Psychological Self-Help

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It is also easy to speculate how two peoples’ stories might interact and
lead to love, how other stories combine to lead to an unhappy but
lasting marriage, and how still other stories result in about 45% of all
marriages ending in divorce. 
The problems that concern me about this theory are practical
ones: Do we or can we really know what our lover’s story is before we
get married? Do we even know our own real love story, which was
unconsciously developing since infancy, until our secret ogre (e.g.
anger, unfaithfulness, or self-centeredness) is out of the closet about 3
or 4 years into the marriage? Do the pre-marital fantasies tell us much
about how we will change over time? (An issue raised earlier by
Sternberg himself.) Does the love story indicate the ability of a lover
to “work it out” or “tough it out” or to actually change his/her love
story when things aren’t working out? When marital troubles get very
serious, does it help to analyze and make use of the love stories at
that point? More research will tell us the answers. 
Sternberg (1998) makes an interesting point: he says relationship
problems can’t be treated by changing habits and behaviors. (I doubt
this statement.) He considers behaviors merely symptoms; the root
problems are in the incompatible stories. If this is true, then problems
in a relationship indicate we need to change our love story (or change
partners), which Sternberg says we can do—sometimes? He suggests
that correctly understanding both partners’ stories would help a couple
decide what needs and expectations are causing the difficulties. I
agree and this is important. But believing you know the cause of the
problems doesn’t automatically result in a change in our well-
entrenched love story. He doesn’t give much help for this last crucial
step. Therefore, if you have serious marital problems, I’d suggest
selecting another book (see extensive list later). However, for help
selecting and adjusting to a lover, Sternberg’s intuitive narrative
approach holds promise. 
Projection of traits and feelings
Object relations therapists believe we are born wanting a loving,
nurturing attachment to a parent. Within the first year or two of life
(long before the Oedipus phase), according to this theory, we all
develop an image of our "love object" and our relationship with that
person. These images ("internalized objects") are not realistic; they
are the feelings, fears, and wants--the mental-emotional concoctions--
of an infant and toddler for his/her parent(s). In time, the really scary
parts of these feelings and images are repressed--pushed out of our
awareness. Example: suppose our mother fails to meet our needs, as
all parents do, and we (18 months old) get very mad and fearful of
rejection. We have to repress these negative expectations and feelings
because we need mom's love. Much later, however, in intimate
relationships, we may project our negative repressed feelings and
traits (the old distrust and intense anger) to our loved one, i.e. we
see our bad characteristics in our partner. We may even
unconsciously select the "right kind of partner" and behave in ways
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