Episode 039 - Maintaining the Spark 10/05
Divorce is seasonal, peaks following family vacations
Associate sociology Prof. Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini presented the findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle, WA.
The team found that divorce consistently peaks during the months of August and March - times that follow winter and summer holidays.
Prof. Brines mentions that troubled couples may see the holidays as a time to mend relationships, and they might believe that if they have a happy Christmas or a successful camping trip, everything will be "fixed" and their lives will improve.
However, in reality, those periods of the year can be both emotionally charged and stressful for many, and they may expose cracks in a marriage. The seasonal nature of divorce filings may reflect the disillusionment unhappy spouses experience when vacation time does not live up to their high expectation, the research team points out.
While examining divorce filing throughout Washington, the team noticed monthly variations with the pattern of heightened filings emerging in March and August. "It was very robust from year to year, and very robust across counties," Prof. Brines explains.
After accounting for other seasonal factors, including the housing market and unemployment, the pattern remained.
What do we mean by “the spark?”
New Relationship Energy
“State of mind experienced at the beginning of most significant sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual receptivity and excitement. It begins with the earliest attractions, grows into full force when mutuality is established, and slowly fades over months to years. It carries an implication of contrast with the feelings involved with "old" or an ongoing relationship” - Wikipedia
“the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.” - Google Definition
For ongoing relationships, it is desirable to maintain the emotional and sexual receptiveness that characterize NRE, even if the intensity fades and the obsessive qualities associated with limerence dissipate over time
What typically causes “the spark” to fade?
Breaches of trust
Good communication can avoid many of these problems!
Never be afraid to communicate with your partner
The difficult thing to say is always the thing that you absolutely need to say
Strategies for maintaining the spark
Avoid allowing yourself to become bored with your mate(s)
Consider going on shared adventures
Exploring new restaurants, bars, conventions, etc.
Shake things up
Try new kinks, roleplays, scenarios
Have sex in a different room than usual
Bringing in the occasional third (if non-monogamous)
Don’t neglect individual adventures either
Sexual adventures with others (if in an open relationship)
Engage with your mate, and give them love in the way they prefer to receive it, reliably
“Love languages” http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Don’t turn away from your partner(s) or shut them down when they attempt to engage with you, if you can avoid it
Physical touch / intimacy
Resolve conflicts non-violently
Approach conflict empathetically
“I understand why you did X, and I am sure you meant no harm by it, however, when you did X, I felt Y.”
If none of these strategies seem to sufficiently improve the quality of the relationship, consider whether breaking up would be a good idea, or whether moving to an open, companionate relationship would work for you
When is it appropriate to downplay in a relationship? I often feel the need to protect my mates from feeling bad if I’ve made a mistake, but is that just me being selfish in another way?
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Next week’s topic: Boundaries vs Rules