Doing Life Together

Shappy coupleIt’s exciting watching young couples in love. Their desire and love for one another is infectious. But those of us who have been married for quite awhile have some advice when it comes to keeping love alive and making it through what has been termed, “gray divorce.” Yes, more people are divorcing later in life than ever before, but this doesn’t have to be.

When the romantic spark is over, we all know relationships take work. But work doesn’t have to be some arduous thing. In fact, “the work”  has to do with your likes and interests.

I came to marriage with a love of the theatre. I married someone who had never been exposed to theatre. But once he was, he too developed a love for it and we share that love and interest today.

At the time, we didn’t know that we were doing something simple to make our love last: Sharing each others’ interests.  But this is one of the secrets to make love last.

Even when you aren’t particularly interested in something your spouse likes, get interested. The willingness to share and engage goes a long way to keeping marital friendship alive and well. And friendship is one of the building blocks of intimacy. I did this with soccer. Never liked it much, but I married a college soccer player who grew up loving to play and watch soccer. So, I developed an interest in the game. And while it is not my favorite sport, we have gone to professional games and share the interest.

Right now, take a brief inventory. Has your husband wanted you to learn to play golf because he loves it and you don’t? I suggest that you get golf lessons and give it a try. Or maybe your love for art isn’t sitting well with your husband. Take him to a gallery and ask him to open his mind to something new. Try things together and find areas of common interest that you can develop together. It will go a long way to keeping love alive.

affairJustin Lehmiller at Purdue University is the author of The Psychology of Human Sexuality and studies sex and relationships. He has found that about 1 in 4  or 1 in 5 married people admit to sexual infidelity.

So what puts a person at risk for having an affair? Here are 5 factors that play a role in why some people cheat.

1) Being male. This is not gender discrimination, but a reality when it comes to cheating. Males cheat more than females, although the gap between males and females has lessened over the years. In part, because women have more access to cheating than they used to–the Internet, more power and income, more options, etc. But the reasons men cheat do differ from women. A study at Chapman University and California State University found that men’s cheating is motivated more by sexual dissatisfaction (see #4) and wanting more variety and excitement (see #5). Women tend to cheat because of emotional dissatisfaction, looking to men to reinforce that they are still desirable.

2) Age: It appears that cheating is higher among people who are younger or older. The “safest” time in marriage seems to be between ages 35-50 when family and careers are building. Basically, time is a factor. When your day is composed of going to work, soccer games and doing homework at night, there isn’t as much time or energy to cheat!

3) Opportunity: The more opportunity, the greater the chances. Spending time with people in the workplace, traveling, being promoted, etc. all lend to more opportunities for closeness and attraction.

4) Feeling dissatisfied with your relationship: Yes,this is the most obvious because it lends to looking outside the relationship for satisfaction if you don’t work on problems in the relationship.

5) Personality traits: If you are low on “agreeableness” and “conscientiousness”, narcissistic and avoidant in your attachment style, you are more at risk. And if you are a thrill seeker who doesn’t mind taking risks, this is a factor as well. In contrast, people who are kind and caring, dependable, humble, and more secure in attachments do better with fidelity.

No matter how many of these factors relate to you, infidelity is still a choice, a choice you can avoid. Tempted or not, vow to work through your problems, talk about issues and dissatisfaction, and commit to being faithful.

ID-10075688Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls. If so, you remember the popular clique of girls who ruled the social scene by backstabbing and being verbally mean to anyone they didn’t like. The movie reminds most of us of those one or two girls in middle school who could use their verbal aggression to put us in our place.

Boys don’t do this, right? It’s just the girls who use their verbal skills to talk behind your back. Boys are more physical. They prefer to beat you up physically, not verbally. At least that is how we typically think, but is it true? Are boys less mean?

Research published in Aggressive Behavior disputes this notion. Boys, it appears, use both their physical and relationship aggression to be mean, more so then girls. Surveys were given to 620 students asking them about their behavior. According to the seven-year long study, physical and relational aggression were more common in boys.

As you might guess, sixth to eighth grade proved to be the worse time for these types of aggression. Fortunately, the meanness drops off in high school with the senior year the best.

And did you know that the author of the book, Mean Girls, which the movie was based on, also wrote a sequel for boys? Yet, we didn’t hear much about that topic as a sequel. Based on the study, Mean Boys would be a good sequel!

So if you are a parent, teacher or someone who works with teens, keep in mind that boys use rejection, rumors, social exclusion and relationship aggression even more than girls. The stereotype of girls being the means ones, doesn’t hold. Relationship aggression for both boys and girls is an issue that needs to be addressed. Both genders need to work on being positive with their peers.



The paper, published in Aggressive Behavior, is available online at

eatingYou are on your way to work and feel hungry. The morning rush caused you to skip breakfast.

You pass the bakery as you walk to your office. The smell of freshly baked croissants is tempting. As you look in the window, those croissants are lined up in a row, oozing with chocolate and inviting you to buy. But that isn’t part of your eating plan as you are trying to lose those 5 pounds you gained over the holidays.

You have to force the image out of your head. But should you?

Would it be better to think about that chocolate croissant, the smell, the slightly crunchy crust with a soft inside that melts in your mouth? You can see it, feel it, smell it and taste it going into your mouth!

Most dieters would say, STOP! Don’t do this to yourself. You will just make the craving worse.

But new research says maybe not. A study conducted at Carnegie Mellow University looked at what happens when you imagine eating food. The results confirm a very different approach than the conventional, “Don’t think about that food.”

Instead, researchers noted that when participants imagined consuming a desired food like that freshly baked croissant, allowed themselves to imagine eating and enjoying it, their cravings actually decreased and they ate less.

Yes, imagining the consumption of the food actually decreased appetite for it. Suppressing your desire for the food works against you. Imaging and experiencing may not be that much different.

The thinking behind this has to do with habituation. The more you imagine eating the food, the less motivation you actually have to eat it.

So next time you want that freshly baked croissant, try to imagine eating it and enjoying the experience. Your imagination just might lead you to eat less or not  at all.