New Things and Places Make You Grow and I’m Almost 1% of the Way There

Guy walking down road traveling

(Image/smagmagazine.wordpress.com)

Even though I lived in three different states growing up, I didn’t understand that people in other places were different than the people I was accustomed to seeing around me.

As I imagine there are many common traits among people living in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so it is with people in Iowa, Illinois and the part of Ohio in which I was raised.

I was born in Iowa.

My parents split when I was 4 and I moved to Ohio to begin my school years. I spent a lot of time in Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River visiting my family throughout those years. Both places—Ohio, and the Mississippi River Valley—provide feelings of Home.

There wasn’t a ton of money floating around nor did I know anyone close to me with a passion for travel.

So I didn’t get out much.

Which is actually fine as it’s happening when you’ve never experienced anything different. Contentment is a highly underrated thing—a lesson I learned the hard way after graduating from college. What I lacked in material wealth and life experience was more than made up for in genuine contentment, surrounded by wonderful family and friends no matter which state I was in.

How do you manufacture a decent guy with a genuinely kind heart and good intentions who is capable of ditching his crying wife in the hospital hours after giving birth to his beautiful newborn son?

There are an incalculable number of factors, but I fear many innocent and well-meaning actions and conditions contributed.

I was born to very young parents. They were eightish years younger than my ex-wife and I when our son was born. I didn’t feel ready at 29. It’s hard to imagine how they must have felt.

I am, for all intents and purposes, an only child.

Because my mom is from a very large family of kind, loving people; and because my dad was from a mid-sized family who didn’t see me often; and because I made friends easily and was seemingly well liked by their parents and my teachers because I’m naturally outgoing and well mannered, I was showered with an almost-obscene amount of love, support and affirmation growing up.

These things feel good. And almost every day felt good. Being me was a very positive experience.

I think my dad spoiled me just a bit because of our unfortunate geographic situation which kept us from a typical father-son relationship. I think my mom took it pretty easy on me in terms of chores and responsibilities around the house because she was so accustomed to (and skilled at) accomplishing home management tasks from being the oldest of many brothers and sisters, so I got used to things just “magically” getting taken care of.

Folded laundry. Swept floors. Clean counters. Spotless bathrooms. Stocked fridge and pantry.

My only real job was schoolwork, and I could perform academically at a fairly high level without trying hard, and certainly without learning the material inside and out. After all that K-12 learning, followed by whatever I did to get a bachelor’s degree, I’d be surprised if I’ve retained even 10 percent of it. We’ll never know.

So what DID I “know”?

  1. Being myself makes most people like me, and I don’t have to work hard for things.
  2. I’m totally smart, which means when people disagree with me or challenge my beliefs, there’s an above-average chance they’re wrong.
  3. Life is beautiful, people are kind, and mostly good things happen, which means sad, depressed, angry or impoverished people just aren’t trying hard enough. Yay, life!
  4. People are mostly the same everywhere you go. It’s obvious because I’ve been between Iowa and Ohio my entire life, and it pretty much all looks and feels the same! Neat!

Certainly, attending a 20,000-plus-student public university after 12 years of Catholic schooling in a town with the same amount of people delivered some eye-opening moments.

Not everyone believes what I believe. Some objectively super-smart people disagree with some of my political philosophies and can articulate why without saying anything moronic. Also, I’m friends with black people! 

But the real shock to the system happened when I braved a move outside of my little four-state bubble in middle America, moving to a Florida beach town on the Gulf side to take a newspaper reporting job.

Because we all live inside our own heads and nowhere else, and because I hadn’t done a lot of travelling, and because when I had gone to other places, they shared many cultural similarities with my hometown, I assumed people were pretty much the same everywhere, at least in the United States.

In other words, I thought I was moving to Ohio with Nice Weather and Beaches.

It only took me a few months in Florida to observe how incorrect my assumption had been, and to learn an important life lesson at the age of 23:

Different people in different places often have different beliefs and different life experiences than I do, and those differences feel as natural to them as my normal does to me.

Oh, the Places We’ll Go

Last week, one guy I met while living in Florida told his oldest son to pick any place in the world to visit for a father-son trip. The boy (I think he’s 11) chose Tokyo, Japan. And off they went, leaving mom and the younger two brothers behind. Those two looked like they had an awesome time, and I imagine both father and son will have grown significantly from the experience in some way.

As I type, another friend is in the midst of a two-week tour of Europe. She texted me some photos from Switzerland that made me want to drop everything and go there. Mountains. Waterfalls. The greenest greens. And those totally rad “Ri-cola!” horns.

A new friend, author and potential future collaborator routinely travels the globe, has lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is married to a Dutch man she now lives with in south Florida, and returned less than a month ago from a speaking gig in Stockholm, Sweden.

That’s just regular life for her.

For me, that’s, like, whoa.

I started traveling domestically in my second job out of school, which had brought me back to Ohio. Every couple of months, I was going somewhere for a conference or industry trade show. It was then that I really felt as if I was broadening my horizons in my mid- to late-twenties.

I took a look at a map to evaluate where I’ve been.

Toronto, Ont. is my furthest trek north. New York City is my furthest east. To the south, Key West, Fla. And to the west, San Diego, Calif.

I downloaded an app where you can log all of the places you’ve been. I went through it carefully, marking my destinations.

Two countries. My homeland. And Canada. And let’s be honest. When you’re from the United States, and you occasionally get Canadian coins handed to you when cashiers are making change, and when the border is way closer than half of the U.S. states, it doesn’t really feel like international travel.

And unless I’m forgetting one, I’ve visited 24 states and Washington D.C.

That’s it.

About half of the states in my native country and a few cities in one Canadian province.

My new app was kind enough to calculate what percentage of the world I’ve seen.

That figure? 0.8 percent.

I’m 37 years old. And I try to write stories that I hope might help someone live and love better.

And I’ve seen less than 1 percent of this world.

There’s More to Life Than What We Think We Know

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about saltwater fish and coral reefs, but until I went snorkeling off the coast of the Florida Keys, I couldn’t accurately describe their beauty.

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about New York and Washington D.C. throughout my childhood, but until I walked the streets of Manhattan or sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I couldn’t marvel at all the steel and concrete that makes up NYC, or feel what a grateful American feels looking out over my favorite visual piece of our nation’s capital.

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about California and the Pacific Ocean, but I was 28 before I stood on Mission Beach for the first time and felt the awesome power of the largest body of water on Earth, and could finally understand why so many people are willing to move so far away and spend so much money to live near it.

I am a better, different, wiser, more intelligent, more balanced, more complete human being for having experienced the few life-expanding places and moments I have.

And I’ve seen less than 1 percent of all there is to see.

How much better, different, wiser, more intelligent, more balanced, more complete might I be if I see more? How much more might you be?

Maybe we owe ourselves the opportunity to find out.

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206 thoughts on “New Things and Places Make You Grow and I’m Almost 1% of the Way There

  1. sambucaqueen says:

    Thanks Matt for making me smile. I love travelling and I won’t allow my current situation to prevent me from continuing to do so. If you ever want to visit Calgary or any other parts of the world, I’m sure your blog followers would be happy to host/hostess. The door is always open here. Happy travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      As kind of an offer is that is, I promise I won’t be attempting freeload and/or creep and/or infringe on the lives of people kind of enough to read this stuff and interact here.

      But I’m guilty of daydreaming about a life where maybe I am traveling more regularly, and perhaps attending events in cities where people could meet up if they wanted to.

      I have no idea what that would look like, or whether anyone would ever do it.

      Thank you for the nice note! Please have a great weekend.

      Like

      • anitvan says:

        I have met up with two “blog friends” IRL with no regrets. I mean, obviously I knew and trusted these ladies pretty well before we decided to meet up, and if I had had any safety concerns whatsoever I wouldn’t have done it. But everything was cool and we all had a blast and I made some lifelong friends in the process.

        If you ever get as far north as Toronto again (excuse me for a moment while I bwahahaha at the idea of Toronto being “north”!) but, yeah, if you find yourself this earth north, hit me up and I’ll show you where the kick-ass music can be found! We’re hiding it up here in Canada

        Liked by 1 person

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Ahhhh anitvan, you’re Canadian too! :D

        I’m also in Ontario. (Eastern Ontario, Capital area), but I grew up in Southern Ontario.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        I have some family down there and all over Ontario actually. We have an annual reunion that sometimes lands in the Toronto area. Last year it was near Milton.

        My brother also used to live a couple of blocks from the Eaton centre. Great times.

        I’m often in the Toronto area for sports as well. I was just in Whitby not so long ago.

        I’d be nice to meet maybe if you’re up to it. I always enjoy meeting new acquaintances. :)

        Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Yeah, there are more Canadians among the active commentors than I realized. Winnipeg (Central Canada) is home for me.

        Like

    • Emery says:

      I’ve met up with several people who started out as online acquaintances, then became online friends, and then grew into real-life friends. One of them became my boyfriend, another two are people I count as chosen siblings. It can work out :)

      Like

  2. zombiedrew2 says:

    Hmm, a handful of thoughts on this one.

    Instead of more, I think the bigger question is what is what is enough? I mean yes, the more you experience the more you have seen. And there is value in having experiences. But where, and how? I’m not sure how much it really matters.

    Growing up I didn’t see much. Since becoming an adult I’ve seen a reasonable amount of the world, and I would love to see more. I cherish the experiences and the memories, but ultimately I’m always happy to come home. Actually the most important thing about travel for me is it probably gives me greater appreciation for home, and helps avoid hedonic adaptation.

    I think it comes down to the word you used at the top – contentment. Enough = contentment. A belief that we haven’t done or seen enough = lack of contentment. And lets face it, we will never see everything, or do everything. There’s only so much time, money, and energy. So we need to come up with a decision of what is truly important to us, and live with that.

    You know, I think one of the leading factors of unhappiness and divorce today is that people actually want and expect too much. It kind of goes back to the paradox of choice that I talked about in your last post. In our parents generations, in some ways life was simpler. There were less choices for so many things and so many life choices. So while people may or may not have been happier, they had more reason to be content with what they had.

    Now, there are so many options for everything. And in our relationship, we want it all. One of the discussions recently talked about the “warrior poet”, where women want a guy who has all sorts of amazing qualities – and guys want something like that too. One commenter talked about the guy in the neighborhood that everyone wants, and sees as this perfect guy. If I remember right he could bake cookies, make furniture, talk sports and opera.

    Yeah, we want it all. And because of that, virtually everyone and everything now disappoints. Instead of being content with what we have, we see it’s flaws, and we see the things that are missing.

    In project management we have this concept of the “golden triangle” of projects. On one side you have scope (“what” something is), on another side you have time and on the other side you have required resources (in person hours and/or money). And in the middle you have quality.

    The basic idea is, everything we want to make or do is constrained by these three things, and you can’t adjust one lever without adjusting the others. You want something super amazing? Well, it’ll take a lot more time, and a lot more money. If you are willing to scale back your expectations a bit on the scope of what you want, you can have it sooner and with less effort.

    You talk about your parents having you at 21. They may have been less financially and emotionally ready than you were at 29. But there were tradeoffs. It’s great to find time to be a couple before being parents. Thing is, there’s no “right” time. We can’t pick and choose which side of the triangle we want to adjust and expect the others to remain fixed. Changing one thing affects others.

    There can always be more, but what is enough? We find that, and we find contentment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      The Golden Triangle of projects. That’s an excellent and apt visual aid, Drew. Thank you for that. Certainly, everyone who has lived a little has tasted the bitter reality of everything having some sort of tradeoff attached to it.

      I did NOT mean to talk about travel through the prism of living the high life, and doing things Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous-style.

      I was merely wanting to reinforce the concept of empathy and perspective gained when we physically immerse ourselves in other cultures or in the lives of other people around us, because it has a very powerful growth effect on us.

      Traveling for status is as bad as thinking being rich will make you happy.

      Traveling for wisdom, education and experience, I think, can only add to our feelings of contentment.

      At least, I hope so, because I’d like to find out.

      Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Agreed, but traveling is still outside the financial reach of many people – especially if they have a family. The guy you mentioned who took his kid to Japan? Geez, that’s something most people could only dream of doing.

        I think experiencing different cultures, wherever they are, is immensely valuable (and helps reduce the ethnocentrism that can set in when we isolate ourselves culturally).

        My home city is really culturally diverse, and my kids go to a school that is a crazy melting pot of cultures. I think it’s great. I compare that to my childhood, in a predominantly “white” school where out of hundreds of students there were only a handful that were from visible minorities.

        In my childhood those kids stood out, and often felt like outsiders. My kids on the other hand I think are color blind. They don’t even notice different skin tones because they are used to seeing all sorts of differences every day. It’s their norm, so they don’t question it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        I agree with both of you… I think for culture reasons and so on, it is a very valuable thing.

        What I don’t understand is the need to “go down south” to a resort once or twice a year costing shitloads of money for essentially the same experience you get at home with the only difference of warmer weather.

        I once did a trip down south before my kids were born with only a pack sack and the first night booked. The rest of the two weeks were “unknown”. We followed our noses. Met a great bunch of people and lived like the locals.

        That was a far better experience than the resort type travel.

        Like

    • kirstencronlund says:

      Hey Zombiedrew2, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I also love that book, The Paradox of Choice, and I’ve reflected many times during my dating experiences on the wisdom in that book. The author, Schwartz, says that when doing anything, including choosing a partner, it’s best to satisfice – that is, decide on the handful of items that are deal-breakers and then stop looking once you’ve found someone who meets those criteria. I think online dating perpetuates an attitude that there’s always something better out there, which can be so destructive. That also erodes what you’re talking about, Matt, when you talk about contentment. I love to travel, and I’ve had the good fortune to go to many amazing places in this world, and I totally agree that getting out and broadening perspective by seeing new cultures, experiencing new geography, and meeting new people can lead to an increase in empathy. The idea of exploring the world doesn’t necessarily lead to a decrease in contentment, as long as you have the right appreciation in your heart for the things that matter and are willing to let go of the rest.

      Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love also wrote a follow-up book to that bestseller – one which didn’t get nearly the same attention as her first book. The second book was an exploration of the institution of marriage, since she and her lover (from the end of Eat, Pray, Love) who had no intention of ever getting married, found that they were forced to marry if they were going to live on the same continent. Here is an excerpt from her book, Committed, that is a favorite of mine and which I think relates to this topic:

      “But maybe it would be useful for me to at least acknowledge to myself now, on the eve of my second marriage, that I, too, ask for an awful lot. Of course I do. It’s the emblem of our times. I have been allowed to expect great things in life. I have been permitted to expect far more out of the experience of love and living than most other women in history were ever permitted to ask. When it comes to questions of intimacy, I want many things from my man, and I want them all simultaneously. It reminds me of a story my sister once told me, about an Englishwoman who visited the United States in the winter of 1919 and who, scandalized, reported back home in a letter that there were people in this curious country of America who actually lived with the expectation that every part of their bodies should be warm at the same time! My afternoon spent discussing marriage with the Hmong made me wonder if I, in matters of the heart, had also become such a person—a woman who believed that my lover should magically be able to keep every part of my emotional being warm at the same time. We Americans often say that marriage is “hard work.” I’m not sure the Hmong would understand this notion. Life is hard work, of course, and work is very hard work—I’m quite certain they would agree with those statements—but how does marriage become hard work? Here’s how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work. A recent survey of young American women found that what women are seeking these days in a husband—more than anything else—is a man who will “inspire” them, which is, by any measure, a tall order. As a point of comparison, young women of the same age, surveyed back in the 1920s, were more likely to choose a partner based on qualities such as “decency,” or “honesty,” or his ability to provide for a family. But that’s not enough anymore. Now we want to be inspired by our spouses! Daily! Step to it, honey!
      Gilbert, Elizabeth (2009
      -12-17). Committed: A Love Story (pp. 49-50). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Interesting comment. It’s complicated but there is no question what we look for in a spouse has changed.

        I guess I might see it a little more positively than Elizabeth Gilbert because we now look for a “mind mate” rather than a co-parent. And of course women have the ability to do that now.

        One difference is a great sorting based on education and income and political views. It used to be that people married people more different than them.

        Here’s an article based on a study comparing spouse qualities by decade.

        “The 1939 respondents cared very little about their partner’s political affiliation, education level, or financial status. More important was the quality of the person’s character, whether they were dependable, neat, and well-suited for starting a family.

        By 2008, those preferences were more or less turned on their head. People said they cared less about whether someone was a kind and reliable person and more about whether they matched their spouse’s education level, political bent, and intelligence.

        That kind of change squares well with all the data that finds younger generations are working longer hours than their parents and are more often sharing household duties in marriage.”

        Romance is becoming less about how people act, and more about how they think.”

        http://www.techinsider.io/charts-show-what-men-and-women-want-2015-11

        There’s a cool chart on the link comparing the differences by decade.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Kirsten,

        You said: “The author, Schwartz, says that when doing anything, including choosing a partner, it’s best to satisfice – that is, decide on the handful of items that are deal-breakers and then stop looking once you’ve found someone who meets those criteria. I think online dating perpetuates an attitude that there’s always something better out there, which can be so destructive.”

        I agree with this. The tricky thing is to figure out the right deal-breakers. I did a pretty good job but I didn’t know what I didn’t know about choosing a man who accepts influence. Or at least choosing one who is willing to learn.

        And my husband has a few deal breakers he would add for me :)

        We would still choose each other but get help before we got married to work out the accepting influence/boundary things.

        Like

      • marilyn sims says:

        Kirstencronlund:

        Hello, and thank you for bringing this lovely book to the attention of all our readers — it is one of my favorites on the subject of marriage. I think it is full of “wit and wisdom”.

        I notice that the title you gave is different from my edition. Mine says, “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage”. That’s the part ( Skeptic…”) that persuaded me to buy the book. The fly-leaf says, in part, “…the book attempts to ‘turn on all the lights’ when it comes to matrimony, frankly examining questions of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, family, tradition, social expectations, divorce risks and humbling responsibilities…”

        I hope you will return here. I have more to quote, so much more that I need time to decide what would be most helpful to the on-going discussion.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa quoted: “Romance is becoming less about how people act, and more about how they think.”…
        Im not sure what to think about this. On the one hand- yes, it would seem as though though the slow thinking brain were doing its work. But how much of that really is just fast thinking for different attributes? System 2, the slow thinking brain that takes energy and effort to learn new information or figure out a problem and then informs the fast thinking brain so that you can quick estimations and judgments.
        This makes it easy for the brain, sure- and there is no use in complaining as that is just simply “how it is”- But dammit! I have gotten the short end of the stick on several occasions because of assumptions made that were not true.
        Even if they are positive assumptions- When I first became a licensed nurse I absolutely needed help and instruction- I was a brand new nurse! But my boss assumed I had a whole lot more experience than I did (even though he should have known that I didnt!) , and when I told him that he really looked down on me. Sorry, guy! Dont feel like hurting someone ’cause I was trying to look good! That’s just not my style!
        That’s just an example. My point is that kind of like Travis’ example of the nerdy chess player, he likely wont get a chance with the prom queen because her fast thinking brain isnt interested, and her slow thinking brain just doesnt know.
        So, I guess what my point is, is I wish people would take time get to know other people via their slow thinking brain, even when they already think they know “what kind” of person this is. If there is anything else on the planet worth the time, energy and effort in knowing, it is the value in other people around them.
        …I think maybe that is one thing I will need to continually remind myself as I deal with “my clients”. I have to ask, “Who is this person? what have they experienced? what will really help them right now?”
        I know this was supposed to be about romantic partners, but I kind of high-jacked it….:)
        If people are more interested in how their romantic partners think, is it because they want true compatibility, or is it because they associate “smart” with “wealthy”- or some other social status?
        I always thought it was kind of romantic when people from different sides of the tracks fell in love.

        Like

      • Lynda says:

        I think I agree with Matt…I want someone who will step up and be my partner in all areas of our lives. Is willing to really listen to what I have to say and be willing to accept my flaws as being a part of who I am. Will not judge, belittle or criticize my choices just because they aren’t his choices. Im ready to give the same to someone else. I’m going on 3 years of being separated. Custody battle is finally over just two weeks ago and all legal papers have been signed. It’s time to move forward and chose love, however, i find that search is not through the rosy red glasses of youth, but from the slightly cynical viewpoint of a 42 year old almost divorced woman with 2 kids whose husband had a long term affair with a coworker and friend which took place repeatedly in my home …it won’t an easy journey. However, Matt I feel much more prepared for what’s to come as a result of reading all you blogs. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Drew,

      “You know, I think one of the leading factors of unhappiness and divorce today is that people actually want and expect too much. It kind of goes back to the paradox of choice that I talked about in your last post. In our parents generations, in some ways life was simpler….

      Now, there are so many options for everything. And in our relationship, we want it all. One of the discussions recently talked about the “warrior poet”, where women want a guy who has all sorts of amazing qualities – and guys want something like that too. …

      Yeah, we want it all. And because of that, virtually everyone and everything now disappoints. Instead of being content with what we have, we see it’s flaws, and we see the things that are missing.”

      I love the golden triangle. So true! Life is full of compromises and trade offs and deal breakers. We have to figure out what we is most important to us and deal with the what comes with that as a package deal.

      I’ve talked before about Dan Wile’s similar concept in marriage. When we choose a spouse, we choose a particular set of problems.

      If I marry Joe I love that he’s family oriented but we fight over his enmeshmebt with his family. If I marry Tom I love that he has a balanced relationship with his family but we fight over his working all the time. Even after choosing carefully everyone comes packaged with things we love and don’t like that make life less than perfect.

      But I don’t agree that most people expect some unrealistic combination of warrior poet or a sex kitten who loves taking care of everything domestic.

      People may fantasize about that or joke about the neighborhood guy like we fantasize about quiting our job and living on an sunny island.

      But I think most of us just want to enjoy our job a reasonable amount of time or have a “good enough” spouse that we can go through life’s ups and downs with.

      I know I wasn’t expecting a warrior poet or an unrealistically perfect husband. I dated with deal breakers thoughtfully chosen.

      I wanted an egalitarian marriage where we shared grunt work and career and parenting. That was a deal breaker that eliminated a lot of men.

      I wanted a man who enjoys abstract ideas and debates and loves that I love that. That eliminated a lot of men.

      I wanted a man with good character who wanted to get married and have children. Who would be good to me and my children. That eliminated a lot of men.

      I didn’t want a man with anger issues or one who didn’t have a strong work ethic or who was too dependent on mommy That eliminated a lot of men.

      Reasonable deal breakers. And as in game theory, you have to find one you like who likes you back. So that eliminated a lot of men.

      But I found one! Good guy who had all my deal breakers and liked me back because I had all his deal breakers. Of course he’s a package deal so there were things I didn’t like.

      He’s an only child. No offense only children like Matt and Travis but my Dad was an only child and it was not my first choice for several reasons.

      But not a dealbreaker. And his mother is not going to ever best my best friend but she means well in her own way and you can’t pick your parents so not a deal breaker. And there were others. And he had his list for me too.

      I say all this to underscore that I was very conscious in my choices and realistic in knowing I was not marrying an absolutely perfect match who would fulfill my wildest dreams to live happily ever after.

      But we don’t know what we don’t know. Partly because we haven’t mind traveled enough into understanding good relationships skills. We each focused on not recreating our childhood families dysfunctions instead of truly unstanding what a good marriage looks like and what skills We were lacking to achieve that.

      And we received poor premarital counseling and early marriage counseling when we did seek it. And terrible marriage counseling later when we really needed it.

      As rural Bethany said in another post, we looked for partners who didn’t have our parents flaws but underestimated our parents strengths. I also think if you don’t grow up in a healthy family modeling good marriages you don’t know what is normal and what is dysfunctional except the obvious stuff.

      My dad had a volatile temper but he knew how to apologize for his mistakes. It never occurred to my husband would not know how to apologize for his mistakes. Even big ones.

      My dad was happy to spend time with me and hear my intense opinions. It never occurred to me that my husband, a man who loves a good debate, would not know how to handle my intense opinions about a lot of things but most especially his mistakes.

      My dad did a lot of work around the house even if it was gender divided. It never occurred to me that my husband who agreed with me that we should have an egalitarian marriage somehow just didn’t clean bathrooms.

      And of course he could write a similar list about me.

      I don’t think most people expect perfection, they just end up with less than a reasonable deal because they both lack good relationship skills to understand how to compromise non defensively or set boundaries when your spouse won’t do that.

      Accepting influence and good boundaries. We often don’t even know that we lack them until years of misery later we either figure it out and fix it or divorce.

      But that’s just my simple flow charty way of thinking about it. What do you think? Or anyone else out there?

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa,
        Would you say it is worth it?
        I can think romantically/touchy feely about it and say “yes”, I theoretically think about it and can say “it helps mature and grow you”, but realistically- o- my God?!! Is it worth it?
        If there are more than 2 people in a room there will be difficulty.
        …I don’t expect a perfect husband; I want a good relationship. Not that I really have to worry about that, but I still have hope. I tend to believe that the really good relationships, or at least the sweet spot in relationships, comes 20 years in. I know that isn’t always the case. (Too often it isn’t the case,) but I’ve seen several great examples of couples who HAVE made it- and that is what I want. Sometimes I worry that the older I get, the less chance I will have to experience that “ripened” relationship. I also worry that even though I am becoming more
        And more aware of the reality of it, I don’t know if any amount of information will side step the issues that will undoubtedly crop up. I’ll actually have to practice the kinds of relationship skills you refer to , and even though I am aware of them- I don’t think it will be any easier.
        Back to the original question- is it worth it?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        Is it worth it?

        Well yes. I love my husband. We are a good match in many ways. There is nothing about either of us that can not be corrected so that we have a good marriage.

        But because it took us so long to figure out what was happening there were a lot of wounds that we are addressing now.

        My ONLY regret is that we didn’t receive counseling good premaritally or early in our relationship to address our issues.

        Or that we couldn’t find a way to work together to help each other figure it out.

        Or even better that I couldn’t find good help when I was single even though I sought it.

        But we are doing it now. It’s a painful frustrating process. But so much has to do with maturing individually.

        So my unsolicited advice to you is to heal as many of your childhood wounds as you can while you’re single. Find ways to learn healthy boundaries. You’re already smart to read lots of information like this blog.

        And when you do find a good guy. Think carefully about your deal breakers. Accepting influence or being willing to learn should be number 1. If your husband does that, and you know how to set boundaries the research says you have good odds of being happy.

        But I would definitely recommend intensive premarital counseling to go over expectations and relationship skills.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          Thank you- that is really good unsolicited advice :).
          I’m thinking about your comment about healing childhood wounds.
          At one point,about 14-15 years ago I had a literal come to Jesus meeting. That was such a major turning point in my life that I thought all my childhood stuff went a way. But for the last 5-7 years I’ve been in situations that just made it so obvious that -nope, not healed yet. As painful as that process has been, I feel like I am such a stronger and healthier person. I am healing, I may have other things come up- but I feel like a huge chunk of my issues I am least aware of and know what I can do when they crop up. It’s all work…
          Actually, even though I am guilty of saying it I wish we could reframe “Marriage takes work” into “Marriage takes intentionality”.
          Work brings up pictures of being chained to that steam engine, perpetually shoveling coal into it.
          Intentionality still takes effort, but the effort is more purposeful to lead you were you want to go. There are no train tracks with intentionality.
          Intentionality are things like-
          I will intentionally love my spouse,
          I will intentionally seek to understand the relationship dynamics, I will intentionally learn what works in those dynamics…. Those kinds of things.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        I just lost a long comment so instead of rewriting it I’ll just throw in a Churchill quote

        “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

        I believe that with almost any kind of relationship -marriage, parent, child, sibling, friend etc wounded relationships can be healed.

        I believe that not because I am a romantic or an optimist. I believe it because I am a realist comforted by good research. This is what good research says. And if other people can do it we can too.

        All you need is willingness, the right tools and hard work to do what is necessary.

        Figuring out what is necessary and not giving up until it is done. That is all you need when both people are willing.

        That is why, like my favorite Bible story about the centurion, I KNOW my marriage will be healthy even though I have not yet seen the reality.

        Because it you both know what is necessary and do that and keep doing it until it is done the outcome is inevitable.

        That’s why I quote Churchill to myself when I temporarily forget. ;)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa said,

        “He’s an only child. No offense only children like Matt and Travis but my Dad was an only child and it was not my first choice for several reasons.”

        First time I’ve ever heard that being an only child, a condition such individuals cannot control or affect, can be seen as a turn-off and relationship deal-breaker. (*sniffle*) Are we really that bad? Are we bad at all?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          Empathy, cooperation and selflessness come less naturally to only children. We are simply not forced to adopt certain social skills to the degree people with siblings are.

          Gone unchecked, things like divorce happen more.

          Because of changing demographics and cultural family dynamics, only children are becoming much more common than in previous generations.

          The need for young people to be taught relationship skills will be even more important.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        I can’t say that you’re wrong about any of that, Matt, but the logic of it be damned, I still take some offense at it. Like we’re somehow less capable, or worthy, of love. Like we’re somehow less developed human beings.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Everything in life has tradeoffs, sir. For every “shortcoming” an only child has, she or he also has strengths not shared by people with brothers and sisters.

          I can fend for myself VERY well socially in a room full of strangers. It’s a really positive thing to be able to do. I can’t be sure how much my only childness is a factor. But I suspect it contributes.

          Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey Lisa,

        I could be wrong, but I don’t think most people put as much thought behind choosing a partner as you did. If you don’t mind my asking, how old were you when you met your husband? I met my wife at 23, and I guarantee my thought process was a lot less involved.

        Mine was more like – hmm, she’s pretty hot. She’s enjoyable to talk to, she’s fun and she makes me laugh. She’s intelligent and has a pretty good education. I enjoy spending time with her. Her family are pretty great. Oh yeah, and she isn’t running away screaming as she learns more about me. Yup, I’m in.

        It wasn’t until much later that I started really thinking about things, and seeing where maybe there were some differences between us that could/would cause issues.

        And at 23, I think I figured we really care about each other. I called it love, and it definitely became love, but I don’t think I really knew/understood what love was then (side note, I don’t think you can truly love until you’ve really been through some stuff together, and seen the depths of another person good and bad, and are still able to choose them). I had no ideas of what boundaries are, and I figured love would conquer all.

        Basically I was stupid and naive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I think it’s pretty cool to grow and learn these things together with someone.

        Earlier Matt said:

        “Certainly, everyone who has lived a little has tasted the bitter reality of everything having some sort of tradeoff attached to it.”

        When it comes to relationships, I think we do understand that at first. We tell ourselves that we accept our partner for the good and the bad, and that tradeoff is alright with us.

        But I think that logic breaks down completely when our relationships are in a bad spot. Gottman talks about how we will rewrite our past, imagining it in a much worse light – perhaps as a way to rationalize the unhappiness in the relationship.

        Well, while we are doing this I think we forget the good with our partner, and we think that at some level we will be able to find someone else who doesn’t have the same flaws – I guess is “better” when it comes to the things we are unhappy about. Fair enough, but the part I think breaks down is we also expect that other new person to have all the good sides of our partner as well, and we don’t expect them to have flaws.

        I’ve talked to a number of people who have had affairs, to try and wrap my head around what the heck they are thinking at the time. And they ARE thinking, but what they are thinking about it usually REALLY broken, and completely illogical. But they are caught up in a strange emotional state that is not rational at all.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Allow me to be a little more clear, since I’m conveying emotion without clear context. Relationship deal-breakers tend to involve character defects (criminal, serial cheater, gambler, liar, abusive, etc.) or repellant/disgusting habits (smoking, poor personal hygiene). Since being an only child is not a chosen habit, but a condition bestowed upon someone without their choice or ability to otherwise affect. Therefore, to imply that an only child is somehow less worthy of, or appealing for, marriage is to say that the only child suffers from an innate character defect. I find that to be as illogical, biased and degrading as to say black people, or handicapped people, or people who don’t make more than X dollars a year are not optimal candidates for marriage. Now, allow me a moment to clarify I’m not angry at Lisa for being open and honest (she’s earned my presumption of positive intent in spades), so I’m not in a “bad place” or in need of placating. I just think what she said is an unfair and even cruel qualifier.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Travis,
          I felt the same way when Matt ranked people who were abused right up there with “violent criminals” as people who were not good candidates for marriage.
          Honestly, I do see the point he was trying to make. It could make things just a little bit harder. But, what I am thinking is that being aware of the issues ones “status” (whether by choice or not) could bring helps to bring them out in the open. Once things are ok to talk about they can be navigated a lot more smoothly.
          So, for me issues of the past aren’t deal breakers- its more like “and then what?” what did you do with, how have you handled the circumstances that were given to you.

          Like

        • Matt says:

          I’m 5’9″, Travis. MANY women aren’t interested in me because of that. As if three inches will somehow change the whole game in the context of our theoretical dating experience.

          This fact used to bother me.

          Then I got wiser and it dawned on me people can’t help what they want and find attractive, anymore than I can control my height or skin color.

          I have traits consistent with only children. Some good. Some bad.

          I’m 5’9″. It matters to some people. Others (often those in the 5’0-5’6″ range) don’t seem to care.

          In either event, really getting a handle on my boundaries and values has eliminated almost all of those insecurities.

          I don’t need anyone’s permission to be me. And there is NOTHING appealing to me (relationship-wise) about someone who doesn’t like me back. So, I just don’t care. And it’s awesome.

          People have all kinds of random biases, discriminatory beliefs and intentional or subconscious attraction triggers.

          I’m perfectly satisfied with devoting my time and attention to people who don’t display those in ways which violate my values for myself or about how I believe people should be treated.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Matt and Travis,

        Oh shit I didn’t mean to insult you guys but I reread it and can see how it came off that way. My apologies. I am such a thoughtless middle child ;)

        This is based on my personal experience with my dad. Being an only child has pros and cons. Matt said you have younger siblings that changes things some of the things I was concerned about in marrying an only child.

        One of the reasons I didn’t want that even though it was not a deal breaker is that it puts so much pressure on you as the ONLY child.

        And that is indeed what has happened. If we don’t spend Christmas with my inlaws there are no other kids to be there. My grandmother went on every vacation we ever had. I didn’t want that pressure.

        It just increases the need for good boundaries which I didn’t know how to do with a controlling passive agressive mother in law who mostly means well. Fun!

        It did give me more sympathy for my own mother who dealt with a similar problem. But because if that I knew what it was going to look like.

        But I loved my husband and I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. Most especially because he has risen to the challenge to change how he deals with his parents. And he backs me up every time there is a choice. So proud of him for changing his patterns and learning new skills! It’s one of the reasons we are still married.

        But every kid position has pros and cons. I am a middle child. My older sister STILL tries to tell me what to do and I still tell her she cares too much about position and titles as a first born.

        The research on birth position is weak but I think there is truth to family patterns that we carry on our brain. Patterns that live in our fast thinking brain and affect our adult relationships.

        The middle child feeling ignored is part of my anxious attachment style I am trying to change.

        So only children might have their own version of that. Matt mentioned not having to do a lot of chores and mostly just being responsible for his academic stuff.

        That is how my only child husband was raised and I think it is a big factor is the whole just not cleaning bathroom thing for him. It was not a pattern he grew up so his fast thinking brain thinks it’s not his job.

        Because it’s not something fun, he didn’t engage his slow thinking brain enough to change. And he didn’t understand about accepting influence because of stuff too.

        The other only child thing my Dad had was to not have many thousands of experiences with siblings not agreeing or fighting because they want different things. I know my Dad used to think it meant something if we couldn’t agree on what kind of pie to order.

        It used to tell him just means that we have different preferences and perspectives. His fast thinking brain didn’t have the thousands of experiences to make that the default.

        It is easy for my husband to not accept influence because he didn’t have thousands and thousands of childhood experiences with his siblings being forced to. He had other experienced like sports teams or friends or roommates but the sheer quantity is less.

        But he had more experience than I did of being able to just do what he wanted, his first choice not having to be compromised and accepted.

        And I as a woman with two siblings just thoughts everyone accepted influence and compromised. Even if there were fights along the way.

        Because my dad the only child and a man did even if it took a while because he would get hung up on that everyone should just agree piece. I didn’t think there was a gender difference because I hadn’t experienced it yet in a family dynamic.

        Lots of sexism and privilege in my childhood environment. Yeah but my dad was actually pretty good at accepting my influence in particular because we could logic and reason in a flow chart way together.

        If I could convince him of something he would change. (See why I dysfunctionallly try and change people’s thinking? That’s my fast thinking childhood patterns at work)

        So that’s the pattern I brought into my marriage when my husband didn’t accept my influence or just automatically did what he wanted instead of considering me first.

        Didn’t work with him. It made him feel controlled (which he is hypersensitive too because of his mom). It made him feel like I didn’t accept his positions or love him unconditionally.

        And he made me feel all kinds of negative things including confused. This is what works with people when they don’t do the “right” thing.

        It had worked for me so many times before with my dad and at work and so many other relationships I had previously. (But I self selected those which explains why it worked)

        I explain my logic and flowchart reasons. They explain theirs and we work together to figure something out. An apology is given if necessary. If they don’t agree with me I keep figuring out ways to explain it that are more fact based or difficult to dispute. They do the same. Eventually whoever has the best facts wins.

        But this didn’t work with my husband so all I could conclude is that he didn’t care (middle child anxious pattern) or that he was an asshole (my own flowchart black and white thinking).

        And I didn’t know how to set boundaries in a way that didn’t communicate he was an asshole and then made him withdraw in his only child pattern.

        So that’s why we struggled and ended up eventually where we are.

        I think the birth order thing is just a little blip in the big picture. I know I say it so so much but it helps me focus on not getting distracted in my flowchart way.

        He didn’t understand about accepting influence from me even when it doesn’t make sense to him or I am acting in a way that makes it hard for him.

        I didn’t understand how to set healthy boundaries is response to that in a way that didn’t make him the enemy.

        And that combination is why people don’t have happy marriages or divorce.

        Absolutely none of this is fatal, it can all be changed. We just have to have the courage to continue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        “I’m not angry at Lisa for being open and honest (she’s earned my presumption of positive intent in spades), so I’m not in a “bad place” or in need of placating. I just think what she said is an unfair and even cruel qualifier.”

        You write this before I posted my overly long comment explaining my only child experiences.

        But I think it comes down to a definition of deal breakers and preferences.

        Dealbreakers are whatever rational or irrational things that you know are critical for you to have in relationship.

        I mentioned one of mine was to have a man who loves abstract ideas and theories and debates.

        That eliminates a lot of wonderful men that have great qualities. We could not be married because even though I have come to appreciate your many great qualities and always find you comments interesting, you would hate my theories.

        And that would be a soul crushing spirit breaking thing to me. Because I love that shit!

        It makes my soul sing!

        If we had an arranged marriage I am sure we could figure out a mutually respectful and funny marriage.

        But I wanted a man would would love theories! It was my deal breaker for a reason.
        And it was hard to find because it is less common to love abstract theories.

        I had a friend who had a deal breaker I thought was unfair. He would only date women whose parents never divorced.

        That just seemed cruel to me. Still does to be honest. But I understand it now in a way I didn’t then.

        His reasoning was to pick women who have the best chance of having a happy marriage. And being a child of divorce adds extra challenges. Why add extra challenges? Was his reasoning.

        I still don’t like it but I understand it. It was not my dealbreaker or even on my list at all.

        I had another friend in an interracial marriage. It was not a deal breaker for her kind of like my only child thing. They were friends at first and fell in love. But she knew that her families attitudes (on both sides) would make marriage harder.

        But it was not a dealbreaker for them and their families adjusted in various ways. It did make things much much harder so you need to be realistic with eyes wife open.

        Deal breakers in my definition can be any thing. They are just what is realistically important to you.

        Donkey mentioned she didn’t want to marry a man with kids.

        It could be someone who loves to travel because that is so important to you that you know you want that. Don’t marry someone who never wants to travel.

        Or someone who wants a big family with 8 kids. Don’t marry someone who doesn’t want kids at all.

        For me I would have stayed single the rest of my life rather than marry a man who had traditional views of gender roles. Who believed that they were the man and I had to unilaterally submit because I am female.

        That was a deal breaker to me even though I know people who are happy in a marriage like that.

        I had a friend who was only attracted to Asian women although he is not Asian. That was a deal breaker to him and he did indeed marry an Asian woman.

        Just be honest with what you really really want and need at the top of the flow chart. That’s a deal breaker. Things lower down the flowchart (like the only child thing for me) can be compromised on.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Drew,

        “I could be wrong, but I don’t think most people put as much thought behind choosing a partner as you did. If you don’t mind my asking, how old were you when you met your husband? I met my wife at 23, and I guarantee my thought process was a lot less involved.”

        You calling me old man?

        Just kidding. I do think age can be a factor. The divorce rates are much lower for people who marry in their late 20’s rather than at 20.

        But age can’t be that big a deal because it used to be common for people to get married at 18 after high school. My mother was 20.

        But I don’t think it matters in the way I am thinking about. Maybe my way of framing it made my bigger point get lost and confused. And I defintely got Travis all offended with my thoughtless only child aside.

        I agree that people sometimes aren’t thoughtful in understanding what their real criteria should be for a spouse.

        Either they don’t miss crucial ones to insist on (my case with the accepting influence) or they base it on not understanding what they really want in their soul.

        But I agree with Schnarch that we learn use marriage to mature ourselves. Hopefully both people are willing to do that and then you can have a happy marriage despite whatever perpetual differences you have.

        The problem is when you are not willing to do that or your spouse isn’t.

        We seem to disagree on whether people have unrealistic expectations for their spouse once they are married.

        At least for women I think it is not being willing to just adapt to his poor treatment. THAT is the problem not that she has unrealistic expectations.

        She has realistic disappointments to the shit he is serving her.

        And part of her dysfunctional adaptation maybe to wistfully read romance novels. But that is avoidance of what must be done.

        Not put up with the shit and just be grateful for the bread the shit sandwich is served on.

        Of course the genders can be reversed and the man can dysfunctionallly adapt to his wife’s shit. But it’s more common for women to eat more shit than men.

        I agree with your points on being grateful and realistic but I think for do many people those are the things they are told that keep them eating shit.

        It is not unrealistic to expect your spouse to treat you well. And that is what I think most of us want. Not a fantasy but not shit either.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Matt

        “People have all kinds of random biases, discriminatory beliefs and intentional or subconscious attraction triggers.

        I’m perfectly satisfied with devoting my time and attention to people who don’t display those in ways which violate my values for myself or about how I believe people should be treated.”

        I agree with this. It goes back to the last post. Being confident and happy with who I am but also being open to listen to people tell me I need to change.

        There are thing about us we can’t change. Height, body type, what family we were born into and whatever issues they had. Only child, middle child, youngest of 12. Whether our parents had a happy marriage or got divorced 5 times.

        Not within our control. But is in our control to recognize the pros and cons for each card we’ve been dealt and change accordingly.

        If I am an only child I might have to focus more on accepting influence. But I also might be more comfortable doing things independently which a middle child might have to work on. Pros and cons.

        All that matters is that we understand what we need to work on and appreciate the good things we bring to the table.

        In relationships I think it is quite helpful to sort out things so that you have a better chance of less confict in areas of things that are greatly important.

        All the people with traditional gender roles should self sort and marry each other Yes!

        I said that to a commenter here who was advising men to look for nurturing women who wanted to stay home. I agreed with his point about sorting although not his point about modern women.

        Self sort for whatever rational or irrational reasons you put on the first 3 positions in your list. Marry someone who does the same. It will eliminate a LOT of divorces.

        Even if you do that there will still be 69% of your problems that are perpetual. Because we are package deals.

        But at least you won’t we arguing about something so fundamental to your personality or needs that it feels like a death to compromise on it.

        It was not a deal breaker to me that my husband was an only child but it does have definte things that are a problem for me (although there are some advantages too) Maybe not for someone else but for me. Not a deal breaker problem but real nonetheless.

        My daughter used to cry because she didn’t have very many cousins like her friends did for example.

        But my husband has similar things for me.

        Because I was not 21 when we got married, we didn’t have the luxury of waiting many years before we had kids like his best friend did who married a woman much younger than he was.

        I can’t control my age but it was not a deal breaker for my husband even though he would have liked more time available just like I would have liked him to have siblings.

        But you pick a person packaged with lots of different things. Those are when it is appropriate to apply all that stuff Drew is taking about like being grateful for the good stuff. Not overly focusing on the smaller stuff.

        And you can do that if you sorted to pick someone who doesn’t have one if the big deal breakers.

        My problem was accepting influence should have been my number 1 deal breaker( for all women!) But I didn’t know that so it wasn’t.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        I have some pretty strong feelings about the only child thing.

        First of all, I grew up with a sibling pretty close to me in age.

        I get the pressure from family stuff that Lisa talks about.

        But I hear so much about only children this or only children that (I’m also talking in general here), and it can’t all be true. I’ve heard “only children are spoilt” over and over, and I think it’s kind of just become something many people believe is true because they’ve heard it so many times.

        I saw some research once, and it seems that only children are pretty much like everyone else, except maybe a bit more independent.

        Matt says he thinks being an only child contributed to him being great in social situations with a lot of strangers.

        Dr. Psych Mom thinks being an only child contributed to her being socially anxious.

        A friend of mine was in a relationship with a male only child, and she complained about some stuff, unintentional rudeness kind of, and she thought it was because he’s an only. But she also admitted that he was the one who did most of the housework (she did it too, but he did more)

        One of my friends is an only child, and she thinks she’s a bit shy and doesn’t understand some social codes because she was an only. I think she’s fab. :) I don’t think I’ve ever felt that she had problems accepting influence in our friendship, if anything, I’ve probably been the pushier one. And I remember stayng at her house once, and I was really impressed with the manners she showed her mother.

        I just think that there are some attributional errors going on. Does being an only child lead to being socially comfortable or anxious? Rude or polite? Not able to accept influence or able to accept influence? I’ve seen all of these being ttributed somewhat to being an only, and it all can’t add up. There must be other reasons.

        I hear so many parents say they want two kids because they don’t want their kids to be lonely. But I also hear so many stories about siblings not getting a long. When they’re kids, sometimes one of them bullies the other. It can really cause trauma. When they’re older, maybe they just don’t have much in common or get along very well. And I hear so many stories about people falling out with their siblings, over inheritance, or because one (usually a female I’m sorry to say) gets saddled with the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents. Sometimes people get along fine or very well and that’s great. But that’s not always how it goes.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          I think you’re right that we may attribute many things to birth order/ status that may or may not apply. Lisa mentioned the research was a little fuzzy. (Which can’t be a very comforting thought…:)
          It could definitely be a part of the nurture side of things that can contribute a part to making the personality- but there is so much more. There are genes, there is the extended families, the personality of the parents- ect.ect. That’s why you can have 2 “only’s” and one be gregarious and the other be a wallflower.
          I think only child status can have influence, but it’s not the deciding factor.
          And I really like what Matt said- that being comfortable with whoever you are- and giving time and attention to those who want to give time and attention to you is likely the healthiest way to go. I can’t care if someone doesn’t like me, that takes up way too much time and energy.

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          And here’s the thing that may answer Lisa’s question about “how much do we change” from yesterday.
          I believe the personality has the ability to grow throughout your life. I can’t stand up and claim core parts change, but I think even that could be possible in certain circumstances. People in concentration camps for instance, I wonder if prolonged or protracted experiences outside their control can effect their core personality.
          I’m bringing this up, because yesterday I was thinking about the “oneness” of marriage, and about how humans are extremely adaptable if we let ourselves be. Maybe the growing together and becoming one is accepting the influence of the other person, and changing ever so slightly as they accommodate another’s point of view.
          Do our emotional responses change? Does our automatic viewpoint change? Does our personality change as we grow into and with our spouses?…is that how “two become one?”…

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        You said: “I have some pretty strong feelings about the only child thing.

        First of all, I grew up with a sibling pretty close to me in age.

        I get the pressure from family stuff that Lisa talks about.

        But I hear so much about only children this or only children that (I’m also talking in general here), and it can’t all be true. I’ve heard “only children are spoilt” over and over, and I think it’s kind of just become something many people believe is true because they’ve heard it so many times.”

        I agree. It’s the same as trying to talk about men and like this women are like that. Some general patterns for big populations but more differences within groups than between groups.

        China’s one child policy provides some interesting data. And because of the culture, more male only children than female.

        As you know they just lifted the almost 40 year one child policy a few months ago.

        But this is happening in a lot of countries as the fertility rates decline because more women chose to have one child.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        …I didn’t mean to undermine all the other wise stuff being said here.

        Like Linbo says, the past is one thing, what are you doing about it now? I think I could deal with a lot of ugly things from the past if I felt the person had owned the behavior and learnt how to deal with it.

        Like Lisa says, sort by the 3 most important things for you, rational or irrational.
        But it would be better if you sorted after something that truly matters to your wellbeing.

        If people are mature enough to know what to sort after, that’s awesome.

        But has been said many times here, we don’t know everything. We don’t know that some people can’t accept influence or apologize, so we didn’t know to screen for that.

        So we must do our best to own our shit, accept influence and have boundaries (don’t adapt to shit sandwiches). Like Lisa says, that’s one of the things that’s great about Schnarch, he has a kind of hopeful view for marriages, even if they didn’t start out on a great foundation.

        Sometimes we think we’ve done a good job sorting but we haven’t. That’s one of my pet peeves, many (not all!!!) men think of themselves as egalitarian and present themselves as egalitarian. But then they don’t take responsibilites for their fair share of the housework, and it’s like pulling teeth for the woman to get him to do his part. Even if they talked about it before tying the knot.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Yes, to clarify, I don’t follow research on only children closely, so there may well be much data there that I’m not aware of. :) Maybe birth order and siblings vs not siblings is a factort, but only one of many. And it can probably react with all the other factors in different ways depending on…a bunch of stuff

        And I love the expression, how does it go, that while people are making plans God is laughing?

        I heard about someone (Teal Swan) who had wanted to be a stay at home mom while her (then) hubby worked. And she found out she hated it. :p

        People do change. Maybe flexibility should be something we screen for. ;)

        An maybe you want kids, one or two or many, but your wife or husband or the combination of you two have fertility problems. Are you going to dump them then?! I think many people would actually do that, but personally I find that quite appalling.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          I would find that appalling,too. It goes back to being content, and accepting the set of problems you have, insteading of trading them out for a new set of problems.
          The more I think about that, the more counter-productive it seems. Your unhappy, and you can’t figure out how to change that so you get rid of what you think the problem is (that other person -:P) only to start of from ground zero again.
          If there are two willing parties, then it would seem like a worth-while venture to stick with it, hopefully still enjoying parts of it. You will still have unhappiness to deal with in whatever circumstances you choose.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Drew,

        You are probably not reading all these comments but I am writing responses to your comments to figure out what I think (curse my external processing) ;)

        You said “When it comes to relationships, I think we do understand that at first. We tell ourselves that we accept our partner for the good and the bad, and that tradeoff is alright with us.

        But I think that logic breaks down completely when our relationships are in a bad spot. Gottman talks about how we will rewrite our past, imagining it in a much worse light – perhaps as a way to rationalize the unhappiness in the relationship.”

        The Gottman thing about how we tell the story of how we met is very interesting. How we frame it is a diagnostic for the strength of the relationship right now.

        So if we laugh and tell how funny he was or how smart her comments were, fondly remembering the past that’s a good sign.

        But if we frame it in terms of the negativity we now experience them in that diagnoses a relationship in serious risk of divorce.

        I had it happen to me. I used to tell the story of how we met and when I met his mother with fondness and humor. But a couple of years ago when I was at my unhappiest point in our marriage we met a new couple who asked how we met.

        My husband still told the story in fond terms but I framed it with negativity. Not enough to be embarrassing but enough for me to b surprised at my telling. The story of how he left me to meet his mother alone because he was hitting golf balls and was really late. M

        In my mind that story was now linked to what an idiot I was to not deal with that seriously. It would have perhaps prevented me being left alone in the hospital twice. That story was lInked to his selfishness and my stupidity and not setting boundaries. Which is why it was impossible for me to frame it positively.

        Whereas in the past it was about how clueless he was then but how great he is now. And how I handled answering his mother many questions like a job interview and won her over.

        Anyway as I’m telling this story to the new couple, I remembered Gottman research. It was a horrifying light bulb moment for me to realize HOW unhappy I was. For me as I think for most people it was diagnosing my deep unhappiness not rationalizing it.

        John was able to tell a happy story to the new friends because his lowest unhappy moment came a year later.

        Because after I realized how unhappy I was, I pushed for change harder. Relentlessly hard because I was not willing to live with the status quo any longer. And that made him unhappy.

        Framing past memories tells you more about yourself today than it does about what really happened or your mindset at the time.

        How would a woman recall her wedding to a man who she later found out was already married? As the happiest day of her life? Even if she felt that way at the time she would be unlikely to feel that now. So she tells the story with her new feelings and interpretations of the same facts.

        It was such a happy realization when I recognized that I could tell the story of how we met with fondness again. Because I knew that meant things in the present were getting better.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        “Yes, to clarify, I don’t follow research on only children closely, so there may well be much data there that I’m not aware of. :) …

        I heard about someone (Teal Swan) who had wanted to be a stay at home mom while her (then) hubby worked. And she found out she hated it. :p

        People do change. Maybe flexibility should be something we screen for. ;)

        An maybe you want kids, one or two or many, but your wife or husband or the combination of you two have fertility problems. Are you going to dump them then?! I think many people would actually do that, but personally I find that quite appalling.”

        Just to clarify your clarifying. I am not familiar with the data either really. I threw out that China one child thing because it is just so fascinating.

        I have read a little bit about the societal changes that occured when all the resources and attention are focused on one child.

        And of course they have a problem now with not enough women (because more girls were aborted) for all their sons to marry so the poor ones are left single.

        All kinds of unintended consequences.

        I think you are right we should screen for flexibility. It’s one of my areas I am working on. Flow chart thinking doesn’t lend itself to flexibility. ;)

        And I think there is a difference when someone can’t do something and when someone doesn’t want to do something.

        We were taking about this with doing chores. There is a difference between doing all the chores because your spouse is sick or disabled and because your spouse just doesn’t want to. Big difference.

        Maybe for the fertility thing too. if someone changes their mind and just doesn’t want kids is that different not being able to?

        I would think so but I am not sure that’s right. Is it equally appalling to leave if can have kids but just don’t want to? Or is it not appealing either way? Or is one appalling and the other not? Not sure.

        Like

  3. Lunar says:

    What app are you using? That sounds really useful!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      They have many good ones. I read that there’s functionality within TripAdvisor which allows you to do it.

      The app I downloaded is fairly crappy, and it’s called Visited, and I only did it to see if I could screen cap a map showing how limited my travel has been, but alas, the app did an awful job.

      It redeemed itself by spitting out that 0.8% number for me which, I think, really sums it up.

      Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Reminds me to pin my cities! :D

        The one within TripAdvisor I got through the Facebook apps. You can invite your friends as well and see their cities too.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa Gottman says:

    Travel is interesting. Some people can travel the world and stay closed minded. Some people can never leave their home and yet be open to many different ideas and perspectives. Letting their mind accept influence.

    I think the key is to really be curious. Curious about how people live or think of experience the world. So many human commonalities. The hunger for love and connection. Hope for our children.

    But there are differences too. Even in the same family raised in the same house. I’ve always been fascinated by that.

    What causes people to think and view the world so differently? Genes, environment, race, sexual orientation, age, gender, religion, micro-biome?

    Who knows which things make us different? Which things make us the same? But it’s important to know we are both. All mostly longing for the same basic things but in different ways.

    I’m not a huge travel lover. Mainly because of the expense and logistics. But there is something interesting about how different things can seem in person than in pictures or video.

    We visited Sydney, Australia recently and I was surprised how different the famous Opera House looked in person. Not white but tan.

    But I think if I had spent several days reading all about Australia, the history and culture and different attitudes I would understand Australians much better than just being a tourist there seeing things.

    So I think the most well traveled people I admire are people who mind travel to understand why some people would support Donald or Hillary or Bernie. Or why some people think intentions matter and other don’t.

    In what ways are people from Ohio different than those in Texas? Why do some people think Feminism is a bad word? Why do some people like dogs and others cats? Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life? What is the best way to handle Syrian refugees? Nacho cheese vs Cool Ranch?

    Curiosity and open mindedness and not just assuming I’m right and you’re wrong for being different. Or assuming we are the same.

    Listening and reading many different sources to understand both sides points of views. But also having a well researched opinion to act on.

    I do better on certain topics than others. :). Usually because it’s something I have a history with. Those are the topics we have to really stretch to understand what another person is trying to say or even “allow” that there is another point of view.

    Like the C-section post. Lot of history all around that topic for a lot of us.

    I think mind travel matters much more than seeing places. But then again I am trying to be open minded that some people value the actual experience more than I do. Wonder why?

    Stay curious my friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christin Harding says:

    ANYONE can travel the planet. Take advantage of http://www.couchsurfing.com, or, if you’re into biking the planet, http://www.warmshowers.com. Check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anitvan says:

    We had an opportunity to send our oldest to Egypt for three weeks while he was in high school. We agreed to pay for half and he got a part time job to pay for the other half. If you ask him, he will tell you that it was the single most valuable experience of his life, one that he thanks us for over and over. From his experiences, he developed a love for history and cultural diversity and how were all connected. He discovered that despite our cultural differences, our human commonalities unite us.

    Some of his favourite memories from that trip are the afternoon he spent hanging out with one of the vendors in the bazaar. He wasn’t really interested in shopping so he hung out with the vendor, and they talked about what life was like in their respective worlds. That’s the kind of stuff you ain’t gonna learn in school and that’s probably the single most important thing that he took away from the experience – that there is much more out there to learn and know than the tiny little slice that they’re serving up in school: that formal education isn’t the be all and end all to learning; that we are lifelong learners and the most important stuff is learned outside of the classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linbo says:

      Anitavan said “that we are lifelong learners and the most important stuff is learned outside of the classroom.”
      Amen to that. ..:)
      Especially if you just look at the US school system. It leaves TONS to be desired.

      Like

  7. completelyinthedark says:

    Waaaaay more to life. This is the problem with hometown folks. But also the problem with friends who’ve been away to a place and always rave about it. Same thing, actually. Where you feel the best is where you should be and that will take some finding. Good luck, my friend. I’m in my 50s and still on the move. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. marilyn sims says:

    To All:

    I was born, educated and lived as a resident of Washington, D.C. for what seemed like an eternity. We affectionately call it “the hole in the doughnut”. As residents, we did not get the right to vote in presidential elections until 1964. We have no voting representative in Congress and our automobile license plates at one time read, “the last plantation”.

    Despite this, upon traveling outside the “hole” I found much for which to be grateful: free and impressive museums to attend, free parks and (lately) an impressive and exciting zoo. There now are lovely venues for the performing arts. Free concerts and exhibitions on the Mall, parades that represent “exotic” locations , highly political demonstrations that engage the whole spectrum of belief systems, at anytime there is the opportunity to visit THE CAPITOL and hear (sometimes intelligent) debate on issues of importance, the Monument is on view every time I go shopping. The Cherry Blossoms — a spectacular sight — at one time were within walking distance of my apartment. This list goes on and on…..

    I did not realize what a gift it was to live there until I was able to leave it.

    Like

  9. Linbo says:

    I have a younger friend who spent a year traveling and taking part time jobs on the way. He worked at a ski camp in the French Alps, he excavated in Romania, I can’t remember what else he did , but he is an avid consumer of culture. His inspiration for travel, and a lot of cool travel and life tips came from a book called Vagabonding. It is a good read. Unless it raises discontent- then it’s a awful book, arrr it should be used as toilet paper, arrrr…. I would love to be able to do that- my reason for not is I’m a sappy sentimentalist that can’t leave my shelter dogs for a year. And I like showers. But, (and this sounds awful) I have estimated how long they will live, and what I would likely be doing at that time- “maybe then would be a good time to travel”…
    One of the things that my friend talked about A Lot was not doing a 2 week vacation anywhere. Take a month, 3 months. Don’t be rushed to see everything in the span of 2 weeks. You won’t remember it.
    If you are lucky enough to be in a position to do that, then- yeah- it can be a totally enriching experience.
    I really liked that you mentioned that interacting with people different than you can enrich your life,too.
    Hopefully you will have the opportunity *someday* to visit different people and places. – they may change a bit, but they’re not going anywhere…:)
    So far my list is Scotland with my BFF,
    Greece (where I may never come back from if I do get to go)
    And beleive it or not- Good old South Carolina. They’ve got great gardens and beaches. Id be in heaven….

    Like

    • anitvan says:

      Linbo – We’re going to Scotland?!?

      On my travel bucket list:

      1. Scotland/England/Ireland- because I am a descendent of Robert the Bruce and a total Anglophile and Ireland looks so damn pretty!

      2. Germany – because I’d like to see and experience the place my dad called home for his first 15 years. Plus, Oktoberfest. Duh

      3. The Holy Land. To walk where Jesus walked? Totally cool.

      I’m with you on SC! I’ve totally decided that I’m gonna retire in NC, somewhere between Fayetteville and the coast. I visited a friend there a couple times and fell in love with the place. If you ever find yourself in SC, have a mimosa for me!

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        AHHH! Anitvan!
        The Robert the Bruce thing is awesome. I cant claim direct descendence from William Wallace, but I do have his last name!! :)…He totally loosened the jar for Robert the Bruce. Totally.
        You and me, babe- we could totally be traveling buddies!
        My closest- to- my- heart- girlfriend studied in Scotland for a year- she always talks about the pub crawls, among other things. She has mentioned us going after I graduate. No real plans yet.
        Agreed Ireland is beautiful, and I’d love to see the UK.
        I have been in love with the Mediterranean for a long-long time. I have to see Greece one day- have to.
        Being that I haven’t a had a real vacation EVER!! and I find myself really craving the beach I thought I should go ahead and reward myself by taking a few days and going to Charleston (like within the next year).
        I always seem to put it off though. I have to stop doing that!
        In cases like that- were you really need to reward yourself YOLO applies.
        You only live once- so go live it!!

        Like

  10. Ha! I don’t know Matt, I know some world travelers that are dumber than a box of rocks. The thing about education or travel is that they don’t necessarily make you a wiser person. We take our own selves with us, our own perceptions. There is also something to be said for those who truly have the eyes to see. Our own environment can seem very boring, very ordinary…until you see it through someone elses eyes and than everything changes. There are people who have traveled all over the place but never really seen a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      “I know some world travelers that are dumber than a box of rocks.”

      Hihihi, I’m inclined to agree, though of course it depends on the person.

      I have to say though, one of the best things I ever did was living in a different country than where I grew up. It opened my mind. When I’ve been travelling, a quick stop here or there hasn’t really done much for me. But other people can see it differently of course.

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Learning a different Language (not English, that would already have been familiar because of school and movies and TV shows an everything) was such a humbling experience. You’re an adult, and you express yourself more like a 2 year old for a while. I just wanted to grab people by their shoulders, shake them a little bit, and say “I promise I’m not as stupid as I sound!” And just the way the language is different, the way people express themselves… And all the little things, like whether or not people take their shoes off when they og into someone’s home, rules of conduct in conversation, social codes…. Yes, it opened my mind. :)

        Like

    • “I know some world travelers that are dumber than a box of rocks. ” NOTHING MAKES THIS MORE OBVIOUS THAN THE SECURITY LINE AT THE AIRPORT

      I’m gonna have to enrich myself a different way because life and travel have put me on enough planes that flying anywhere is the LAST thing I want to do for FUN. Perhaps I’ll have a change of heart once I don’t HAVE to do it any more?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. nights7 says:

    One of the craziest things about online dating is how quickly it can make us feel like our own lives are somehow falling short, like we are just not quite enough. I know you know this, Matt.
    For me the popular theme of traveling in dating profiles and pictures does the trick. Everyone has these amazing pictures taken in front of some mountain or the Eiffel tower, they talk about all the cool and exciting places they’ve been and say that they want someone to travel with. Their lives look SO fun and they have all these great, unique experiences to talk about, this great adventure. Meanwhile I’m over here like “I took all five of my kids to the store…at the same time! That’s kind of like an adventure and it probably cost the same as your last trip in terms of percent of income spent.”
    Umm, yeah.
    To most of these people my life probably looks pretty damn boring and insignificant and on paper maybe it is. In reality it’s not. When you get down to it my life is exciting too. It’s important to at least five other people, hopefully more. Having traveled to different locations or seen more varied sights doesn’t give these people a broader life perspective than I have. Actual real life experience does. Doing things and learning from them makes us wiser and more insightful, connecting with people who have different life views by listening to them and actually seeing them makes us better people, more balanced and complete. Those life expanding places and moments you talk about, they can happen anywhere. So while traveling CAN make us better, different, wiser, more intelligent, more balanced, and more complete it does not inherently do so. Like Insanitybytes said, it’s all about having the eyes to see what’s around us no matter where we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Fair points all around.

      Certainly I’ve undergone dramatic-ish growth over the past few years without physically traveling much outside of family trips.

      Making that point as well would have made this more accurate and well-rounded.

      It was supposed to be how trying new things and meeting new people challenges our assumptions, teaches life lessons, and generally makes us wiser.

      It clearly has more to do with the people we meet than it does the sights we see.

      These are good thoughts. I appreciate you thinking about it, and sharing.

      Like

  12. marilyn sims says:

    To All:

    If you have a moment, there is an article in the on-line NY Times titled, “Modern Love: No Sound, No Fury, No Marriage” . Another title (mine) would be, “What happens when conflict is avoided — ALWAYS!!”

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      “By now, my response has become a well-rehearsed murmur: We like each other and always have. We are conflict-averse, quiet people. No one was at fault. The relationship (in my opinion, at least) had just run its natural course.”

      I don’t know if this is her opinion or just her rehearsed answer, but it does seem to conflict with what she says further down:

      “Shakespeare had it right: “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart, concealing it, will break.” I never spoke of the anger in my heart, the mounting resentments and hurts, and neither did he. I never demanded attention or care, and neither did he. And that’s why we broke.”

      I saw some Gottman research about how a low conflict relationship can work, and I believe that. But there’s also a limit.

      Like

      • marilyn sims says:

        Donkey,

        This is one of those divorces that Matt calls “stupid”. We cannot know how much energy went into saving this marriage — from my perspective, I would say, not a lot.

        I am puzzled by the fact that this lady, a writer by profession, could not or would not
        write love letters to her husband, perhaps one beginning, “How do I love you — let me count the ways.” or perhaps, “How do I miss you — let me count the ways.” The article shows her talent, why wasn’t it put to use where and when it was sorely needed.

        Of course I could be TOTALLY WRONG in my assumptions, I just feel very sad for all involved.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Donkey,
        I think it really depends if there is actual conflict avoidance. I mean sometimes, people do address the conflict but not in an angry or explosive way. (Not that I always get to wear that gold star…)
        So, I wonder if what you are reading as conflict avoidance is more just resolving things more quietly? I don’t know for sure.
        But, I do think it is true that if you never, ever mention the issue it wont change. And if it hurts you, or someone else, then the issue can become a great big wedge in the relationship.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        As Linbo said below. There are low conflict styles that are happy because they are not conflict avoidant. They find ways of dealing with differences that don’t involve a lot of traditional talking it out.

        I have a friend like this. She and her husband have a disagreement. Her husband will write a letter of apology to her and leave it for her to find. She reads it and they never talk about it.

        I thought it was crazy! But their system works for them because they deal with stuff. Sometimes they text or write brief letters but very little open conflict.

        But they do deal with stuff. They don’t avoid issues. That is the key.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Linbo, Lisa,

        I believe I agree with you. I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with solving conflicts in a quiet voice, via an email or letter whatever. I don’t think people are conflict avoidant if they don’t yell or scream! :p In a relationship, I was very triggered by some stuff and I just couldn’t talk about it face to face. So I sent e-mails. :)

        I just got the impression that in the relationship described in the article Marilyn linked to, nothing got voiced, nothing got solved. And that’s the problem, or at least part of the problem.

        Linbo, I would you mind reminding me what post you were referring to, regarding violent crminalns and abused folks as bad candidates for marriage?

        Ouch. I don’t know what Matt categorizes as abused, but ouch. There was many good things about my childhood, but definitely not all rainbows and sunshine. I
        But again, people are allowed their dealbreakers.

        I’ve gotton the impression that your childhood was less than happy Linbo, but I didn’t catch the details you’ve shared. Do you remember under what post you shared that, so I can og back and read?

        I think I’d be fine with someone with a traumas from childhood, if they had successfully dealt with it to the point where they were pretty fine AND/OR if they were actively dealing with it. :) Didn’t Terry Real have a violent dad? We all (most of us I’d guess at least) think he’s pretty great. :) There are so many wounds people can get in childhood, both from parents (even if there’s no completey obvious stuff like drinking and overt violence). And sometimes people had great homelives, but they were bullied at school, were victims of violent crimes at a later point in life.

        Yes Marilyn, it’s very sad. It just goes to show that at this point in our human evolution, it’s hard to make relationships work.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          Just to clarify- I wasn’t trying to stir up trouble. It was a while back, I’ll need to go look.
          I don’t think Matt meant it callously, I think he was just saying- as several other people have agreed with, was statistically there is more difficulty in those marriages . But again- my conclusion is,it doesn’t matter- EVERYONE needs to know the baggage they come with so they can learn how to function in a new relationship. If people work on doing that, then they have a better chance at doing it right.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hey Linbo, no I did not get the impression you were trying to stir up trouble, and I’m not either. :) I just wanted to read it in context. I think we basically agree though, what matters is how you deal with whatever baggage you have. :)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          It was the Mars/Venus issue in March.
          Matt wrote
          “This divorce epidemic affects not just the “obvious” couples comprised of people with poor educations, abusive upbringings, criminal histories or violent tendencies, but EVERYONE. The marriages we might expect to make it seem to fail at the same rate as any others.”
          I dont think he meant it negatively, but I hear that in other places,too.
          I think it’s because, again, people want easy- they think something like that is too hard, and so won’t consider it- which is fine, because my god- would we ever be able to talk about anything?
          My childhood,Donkey, was like yours- some good some bad. I went without a lot of stuff that I didn’t realize everyone else got. I survived. And likely, the fact that I didn’t complain was the reason it when on so long.
          I have a good future ahead of me, I’m in good headspace- sometimes I still hang on and accept less than I deserve. Maybe I can help myself get over that by opening myself up to things I DO deserve. I need more of that. I need more of seeing and experiencing how things ought to be in relationships. Respect, interest, commonalities. Those things. As well as just being kind and loving to myself. (Charleston,SC- Mimosa’s in the garden, Mimosa’s on the water, Mimosa’s with the manatee’s..sounds like love and kindness to me:)!

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey and Linbo,

        You know it’s hard. As you said you can screen for what people are like but maybe circumstances don’t allow for your plans. Maybe you wanted kids but can’t have them.

        Or maybe your spouse changes or doesn’t change wth you. Maybe shit happens that is just hard. Things that just not in our control.

        People die or get sick or are unemployed or lose you house or whatever.

        You can’t screen for the future. You can’t screen for a lot of things. But you can go in with eyes wide open for what you are choosing. And accept that that choice has consequences.

        Terry Real talks about this in a couple where the wife had been sexually abused as a child. Her husband knew this when they were married.

        She had done a lot of work around this to heal. But her husband wanted a sexually free and adventurous sex life. That she just was not able to give him.

        So Terry Real says. You have a choice to make. You grieve the real loss of the kind of sex life you wanted but cannot have. And then you can go on to appreciate the sex life you do have with the wife you chose.

        Or you acknowledge and say that this kind of sex life is so fundamental to my needs that I cannot live without it and I cannot be with a woman who cannot give it to me.

        But the choice must be made to live a mature life that is fair to his spouse.

        Many people just live in the middle without making a choice. Maybe that is what Drew was really talking about in his first comment about people having unrealistic expectations.

        My husband and I lived in limbo around some issues. He wanted a wife who would move every few years for his career. And he was dissatisfied that I would not give that to him.

        It is a real loss. Grief is required to process it and be able to accept and appreciate the support I do give his career.

        I have my own version of that. But we know now what the issues are and how to make the choices.

        Most of the time compromise is possible on issues but sometimes it’s not and real loss and grief and choices are necessary.

        But a lot of people just have affairs deal with the grief or get involved with their work or kids or drink too much. Or eat Doritos ;)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          Lol @ Doritos:)
          The thing I was really struck by with The Richo book was about grieving the loss of the initial feelings of love. Even acknowledging that they have changed with each other can maintain the connection while still acknowledging the reality.
          I think one of my core,deep down beliefs is that this is good. The person who grieved the loss of the sex life he wanted just invested in the life he has. The man who chooses to pursue his sexual desires,well- that’s a gamble at best.
          And I don’t just think that because I’m thinking “what a selfish guy!” I’m being completely serious when I say that if you really accept the loss – together, then your gaining something in the relationship, and you would be growing more in yourself. What if somehow the man wasn’t able to perform? Or even something that doesn’t have to do with sex- kids, income,social status…accepting what isn’t there allows you to invest and find joy in what is there. I know in the middle of intense desire and emotion it can feel like you are dying, like you can’t live without this or that (I am so,so guilty of this!) but isn’t that a sign of pretty significant immaturity? And following it wont miraculously lead to everything you ever wanted. It really won’t.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Limbo,

        I agree with you for the most part. But I think some divorces happen because people make honest well thought out choices.

        If my husband suddenly had a religious or other conversion and wanted me to act submissively, wear a wig when I go out of my house to cover my hair as Orthodox Jews do or walk behind him or just acknowledge his position entities him to make decisions for our family even if I disagree as many conservative Christians believe.

        I would have a choice to make. And I honestly do not think I would choose to live like that. Even if everything else was good.

        It’s a deal breaker to me.

        And so I would respect the guy who decided he could not stay married to a wife who could not respond to him in a wild and sexually free way.

        I don’t respect him if he stays with her and just stays unhappy with his wife’s inability to respond sexually in the way he would like.

        Here’s another example. Should a spouse stay in a sexless marriage? I hear that one in blogs a lot. Well it all depends doesn’t it? On why it is sexless and what choices there are to be made to fix it and if both people are willing.

        But sometimes one spouse or the other has to make a decision on how much of a deal breaker something is.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          No doubt that if one spouse did go completely off the grid of normalcy there would need to be some serious consideration.
          I do know someone who did become a fundamentalist while her husband was pretty “mellow” about the whole thing. There were fights where words were screamed “this isnt who I married, what happened??!!” They’ve been married for +50 years. He would never talk about anything religious with her- for yeeaarrrsss….She relaxed with time, and he was able to express his not so fundamentalist beliefs. There was enough of the other parts of their relationship that that they just didn’t talk about religion but still had a good enough relationship that has lasted +50 years.
          And I know sex is a touchy subject, I mean none of us can feel like we can live without it.
          I don’t know the detail of that particular couples situation- if it was “a sexless marriage” or just that she didn’t want to do particular things.
          My point was bigger than sex though. I always try to picture old people- like 80 or 90 year olds. And think about what was the most important things for them – what helped them have a happy marriage. Given, sex would likely be a part of that, but what if the circumstances that were previous offered were part of the picture?
          What if someone became disabled and there were huge medical bills?
          What if you have a child that is disabled?
          What if …so many other things where things aren’t bright and sunny, they are uncomfortable, and you could find temporary relief in abandoning the situation, but you would be abandoning everything else along with it.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        Sheryl Paul talks quite a bit about being able to accept the fundamental insecurity of life. There’s nothing we can do that will give us the security of knowing that everything will be alright.

        Matt said: ““This divorce epidemic affects not just the “obvious” couples comprised of people with poor educations, abusive upbringings, criminal histories or violent tendencies, but EVERYONE. The marriages we might expect to make it seem to fail at the same rate as any others.”

        I agree linbo, I don’t think he meant it negatively at all. I mean, I agree
        with him, I would think it’s harder to make a marriage work when people have had abusive upbringings (unless they’ve done a lot of effective work to overcome it). And his point anyway seemed to be that the non-obvious couples fail just as much, so what’s going on?!

        I’ve been pondering Matt’s upbringinging as it relates to divorce. I thought that unhappy upbringings would create all kinds of problems in relationships, intimacy problems, avoidant/anxious attachment, being triggered very easily, so that if people had happy childhoods relationships would be much easier.

        But I kind of get the impression that Matt’s upbringing was too happy in a way. He was loved for who he was by almost everyone, everything came easily to him. And this is great. Maybe it’s better to say that happiness isn’t enough. Like he said, his experiences made him think that since life was so great, people who had difficulties weren’t working hard enough, and that when his wife was unhappy about something he did or didn’t do he thought she must be wrong because everybody else was always pleased with his efforts.

        Maybe more focus, both practically and theoretically, on what’s required in terms of chores and emotional labour to make a household function and how a fair version of that would look with two people were working would have been the perfect recipe. And, I’m not talking specifically about Matt here really, I’m just pondering what would give kids a great environment as to learning how to have a happy and functioning marriage when they’re adults. Along with practically and theoretically learning that many people are different and to have a good relationship with them we must accept influence to a large extent,, even when we don’t agree or understand.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          I brought the whole “people with abusive upbringings” up because it related to Travis’s feeling that saying an only child could be a deal breaker for some people. I’ve heard people say it (about abusive upbringings) before, because yeah- I guess its a statistical likelihood, but its always brought up shame, and unworthiness for me, like it is my fault!- like Travis mentioned he felt. Especially when it was something I had no control over. I guess its a little bit of a trigger for me.
          And it seems counter productive. “I wont be a family with you because your family sucked.”
          I know that in reality no one can give me that family that I wanted. I cant expect someone to fix the things of the past. So, that’s my emotional crap- and I was relating to what Travis expressed.
          But, going further-
          Donkey asked “I’m just pondering what would give kids a great environment as to learning how to have a happy and functioning marriage when they’re adults. Along with the practically and theoretically learning that many people are different and to have a good relationship with them we must accept influence to a large extent, even when we don’t agree or understand.”
          …I think there could be a lot of right answers, but you always have to start with a secure base. A secure family base where the children feel confident in their small world. That doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. Just that you can come to know what to expect from your environment.
          Being involved yourself in issues outside of just your neighborhood can definitely foster a childs awareness of people who live differently , and it modeled that concern for things that don’t directly affect you are important. That is for maybe more social justice issues, and things for cultural and “across the pond” kind of things sort of just the same thing. Develop intentional relationships with people who are different than you. Invite them for dinner, ask them questions. Have play dates with parents of kids who are different than you.

          Like

  13. marilyn sims says:

    To All:

    This is a quote from “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

    “When we speak today, then, about ‘holy wedded matrimony,’ or the ‘sanctity of marriage,’ we would do well to remember that for approximately ten centuries, Christianity itself did not see marriage as being either holy or sanctified. Marriage was certainly not modeled as the ideal state of moral being. On the contrary, the early Christian fathers regarded the habit of marriage as a somewhat repugnant worldly affair that had everything to do with sex and females and taxes and property, and nothing whatsoever to do with higher concerns of divinity…Christianity simply does not share that deep and consistent historical reverence toward matrimony. Lately it has, yes — but not originally. For the first thousand years or so of Christian history, the church regarded monogamous marriage as marginally less wicked than flat-out whoring — but only very marginally. Saint Jerome even went so far as to rank human holiness on a 1-to-100 scale, with virgins scoring a perfect 100, newly celibate widows and widowers ranking somewhere around 60, and married couples earning the surprisingly unclean score of 30. Strictly speaking, he wrote, one should not even rightly compare virginity to marriage — because you cannot ‘make a comparison between two things if one is good and the other evil.’ “

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Yes, that had to do with gnostic ideas of the spirit and mind being superior to the earthly body. Platonic ideas married to religion.

      So for many centuries being celibate was considered more spiritual. Marriage was seen more as a way to have children and pass on property.

      It added to the misogyny because women’s bodies were a form of temptation for men. So you get a lot of writing about women as temptresses and their bodies being used as weapons. The way the creation story and garden of Eden story is interpreted is directly linked to these ideas.

      Old themes still in play today. Most people have no idea that many of our modern framing of sex and gender is influenced by this stuff.

      Like

  14. LL says:

    Yes to this!
    Travel changed my life. Several years ago, I quit my broadcast journalism job as a producer, ended a tough 5 year relationship, sold my car, my condo, and most of my stuff, and traveled around the world for 2+ years. It can be MUCH cheaper than many realize if you use couchsurfing or airbnb or hostels or get an apartment and travel slower. I lived (and taught English and cat sat!) in Istanbul for 3 months. I found a job at a cafe in Australia and lived there for 3 months — none of which was planned or predetermined.

    It wasn’t a vacation…it was life and many places in Asia and Latin America are very affordable compared to US living. I spent a lot less than I would have if I stayed and lived my ‘normal’ life in Chicago.
    And I know couples that do it, families that do it and singles.
    AND, I made wonderful friends of all kinds all over the world. The best part is meeting locals. Having great conversations and new friendships enriched my life so much. I grew so much, learned so much. I’ve now been to nearly 60 countries and remain friends with many I’ve met who are always welcome to come stay with me!

    Like

  15. Donkey says:

    Matt, I’ll create my own little post here.

    I will confess right away that I jumped to some kind of negative conlusion about the whole violent criminals and people with abusive childhoods thing. It was much worse in my head than what you actually wrote (and again, even if it had been as bad as I thought, which it was not, people are allowed to have their own opinions.)

    I’m sorry, this was my bad.

    Virtual apology hug should you want it!

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Donkey,
      I brought the whole “people with abusive upbringings” up because it related to Travis’s feeling that saying an only child could be a deal breaker for some people. I’ve heard people say it (about abusive upbringings) before, because yeah- I guess its a statistical likelihood, but its always brought up shame, and unworthiness for me, like it is my fault!- like Travis mentioned he felt. Especially when it was something I had no control over. I guess its a little bit of a trigger for me.
      And it seems counter productive. “I wont be a family with you because your family sucked.”
      I know that in reality no one can give me that family that I wanted. I cant expect someone to fix the things of the past. So, that’s my emotional crap- and I was relating to what Travis expressed.
      But, going further-
      Donkey asked “I’m just pondering what would give kids a great environment as to learning how to have a happy and functioning marriage when they’re adults. Along with the practically and theoretically learning that many people are different and to have a good relationship with them we must accept influence to a large extent, even when we don’t agree or understand.”
      …I think there could be a lot of right answers, but you always have to start with a secure base. A secure family base where the children feel confident in their small world. That doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. Just that you can come to know what to expect from your environment.
      Being involved yourself in issues outside of just your neighborhood can definitely foster a childs awareness of people who live differently , and it modeled that concern for things that don’t directly affect you are important. That is for maybe more social justice issues, and things for cultural and “across the pond” kind of things sort of just the same thing. Develop intentional relationships with people who are different than you. Invite them for dinner, ask them questions. Have play dates with parents of kids who are different than you.

      Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        You said: “I brought the whole “people with abusive upbringings” up because it related to Travis’s feeling that saying an only child could be a deal breaker for some people. I’ve heard people say it (about abusive upbringings) before, because yeah- I guess its a statistical likelihood, but its always brought up shame, and unworthiness for me, like it is my fault!- like Travis mentioned he felt. Especially when it was something I had no control over. I guess its a little bit of a trigger for me.”

        I can understand that. Is so unfair that the people who had abusive or accidentally harmful childhoods through no fault of their own, end up being rejected by securely attached people.

        When if they were married or close friends with a person securely attached giving them some of the love they longed for but didn’t get could heal some wounds. And they would be better equipped to give love back so you end up with yep securely attached people.

        But it usually just doesn’t work like that. Because securely attached people pick securely attached people who respond to them in a more “normal” way. Neither anxious or avoidant.

        Mostly they do this because they know what it feels like to be treated in a healthy way and so avoid people who don’t know how to treat them like this.

        So the people with less than ideal childhoods often end up partnered with other people with less than ideal childhoods.

        But there is a way out! Either we can work really really hard in effective ways to heal our wounds so we can become more securely attached. And it is hard!

        Or we can do it after we get married and heal our wounds then. I recommend the first approach if possible. ;)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hey Linbo,

        I definitely didn’t mean that you did anything wrong in bringing it up. It’s just Matt and I have had disagreements before about the whole jumping to conclusions thing, and before you generously took the time to post the original quote, I had jumped to a too negative conclusion about what Matt was saying, even though I didn’t really know what I had said.

        So I just wanted to apologize for that, because in this case, I definitely know that I did do the thing that Matt doesn’t like – jump to a negative conclusion.

        “I guess its a statistical likelihood, but its always brought up shame, and unworthiness for me, like it is my fault!- like Travis mentioned he felt. Especially when it was something I had no control over. I guess its a little bit of a trigger for me.”

        I relate very well I believe. Again, lots of good stuff about my childhood, but definitely some damaging things too. If everyone only accepted people without some serious stuff happening in childhood, I would be out of the game. Further up in the thread, I was kind of trying to comfort myself, and perhaps you a little bit too, in saying that there are all kinds of trauma/bad stuff that can happen to people, so it is kind of naive to only want to be with people who’ve had rainbows and sunshine kinds of lives.

        I believe we’ve both said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s not the childhood or the previous trauma or bad thing or whatever, it’s whether or not you’re dealing with it.

        If you don’t remember or don’t want to place attention on it, that’s totally fine and I’ll leave it alone. But if you do remember what post(s) you shared more about your background, I would be interested in learning more about your background. Fair warning though, I’m still a bit concerned bout anonymity and everything, so I probably won’t give much details about mine. Maybe some day. :)

        “…I think there could be a lot of right answers, but you always have to start with a secure base.”

        Yes I completely agree. That was what I was trying to say, by modifying “too happy” into “happiness isn’t enough”, but it’s quite likely that I wasn’t clear enough. Secure base and feeling loved for who you are (by people who practie full respect living :)) is the most important thing.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          Hey sweet thang! ..:)
          Listen, I’m not 100% comfortable with sharing my story here. At least more than as it comes up.
          I will let ya’ll know that with the amount of time I spend here, I cant help but feel as though we are “friends”. I know some shy away from that, and that is cool. But I think connecting with others is just part of human nature and I am ok with that.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        And this is where I agree with Matt’s phrase. It is not your fault but it is your responsibility.

        It is not your fault that your childhood was abusive. Or your parents were divorced. Or you Dad was an alcoholic or your mom was severely depressed. Or you Dad abandoned you. Or your mom had multiple affairs. Or your brother committed suicide. Or your sister was addicted to drugs. Or whatever horrible thing happened.

        Those are their issues that inflicted damage on a child’s sense of safety snd security.

        It’s not fair but it our responsibility to work as hard as we can to heal that damage even though we didn’t cause it.

        So we can live the life we were really meant to. Fully human, feeling like the world is a safe place full of people to love and respect us. Trusting ourselves and our judgement.

        Answering yes with no hesitation to the question, “am I good enough?” even as we work really hard to be better.

        But it’s not fair to have to work so hard for something others take for granted by accident of their birth.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Yes, Lisa- that’s all true.
          Those are nice soothing words,too ;)
          I love all that and say -yes,yes,yes!
          I’m working on it. And I can give myself credit for what I’ve done so far.
          I may print out your words and hang them around my house. -Encouraging truth!

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        Lisa, I agree very much with this last comment of yours. :)
        I believe I may have gone off to harshly on your hubby regarding housework in the last post. I’m sorry if I was disrespectful.

        Like Marilyn Sims says, kudos and kisses to all!

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey and Linbo,

        Glad you liked the comment. I am preaching to myself.

        “I believe I may have gone off to harshly on your hubby regarding housework in the last post. I’m sorry if I was disrespectful.”

        There is almost nothing you could say that would be harsh enough to a man who doesn’t do his share of cleaning toilets. ;)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        This is possibly posted twice

        Linbo,

        Oooh, have I become sweet thang? *Swoon!*

        What would you like to be? Also sweet thang? Princess of bluebonnets? 8)

        I totally understand Linbo, I’m also holding back on the details. And I agree with the friends thing too. :) The official story is that I come here for the personal growth and conversation, but I’m starting to feel quite attached to you guys. :)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          How about “Hephziba”?
          It means “my delight is in her” in Hebrew. :)
          That’s pretty, isn’t it?
          …and yeah, I knew I was getting attached when I couldn’t wait for my date to end so I could keep talking to you guys.
          The men around here are going to have to step it up if they want to compete- :)

          Like

  16. Lisa Gottman says:

    Travis,

    Hopefully you are out having fun with your wife and when you check back in you will have read all my comments about the only child thing.

    I have an honest question for you because you defined deal breakers very different than I did.

    For you to fall in love with a woman, were there deal breakers around her physical appearance and age?

    I’m not being snarky. It’s somewhat similar to the only child non preference in the sense that some things about another person that may matter to us even though we recognize they have no or little control over them.

    So if a woman was funny and smart and met every other criteria but was 25 years older than you. Would that matter? Even if you didn’t have kids but wanted them?

    Or if she was morbidly obese?

    Or had schizophrenia?

    Or was widowed with 10 kids?

    Or was diagnosed with terminal cancer?

    These are somewhat extreme examples but these are examples of things that the person has little to no control over (including recent research on morbid obesity which shows a huge hormonal disadvantage).

    I am genuinely curious what your thoughts are. You tend to surprise me sometimes and that helps me question my own assumptions

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      Lisa asked,

      “For you to fall in love with a woman, were there deal breakers around her physical appearance and age?

      I’m not being snarky. It’s somewhat similar to the only child non preference in the sense that some things about another person that may matter to us even though we recognize they have no or little control over them.

      So if a woman was funny and smart and met every other criteria but was 25 years older than you. Would that matter? Even if you didn’t have kids but wanted them?

      Or if she was morbidly obese?

      Or had schizophrenia?

      Or was widowed with 10 kids?

      Or was diagnosed with terminal cancer?

      These are somewhat extreme examples but these are examples of things that the person has little to no control over (including recent research on morbid obesity which shows a huge hormonal disadvantage).”

      Hard to say. Remember, you’re Spock, I’m Kirk. You analyze the probability of survival from taking the jump. I’m certain I’ll survive the leap by sheer force of will and conviction. So I can’t say that I’ve approached any relationship with many deal-breakers in tow, or even things that would make me disinclined to at least give it a whirl and see where the chips landed. The only two that I can immediately lock onto as strict deal-breakers for me are a woman who smokes cigarettes and/or cigars (sorry to offend any smokers in our midst, but I personally find it to be a vile habit, and the idea of smelling that smoker’s reek on my girlfriend’s clothes every day or, God forbid, kiss a mouth which I can only imagine would taste like a humid ashtray, goes well beyond my personal tolerance) and cheaters (though, of course, I wouldn’t have much of a way to vet for that personality “quirk” prior to falling in love, so consider that my deal-breaker for STAYING in love, rather than initially falling in love).

      But I see where you’re going with the question, and it’s a fair point, both as a clarification of your original comment about only children, and just on its own virtues as a point of discussion about relationships. I have dated two women in my past for whom I initially had almost no physical attraction; in both cases, they eventually “sold” me on their personalities (one who was extremely intelligent, the other who was a lot of fun to be around), so though we all have a “type” or two for whom we have an immediate, primal-brain attraction, I have evidence that not being of my type (which is the ‘California girl’ blonde, if anyone is desperate to know–though lack of intelligence would quickly torpedo my attraction to her, if a woman looks like Elisha Cuthbert–Kiefer Sutherland’s daughter on 24–I’m probably going to have a hard time forming a coherent sentence in her company) is not a deal-breaker, nor something that’s going to necessarily even prevent me from feeling out compatibility with a woman, if other compelling factors (intelligence, sense of humor, joie de vivre, kindness and compassion, etc.) are made evident.

      Age is certainly not a deterrent for me (as I’ve mentioned a few times before on this blog, I’m already in a marriage with a sizable age discrepancy, though in the alternate direction from your example); younger or older, I find absolutely none of the arguments about avoiding May-December romances compelling.

      In regards to “if I wanted children” (assuming, for the sake of argument, that I hadn’t actually already had my real-life son and daughter), I can’t imagine discarding someone I deeply loved in exchange for the possibility of people who don’t even exist, but that’s probably easier for me to say than it might be for others. I’d always ranked a successful and fulfilling marriage over fatherhood. Fortunately, I can enjoy both, but before I had my own kids, I didn’t long to have any.

      If she was morbidly obese, to be fair, it would be extremely difficult to get past the fact that I wouldn’t find her physically attractive; that would have a negative impact on our sex life. I have been in two prior relationships where the sex life was unfulfilling (one where the woman just didn’t care for sex, the other where she did but it didn’t really “click” well for me), so it’s not a deal-breaker, but it does cast a cloud over the relationship. I had never really understood the extraordinary, transformative power of great sex until I met my wife. I know that probably sounds like some weird line, but I’d honestly spent my whole life wondering why so many musicians and filmmakers put so much focus and attention on sex. It was nice, sure, but eight out of ten times, I’d have rather just watched an episode of BREAKING BAD instead. Now? Oh, now I get it. Fo sho. I was blind, but now I see! Interestingly, now that I have experienced a different level of sexual satisfaction, strong compatibility in that area (if, God forbid, I had to ever return to the dating scene) would be more important to me going forward than it ever would have been prior, but still likely not a deal-breaker.

      It’s hard for me to conjecture about falling for a woman with schizophrenia; I don’t think I’d hold it against someone from a dating perspective but, just knowing what I know about my sensibilities, I suspect I would find that experience too draining to translate into a long-term relationship, but if I really felt a deep, profound connection with such a person, then I’m confident I’d endure anything she needed. Easily the same with someone diagnosed with terminal cancer. Did you know I used to dream as a teenager of dating someone with a ailment, such as blindness or paralysis, because I figured it would mean I was with someone who had a better understanding than most of us of what was truly important in life?

      But from the perspective of initially vetting someone to see if I’d even be interested in dating them? Yeah, someone with ten kids I’d probably steer clear of, ya got me there. And if they seemed to have a lot of emotional baggage, or mental health issues, yeah, they’d probably be checked off the list quickly. So I do see (between this dialog and the additional clarification of your initial “only children” quote you’ve subsequently provided) where you were coming from by saying only children fall into the Con column of your personal Pro/Con list. Your statement was a trigger because, personally, as a very proud and accomplished only child, I am soooo over negative assumptions and assertions about people sharing my birth order. To me, it hits like saying, “I won’t date a black person because too many of them are criminals!” or “I won’t date someone with freckles because, eww, who could be attracted to skin that looks like a Google map?” If anything, I would still say that it behooves all of us to avoid any statements about a condition an affected person cannot change like, “Not to offend people like this, but [insert offensive statement about those types of people without any clarifying context here].” But, yes, to your larger point that there can sometimes be people who have a quality or condition they cannot alter but which you find to be a factor that contributes to a likelihood of avoiding romantic pursuit, I agree.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Ok, Travis- you brought it up, so now you have to pay the consequences. What is the difference with your wife vs. other relationships? I know you said “compatibility”, but that really is so vague. I’m not asking for a graphic description- but how else would you describe why this time it’s so right?
        More freedom, feeling unencumbered? Closer connection, and more intuitive?
        I’m curious. I agree a lot of times sex turns out to be awkward and unfulfilling (even with long time partners and not just new partners) .
        Part of me thinks its because we have that passionate love scene in our minds and that’s not how it really plays out.
        Do you get the real- live passionate love scene?? I’m so jealous!!..And a little worried that men are going to have this expectation that really awesome sex = you found the girl of your dreams (and maybe that IS true for men? I don’t know…. what do you think?)

        Do you think its different because of the level of communication and honesty you have with each other? ( …Inquiring minds want to know…:)

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “Ok, Travis- you brought it up, so now you have to pay the consequences. What is the difference with your wife vs. other relationships? I know you said “compatibility”, but that really is so vague. I’m not asking for a graphic description- but how else would you describe why this time it’s so right?
        More freedom, feeling unencumbered? Closer connection, and more intuitive?
        I’m curious. I agree a lot of times sex turns out to be awkward and unfulfilling (even with long time partners and not just new partners) .
        Part of me thinks its because we have that passionate love scene in our minds and that’s not how it really plays out.
        Do you get the real- live passionate love scene?? I’m so jealous!!..And a little worried that men are going to have this expectation that really awesome sex = you found the girl of your dreams (and maybe that IS true for men? I don’t know…. what do you think?)

        Do you think its different because of the level of communication and honesty you have with each other? ( …Inquiring minds want to know…:)”

        Well, I’m not entirely sure exactly where your inquiry is focused. What makes her the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, or what is it that makes sex with her different from the other women in my past? So, in the absence of that clarification, I’ll answer both, LOL!

        She’s the woman I wanted to marry because (and, fair warning, this list won’t be comprehensive; in fact, two years ago, I wrote a post on Facebook detailing something I loved about my wife for every single day of April):

        * She’s a rare and amazing mixture of maturity and immaturity, and I use both words in their most positive light; in other words, she’s sophisticated and worldly and wise and responsible, yet also playful, irreverent, silly and fun-loving.

        * She’s very intelligent.

        * She’s hysterically funny.

        * She loves my children as her own.

        * She’s proven to be honest to a fault.

        * She’s comfortable enough to belch and fart around me, or crap with the bathroom door open.

        * Counter-intuitively (considering the bulletpoint which immediately preceded this one), she’s sexy beyond all measure–legs for days, radiant blonde hair, gorgeous ice blue eyes, curvy in all the right places, and she frequently flashes what is for me–no hyperbole–the most gorgeous, breathtaking, mega-watt smile I’ve ever seen on a human being. Just on the skin-deep, shallow basis of looks, she’s way above my league.

        * She doesn’t try to change me–she is very demanding of me, she’ll accept nothing better than my A-game at all times, but it’s MY A-game, based on my natural talents and inclinations, not an A-game that I have to fundamentally alter who I am to accomplish.

        * Though she walks with a badass “take no shit from nobody” swagger, she really has one of the biggest, kindest hearts I know. In the moments where I’ve felt at the lowest in my marriage, that’s always the first thought that brings me back from my own hedonistic adaptation or frustration at something she’s done/said.

        * She loves to learn new things and is an eager “student of life”.

        * She’s a pet lover.

        * She wants me, but she doesn’t need me. That’s frightening for someone who leans to a preoccupied anxious attachment style, but it’s also kind of intoxicating.

        * She’s incredibly strong and self-sufficient; she commands my respect.

        * She’s forgiving, but not lacking in boundaries.

        * She’s lazy like me. She has a better balance of work time vs. play time than virtually any woman I’ve met and isn’t always buzzing about the next project, plan or needs-to-get-done. Her balance isn’t weighted as far over to the “play time” end of the spectrum as mine, but to quote Stephen King, it’s close enough for government work.

        * There’s not a single day I’ve ever known her where she has bored me. I find her endlessly fascinating and compelling.

        * She forces me out of my comfort zone. I’ve grown more in the six years I’ve known her than in the quarter century preceding.

        * I feel like a better person with her in my life because she inspires me to be the best version of myself.

        * And on and on and on…

        In terms of the sex life, it’s many things, but I think the part that really transports it for me is that she’s one of the rare women (at least in my own narrow sexual history) who completely unleashes herself to the experience. Whatever concerns she might have about her appearance, or sexual prowess, or concerns from the day, during that moment in time, she lets it all fall away and surrenders completely to what we’re sharing. I love how she approaches sex with total abandon and utter lack of self-consciousness. It’s not kinky, it’s not wildly acrobatic or experimental, it’s just her in a kind of pure state of openness and self-truth. It drives me out of my mind. Sex had always had these strange barriers of self-consciousness in its way, in my experience, but not with my wife. She gives of herself fully, gives TO herself fully, and there’s nothing I’d rather be around. I’m telling you, there’s a reason I showed up on MBTTTR is a cold, white panic back in January. I was confronting losing one hell of an extraordinary and exquisite person from my life, and it felt like giving up most of my organs without anesthesia would have been a preferable sensation.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Hey Travis,
          I was talking about the sex, of course. But, thank you for answering both.
          That (all of that) was really beautiful. She does seem like she has a really good head on her shoulders + a heart with some wisdom in it :).
          If there are any issues- it’s obviously your fault. LOL :)
          ..If I can externally process like our dear friend, Lisa…minus the research. :)
          I think your wife’s attitude with sex, and likely with how she views life (correct me if I am wrong) is an attitude of authenticity. That is incredibly admirable. I think her freedom to be herself in the most intimate and vulnerable ways to connect shows this. What an awesome gift for both you and her.
          What this is motivating/inspiring/confirming in me is an issue with my values. “Values” have been something I have been looking at for about a year. When I was confronted with the idea of possibly having an excess of funds (1st world problem, I know)- I had to ask what would I do with something that I don’t need and hardly know how to use, but, that is “mine”?.. I had to start asking myself what things are really important, ect. (please don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I won the lottery, but my salary will almost double and it kind of freaked me out.)
          Anyway- so this values stuff has been something in and out of my mind for a little over a year. I love hearing it’s importance in the context of relationships and even in just enjoying your life, here at MBTTTR.
          The thing that is really pressing in on me is that in my mind, when I “day dream” about the life I want, the issue of “vitality” comes up. To me that means fun, joy, adventure, challenge- actually doing the things that you day dream about doing! It also means rewarding yourself…getting what you want. It means living your life fully- willing to take risks, growing through the results and ENJOYING THE SPOILS, no?
          When I look at how I have actually lived my life, no wonder the suck factor has been at a 10.
          I have worked my tail off in jobs that sucked, working holidays for people with families, because I didn’t have one. Constantly continuing my education.
          I periodically get these deep, deep impulses and cravings to go spend a few days at the beach- even if its a beach that doesn’t compare to Florida or California in the slightest. But I always put the impulses and cravings off- it costs too much to take the dogs, it costs too much to board the dogs. If I want to go check out the observatory in west Texas, its the same things. Friends invite me to stay the weekend, I only stay for a day because of other obligations. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs- but life with my dogs is not so fulfilling (Wish I had reviewed my values back then…:), but really they would have likely been the same.)
          Right now, there is something else that is staring at me right in the face. I hope this doesn’t make you feel awkward Travis, but its plastic surgery. When I lost 80 lbs 20 years ago, my body didn’t just snap back into shape. It is something that I have wanted/needed to do the last 20 YEARS. 20 YEARS ! That is a long time to wait.
          In the past I didn’t have the money or the time (and still don’t have cash, but am willing to risk my credit.) It’s just gotten to the point where I HAVE to do this. I cant put it off another year, another 2 years, another 10 years. That is what I do, with anything that is really important TO ME- it can wait. It cant. I have to step up and say my wants matter in my life. And THIS is how I will do it.
          This is something really important to me. I know your just a stranger out there, who wants to better himself and his marriage. Sorry to unload on you, but it’s good for me to say it, and express what this is for me. Because it is a part of me living out my values.
          Any body shame I feel, or inward discomfort from feeling like I am not living my life fully will hopefully ebb away. The more steps forward, the further it will recede back.
          That’s my plan anyway. ..:)
          I think it will help me live more authentically, too , instead of literally trying to “cover up.”

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo,

        You nailed it. Authenticity. And there is nothing sexier than a woman who feels content and at home in her own skin, without need for bluster or inflated ego. Someone who doesn’t need to insist you recognize how awesome she is, but comes in to the room knowing it about herself and leaves it feeling the same way. Yes, my wife has that quality in spades. And yet, she’s human. Like all of us, she has moments of doubt, of fragile reconsideration of self. That’s where I, and I alone, am allowed to step into her moment of exposure, of naked vulnerability, and help restore her vision to how I see her. That’s an honorable position to hold.

        Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Alright, since it’s Q&A for Travis time, it’s my turn. Travis – how long have your and your wife been together?

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Six years. I know, I know. Plenty of time for things to still go in the shitter, right? LOL. But I feel like we weathered a major storm and came out of it stronger than ever, so I’m optimistic that if we keep flipping the bird to hedonistic adaptation, we’ll endure.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Pssst. It’s “hedonic.” Which doesn’t matter that much. Keep flipping that bird, sir.

          Like

          • Linbo says:

            If I had a mooney emoticon, I’d @ it to Matt because I am pretty sure he had to restrain himself from correcting my “on all counts” to “on all accounts”. …
            Sheesh… literate people. What do they know?
            Secretly,though I just kind of want to moon Matt anyway. This is what you inspire in me!
            Just being silly-blame it on lack of sleep or lack of coffee.
            Seriously, just kidding,sir. Lol :)
            Hope everyone has a good day!

            Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Matt said,

        “Pssst. It’s ‘hedonic.'”

        All this time, I’ve been living a lie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Actually 6 years is pretty good. My wife and I will be hitting 16 this week – and we were together 2 years before that.

        Be glad you’re seeing this stuff and running into your challenges now. For us, things were pretty damned good (I thought) for the first 11-12 years married. Then things started to go south, and the last 4 have been a struggle.

        In retrospect there were all sorts of signs of trouble long before, but I didn’t know how to read them – and truthfully probably wouldn’t have known what to do even if I did.

        Oh, to take todays knowledge and have access to a rewind button. I don’t think I would have done all that much differently, but I suspect I few minor changes here and there would have allowed us to get to today in MUCH better shape.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Travis said “* She doesn’t try to change me–she is very demanding of me, she’ll accept nothing better than my A-game at all times, but it’s MY A-game, based on my natural talents and inclinations, not an A-game that I have to fundamentally alter who I am to accomplish.”
        I think this a really good point that people should differentiate. Theres a difference between trying to get a guy to change (and it IS usually so the woman can have whatever fantasy she believed married life or her spouse to be. ) vs. Inspiring him to be his best. I think this is really huge in parenting,too.
        Just wanted to point it out. I didn’t yesterday.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “Secretly,though I just kind of want to moon Matt anyway. This is what you inspire in me!”

        You should. It’s fine. I show my ass around here all the time.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          LOL @ Travis! That may be “my good side”..:)

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          ok, that’s probably not true…: ).

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          You want me to show my ass..like really, really show my ass? I dont mean being disruptive or abusive. I mean being bare-assed. …Embarrassed.
          There are parts of me that are really screwed up. Or, I think they are screwed up. They definitely dont “work” for me.
          I come here because I like Matt’s words. I like the conversations you guys are having and I like that this does feel like a little microcosm of society. Like a group…you guys sometimes make me feel like I am part of “the cool kids”, so thanks….:) . If who we are in these exchanges is a small reflection of who we are out there, and I am inclined to believe it is, then I am confronted with some things about myself.
          I’m full of ambivalence as to whether any of this should or needs to be shared.
          If I do share, it is because I feel like it is part of the common goal of knowing, and owning my own shit. I want to share because I want/need other human beings to hear what I am experiencing and for them to say “yep- your human!” , or “I get it”, or “I dont get it, but youre still ok.”
          There is a part of validation that is very neccessary for human beings. While I dont want to live under anybody else’s definition of who I am, there is still a huge human need to be accepted by others.It’s almost a survival instinct. We would have never survived as the human race if we didnt do it together, socially.
          The validation I feel I need is more along the lines of forgiveness, the anti-shame. (You like that?, I just made that up :) haha:).. and It’s not because I necessarily feel guilty, as though I have done something wrong.
          There are tons of verses in the bible about forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 is an example:
          “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also forgave you.”
          This kind of forgiveness is restorative.
          Back in the old days (like the old testament days) people were sent outside of the camp if they were “unclean”. They usually died out there, or they lived with desert scavengers and fought for their food from dogs. The old testament scape goat, was a goat where the communities sins were layed on it, and then sent out of camp to wander in the wilderness and die. This is a picture of shame. It is disconnection from other human beings.
          Forgiveness means restoration back into the camp.
          It means again being with people, being accepted into society. That is the opposite of shame.
          I live with shame not from actions that I’ve done (ok- maybe a few actions) , but from who I was told I was. Shame is alive and well in me, though I know the damage that it does and it is not how I want to be.

          I question my ability to make decisions, and appear professional. That is my shame.
          I question whether the docs out here respect me and if any will want to work with me. That is my shame.
          I question whether Matt means those encouraging words he says, or if he really is just some snarky guy that is rolling his eyes and thinking negative thoughts about me. That is my shame. (And I may even do things that make that true!)
          I question whether something is wrong with me because I “hang out” here. That is my shame.
          I mean, the list can go on…

          When somebody doesn’t like you, or hurts you intentionally or unintentionally that can trigger all kinds of feelings of shame. (This includes you, Fromscratchmom!! :)

          Lisa reminded me of Matt’s words the other day-“It’s not your fault but it is your responsibility.”
          It’s hard to fathom how to get a hold of something as slimy as shame.
          Another friend of mine wrote this over year ago and I was reminded of it. It’s really good as a place to start.
          http://www.jimtherrington.com/quieting-the-shame-voice/

          I posted it on Matt’s facebook page, feeling like I was continuing a conversation. But, then I realized that Matt and I had never really had a discussion about this, but that I would like to have. Then I got embarrassed. That is my shame…

          All in all: my ass in a flash. I’m me, who really wants to be seen and loved in all my me-ness. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesnt.
          It’s the interpretation of what that means in regards to who I am when it doesnt happen that can warp.

          Must…resist…the shame…

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo, I have to confess that I do not relate whatsoever, but I do feel for what awful suffering your struggle must be. For me, I’ve never (and I’m talking, like, NEVER) cared one bit about fitting into society. Society once said it was right and proper to execute people who wouldn’t publicly confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Society once said it was right and proper to burn Jewish people in ovens. Society once said that black people should use separate restrooms and that gay people shouldn’t have the right to marry. To me, ‘society’ all too often is tantamount to ‘mob mentality’. Having said that, yes, I do believe human connection is vital for all of us. For me, though, the essential value of that connection lies its quality, not its quantity. I will impart this piece of rare wisdom (rare because I still laugh riotously at farts, so I’m not exactly Yoda): similar to the adage that the easiest way to find love is to stop looking for it, I have found that the easiest way to earn others’ acceptance and respect is to stop pining for it. Has anything useful ever come from shame? What valuable, productive thing has shame ever wrought?

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Travis you said “For me, I’ve never (and I’m talking, like, NEVER) cared one bit about fitting into society… To me, ‘society’ all too often is tantamount to ‘mob mentality’.”
        I agree with that. I have never been into “group think”- it becomes really easy
        for the individual to be swayed by the group. I get that. But, the society or camp, that I meant was actually more akin to friends or family.
        And, not to be contradictory- I bet you did care about what your dad thought, even if it were to avoid an ass-whooping (as Texan’s call them ..:)..and what about your boss?
        Alot of the shame stuff comes from the people closest to you that had power over you.
        You asked “Has anything useful ever come from shame? What valuable, productive thing has shame ever wrought?”
        I just want to be clear- I am not pro-shame. and I dont want to sound like I am a victim. I really was just trying to say- damn this is what I am experiencing.
        I know its not attractive to men, and it’s not something women talk alot about either,but I do think it is something everyone experiences even if in the tiniest bit. …Come, on- be honest…you experience shame. (Maybe not as much as I do, but…)
        For me, I am realizing how soo much of my hard wiring is geared towards the shame thoughts.
        I’m kind of giving it the middle finger by talking about it though.
        You are obviously not a fan of shame, but I am standing up and saying- Whoo, boy I have shame coming out of my ears.- Am I not telling shame to go to hell by admitting it?
        I think I am.
        But, anyway. Thank you for your empathy and your kindness.
        But, just so you know- I dont think Yoda would oppose a few good fart jokes. I’m just sayin…

        Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey Linbo, you bring up shame and acceptance – and the two definitely go hand in hand. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown is a great book on that, and on accepting yourself for who you are. In it she distinguished between shame and guilt, and from what I recall she defines guilt as a positive because it’s a recognition that “I have don’t something wrong”, while shame is pretty much useless and terrible because it is a perversion of guilt because it becomes about you instead of the action.

        I thought there were lotsa interesting and powerful ideas in there.

        Kind of like what Travis said though, I’m not sure if guilt is even always good because guilt is often about what we have been taught – and that’s not necesarily what IS. So we do things we’ve been taught are “wrong”, and over time we come to believe that this means “we” are bad, or somehow less, and therefore not worthy of things – love, caring, acceptance.

        Guilt is still important as we need it for our moral compass, as without it we are just sociopaths. But as people, we often get mixed up about guilt/shame and personal acceptance/self-worth. Which is totally understandable because as you say, acceptance is a key component to what makes us human and social creatures.

        Not really sure where I was going with this, but I kinda think I understand where you are coming from. There are a number of people I know/care about who struggle with serious anxiety issues (which spills over into relationships), and one of the core components of anxiety seems to be around perception and shame.

        The only thing I can really tell you is, often the people I know have very warped/negative views of how others view them. They feel shame about stuff and feel they are being judged about stuff that they aren’t really. Well, maybe they are too a degree (as we all judge at some level or another), but they blow things out of proportion in their heads and think people believe things about them that they really don’t. It’s really unhealthy, and it’s pretty hard to remap that thinking process.

        Since you started with talking about your ass, I guess body image in general is a similar thing. I’m usually quite saddened when I hear that stats about how unhappy most women are with their own bodies. Often it’s made out that it’s men who make women feel that way, and I suppose there’s a degree of truth there. Honestly though, pretty much all the guys I know love their wifes/partners bodies exactly as they are, and don’t understand why their partners can’t accept themselves.

        Guys are pretty visual, and being able to actually SEE your partner naked? Yeah, that never gets old. But that’s something that seems super difficult for a lot of people, as they can’t stand the sight of themselves naked.

        That’s actually one of my unofficial signs of self acceptance. Can you look at yourself naked in a mirror and be alright with what you see staring back at you? I think the answer to that has a lot less to do with what you actually look like and a lot more to do with self-acceptance.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Drew,
          I’m a big fan of Brene Brown. It has helped me understand alot about my internal workings.
          She also talks about shedding light on shame, even talking about shame, makes it lose its grip. Since shame has to do with disconnection, if you can talk to someone and say “I am feeling shame” and they dont disconnect from you- then you are disproving shame.
          You said:
          “The only thing I can really tell you is, often the people I know have very warped/negative views of how others view them. They feel shame about stuff and feel they are being judged about stuff that they aren’t really. Well, maybe they are too a degree (as we all judge at some level or another), but they blow things out of proportion in their heads and think people believe things about them that they really don’t. It’s really unhealthy, and it’s pretty hard to remap that thinking process.”
          This- the warped view of what others think is HUGE!! We all have our own internal tapes that tell us what the other person is thinking. And if our tapes are doused in shame- well, of course you think the other person is thinking huge negative thoughts towards you.
          This is the killer candy. (I dont know why I called it that- it just popped into my head, lol :)
          But it really does- it really hurts and can even kill relationships.
          It’s work “remapping”, but hell- what else am I going to do? I know what I am doing that hurts my life I have to do something to change it. That is why I brought it up- to speak it and for it to lose its power.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “the society or camp, that I meant was actually more akin to friends or family.
        And, not to be contradictory- I bet you did care about what your dad thought, even if it were to avoid an ass-whooping (as Texan’s call them ..:)..and what about your boss?”

        I didn’t have a dad (I was raised by a single mother) and as far as bosses are concerned, you shouldn’t underestimate my barely concealed disdain for most people in authority. That said, I understand what point you’re driving for and, yes, there are people whose positive opinion of me is desired, whether for emotional (family bond) or practical (remaining employed) reasons. But when I do something/make a decision that the family members or bosses of my world don’t agree with, I can’t say that I’m prone to feeling shame. Maybe some disappointment with myself would be the closest association, but it’s kind of the difference between me saying “I’m better than this and expect better from myself” and “I’m so pathetic; I never do anything right”. I’ve had the first thought many times, but rarely the second.

        “You asked “Has anything useful ever come from shame? What valuable, productive thing has shame ever wrought?”
        I just want to be clear- I am not pro-shame. and I dont want to sound like I am a victim. I really was just trying to say- damn this is what I am experiencing.
        I know its not attractive to men, and it’s not something women talk alot about either,but I do think it is something everyone experiences even if in the tiniest bit. …Come, on- be honest…you experience shame. (Maybe not as much as I do, but…)
        For me, I am realizing how soo much of my hard wiring is geared towards the shame thoughts.”

        I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear when I asked if anything useful has ever come from shame. I asked it hypothetically as a suggestion of something to ask yourself. I like practicality. I like things that I can put to use and see tangible payoff. So I just meant to encourage you to ask if the feelings of shame are something that add productive value to your life, or do they act as a barrier to your sense of fulfillment and self-actualization in life? If the latter, maybe that offer compelling evidence that you do yourself more of a service if you work to shed yourself of your shame.

        “I’m kind of giving it the middle finger by talking about it though.
        You are obviously not a fan of shame, but I am standing up and saying- Whoo, boy I have shame coming out of my ears.- Am I not telling shame to go to hell by admitting it?
        I think I am.”

        That’s the spirit!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Travis,
          you said “So I just meant to encourage you to ask if the feelings of shame are something that add productive value to your life, or do they act as a barrier to your sense of fulfillment and self-actualization in life? If the latter, maybe that offer compelling evidence that you do yourself more of a service if you work to shed yourself of your shame.”

          Here is the thing, I dont think you can shed shame by yourself- since it is rooted in a need for connection.
          So, I think I am guilty of making ya’ll the hapless accomplices in my bid to rid myself of shame. Sorry? Kind of, not really…It’s a good topic ;)
          I told you I was baring my ass, right? …maybe it’s better (I know it is) in closer relationship settings. But, the shame I was experiencing had to do with being a part of this “community”.
          so, I brought it up here.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        In the end, I just want it said who gives a flying fig if Matt really is just some snarky guy that is rolling his eyes and thinking negative thoughts about you? He thinks Dave Matthews is a good band. Do any of us really need the approval of someone like that?

        (* ribs Matt with elbow* We still cool, though, right, brah?)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Travis said “In the end, I just want it said who gives a flying fig if Matt really is just some snarky guy that is rolling his eyes and thinking negative thoughts about you? He thinks Dave Matthews is a good band. Do any of us really need the approval of someone like that?”
          LOL :). I may be going too far in answering this, because it wont affect your day to day life in the least bit, but it may affect mine.
          I am discovering that if there is an absence of relationship- like less communication, ect. The easier it is for me to feel shamed. What I mean is, the people I see and talk to more frequently, I have pretty good relationships with. I dont question their love or their like of me.
          It’s the people who arent there as much – that space leaves alot of room for interpretation.
          This really doesnt have anything to do with Matt at all- I know that. It has to do with me.
          But, it’s definitely a thing.
          Sorry Matt to make you such a target!!
          But the question still stands – why should I give a flying fig?
          I dont have the answer to that. But, for some reason- I do.
          Anyway. Thank you guys for talking with me!! Travis- I didnt realize you didnt grow up with a father. I will be more mindful of that.
          Hope ya’ll have a good evening!!- Sincerely, thank you for your time!!

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        ” Travis- I didnt realize you didnt grow up with a father. I will be more mindful of that.”

        Don’t sweat it a second, honestly. My mother gave me two parents’ worth of love throughout my life. I have no father-shaped hole in my heart to tread softly around.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Drew, you said “Kind of like what Travis said though, I’m not sure if guilt is even always good because guilt is often about what we have been taught – and that’s not necesarily what IS. So we do things we’ve been taught are “wrong”, and over time we come to believe that this means “we” are bad, or somehow less, and therefore not worthy of things – love, caring, acceptance.Guilt is still important as we need it for our moral compass, as without it we are just sociopaths. But as people, we often get mixed up about guilt/shame and personal acceptance/self-worth. Which is totally understandable because as you say, acceptance is a key component to what makes us human and social creatures. ”

        That is a very excellent point, Sir. Alot of times our guilt comes from a cultural context, and not necessarily a “right or wrong” (like hurting someone without cause is pretty much universally seen as wrong).
        But we do need guilt to function in the society that we live in…
        And I think you coined it much better than I when you said “acceptance is a key component to what makes us human and social creatures. “

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Drew, you said “That’s actually one of my unofficial signs of self acceptance. Can you look at yourself naked in a mirror and be alright with what you see staring back at you? I think the answer to that has a lot less to do with what you actually look like and a lot more to do with self-acceptance.”

        Honestly, I dont mind how I look in the mirror. I’ve had this body all of my life (well, more or less) so it doesnt freak me out.
        But there are other things- like not being acknowledged for busting my ass among instructors at the gym because I have loose skin. Shallow, shallow I know! But its the lack of recognition. It’s like erasing what you’ve done and saying “nah- it didnt count.” Again- it’s someone giving or taking away your identity. It doesnt bother you the first 6 times someone does it, but by the 100th time your like “fuck it.”

        It’s that, and its also the clothes. I have a beautiful silk top that I absolutely love. It really is beautiful. When I showed it to a friend of mine she smiled and she said “it is so you!” I love that top. Have a I ever actually worn it? Nope.
        Why? because it’s cut is just a little too high and it doesnt cover the pooch of a stomach that I have.
        Ok, I know this is getting too girly- but those are the things that contribute to body and self image.
        And there IS the man factor.
        I am thin, depending on which angle you look at me, or what part of my body is covered up.
        When guys see what my arms or what my stomach looks like believe me, they back away slowly.
        If a guy can honestly love a woman for who she is on the inside, then I probably wouldnt still be single today. …O but wait, I’m all screwed up on the inside, too.
        Well crap! ..LOL.

        Just got to keep on keepin on…
        Thanks for mentioning the body issue thing. We’re all goddesses :).

        Ok, so Im done for the day, really this time. Thank you guys for playing.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “Thank you guys for talking with me!!”

        I hope Drew and I have been more help than hindrance as you air your thoughts about shame. He and I may not be the best ones for speaking to this issue because, whatever our respective faults, he and I tend to be very self-secure, with our egos on even keel. In fact, he and I are so similar in this regard, we decided to form a band together: the Drew B. Brothers!

        (*Mr. Roper-turn-to-the-camera-and-grin-face*)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        Thanks for your response. I think we agree for the most part. And for the record, I can understand why you feel sensitive about the stereotypes around only children. I don’t think It is fair to be presented as spoiled brats since most only children are not.

        My mother in law told me that the teachers used to comment that my husband was “surprisingly well adjusted for an only child”.
        Ridiculous discrimination I agree.

        Ok the age thing is interesting. I understand you experience it differently but I encountered several male friends in their 30’s who would not date a woman in her 30’s because in their mind the pressure would be to get married and have kids.

        I had an acquaintance who was 40 who married a friend woman in her late 20’s because he didn’t want to deal with infertility issues for a woman his age. Nice to have that option as a man isn’t it? (I don’t mean this directed at you just generally).

        Which brings me to my next point, I understand you don’t place much value in the opposition to big age differences but I find it interesting in our society it is almost never the woman who is much older. Why is that? And it holds even if they already have children or don’t want children so it’s not solely a fertility thing.

        Would a 20 year old man marry a 40 year old woman? A 40 year old man marry a 60 year old woman. Much less likely than the other way around.

        I have my theories. :) but still mentally recovering from inlaws and other family staying with us over the weekend.

        It takes so much willpower for me to fake being sweet and supportive. ;)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,
        You said “I hope Drew and I have been more help than hindrance as you air your thoughts about shame. He and I may not be the best ones for speaking to this issue because, whatever our respective faults, he and I tend to be very self-secure, with our egos on even keel.”

        I am curious about this since you also said you had a tendency toward the anxious preoccupied style. Is it just in certain areas?

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa asked,

        “Which brings me to my next point, I understand you don’t place much value in the opposition to big age differences but I find it interesting in our society it is almost never the woman who is much older. Why is that? And it holds even if they already have children or don’t want children so it’s not solely a fertility thing.

        Would a 20 year old man marry a 40 year old woman? A 40 year old man marry a 60 year old woman. Much less likely than the other way around.”

        I have a personal theory but I don’t think you’re going to like it. Having said that, I think you’re more interested in getting at the truth than people being “fake sweet” to you, LOL. There are lots of theories about this, from the ego stroke of having “eye candy” on one’s arm to the increased ability to sire offspring, but in my opinion, one of the fundamental drivers of this type of behavior is that men desire relationships that are FUN, and it seems that, as they mature, it is more common for women to surrender their inner child than it is for men to willingly do so. Now, it is critical that I take a moment to recognize there’s nothing particularly fair about that assessment. There may be any number of reasons why, broadly speaking, middle-aged women tend to be less tolerant of, and amused by, immaturity, frivolity and fun for fun’s sake. 20-30 years of being married to someone who forced them to take on a pseudo-mother role may be a major contributing factor here, so let me reiterate excessively that I am not making a character judgment against women, and men probably have a lot of sins to account for committing in this dynamic. I simply feel that, irrespective of contributing factors, men tend to embrace Peter Pan syndrome much more than women do as they age, so there can often come a time when men feel like they relate more to the energy and vitality of a younger woman than a female of their own age. This is not the singular, defining characteristic of why an older man may select a younger female partner, by any means (in fact, my wife and I often vacillate between irritation and bemusement at all the people who half-jokingly, half-derisively refer to me as a “cradle robber” because the truth of what happened doesn’t even occur to them–that my wife pursued me, vigorously and with laser-focused intention, while I was very resistant for a while and took a fair amount of time to be convinced that this was the right road to travel for me and especially her; she usually surprises these types of commentators by responding, “He’s not a cradle robber; I was a grave digger!”), but I do believe it has a profound, yet seldom discussed, impact on this kind of behavior.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa asked,

        “I am curious about this since you also said you had a tendency toward the anxious preoccupied style. Is it just in certain areas?”

        I meant this simply in terms of liking who we are, feeling we are people worthy of love and respect. We’re comfortable in our own respective skins.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo said,

        Drew, you said “That’s actually one of my unofficial signs of self acceptance. Can you look at yourself naked in a mirror and be alright with what you see staring back at you? I think the answer to that has a lot less to do with what you actually look like and a lot more to do with self-acceptance.”

        I think it is awesome you are considering plastic surgery to get rid of the loose skin that bothers you. Obviously medical risks need to be weighed but I don’t think accepting your imperfections should be part of the equation here if it’s important to you.

        Because remembering your story, gaining weight had to do with your childhood? So getting rid of the loose skin would be one more way of removing damage done to you.

        But even if it just makes you feel more confident in your own tighter skin ;) that’s a valid consideration. Just like I paid for braces to help my kids have a confident smile. Or the coworker who had her prominent ears pinned and was very happy to look more average.

        And obviously everyone has a different take but I think getting the right balance between valuing our mind, emotions and body is hard.

        They are all important and equally part of us. So when I look on the mirror and don’t like what I see, self acceptance for what I can’t change has to balanced with action toward what I can. And cost benefit analysis for what I’m willing to do to change it.

        But it puts too much emphasis on the mind to not care about our body (I tend this way). Or to say that our spirit/soul is all that matters. Or healthy emotions like being kind and generous. All those things matter of course. But the body matters too.

        We should have healthy morivation in looking and feeling the best our body can without getting sucked into basing our self image solely on what we look like.

        For women especially this is hard to get right because of all the thousands of years of our value placed on youth and beauty that continues today. All that makes getting a healthy balance harder.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          Yeah- there is a lot here between your post and Travis’.
          Women have so much to compete with. Beauty, “Fun”, Youth, Intelligence…no wonder women are so crabby!!
          It’s really nice to have a man love you. Absolutely. But that isn’t guaranteed. 50% of married people divorcing tells you that even if you have a partner, you may not actually experience love.
          So those things are great for attracting men, and maybe on some days I have them and maybe on some days I don’t. But, Lisa- you are absolutely right.
          In the end, you have to look in the mirror and accept that “I am enough”. Period.
          I cant spend my life trying to fit the mold that anyone else wants me to be in, while denying who I actually am.
          I cant spend the emotional energy trying to be somebody I am not, instead of living fully into who I am.
          You are enough, Lisa. I am enough. We all are enough.
          I am getting the surgery- I need to get the surgery, but it really is for my own sense of satisfaction. It more has to do with the work I put into staying in shape, than anything. I need to be rewarded. I have thought before that the surgery would bring a sense of completion, so you are right about that- kind of like it would be correcting the past, or at least not letting it still be so present.
          I get to be fitted for a new birthday suit- who-hoo! :) lol.
          Of course, “when” may be a bit negotiable. I am going to go talk to some friends and let them tell me if I being crazy by doing it in Dec. Instead of waiting maybe until next May…
          But, I am going to do it.
          Maybe it will help my insides, I hope it does a little. I hope to have more positive experiences. But, there is no guarantee for that. And there is no nip and tuck surgery for how you think. So, I still have to be aware and vigilant with that.

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          BTW- I hope you get to recover from the weekend with your in-laws. Those fake smiles start to hurt after a while… :)

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        First of all you wife sounds so cool. I love her joke about being a cradle robber, so funny!

        I like your Peter Pan theory! That makes sense to me (although there are other things at play too). It also makes sense in terms of why men often have affairs. To feel appreciated, light hearted, etc.

        My husband sometimes talks about this kind of thing in ways I don’t understand so it is a good topic. He said he thought being married would be “just like dating”. Ha ha ha poor guy.

        But I have to say it never,never occurred to me that marriage would be just like dating not for no other reason that you now have to have two crazy families involved.

        I want to help him feel like our marriage is not all drudgery and obligations. I have no idea how to do that since so much of our life is drudgery and obligations. But I’m sure that is the wrong way to look at it that partly made my husband unhappy.

        And of course as you said, women are often forced into being the responsible ones. It’s hard to be lighthearted when you are responsible for keeping people alive.

        But it’s hard because I am a problem solver kind of person. You gotta problem, you work on it till its solved or at least come up with a plan to solve it.

        He can only do so much of that. I have no idea how much of that is because he is a man or just a difference in personality style. Or maybe both.

        It is identified as one of the top 5 style differences in spouses that cause conflict in Brent Atkinson’s work. Work first, then play vs. life is too short to work all the time. Or as my husband says “there’s always stuff to do”.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        Not to beat a dead anxious horse but I think of an anxious attachment style as not being comfortable in their skins. Not being certain they are worthy of love and respect.

        I mean I know in my conscious slow thinking brain that I am worthy of love and respect but often my fast thinking disagrees because of family stuff I experience even today.

        And my avoidant style husband inadvertently added to the patterns that reinforced my fast thinking to make it even stronger.

        But maybe you mean anxious preoccupied style in a different way than I am thinking.

        “I am curious about this since you also said you had a tendency toward the anxious preoccupied style. Is it just in certain areas?”

        I meant this simply in terms of liking who we are, feeling we are people worthy of love and respect. We’re comfortable in our own respective skins.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa said,

        “Not to beat a dead anxious horse but I think of an anxious attachment style as not being comfortable in their skins. Not being certain they are worthy of love and respect.

        I mean I know in my conscious slow thinking brain that I am worthy of love and respect but often my fast thinking disagrees because of family stuff I experience even today.

        And my avoidant style husband inadvertently added to the patterns that reinforced my fast thinking to make it even stronger.

        But maybe you mean anxious preoccupied style in a different way than I am thinking.”

        Well, it’s a very interesting point, and you may be quite right. This may be a failure to properly self-diagnose on my end. Honestly, I knew nothing about attachment styles until you brought them to my attention, then other commentators, like Drew, further embellished the concept, so I consider you guys much more qualified to accurately define attachment styles. I’ve tried to read more on the subject of attachment styles, and some of it has only muddied the proverbial waters for me. There seems to be consistency around identifying each style’s observable behaviors, but not as much in identifying their root causes. I’ve started to theorize that attachment styles may have some sort of interplay with the concept of the Five Love Languages. Let me illustrate how the dynamic works in my marriage:

        I’ll begin by noting that my top two love languages are Quality Time and Physical Touch. My wife’s, on the other hand, are Physical Touch and Acts of Service (with, interestingly, Quality Time ranking #4 for her and Acts of Service ranking #4 for me). Now I have always considered myself a very self-sufficient person. I have always had healthy self-esteem. I’m glad I was born me. I think I’ve turned out “all right”, and though I recognize, like any human being, I have my flaws and areas of opportunity, they’re all ones in which I don’t take any real shame, or feel lesser for/damaged by. As an only child, I grew up in my own company; I figure it’s likely one can only come out of that type of upbringing with either a great deal of self-loathing or an over-inflated ego and, between the two, I lean much more strongly to the over-inflated ego. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and though I am a champion of forging connections and relationships with people, I don’t believe they’re necessary for my self-affirmation. I don’t need my wife because I have no sense of self-worth without her. She makes me strive to be a better version of myself, to be sure, but she doesn’t “complete me” in that gag-me-with-a-spoon Jerry Maguire kind of way. I could survive without her. I would remain whole unto myself without her. If our marriage dissolved, I would understand that it was due to our mutual failure to properly and consistently practice critical relationship skills, not because either of us is fundamentally unworthy of love or happiness.

        All of that said, how I define love (Quality Time and Physical Touch) means that I perceive the most value in my marriage from intertwining my life and experiences with my wife’s. I know that there are many marriages that flourish when the two spouses spend ample time apart from one another (my mother and her husband are a prime example of this coupling). They’re like dueling sine waves, parting for a time, then reconnecting, then parting again, cyclically. That type of relationship dynamic doesn’t fulfill or appeal to me at all. It’s not that I desire my wife and I to be attached at the hip, but considering I already have a healthy sense of ego and self-satisfaction, the only reason for me to invest myself in a relationship is if I feel there is more joy and fulfillment in combining my life with someone else’s than remaining unto myself. So love to me is spending time with my spouse, engaging with her, talking, laughing, touching, living and experiencing the world united together as one. That way, I get all the great things that come from being me, with the addition of fresh challenges, perspectives and inspirations that my wife brings to the table which I otherwise wouldn’t experience. I don’t need her to make my life feel worth living, but she does enhance my life in immeasurable ways.

        So where we tend to feel what I perceive as a avoidant/anxious schism is when I feel like she’s pulling away (overtime at work, travelling for work–a major point of frustration for me, spending time with her much-wider-than-mine network of friends, etc.), it does cause me some anxiety, which destructively manifests itself by me clinging more tightly to her, causing her to further withdraw (you know how this works). For me, I want to impress that I didn’t enter a marriage with the intention of either of us subsuming our identities in each other; however, I did enter it with the intention of living and experiencing life with my spouse at the center of it, fully integrated with it. I spent the first two decades of my life as an only child. I’ve been in my own company enough to know exactly how I think and feel about EVERYTHING. Though I’m comfortable in my own company, it’s lost its luster. I no longer find it particularly compelling. It doesn’t help me grow and evolve anymore. It’s a kind of cul-de-sac of existence. For me (again, the love languages) love is defined by, and relationships hold value in, actively being in the presence of my spouse. My wife doesn’t define it that way. I was utterly stricken when we first took the Love Languages assessment; when I saw her score, I exclaimed, “Quality Time is #4 for you?! What’s the point of even being in love with someone and marrying them if you don’t really care if you’re spending time with them?!” I’ve had to learn (and it’s still a struggle sometimes, to be honest) that love is defined in different ways by different people. Just because there are times that my wife would rather sequester herself in the bedroom alone to read, or spend a weekend getaway with her girlfriends, or because she doesn’t stress about a night or two away from me while travelling for work, doesn’t mean she loves me less than I love her. She just defines love differently than I do. It’s something I’m learning to accept, even if I still struggle mightily to wrap my head around the concept. I seem to have babbled on at excess here, but I guess it boils down to the fact that, when my wife recedes from me, I feel a need to push harder for connection not because I fear she’s indicating I’m unworthy of her love, or that I have no sense of self without her, but simply because the value I take from uniting with her for life is actually living the rest of my life united. Though I always recognize that I’m fundamentally worthy of being loved, since my top two Love Languages require my wife’s physical presence, when she’s not there, it’s a struggle for me to actually feel like I’m being loved.

        Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Sheee-eet Travis, you and I may very well be the Drew B. Brothers. When you talked about love languages there, it seems like you and I are pretty damned similar in the things we are looking for and the things that make us feel valued in a relationship.

        For love languages I’m also a touch/quality time person – and I also have the belief that one of the main reasons I got married was to build my life WITH someone. So yeah, being an individual and being able to do your own thing is important. But the “we” is just as important as the “me”. And when the sense of “we” is breaking down, man, I start to feel threatened in the relationship.

        I can’t begin to comprehend relationships where people essentially act as two individuals who happen to have sex once in a while. I guess it works for many, but to me there would just be no fulfillment in that.

        I think of it as differences in the desired level of intimacy (both emotional and physical) in a relationship. Maybe one of the big keys to a happy relationship is to have someone who is looking for a similar level of intimacy. You wanna be super clingy together, great – you’ll both be happy. You wanna essentially be roommates, great. But when you both want different things in this way? I think that introduces conflict that has no real solutions.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        zombiedrew2 said,

        “Maybe one of the big keys to a happy relationship is to have someone who is looking for a similar level of intimacy. You wanna be super clingy together, great – you’ll both be happy. You wanna essentially be roommates, great. But when you both want different things in this way? I think that introduces conflict that has no real solutions.”

        Well, Lisa’s spoken many times to the fact that recognition of a problem is 9/10ths of solving it, and after the last several months of getting my marriage back on track, I’m strongly inclined to agree with her. Now that my wife and I are having concepts such as attachment styles introduced to us, it’s arming us with critical information which helps us practice better empathy with one another, and recognize that what we often see as cruel motives are really just natural tendencies and perspectives that vary from ours. There’s no maliciousness or ill intent to the other person at all (*notices all the women wince at discovering Travis is still in the “intention matters” club, but ignores it*). For me, it has made dramatic improvements to my emotional well-being to learn that there is absolutely no lack of love for me from my wife, it simply manifests itself differently from how I demonstrate, and naturally prefer, it. That discovery matters so much to me. So would a relationship with someone who also ranks Quality Time #1 run more smoothly? Possibly, maybe even probably, but that goes back to that whole thing you speak of with such passion–seeing only the positive in what you don’t have, and only the complications with what you do have. My wife and I may always struggle with occasional awkward points of me wanting what she perceives as a stifling excess of side-by-side time and her wanting what I perceive as an exhausting excess of needing to “pay alms to the Queen”, but better understanding these tendencies as how each other fundamentally defines and perceives love makes all the difference. It makes it so much easier to cater to, and more productively meet in the middle at a better balance of what we want with what the other needs.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis and Drew,

        I am laughing at the “alms to the queen” thing. My husband would love that one!

        I agree with you guys that it is frustrating to be paired with someone who has significantly different needs then our own. Yes! But it can be navigated with the right understanding and tools.

        The attachment style is a helpful way of explaining it. I read recently that it can be fluid. If you are in a relationship with an avoidant person you will become more “anxious” in response even if you have a generally secure attachment style. So it can vary by person and circumstance.

        I have a developed an avoidant style with my mother in law even though I am typically a secure/anxious style. Because she tries to control me and I don’t want to explode in anger so the best I can do is try and avoid as much as possible.

        Working on more maturity to avoid less. But she just gave me “helpful” unsolicited advice about what a too permissive mother (Ha!) I am a couple of days ago so avoidance seems good today. :).

        Because my husband tends avoidant, it pushed me toward a more anxious style in our relationship. And of course that pushed him further towards avoidant rather than secure.

        So the bottom line is, we tend towards one style but it changes depending on circumstance. You sound like you have a secure attachment most of the time Travis but your wife’s need for less quality time pushes you towards the anxious style which nudges her toward avoidant. Drew sounds similar?

        I have a similar dilemma. It was helpful to see it as a style difference. In our marriage counseling materials, Atkinson identified the top 5 style differences that cause conflict.

        The hardest one to overcome is what they label as Togetherness first vs Independence first. It is just so fundamental to how people feel loved that it messes with your mind if your spouse defines it differently.

        Now it’s interesting because my husband ranks quality time as number two and so do I.
        So why the problem? His quantity of quality time is much much lower than mine. And because I am looking a partnership mentality and he would like two sole proprietors who get together for dinner to talk. Yeah, no, not the same.

        I am an independent person I don’t want to do everything together but I also don’t want for each of us to do our own thing all the time too. I want to solve problems together and figure out how to divide things fairly.

        The sole proprietor framing makes me lean anxious as I try to get a partnership. The partnership framing makes him lean avoidant as he tries to maintain independence and not feel smothered.

        How to solve? Well it really helped to understand it as a style difference not a reflection of my needy, dependent nature or his selfish, Unabomber nature.

        And to recognize it is hard to accept. It requires grief over the loss of the relationship we would both prefer. I feel the loss deeply.

        But it’s part of the package deal we both come with to get the other good stuff we love.
        And we are working on rewiring the brain through specific exercises to not have the fast thinking brain automatically equate the style difference as a lack of love.

        But it’s tough. It is the biggest problem in our marriage no question. Because it picks on wounds we brought into the marriage. His feeling controlled and me not being able to count on people.

        And fully fixing it in our own marriage requires healing old wounds we didn’t cause. Yeah easy! But it can be done over time if you know what to do and are willing to do it.

        Like

    • Linbo says:

      Travis- Traitor! ..
      Just, joshing ya!

      Like

  17. zentrifiedlawyermom says:

    My husband had never been on an airplane when we first met (at age 32!) He told me that he didn’t need to go all these places, because he had read about them or seen them on tv. I enjoyed watching him eat crow the first time he saw the lights of Vegas or Times Square or the clear water of the Caribbean. I love to travel and I love to write about traveling, and I enjoyed your post! Do your son the favor of taking him on some adventures to broaden both of your horizons.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “Must…resist…the shame…”

    Hey, Travis and Linbo, shame is a nasty bugger and the kind of toxic shame that we are speaking of here, almost always stems from pride. It especially challenging when you add abuse into the mix, because pride is a bit like scar tissue, it layers itself over all that shame.

    It can be really counter intuitive to just sink into the shame fully and relinguish all pride, but that is how healing happens. Sometimes the more we resist something, the stronger it becomes. It can be really hard for people who have the kind of pride that wraps itself around feelings of unworthiness, because that doesn’t feel like pride, but it is, it revolves around “I” as in, “I am not good enough, I am not worthy, I caused this.” Tough words, but we have to come to understand that it isn’t all about us all of the time. Sometimes we are just the bug on someone’s windshield.

    In truth you could walk down the street half naked and half the people couldn’t be bothered to even look. :) Seriously we are neither as important nor as unimportant as we think we are.

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      insanitybytes22 said,

      “Seriously we are neither as important nor as unimportant as we think we are.”

      Quoted for truth! Put it on a t-shirt ‘cuz I’ll wear it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Linbo says:

      Hey, IB.
      We may see differently here. Am I right to say that what you are saying is that if we are feeling somehow less than, it is really a sense of pride because “who are we to expect to be anything at all?” I hope I dont sound harsh, or like a know it all, but
      I dont think that is a true reflection of how God sees us, or our purpose here on the planet.
      I’m a big fan of humility. For me that means accepting exactly who you are. The good and the bad (the good because God made you, the “bad” because you are not a complete work). I cant remember where I heard that definition, but it stuck and I have framed alot of my understanding about guilt, shame, self esteem and pride around it.
      God cares for us, he gave us the capacity for a personality and sense of self.
      Here are a few CS Lewis quotes that reinforce that this is true, for me:
      “The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting point, with which [God] has furnished him..” C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
      “He [God] wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.”C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
      Shame says that the self is “bad”, or whatever other negative adjective that is around, but its all bad (or negative adjective). Shame has to do with condemnation- complete and utter destruction. Shame is from (“shall we say- Sa TAN!” in my best Dana Carvey Church Chat Lady voice.)
      Guilt has to do with an action that was not right, but your self is safe because your action doesnt define who you are. Yourself is good and bad. Your actions can be corrected (And should be).
      I’m not sure how I would define pride, other than yes- a belief that we are more important than we are. But again, I dont come at it with a view point that man is unimportant. I think mankind is incredibly important. I may be proud of a few things. I am likely guilty of that, but that is one of those things that can be changed. All kinds of confusion can happen when people start condemning pride. People believe it is not ok to feel good about themselves, or to acknowledge their accomplishments. What happens when that occurs? People dont live and function to the capacity that they are truly able. It’s like saying- yeah, God- I see you gave me this Rolls Royce, but I know that you dont want me to be prideful of it, so I’m just going to treat it like an ’87 Buick. I dont care if it gets dinged up in the parking lot. I hardly keep the maintenance up. …or maybe a better analogy is the parable of the talents. “I knew you were a hard master, so I hid your treasure..”
      I bring up shame because it is has a real impact in peoples real lives. People live with shame and arent even aware of it because we are so steeped in it.
      It isnt healthy. It affects relationships, because it affects how I view myself and it warps how I view others. That is dangerous and destructive. And, I believe it is something we all have.

      Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        First of all, it took so much courage to be vulnerable and write about your feelings of shame here! You should be proud of yourself for putting it out there for comments that may or may not give you more shame.

        Really that’s amazing. :). Instead of shame you deserve to feel great pride in yourself!

        I don’t have time for all I want to say but in my simple flow chart brain it looks like this.

        You had a difficult neglectful childhood. People who should have provided you a sense of safety and unconditional love didn’t. It has understandably left you with an anxious attachment style. (I have one too).

        Your brain didn’t grow up with the thousands and thousands of little moments of comfort and connection and unquestioning love that securely attached people did

        Your brain’s fast thinking is ok if you get good positive feedback but fills in gaps with the old patterns of people not acting in loving ways that let you know you are safe and loved.

        That you are worthy of love. And it is right to do that because that has sadly been what has happened too many times.

        Let me step back from the flowchart and just tell you how wrong it is that you feel that way. It is not your fault that you feel that way!!!!

        It is the result of other people’s decisions and flaws and neglect and abuse. It has nothing to do with you or your worth or ability to be loved.

        It is a lingering side effect or abuse. Mental scars from emotional abuse like some have physical scars from physical abuse. It is other people’s fault that you fight feeling worthy! It is not your fault.

        But it is your responsibility to work on it so you can feel loved. And you are doing that. Fighting the guilt and shame that really belong to your abusers not you. It is part of the abuse that they want you to carry it for them.

        It makes it harder to heal when they won’t own their shit and deeply apologize for the damage they did to you. But you are doing it anyway despite all the obstacles.

        Fighting for the whole secure brain you should have been given.

        The brain that feels deeply loved. That KNOWS she is worthy of love. ALL the time.

        I am so sorry you don’t feel deeply loved. My childhood was so much better than yours and I feel that way a frustrating amount of my day even though I “know” I am worthy of love and have people that care about me.

        If someone doesn’t respond in a way that reinforces they value me it triggers deep insecurities. I even sometimes feel that way in these comments even though I consciously know it is crazy to feel that way so I understand what you are taking about.

        It is not the slow thinking brain at work, it the old abusive fast thinking wanting to feel loved at last by someone you care about in small ways and big.

        You are loved Lindsey. You are worthy of being loved. I am so glad that you are part of our little comment community here.

        You bring a unique perspective and your honesty and vulnerability and courage inspire me! Keep loving your brain and telling her she is safe and loved!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Thank you, Lisa. Seriously and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for those words.
          They are such a blessing to me. And you are loved, too :)

          Like

      • “Am I right to say that what you are saying is that if we are feeling somehow less than, it is really a sense of pride because “who are we to expect to be anything at all?””

        No that’s not it at all. Bullies are arrogant and packed with pride. So are those who are shy and withdrawn, thinking themselves unworthy. Shame goes with pride, always. Pride is painful stuff, it is never about feeling good about yourself. In a Christian context, that is one reason why we die to self. No pride , no shame either and no ability for anyone to ever humiliate us or make us feel less than. So, in faith we surrender all, an act of humility, which lets go of shame and also the pride that causes it. We are washed clean, we become a new creature, representing Him not ourselves.

        So, in trying to resist shame as if we can just will it away, we will actually often just make it stronger. That’s the problem with pride, we tend to believe we ourselves have the power to over come it. CS Lewis also said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          IB,
          I do really like that C.S.Lewis quote, and I probably should listen to it and follow its advice.
          :).
          The other stuff, I don’t disagree with 100%, – I mean, I think it’s wise to “die to self”- but it’s not human obliteration that God is after. It is kind of seeing a bigger picture. It’s understanding, like the quote suggests, that you aren’t the only one or the only thing in the world- that there is something bigger that you are a part of. I can see how believing that you are more important than everything else relates to pride. I don’t see how that relates to shame, though. The way I am understanding, shame at least.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        I know this is not Sunday School but I thought I would throw one of my favorite passages to highlight the honor/shame culture it was written in.

        I am not a Bible scholar so obviously this is based in my reading and research. Being “proud” of yourself in that culture meant to be boastful and immodest to others detriment. It did not have the modern meaning of self esteem.

        The beauty of this passage is it emphasizes those we think of with less honor we treat with “special honor”

        God “giving greater honor to those who lacked it”. Like slaves or Gentiles or women in ther culture. Abuse victims in this question.

        I love this because it is the same emphasis as Ephesians 5 with those with honor (and power and privilege) modeling Christ by lifting up those with less honor to be equal with them.

        So I think of your sense of shame like that. Victims of abuse who were not given honor but were given undeserved shame are to be treated with “special honor”.

        It is not prideful to do this brcause it is treating an “unpresentable” part with “special modesty.” Modesty is the opposite of pride in that culture.

        And of course, the passage continues on to talk about love how love is not proud in a boastful sense but that is not what victims are feeling. They just need love and honor.

        To give love and honor to victims that never received it. To lift them up because those who have been loved and honored recognize their pain and suffer with them and rejoice with them when they are finally honored. “If one part suffers, ever part suffers with it. If one part is honored, ever part rejoices with it.”

        Unity and Diversity in the Body
        12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many….

        21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

        22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

        And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,

        25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

        26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Hey Lisa,
          I dont know why, but this was in my spam folder. I suspect some other messages are to that I need to go read. No sweat with the bible verses. I get what you mean and I appreciate the sentiment.
          But, I do always picture “the dishonorable parts” to be “the bathroom parts”, so while I’ve read this verse and have received comfort from it, I really work hard to not feel like “the bathroom parts”.
          Really, I try not to let what I did or did not receive define me.
          I would rather be defined by what I do with what I’ve got.
          My favoritest, life time verse is “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children….God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
          Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] SO THAT THE LAME MAY NOT BE DISABLED, BUT RATHER HEALED.”

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        What I left out is that in my view the pairings are honor/shame (many non western cultures are based on this).

        Pride and modesty and also paired in these cultures. (Modestly does not mean not wearing a miniskirt, it is about not flaunting your wealth or privilege).

        That is one of my problems with Brene Brown’s framing of shame as always bad. It is an individualistic Western framework to think about it this way.

        Shame can be useful in helping people “do the right thing”. Many Asian cultures like China are based on bringing honor and not shame to your family.

        But I agree with you that shame is bad in the way victims experience it.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa and IB
          Brene says: “Based on my research and the research of other shame researchers, I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.

          I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.

          I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.”
          So guilt and shame are different. Guilt can be helpful,
          It can be a motivator for change.
          Shame is about feeling as
          Though there is something intrinsically wrong with you. It separates you from other people- it takes you out of the reach of empathy.
          Did you know those eastern Asian cultures that typically use shame also have the highest suicide rates?
          They don’t beleive that mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is outside of the persons control- that is why mental illness is a huge shame factor in traditional Asian cultures. (I hope I am not offending anyone who identifies as Asian reading this!!- it’s just what statistics say.)
          I tend to stick with the above definition of shame because I think it grasps a few different aspects. It’s not about doing wrong, it’s about “being” wrong and the effect that has on connection.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

        I’m glad you clarified this definition (and, for whatever it’s worth, it matches my own personal definition of “shame”) because, though I believe there is nothing but positive intention in insanitybytes22’s and Lisa’s feedback, I think it may be limited in its helpfulness because everyone’s definitions of “shame” don’t necessarily align. In order for the conversation to reach maximum potential, all contributing parties have to be speaking Linbo’s language, so to speak. I think I have a hazy grasp on what insanitybytes22 is trying to convey, but it’s a struggle for me, too, because her definition of “shame”, while very possibly valid and supported, seems rather esoteric. Now that you’ve clearly defined what you mean by the word “shame”, I’m curious to see how that will shape further feedback because I’d love to see you receive some real meat-and-potatoes perspective on this issue. My mantra of “no one has the right to make you feel shame because everyone on this planet pisses, farts and shits just like you do” probably only goes so far with someone who has deeper seated shame issues.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Brene and I disagree on a few things. One of which is the individualistic nature of her research focus. As opposed to cultural in
        a collectivist society.

        Shame like any other emotion can be used to good purpose or it can be used for bad and cause someone to commit suicide. Yes I agree with Brene.

        I actually think we need more shame as a society. It certainly would help our politics.

        My husband is ashamed now that he left me alone in the hospital.

        I am ashamed I yelled at my daughter. It spurred me to action to change. Because I was guilty of yelling at her and ashamed of myself for allowing myself to treat her that way. Ashamed of myself as a shitty mother.

        But it’s not fatal. The shame helped me realize I was “bad” at that moment and I needed to change. And so I did.

        I figured out what I needed to do and change in myself so that I would not be guilty of yelling at my daughter again or ashamed of myself for being a shitty mom.

        And I asked for my daughters forgiveness for my unforgivable sin and she gave it. Shame helped me be forgiven because it offers no excuses by focusing on actions or intentions.

        I told her I was a shitty mom who yelled at her because I was selfish and stupid and immature.

        I was wrong, not just my actions but “me”, my thinking, my being, I was a shitty mother.

        But as I said in the C section post. You change an unforgivable sin into a forgiveable one by acknowledging it as unforgivable and asking for forgiveness. There is forgiveness and grace. I had to forgive myself too.

        Shame helps me do that.

        Because her shitty mom made her feel like she was “bad”, she felt unwarranted shame, and I had to tell her that shame she felt was mine not hers. I took it from her because it was mine to own.

        But to do that I had to acknowledge It was shameful. Shame was appropriate to the situation. It is the appropriate emotion for a shitty mom.

        Victims often take on their abusers shame. And it is not theirs, they deserve NO shame.

        I am sure there are many that don’t find it helpful to frame it this way and I say whatever works to make us all act in loving ways is helpful. (See I’m working on flexibility! :)

        But I have been recently focusing on Antonio Damasio’s research on emotions and Karla McLarens work that ALL emotions (even those we try to avoid because we code then negative) have value in the proper context and and intensity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa said: “Brene and I disagree on a few things. One of which is the individualistic nature of her research focus. As opposed to cultural in a collectivist society. ”
          Ok, Im not sure if you can call her work individualistic. Its true she does qualitative research. She collects stories. But she has collected into the millions of stories over more than a decade. That information is then translated into qualitative- where you can put numbers to it. That is a wider range of participants than many “scientific studies”. And, I think DOES represent a cultural perspective.

          Lisa said “I actually think we need more shame as a society. It certainly would help our politics. ”
          On a personal level this makes me a little sick to my stomach. I think our politicians hide, lie and cheat BECAUSE of shame.
          Imagine it- your looking in the mirror and some voice tells you : “You are a completely disgusting slime for sleeping with that prostitute. If your wife new, she would divorce you. If your children knew, they would never look at you the same. If anyone ever finds out about this I will be ruined.” That doesnt initiate any sort of CHANGED behavior- that initiates COVERING UP behavior.
          Instead the scenerio could go.
          “I did something awful. I was under stress at work, my wife is busy and hasnt been physically available to me. I had to get release somewhere. But, now I have possible exposed myself to a venereal disease, and I could face alot of heat if this was publicly known. I am guilty of doing this, but I know I have control over my behavior vs. my behavior defining me. Maybe I need to find a new release. ..”

          Lisa said “My husband is ashamed now that he left me alone in the hospital.

          I am ashamed I yelled at my daughter. It spurred me to action to change. Because I was guilty of yelling at her and ashamed of myself for allowing myself to treat her that way. Ashamed of myself as a shitty mother.

          But it’s not fatal. The shame helped me realize I was “bad” at that moment and I needed to change. And so I did.”

          That isnt shame- thats guilt. It is important to differentiate.

          Lisa said “I was wrong, not just my actions but “me”, my thinking, my being, I was a shitty mother.”- But that wasnt “you”. You may have felt shame. True. But, the bugger of shame is that you dont separate your self from your actions. And you did do that!
          It doesnt matter how big or small the sin is. THAT isnt what makes shame, shame.
          Its not your guilty until you do something really big- then its shameful.
          Shame is the thing that says “I am not good enough to be with other people, or feels like your connection with other people are threatened. Shame makes you hide things to maintain those connections.

          Lisa said “But I have been recently focusing on Antonio Damasio’s research on emotions and Karla McLarens work that ALL emotions (even those we try to avoid because we code then negative) have value in the proper context and and intensity.”
          This is going to sound weird, but I almost want to pull shame out of the emotion pile. While shame causes pain, it is more like a thought pattern than an emotion that just comes and goes.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        But see, Lisa, I still think you’re using a different definition of “shame” than Linbo is. Not less accurate or worse in any way, just different in a way that may be curtailing the effectiveness of your feedback to her. Linbo defines “shame” as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection”. This definition does not apply to what your husband did to you in the hospital, or what you did to your daughter. Those are things for which your husband and you respectively feel GUILT for, not (in the lens by which Linbo is considering it) shame. Linbo has already stated that she agrees there is value in having guilt–in other words, a conscience–compel you to make self-improvements, but what possible value is there in a feeling that makes you feel flawed and unworthy of love and connection?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        I agree we are using different definitions. I don’t agree with Brene Brown’s definition.

        Here is a McLaren quote that sums up my view. Focusing on guilt is a weasel word. Love that.

        “First, I take guilt out of the shame equation, because it’s a weasel word in relation to shame. Shame, which is often thrown at us or pressed onto us by others, can be so overwhelming that we’ll take a detour and say, “I feel guilty” rather than naming the emotion and saying “I feel ashamed of myself.”

        But here’s the problem with that: guilt isn’t an emotion; it’s a legal fact. Either you’ve done something wrong and you’re guilty, or you’re innocent and not guilty. Emotions don’t enter into it.

        What you feel when you’ve done something wrong is shame: the rush of heat, the clenching feeling that stops you from talking or acting … it can be miserably uncomfortable. So no wonder we weasel around it and avoid it and refuse to listen to it.

        But that’s a mistake, because shame, which is anger at yourself, is the primary emotion that makes you honorable and capable of being a worthy relationship partner, colleague, and mensch.

        Shame is certainly an emotion that can overwhelm you, but when you can get into a healthy empathic relationship to it, it can be your best friend. Shame can make you very sensitive socially, so that you’ll be able to stop yourself (gently and appropriately) before you say or do something wrong.

        Healthy and appropriate shame will also help you make amends if you realize that you’ve hurt someone, stuck your foot in your mouth, or broken a social rule.

        The trick with shame is to name it as itself, welcome it in its authentic, internally-driven form, and reduce the amount of toxic, externally-enforced shame that clogs up your system.”

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa said,

        “I agree we are using different definitions. I don’t agree with Brene Brown’s definition.

        Here is a McLaren quote that sums up my view…”

        Personally, I’d say McLaren’s quote seems to a) be hung up on semantics, with a rather narrow and forced definition of “guilt” to suit her thesis, and b) seems to further constrain shame to being an emotion initiated by ones’ self, with no discussion of how it can be bestowed upon someone by others (which is germane to Linbo’s definition of “shame”), but at least you and Linbo have more distinctly defined your respective interpretations of the word “shame”, so maybe that will help everyone “work toward the middle” of mutual understanding. I’d like to see that happen because, from my vantage point, it was starting to look like everyone was speaking just slightly different enough of dialect from each other for it to present a breakdown of communication.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis and Linbo,

        First I don’t want to do ANYTHING that would add to you sense of misplaced shame and social anxiety.

        I totally agree with you that it is horrible to feel that way and it is in no way your fault that your brain struggles to feel loved and worthy.

        I am glad you find Brene Brown’s framing helpful to help you heal. Many people do and I like many of her concepts.

        But I think the way she frames the difference between guilt and shame is wrong and makes it easier for people to not feel the appropriate level of intensity of emotion for doing something that hurts others.

        I think it helps people who tend to take on too much shame but is harmful to set up societal boundaries for those who don’t feel ENOUGH shame. We have both problems. And it confuses when it is appropriate to feel shame.

        It is NOT appropriate for victims like you to feel ashamed. That is their abusers shame they have taken on as part of the abuse. It needs to be pushed away as part of healing and learning healthy boundaries. Shame is absolutely not appropriate for a victim. But it is appropriate for the abuser.

        Because in my view, shame like all emotions is useful in the right context and in the right intensity. Like many medicinal cures, it is toxic when applied incorrectly. I agree with Brown there. But sometimes you don’t get shame applied when it should be.

        That’s how you get conversations that focus on motivations and intentions and women being abandoned in the hospital framed as being promised that you will hurt them and it sucks for them if they don’t like that. Yeah no. Not enough shame in that framing.

        “The Gifts of Shame: Restoring Integrity
        Integrity ~ Atonement ~ Self-respect ~ The capacity to amend your behavior

        Shame is a form of anger that arises when your boundaries have been broken from the inside – by something you’ve done wrong, or have been convinced is wrong.

        While anger is the honorable sentry that faces outward and protects your boundaries from external damage, shame is the sentry that faces inward and protects your internal boundaries (and the boundaries of others) from your own incorrect or ill-conceived behaviors.

        Shame is a vital and irreplaceable emotion that helps you mature into a conscious and well-regulated person. With shame’s assistance, you’ll be able to honorably monitor your emotions, your thoughts, your desires, and your behavior.

        However, if you don’t have conscious access to your own authentic shame, you won’t understand yourself, you’ll be haunted by improper behaviors and compulsions, you may explode with the toxic shame that torments you, and you’ll be unable to stand upright at the center of your psyche.

        The questions for shame are: Who (or what) has been hurt? and What must be made right? These questions help you stand upright and use shame honorably; you won’t be painfully shame-filled or guilt-ridden; instead, you’ll have a compassionate sense of ethics, the courage to judge and supervise your own conduct, and the strength to amend your behaviors without inflating or deflating your ego unnecessarily.

        When you successfully navigate through your authentic shame, you’ll feel proud of yourself, and you’ll move naturally into happiness and contentment.

        When shame arises in response to your own authentic and addressable flaws or missteps, it flows appropriately (and often a step or two in front of your behavior).

        If you welcome your appropriate shame, you’ll stop yourself before you do something foolish, before you say the wrong thing, or before you enter into unhealthy behaviors or relationships.

        Authentic and appropriate shame will help you turn away from your own maliciousness, charlatanism, and thievery – even when no one’s looking. It will keep you punctual, polite, and upstanding, and it will lead you gently but firmly away from the path of temptation.

        Authentic shame will stand at your inner boundary and monitor everything going out of your soul and everything occurring within it. With its honorable assistance, you’ll become a conscientious and well-moderated asset to yourself and our world. As a result, you’ll experience authentic self-respect – which will lead you time and time again to true contentment and happiness. Hah! I’ll bet you’ve never heard that before. Shame is good?

        Most of us were not taught to welcome or work with our authentic shame and remorse (which all of us feel naturally, especially when we’ve hurt someone); instead, most of us were taught about shame by being shamed.

        Authority figures such as parents, teachers, peers, and the media often attempt to teach and control us by applying shame from the outside, instead of trusting our natural ability to moderate our own behavior.

        As a result, many of us can’t identify our own shame, which is actually sensible, momentary, and empowering: Your hand goes out for a cookie, you realize you don’t need it, and you walk away. That’s authentic, free-flowing shame working properly. Afterward, you feel strong and aware, and you simply live by a moral code.

        You floss because you like clean teeth, you avoid drugs, adultery, and crime because they’re uninteresting, and you treat people well because it feels right. That’s what your free-flowing shame feels like.

        The first task in working with shame is to welcome it with open arms. When your shame arises in the presence of others (it usually appears first as an internal pull in the gut, a flush of heat, a momentary speechlessness, or a sense of internal caution), it’s important to listen to your shame. If your shame stops you before you say or do something shameful, you can thank it and make your necessary preemptive corrections.

        If you don’t know why your shame has come forward, you can ask yourself or the people around you if you’ve done something incorrect (Who – or what – has been hurt?), and apologize or make amends if necessary (What must be made right?). If you can openly welcome your shame, it will recede naturally (and swiftly) once it has helped you make your correcting actions.

        Then, your contentment and happiness will arise naturally, and you’ll move forward as a smarter, stronger, and more honorable person. Go you!

        Yes, shame can be a toxic and incapacitating emotion. It’s a rapids-level emotion for many of us, but when an emotion is powerful, it doesn’t necessarily have to be dangerous. As natural empaths, we humans were built to be able to deal with emotions and the social world. We just kind of forgot.

        When you’re dealing with shame or any other supposedly “toxic” or “negative” emotion, remember that emotions and empathy are your first language. Yes, your emotions can sound like gibberish, but they each have a very specific function and a very important message to give you.”

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa, you said “But I think the way she frames the difference between guilt and shame is wrong and makes it easier for people to not feel the appropriate level of intensity of emotion for doing something that hurts others.”
          Here is the thing- and it what I didnt get to the first time around (when talking about the political people)…
          Ratcheting up the level of intensity of the emotion will not increase the chances for change. It will make people hide their behaviors.
          We are self protective creatures. That is why we lie, that is why we have the psychological defense mechanisms that we do. We have to protect ourselves.
          If we do something wrong, and it is pressed in (either by oursleves, or externally) that whatever wrong doing it is , is SOOOO bad. It is a heck of alot easier to cover it up- because o my God!! Everyone thinks I am soo bad because of this , and I cant have them think of me that way, and I cant think of me that way- so lets just bury this.
          Is that making sense? …
          I wish I were as articulate as I used to think I was…:)

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis, you asked

        “but what possible value is there in a feeling that makes you feel flawed and unworthy of love and connection?”

        I think a lot of things are getting mixed up here as you said.

        I disagree strongly with Brene Brown’s definitions. I think they are a common way to
        think about it because we label “shame” as always bad.

        To answer your question above is that shame can be good. It highlights a state of disconnection and being flawed and unworthy of love and connection.

        But the correct framing is that is temporary. That is the correct amount and use of shame. Too much shame is not good. I agree. But it is a matter of dosage not that shame as an emotional state is bad when you are ashamed.

        If you feel ashamed when you shouldn’t it is a question of understanding why and what the appropriate emotion is. A victim often does feel shame but that is not appropriate. It is part of healing to understand that.

        But it is not shame as an emotion that is the problem. It is taking on shame that belongs to your abusers. THAT is the correct framing in my view. It is part of the abusive pattern that needs to be stopped by pushing the shame away from you and assigning it correctly to the abuser. Even if they won’t take it and keep trying to push it on you. It is all a matter settled in your own brain. Healthy boundaries is the remedy not saying shame is bad.

        I have to do a version of this with my family all the time. Figuring out which parts are mine that I need to feel appropriate shame and take action and pushing back on shame that doesn’t belong to me even when they tell me it does.

        I had to do it recently, spending hours crying in pain and grief because people aren’t willing to apply proper shame and try to push it on me. But I sort it out in my brain eventually.

        Boundaries and emotional regulation for the correct application of shame is the focus not avoiding shame. It is figuring out where the shame properly belongs that is my challenge. And owning my shit if I should be ashamed as I sometimes should be.

        Victims often combine inappropriate shame with mental illness like social anxiety or depression or generalized anxiety disorder. That all gets lumped into feeling “shame”.

        It’s a miserable stew that needs empathy and love and boundaries and good mental help to cure.

        I have said all this to clarify my own processing and abstract framing. I hope I haven’t said anything to make Linbo feel badly or not supported. Everyone has different ways of making sense of their pain and finding relief. This is just mine.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Well, Crap!
        I’ve lost my super power to reply to each message where I want to!
        Lisa- dont worry about speaking your mind! It’s ok.
        I honestly just never heard anyone disagree with Brene Brown.
        I tend really buy in to things I deem as true. I cant say I will be swayed, but- absolutely, if you have a different perspective then I’m not going to say dont speak it. Alot of times, like Travis said- you can kind of find where things meet in the middle.
        There are usually a few things that overlap in “theories”, and maybe that is where we can find something that is more apparent to everyone. ..
        BTW- where is Donkey- I need her analogy skills…

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        You are quite articulate!

        I think we agree on 90% of things but arw using different framing and definitions.

        When I was taking about Brown’s individualistic approach it was not a rejection of her scientific research. I mean that it focuses naturally on Western individualistic society definitions like we have in the US as opposed to a collectivist society like China where the focus is not on the individual needs or emotions.

        They will naturally have a different view of what is helpful or harmful in terms of guilt or shame because the entire systems are different. And we have become MORE individualistic in the last 60 years for better or worse.

        So in my mind I am trying to figure out how much of this is “human” vs how much is based on our culture. A culture that I think has become less willing to accept moral framing in general.

        As we discussed in many posts about how much do values and intentions matter? Is it ok to divorce casually so you can be “happy” even if children won’t be? Can everything be framed as a perspective difference or are there some things that are just right and wrong?

        These questions are all linked in my mind to Brene Brown’s definitions of shame and guilt.
        So that is why I don’t like her definitions. But most people would probably agree with you in our culture.

        The women in my accidental group therapy that I thought was a Brene Brown book club agreed with you more then me (although they disagreed with her on other points).

        I do have Chinese and Korean friends that tend to agree with me so maybe I need to move to Asia ;)

        Or just be ok with other people not agreeing with me. But that requires maturity and differentiation on my part so moving might be easier than continuing to try and rewire my brain to be more mature. ;)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Hey Lisa,
          I hope I didn’t sound like I was somehow blocking you. I really appreciate your sympathy and words of compassion. I really do. Someday I absolutely need them- other days I feel like “I’ve got this”- and don’t need sympathy and compassion. But I do,still really appreciate your kindness. *virtual hugs*

          Like

      • Linbo says:

        Travis said “I’ve been in my own company enough to know exactly how I think and feel about EVERYTHING. Though I’m comfortable in my own company, it’s lost its luster. I no longer find it particularly compelling. It doesn’t help me grow and evolve anymore. It’s a kind of cul-de-sac of existence.”

        Totally get this.

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Maudit! I can’t keep up with all of you! I keep reading here and there but all in all, can’t keep up.

        Trying to keep up with the weather change here. Sorting summer clothes and getting rid of boots. Can you believe it was “feels like 2° last week” and now it’s “feels like 32° ” !!

        I really was supposed to be born in sunny California… long story, but true!

        Ya, where’s Donkey?

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          LOL By George. I felt the same way until I quite my job and moved into my parents basement!! :)
          Just joking with that. I have been on break from school and a really light work schedule, so it’s easier to keep up.
          I have to say, I’m in Texas so 32 degrees does not seem like incredibly warm weather, but I’m sure its preferred over 2 degrees. …
          That’s painful just thinking about it!!

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “I have to say, I’m in Texas so 32 degrees does not seem like incredibly warm weather, but I’m sure its preferred over 2 degrees.”

        I could be wrong but I read bygeorgeithinkyou’vegotit as speaking in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Otherwise, yeah, why would somebody be sorting summer clothes when it’s literally freezing outside?! LOL! ;-)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Travis,
          I can’t be responsible for what Canadians do. All that cold whether may be effecting thier minds- perhaps there was some delusion of summer?
          Lol- just kidding. I must have skipped over the detail that it was summer clothes because I was stunned at the thought of 32 degrees. Hand to forehead, shakes head- context clues. Sheesh …:)

          Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        LOL! Ya, 2°C is approx 35° F, and 32°C is approx 85° F! Quite the shift in weather in a few days.

        What IS painful is in January when temperatures drop to “feels like -42°” and you literally can’t breathe! That translates to exactly -43.6 F!!! (I had to look it up)

        VERY painful and quite dangerous!! I live in the vicinity of one of the coldest capitals in the world. I’m not lying! ;)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          By George,
          : 0! OMG. I dont think my freezer gets that cold!!
          Even in Fahrenheit- that is just sheer craziness. How do you survive? Do you kill whales and make clothes out of their blubber?
          Do you live in an igloo?…
          I am just being silly, really- but I dont think I have ever been that deep into cold.
          Getting chilli just thinking about it…
          But, youre right that is a big swing in temps. Im not afraid of that- we do can do that 2 or 3 times in one day during the winter and sometimes the spring.

          Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        I still really can’t get used to the cold here. I grew up in the Southern point of Ontario. Mainly the length of winters here kill me the most ’cause it’s pretty cold from end of October to May. I don’t go outside much, unless it’s NOT windy and it IS sunny.

        Haha! It’s true, our freezers don’t even get that cold, but no, no igloos here! I can’t imagine living up in say Nunavut or somewhere like that like up in the north of Québec. Especially where they get extremes of the sun shining most of the day and night or barely shining at all!

        We do get extreme hot weather here too in the summer. (like “feels like” high 40’s which translates to 110’s F). Crazy fluctuations! You never know how to dress!

        This is as far as I go up north! And even at that… I was definitely not made for this type of weather! ;)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Wow, ByGeorge, I didnt realize it go that hot up there either!
          So, because it is such a long winter and youre not going outside- I have to be a nurse and ask if you are taking Vitamin D. ??

          Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Funny you say that! I just went to a naturopath yesterday and she wants me to take VitD, Vit B12, VitC and EFA’s.

        Working on feeling better here… Got lots to catch up on health wise!

        Been neglecting myself for sometime!

        One day at a time though!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Definitely one day at a time. All of those vitties should help you get a better pep in your step.
          And if you can, please get at least 20 min of sun per day. It can be morning sun, when its not so hot. Dont wear sunscreen, dont wear a hat – you need sunshine on your skin, for just 20 min. Its good medicine :)

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “I can’t be responsible for what Canadians do.”

        Americans. We ask so little. Just that every other nation in the world be like us.

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Eh bien! C’est la vie! ;)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Travis said :
        “Americans. We ask so little. Just that every other nation in the world be like us.”
        Oh- sad but true!

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Linbo,

        Yes, I try to get out everyday even if that means just getting out on my porch. It’s been pretty cold though, but now with the warmer weather here, I plan on heading to the beach and walk a bit on paths. I’ve never bee a sunscreen wearer. I have very “iffy” feelings about that.

        The vitamins will definitely help put the spring in my step and they support depression as well so. I’ve always known about it, just never put much effort into it.

        I’m not sure if Americans did this, but when my parents were young, schools used to feed cod-liver-oil to students.

        Definitely something our society lacks!

        So important for the brain and so much more!

        Like

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes – “Emotional Intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not all about you”.

      “All about you” is often interpreted to mean selfish, but that’s not necessarily the case (at least not in the classical sense). To me, all about you really means that there’s a lack of empathy, where events and actions are only (or at least primarily) seen through the lens of how they affect you.

      Lots of things don’t affect us at all. The world goes on with or without us. All we can really do is try to impact/influence the things that we can, and try to make a positive mark.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Linbo says:

    Lisa, you said
    “As we discussed in many posts about how much do values and intentions matter? Is it ok to divorce casually so you can be “happy” even if children won’t be? Can everything be framed as a perspective difference or are there some things that are just right and wrong?
    These questions are all linked in my mind to Brene Brown’s definitions of shame and guilt.
    So that is why I don’t like her definitions. But most people would probably agree with you in our culture.”

    Ok, I get what you are saying in regards to how (shame or guilt) effects the individual vs. how it effects society.
    Youre right that Brene Browns work started in regards to asking what helped or hindered connection, and what makes “whole hearted” people. So that can be seen as individualistic.

    I guess I am more in the camp of #1- yes, absolutely become aware of the feelings of shame and/or guilt. Know what you can control, know what is true or not true.
    #2) Forgive yourself for the guilty acts, but work on improving them. This is an exercise in self compassion. This also helps you have compassion on others.
    Having compassion on others #1- is less draining than anger and hate, and #2 can lead to empathy, help and restoration.
    …I just think/believe that if we take the stigma out of the crime, people can actually look at it straight on in order to change it.
    Because our emotions do effect how we process information, and what we do with it- bearing the weight of pain can prevent any real change from happening.

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Linbo,

      I agree with this. I might just add that there are some people who don’t feel empathy because they don’t understand their own privilege and power. They tend towards narcissism. Those are the people I am taking about that need more X, I call it shame you call it guilt or whatever other word.

      Matt talked about that in terms of in the past thinking that others who didn’t have an easy life were at fault because his life was good and things came easily to him. I certainly have areas I still do this that I am working to change.

      I read recently it explained as people who think they are great swimmers because they don’t acknowledge they swim with the current. And then they have contempt for those who swim against the tide as lazy or just not trying hard enough.

      Or my favorite phrase genetic or environmental lottery winners lecturing the rest of us not so fortunate.

      That is part of this discussion in my mind. Terry Real’s full respect living that requires movement in different directions depending on if you tend towards narcissism or towards codependency.

      If you start out thinking you can do and say what you want you need more X to bring you to a healthy place of empathy for others. I would add our culture needs more X to set boundaries through laws or cultural norms to ensure a better overall society that treats people well.

      But If you start out thinking you are responsible for others X. You need to recognize it is not your to own and reject it to bring you to a place of empathy for yourself. That is often where women need adjustment and defintely victims.

      The goal is for both sides to have the correct balance of accepting influence including owning your shit and healthy boundaries to not eat shit.

      Everyone then has full respect living or whole hearted living in Brown’s terms.

      I think shame is often felt for incorrect things too because as a society we have wrong ideas. Like the shame men often feel when expressing vulnerability or things coded “feminine”. To me that is similar to victims accepting blame incorrectly.

      Men should not focus on avoiding shame but on not accepting shame for being human. A society needs to shame those who continue to perpetuate these ideas. In the same way we shame (theoretically at least) those who say racist things.

      They are destructive to our humanity and our goals of having a full respect society.

      But another word can be substituted for shame and as long as the effect is the same its ok by me.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa, you said:
        “I would add our culture needs more X to set boundaries through laws or cultural norms to ensure a better overall society that treats people well.”
        This is definitely getting into the realm of a Philo-political discussion.
        I can see they call you “Spock”…:) lol.
        Yeah, it seems like If there is a definite wrong or right one would be able to have specific and clear cut behavior expectations, and then also consequences for deviations from such. That sounds really reasonable and rational, but really- I think this is your anxious attachment tendencies..:)
        Either way, here are some thoughts on it.
        Even though it is reasonable and rational, it isnt practical- because we are talking about human beings.
        Have you ever wondered why we have to have laws in the first place?
        Because some dip-stick did some dip-stick thing that caused alot of people harm, or some highly narcacisstic A-hole did some A-hole thing that caused alot of people harm and everyone else said- ummm….that’s probably not a good thing to do. Let us make laws to make sure that doesnt happen very often.
        But, what I want you to see is that any law is based on something a human did, or could conceivably do. Could we then call these things human nature, since they came from humans?
        Havent gotten to right or wrong yet- just the fact they exist makes them “human nature”, no?
        Drew made a really good point yesterday, and I almost brought it up twice already, so the 3rd time I guess is a charm…
        Drew said “I’m not sure if guilt is even always good because guilt is often about what we have been taught – and that’s not necesarily what IS…
        This is a really good point. Most of the time we are taught what is right or wrong within the cultural definitions of right or wrong. I agree hurting someone- including stealing, physical attack, bullying, or killing them should all be considered “Wrong”, but even these have scenerios where things could be justified or excused. Even the bullying. It can be said a child didnt know it was wrong because that is how his family operates with each other, so he wasnt taught what was right or wrong.
        So as weird and upside down as it seems alot of times humans are much more the perpetrator of immoral behavior instead of the the ones who have an intrinsic notion of morality.
        I just kind of want to say that, that stuff is a part of us. We wouldnt need laws if we were able to be moral all the time.
        But, also- the fact that morals DO need to be taught can be seen in different cultures. What is absolutely normal life in Spain could be seen as “Riotous living” here in the states. Or what about nude beaches, much less our jean wearing. In some cultures women wearing jeans is unheard of. I am an immoral harlot to someone, somewhere. *Shrugs*
        So, alot of “morals” are culture based and are apart of us being aware that we live in a larger society, and that we have an interdependence on that society.
        And you are saying we need to impute more X (an emotional acknowledgment of moral wrongdoing) to ensure a better overall society that treats people well.
        …Hmmm….
        So, we could absolutely teach our children about the value of other people. We can teach them the value of their own emotions as well as the value of other peoples emotions. We could instill in them a value of preserving and caring for our planet, ect. ect.
        But, I tend to see those things as more positive instruction. Instilling values, I think would lead to increased X: emotional acknowledgement of wrong doing.
        But, I dont think outward efforts to increase the pain of the X: emotional acknowledgement of wrong doing ,would necessarily work.
        Because mostly, that isnt their emotion and value that is being disturbed, it is someone elses. So, while they may change their behavior briefly, they likely still wont take on the values and have an authentic X: emotional acknowledgement of wrong doing.

        What are your thoughts?

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Linbo said,

        “Or what about nude beaches?”

        My kind of ‘riotous living’! Sorry…I’m being unhelpful again…(*notices Matt’s accusatory “cave dweller” glance and feels guilt…or is it shame…or it a need to have my emotions managed externally…?*)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        My thoughts are that this is the same kind of frustrating conversation I have with my husband about our relationship. ;)

        I think it is more of a inability to explain our commonalities than s fundamental difference in what we think.

        I agree with you that there is always a relativistic components to ANY rules or laws.

        Yes. Murder is usually defined as wrong by most cultures. But it is relative isn’t it? Self defense is deemed ok. War it’s deemed ok. The law is regularly ignored and people are regularly

        We could chose to not have a law. But we have decided that that is part of our societal expectations of behaviors.

        That is all I am taking about. Whether you pass laws or not you ALWAYS have expectations for behavior. They change over time.

        We used to think it was ok to now people in the US. Now we think of that as immoral. If someone I knew said they thought it was ok to own black people because God made them lesser it would be common 200 years ago but very uncommon now in the exact same location.

        The expectations have changed. The morals have changed. Sometimes we pass laws and fight wars to make it happen. Sometimes we have religious inspiration, sometimes revolutions.

        Sometimes we have non violent protests to try and change common behavioral expectations. Sometimes the Supreme Court rules it.

        Whatever the cause. There are ALWAYS underlying moral considerations. Even if they are not expressed in moral language.

        Of course people disagree, in our country we have two political parties with different views of how to frame and solve the same issues.
        We have elections to decide which way we are going to go.

        It used to be ok to not hire a woman because she was a woman. It was seen as morally acceptable. Now it is not. Because the majority of us over time have decided THAT is what we want our country to be like. It is a moral framework even though it is expressed through anti-discrimination laws.

        Even you will find people who disagree with this so it is not absolute. But the societal expectations have now changed so it is not ok to discriminate against women applying for a job. And if you do, the vast majority of Americans will think you are “wrong” even though you would have been “right” 100 years ago.

        That is what I am talking about. We decide as a society through a very messy process what is right and wrong. It is both relative and absolute. When we violate those rules we are “shamed” by others in our society who think you are morally wrong.

        It can be a good thing. Martin Luther King used public shaming of dogs being unleashed on nonviolent protest to apply pressure on Congress to pass Civil Rights laws.

        It can also be a bad thing. The tyranny of the majority against minority rights.

        This also applies to relationships. Not that long ago, it was ok for a husband to hit his wife. We now have decided as a society that that is not morally acceptable.

        I don’t have much more to add. This might just be an inability to explain the framework that makes sense to me. I understand Brene Brown’s structure and definitions. I can see why so many people find it helpful to differentiate between guilt and shame as she defines it.

        As I have said before it is a very individualistic framework that doesn’t acknowledge the impact of everyone’s individual choices on the collective.

        I just disagree and half the world agrees with me. Just not the half I live in.

        It used to be uncommon to be a single mother. I am glad there is no longer shame attached to that. But there is not enough shame attached to men who abandon the mother and child. That used to be applied.

        It was not a great system, I agree. But the individualistic one we have now has resulted in a LOT of children being raised in poverty with no fathers.

        Because we have changed bad rules into other bad rules instead of good rules. It is still a moral framework but the rules are just different. Because we focus on individual needs not collective.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          Well, I’m not going to feel too bad about being like your husband in my relativistic, shades of grey sort of way. :)
          But, I hope I didn’t offend you with my comment about the anxious attachment style.
          ..I know that relates to relationships, but I wouldn’t say it only effects relationships, would you?
          Do you think there is a connection between the need for certainty and the need for security?
          I’m just putting it out there.

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          We don’t have to keep going with this, but I do want to say that I see what youre saying, but I don’t think it was as if people began to apply external pressure to issues they felt were wrong. That may have been a part of social change (civil rights, men hitting women, ect. ) To me that has always been about exposing issues , not to shame people, but to help them define what was going on. To help put their finger on why this thing was wrong. The more an issue became known for what it was, the more people could agree that is was wrong. I think that is more just making other people not affected, aware of it and not necessarily that shaming people made society change.
          But, I do think that there is definitely a shaming component to our culture that I’m sure gets activated.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis, You said, “My kind of ‘riotous living’! Sorry…I’m being unhelpful again…(*notices Matt’s accusatory “cave dweller” glance and feels guilt…or is it shame…or it a need to have my emotions managed externally…?*)

        I think your problem is hedonistic adaptation.

        :)

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Ha! I must of missed that one Travis. ;)

        If I can find a corner somewhere, I might just do that!

        Ghostly white here! :)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        “Lisa,
        Well, I’m not going to feel too bad about being like your husband in my relativistic, shades of grey sort of way. :)
        But, I hope I didn’t offend you with my comment about the anxious attachment style.
        ..I know that relates to relationships, but I wouldn’t say it only effects relationships, would you?
        Do you think there is a connection between the need for certainty and the need for security?
        I’m just putting it out there.”

        No I absolutely DO NOT!

        I was going to ignore that comment by since you brought it up, I will agree with this framing if I can be put in the company of people with great sense of certainty like Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill.

        A sense of moral certainty is not a anxious need for moral certainty any more than you or my husband relative way of looking at things is a lack of morality or courage. Just putting that out there ;)

        It’s just a different framework. Pros and cons to each.

        Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Linbo, you said

      “Hey Lisa,
      I hope I didn’t sound like I was somehow blocking you. I really appreciate your sympathy and words of compassion. I really do. Someday I absolutely need them- other days I feel like “I’ve got this”- and don’t need sympathy and compassion. But I do,still really appreciate your kindness. *virtual hugs*”

      I don’t think you are blocking me. And I understand the some days I’m fine and some days I’m not. I am like that too.

      I just think we find different things helpful. And that’s normal. We have different life experiences and different brains. Because of my childhood I find the values framing healing and important. So shame as a good thing is helpful to me.

      Because you are battling a sense of shame, shame as a good thing isn’t going to be helpful.

      It’s just a difference in what we find helpful.

      Brene Brown had other framing in her Gifts of Imperfections that I don’t find helpful like spirituality being an essential part of whole hearted living.

      I don’t agree with this. I think you can be an atheist and be empathetic and whole hearted. I don’t think you have to be spiritual at all even defined as fishing as he father would.

      Because of my religious background I react strongly to that. While other people would shrug their shoulders or other would agree strongly.

      I am working hard to accept that what I find helpful is not universal. And I benefit so much coming here and practicing it every day.

      Virtual hugs to you too!

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa,
        Thank you for sharing these things. I agree that we likely just find different things helpful. Everyone has such a different experience and make up that not everything is going to fit.
        IB has a specific set of beliefs that I dont , and you have a different set of beliefs than me. I think the important thing is that we do have a set of beliefs and values that guides us. – It keeps us rooted.
        I dont think we can go wrong by following them.
        Sometimes I feel like every world religion is just the end of a thread to the same ball of twine in the middle. Follow your thread, it’ll get you there :)
        Im with you – practice, practice, practice.
        :)
        Peace!

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo you said:
        “We don’t have to keep going with this, but I do want to say that I see what youre saying, but I don’t think it was as if people began to apply external pressure to issues they felt were wrong. That may have been a part of social change (civil rights, men hitting women, ect. ) To me that has always been about exposing issues , not to shame people, but to help them define what was going on. To help put their finger on why this thing was wrong. The more an issue became known for what it was, the more people could agree that is was wrong. I think that is more just making other people not affected, aware of it and not necessarily that shaming people made society change.
        But, I do think that there is definitely a shaming component to our culture that I’m sure gets activated.”

        This is my last comment on this topic since I think we’ve exhausted it.

        We were discussing loss aversion a few posts back. The brains puts more emphasis on not losing something than gaining something positive.

        I think this applies here. Loss aversion of good status is what keeps people doing whatever society has decided is the “right” thing. This has been shown over and over.

        It is not education or individuals deciding what is right for them that really changes things. It is setting up public norms and activating loss aversion to get people to adjust their behavior accordingly.

        Loss aversion of fines or jail for laws or loss aversion for not being seen as a “nice” guy anymore in your neighborhood. Not being seen as a good mother.

        That is what changes behavior in big populations of people.

        Good, thought provoking discussion. Thanks for your thoughts!

        Like

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