Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy heart day.

Whitman's got nothing on Oprah. Her website,, currently features some new and intriguing research on matters of the heart. Here's a Valentine's Day sampler for you:

Date night's nice, but not necessary: Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D. - director of New York City's Center for Time, Work and the Family at the Ackerman Institute for the Family - advises, "Don't try to schedule time together. Schedules are more work, and you don't need more work." Rather, Dr. Fraenkel counsels couples to come up with a list of things they can enjoy together in under a minute: share a long kiss, a good joke, even a quick text message. Initiating three 60-second "pleasure points," as Fraenkel calls them, every day has proven successful in helping couples feel a better sense of connection throughout the week and feel less stressed about finding time for one another.

Developing the divorce vaccine: Marriage researcher James V. Cordova, Ph.D.- an associate professor of psychology at Worcester, MA's Clark University - has created a concept called the Marriage Checkup, which serves the same purpose as a medical checkup, but for your relationship rather than your body. Noting that couples typically wait until the relationship is breaking down to see a counselor, Cordova's program is designed to prevent "sickness" before it requires treatment. The Checkup begins with a series of questionnaires that rate satisfaction levels with topics like sex or parenting. "We give couples feedback, teh same way a doctor does from blook work or an x-ray," Cordova explains. Still under development, the program seems promising in terms of enhancing relationship satisfaction and intimacy levels.

Erosion counts as change, too: Richard A. Mackey, professor emeritus at Boston College's graduate school of social work, studied heterosexual couples married over 20 years without ever having seen a counselor and found one key to their long-term success was understanding it's fruitless to insist their partner make big behavioral changes. Rather, they requested little modifications (rather than "Stop being such a slob!" they try, "Can you please put your dirty clothes in the hamper?"). Over two decades of asking one another for such slight alterations, many spouses (particularly women) had successfully nudged their partners into making significant changes without suffering alienation.

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