Psychological Self-Help

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enjoyed a variety of sexual activity. Women link love with sex more
than men do. For this reason, reportedly, being unfaithful doesn't
mean as much to men (if they do it) as to women (if they do it). Men
have been unfaithful more often than women (it's becoming fairly
equal) but it did not mean they were unhappy with their wives. When
women have an affair, however, usually it isn't a one night stand; they
are more likely to get emotionally involved. See the later discussion of
infidelity and sexual problems. 
What is most important in preserving a marriage? Skills: knowing
how to manage conflict. Having the communication skills so you can
respectfully negotiate, resolve disagreements fairly, and avoid the
bitterness that drives spouses apart. Later we will discuss ways of
avoiding the withdrawal, escalating anger, and vile insults that destroy
love relationships. 
 
Stages within a marriage
Naturally, during 50-60 years of marriage, we go through several
stages. Sarnoff and Sarnoff (1989) believe humans are born with
powerful needs to love and propagate, and, at the same time, they
instinctively fear losing their freedom and personal identity if they
totally merge with another person (connect like a new born with its
mother). These threats of overwhelming love cause fears which result
in withdrawal, arguments, and undermining of the love. They describe
six stages of marriage, common fears and resistance at each stage,
and ways of handling the barriers to love: 
Stages
Fears
Facilitating Love
Consummation--talking,
touching, "making love"
Intimacy threatens freedom
& arouses fear of rejection
Promise to put each
other first
Having children--
deciding, awe and work
of children
Envy of her reproduction
and of his freedom
Continue careers,
share birth
experience
Raising children--loving,
providing, guiding
Fear of losing male &
female roles=become
traditional
Avoid sexist beh.
don't fight over
children
Focusing on self--avoid
closeness (middle-aged)
Fear of being absorbed by
other=go own way alone
Discuss their fears,
stay close & warm
Children gone--increased
time for relationship
Regret losing children, fear
of aging=depression
Find new activities,
remain best friends
Facing death--physical
prob.--time running out
Fear losses and separation,
hate "making
Vow to love deeply
during rest of life
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