Soul Mates - 5/03

Smartmarriages ® cmfce at
Fri May 30 11:09:03 EDT 2003

subject: Soul Mates  - 5/03

from: Smart Marriages®

May 29, 2003

(We will certainly be exploring this issue in depth at the Reno Smart
Marriages conference, most specifically in the Saturday night plenary
session "Can Love Be Designed?" featuring Robert Epstein, John Gray, Pat
Love, Howard Markman, Jan Levine - and all of you.  We'll have an open mic
and will tackle the hard questions, like:
-What is the natural course of love?
-What is role of attraction and chemistry?
-Can any two people fall in love?
-Why are we so wedded to the notion that love must be spontaneous and
-Why do we so readily balk at the idea that love can be learned and
-At what point in the mating game do we want to step in and offer couples a
more deliberate, applied approach to falling and staying in love?

And, after we get it all figured out we'll celebrate with a dance. ;)

  - diane 
- - - - - - - - - -
Search for a soul mate, or love the one you're with? Research suggests it
can work out OK either way

By Karen S. Peterson

Some people believe there is one special soul mate somewhere in the universe
meant just for them. But others say that's romantic mumbo jumbo. A deep bond
develops only after years of working to make a relationship last.

The soul mate theory is the stuff of movies and fairy tales, as well as
fodder for researchers who study love for a living. But many marital
therapists tend to believe the opposite, pitching their tents in the ''work
it out'' camp.

Now, research to be presented Friday in Atlanta to the American
Psychological Society says neither belief is ''right'' or ''wrong'' --
either can lead to a successful relationship. The work-it-out partners ''do
manage to work hard on their relationships, but not necessarily harder than
those who are satisfied soul mates,'' says Renae Franiuk, a researcher at
the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The two theories are part of a new field that investigates how attitudes and
beliefs about relationships formed before couples even begin dating may
influence how the romance plays out.

The idea of a soul mate is often credited to the philosopher Plato, who said
a perfect human was tragically split apart and we are destined to spend our
lives trying to find our missing other. The concept has been gaining steam
for the past couple of years, ever since a Gallup Poll found that most young
adults believe in soul mates.

The idea is catching the public's imagination. Increasing numbers of
self-help books and Web sites trumpet how to find the mate destiny has
reserved for you.

But the idea of soul mates draws stinging reviews from many who monitor the
future of marriage. Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman, author of Grow Up!,
says it sounds like ''magic. It is an irresponsible effort at bypassing the
hard work, the negotiation, battles and experiences of being together. The
idea is like cotton candy. It is something that goes down easily without
having to chew it.''

Franiuk, however, says those who believe in soul mates will fight to make
the relationship work.

Those who think they have found the right one ''will work very hard to stay
with him or her,'' she adds. ''They will go out of their way to exaggerate
their partner's strengths or downplay their flaws. They will frame a
negative as a positive, such as calling a selfish partner 'somebody who will
stand up for himself.' ''

There is a hitch, however. If a partner decides his or her love is not a
soul mate after all, the disillusioned one may bail out early. The fear is
''well, if this one is a dud, I'd better move on quickly.'' These lost souls
''will exaggerate a (current) partner's flaws and downplay strengths,''
Franiuk says. ''They are very dissatisfied.''

Franiuk's research team was formed at the University of
Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. She has spent six years formally studying 1,500
college students, most of them single, and interviewing hundreds more. The
majority filled out questionnaires; about 100 were tracked for eight months.
Both men and women tend to the romantic view, she finds. Overall, about 50%
strongly buy into the soul mate theory, while only about 15% strongly
endorse the work-it-out concept. The rest are neutral.

The practical partners, those who believe in working it out, are smack in
the middle on the satisfaction charts, Franiuk says. They are less satisfied
than soul mates who believe they have found their one and only, but happier
than romantics who think they have linked up with the wrong partner and must
move on.

Not all experts concerned about the chances of happily-ever-aftering
pooh-pooh the idea of looking for one's soul mate. Diane Sollee, founder of
the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, refuses to pour
cold water on those who believe in a destined love.

But she cautions that looking for a soul mate ''is OK if partners realize
that finding this mate who feels so right is just the first step in a long
process. And that (process) will focus on how to make love last and to grow
together as life mates,'' not just soul mates.

Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

> "I'd like to give divorce a good name."
> GERALDO RIVERA, Fox News reporter, planning his fifth marriage



I receive hundreds of requests for information like this one each month.  I
send them out as referrals to those on the Directory.  Thought I'd share
this one because the couple let me know they were so delighted with the
help.  - diane 

>Good morning, Diane-
>My name is Laura xxxxxx.  My fiancé and I are looking for a premarital
>counselor in the Arlington/Alexandria area.  Although we have a great
>relationship, we are trying to take a proactive approach to our marriage.
>Thus, we though premarital counseling would be a great idea.  We thought
>about doing it through a church, but we are waiting to join a church until
>we move into our new home in Alexandria in September.  A lot of churches
>only offer premarital counseling to church members.  We were wondering if
>you could recommended any marriage/family therapist in the
>Arlington/Alexandria area.  We would rather be on a two on one basis with
>a counselor than participate in a weekend program.  Any suggestions would
>be greatly appreciated.

> Dear Ms. xxxxxx, 
> Diane Sollee passed on your note to me, since we do marriage preparation in
> the Washington area.  You are wise in deciding to do serious marriage
> preparation. 
> Based on years of experience (my wife and I have mentored 46 couples preparing
> for marriage, one couple at a time, over the last 12 years), we believe the
> best preparation involves taking a premarital inventory, and then talking
> through the issues it brings up with an older couple whose marriage has gone
> the distance.  In our church, Fourth Presbyterian in Bethesda, we had 302
> couples come for marriage prep from 1992-2000.  Of that number 50 did not
> marry, as a result of our process, but of those who did we have had only 7
> divorces in 11 years.  You can read more about this if you are interested on
> our website below in an article I have written called "Marriage Insurance for
> Premarital Couples."  A 97% success rate is marriage insurance.
> Here are three options for getting this sort of preparation:
> 1. Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington offers this sort of couple-to-couple
> mentoring and does a great job.  For information, call 703 525-8210.
> 2.  Fourth Presbyterian offers this as well, and you do not have to be a
> church member.  CAll Ed & Eve VerHoef, 301 299-6381.  Most of our couples live
> in Maryland and so this would be less convenient.
> 3.  There are counselors who offer the PREPARE inventory in Arlington.  This
> is a more expensive option.  You can find a list of counselors on
> or .org.  You type in your zip code, and you will get both
> counselors and churches in your area that give the PREPARE inventory.  This is
> less satisfactory, in my view, than meeting with a Mentor Couple who will take
> 6 evenings with you.
> The choice is up to you.
> Blessings, 
> Mike McManus 

Reply to Just discrimination: "Unmarried to Each Other":

If sock discounts, football tickets, or laws governing family dissolution
are the primary reasons people marry, the institution is in bigger trouble
than anyone thought.

There's a fundamental question here: What behavior do we want to reward?
Does society want to encourage healthy, stable relationships, or marriage
licenses?  While there's a strong correlation between the two, they're not
the same thing.  The Ethicist column is a great example of the irony.  A
committed, long-term gay couple is not allowed to have the license (or,
thereofore, the sock discounts), while in the documentary "Marriage: Just a
Piece of Paper," a young woman talks about marrying a friend in the Air
Force so he could get "an extra grand a month" and extra grocery money,
while she'd get medical and dental insurance and help buying a car.  They
got that marriage license, yes, but they did so for the equivalent of sock
discounts, and none of us were surprised when that marriage didn't last.
Since we all know a healthy marriage is far more than a license, there seem
to be dangers to loading up that license with prizes, and excluding those
who are exhibiting the "right" behaviors sans license.

The people who buy our book, Unmarried to Each Other, seem to have no
problem figuring out to whom they're unmarried.  If it's true, as Tom
suggests, that there may be 6 billion people all unmarried to each other,
we'll be looking forward to a spike in book sales.  :-)

Dorian Solot
Alternatives to Marriage Project

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7th annual Smart Marriages conference/RENO, Nevada
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