Psychological Self-Help

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Interestingly, these lasting marriages challenge several ideas put
forth by professionals. For instance, less than 10% say that good sex
keeps their marriage together. Few buy the idea of fighting fairly; they
say intense anger would hurt their relationship. Many said that the
egalitarian relationship notion can be damaging, if it is understood to
mean everything is 50-50, because the truth is that both partners
need to give in 60% or 70% of the time, at least it seems that way.
About 33% of these older women feel the women's movement has
helped their marriage, 22% say it has harmed, and 21% see good and
bad consequences (Sangrey, 1983). Marriage experts stress that
spouses need separate interests and activities; these married people
say they do some things independently but the emphasis should be on
trying to spend as much time together as possible (Lauer & Lauer,
1985, 1986). 
 
Maintaining intimacy throughout marriage (self-help exercises)
John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth developed the theory that
attachment to another person is our primary motive in life. Between 6
months and one year of age, human infants who are "securely
attached" to mommy (or a caretaker) begin to explore the world in
brief excursions, starting the process of gaining self-confidence and
independence. If a child of that age is taken away from his/her mom,
however, they usually respond with crying, reaching out, and other
protests. When mom is brought back, they want to be close--they hug,
cling, look at her with hurt eyes, and then they turn on the charm,
cooing and smiling. The point? We need attachments (intimacy). We
don't all respond that way to detachment, however. About 40% of
infants are very upset when separated but when re-united with mom,
they approach and reject her, presumable because she is sometimes
attentive and affectionate and sometimes not. They are considered
"insecurely attached" and have trouble exploring the world. These
attachment styles supposedly last a lifetime. So, perhaps 40% of us
adults respond with anger when we feel rejected. 
Marriage therapists (Johnson, 1994), following the attachment
theory, consider anger expressed by a spouse to be an effort to
restore closeness and intimacy to the relationship (although the
attacked spouse is likely to see it and feel it as tearing the marriage
apart). Anger is considered a natural protest to loosing security or
love. So, if both partners can re-interpret or "reframe" the spouse's
anger into being a cry for regaining lost love and attachment, then the
angry partner can become aware of the loneliness behind the anger
and the criticized partner can be more sympathetic, a better listener,
and more open about his/her own insecurities. Thus, the cycle of
attack, building resentment, and counter-attack is broken. If both
spouses can disclose their tender underlying feelings, such as the fear
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