, and they want partners who make their lives more interesting.
Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam who died last January, called it the “Michelangelo effect,” referring to the manner in which close partners “sculpt” each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals.
Wow…is that even possible? I have yet to meet a modern couple where this happens. I personally thought it was too much to ask for.
Dr. Aron and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called “self-expansion.” Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.
And the converse being, the less self-expansion people experience from their partner, the less committed and satisfied they are in the relationship? That doesn’t bode well.
While the notion of self-expansion may sound inherently self-serving, it can lead to stronger, more sustainable relationships, Dr. Lewandowski says.
Well that helps to assuage some of my guilty feelings for wanting and needing to grow (i.e. self-expand).
“If you’re seeking self-growth and obtain it from your partner, then that puts your partner in a pretty important position,” he explains. “And being able to help your partner’s self-expansion would be pretty pleasing to yourself.”
Well, it sounds like there is something in it for both individuals in the relationship.
“People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self and add to who they are as a person,” Dr. Lewandowski says.
I used to think so…but I’m not entirely sure that’s true in all cases.
It makes me wonder…do you have a sustainable marriage?