Wednesday, June 21, 2006

** Secrets of Happily Married Men by Scott Haltzmann MD

** Secrets of Happily Married Men by Scott Haltzmann MD

A down to earth book about relationships, following the John Gottman method to a certain extent. Haltzmann also tries to explain things based upon the physiological differences between the sexes. We are clearly not equal, and this inequality should be understood and accepted. We must find ways to deal with it appropriately, and hopefully to exploit it for our mutual benefit. Generally trite advice on what to do, but given the information presented, it can give you an awareness of what you are doing, and some of the motivations as to why. I believe that there are no easy answers to such conundrums, and simply following a few steps or a particular method will not solve your problems. But also, it can’t hurt I guess.

‘I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.’ From Thorton Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth.

Men are wired differently
The male brain processes fewer neural pathways to and from the emotion centers in the limbic system. Reason number 1 that females may indeed be more in touch with their feelings than males. P37

When an emotional event passes, females tend to hold on to the memory, whereas males tend to let it go. This difference can be traced to the hippocampus (the memory center). It is larger in women and has more neural pathways from it to the emotive centers. That’s why women remember emotional events more than men. P38

Talking about feelings may be overrated… Studies involving traumatic events, show that people who process problems by not thinking or talking about them did better in many cases, with less emotional distress, than those who felt the need to replay the negative or traumatic event. For example, researchers studied people who had had heart attacks… Those who tended to think about, worry about and talk about their heart attacks had a poorer outcome than those who chose to ignore or deny. Only 7% of the more stoic group developed post-traumatic stress disorder 7 months after surgery, compared with 19% of the more reactive group… Other studies suggest that repression and avoidance are healthy coping tactics – and that overly processing negative events can increase emotional stress. P40

Female babies look longer at a human face than do males – males prefer to look longer at a suspended mechanical mobile. By 12 months, girls make more eye contact than boys – giving them more opportunity to read the feelings of others… The more pre-natal testosterone measured in the amniotic fluid, the less eye contact a boy will have with his mother at 1 year of age. P41

Men are more adept at using their left brain to collect logical and linear information. With less peripheral vision than women, less color discrimination, and fewer multi-tasking abilities to distract them, men are keen focused observers. P87

When mothers placed their 13 month old babies in an unfamiliar room filled with toys, the girls spent most of their time near their mother, and came back to her frequently, and maintained continuous contact through touching, glancing and talking. Boys were quite different: they were more likely to go to the far side of the room, to spend less time close to the women, and to check in less frequently. P98

Datapoints to ponder
80% of household and relationship problems are brought up by wives.

Read this three times and understand the ramifications.
69% of all major conflicts in the household are never resolved even after working on them for 5 years. P48 Essentially, you must learn to live with constant conflict. That is the secret behind this statistic.

Within marriages, studies show that more than 46% of spouses will lie about how much they paid for an item. P69

Up to 80% of marriages have had one member consider divorce at some time. P129

Women handle 75% of family finances, and control roughly 80% of the family purchasing decision. P136

66% of newlyweds who become parents cite marital dissatisfaction within 3 years of their baby’s birth. P148

Big boys don’t cry…
Studies show that parents are much more likely to admonish a boy to stop crying than they are his sister. ‘Why don’t men talk about their feelings? Because somewhere back in their childhood, someone told them it wasn’t masculine enough. They got picked on when they cried, and laughed at when they tried to show their feminine side.’ P58

Or listen
When your wife tells you something important that’s going on with her, don’t jump in right away and tell her what’s wrong, what she doesn’t realize, or what she should do. Just listen. P68

But that’s because women talk too much!
The average woman uses 7000 words in day, using many gestures and up to 5 tones. Compare this to a man’s paltry 2000 words and only 3 tones. P172

Joke #1
There are 2 times when a man doesn’t understand a woman, before marriage, and after marriage. P82

Studies show that women do more housework than men – about 11 hours more per week… When researchers factor housework and work outside the home, men and women make nearly equal contributions to the household; the difference shrinks to only 20 minutes a day (2.33 hours/week). P145

Being home with your kids is just plain good… Kids who eat sit-down meals with their families do better in school and score higher on standardized tests… Research shows that regardless of a teen’s sex, family structure, or socioeconomic level those who eat frequent family dinners are less likely than other teens to have sex at a young age, use drugs or alcohol, get into fights, or be suspended, and are at lower risks for suicide. P117

Enjoy it while it lasts
Wedding day euphoria (a 10% jump in your happiness quotient) is all gone 2 years later, when you are no more or less happy than before being married. P129 Read my blog entry on Happiness to understand why this happens.

Joke #2
“Before marriage a man yearns for his wife; after marriage the ‘Y’ is silent.”

5 issues are the hot buttons in most marriages (in no particular order)
1. Money, 2. Sex, 3. Inlaws, 4. Housework, 5. New baby p135

Techniques for avoiding conflicts
Keep the small stuff from getting out of hand by trying the following techniques:
  • Soften your tone: A show of anger stimulates fear and she will respond with an attempt to annihilate the source of her fear – you!

  • Look for areas of agreement: Make an effort to hear something in the dialogue that can agree with and focus on that.

  • Stay positive: For example, your wife’s tardiness in getting ready causes you miss an important meeting that now has to be rescheduled. If you choose to get PO’d because she made you arrive late, you have nothing to gain except an angry, awful ride home. So turn it around. How often do we have one hour together with nothing scheduled to do? Let’s go get some ice cream!

  • Hold that emotion: As Thomas Jefferson once said, "When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred." P153

Instead of criticizing, by saying ‘You never put the toilet seat down!’, try using ‘I’ statements that express how you feel when the other person does something that you don’t appreciate. ‘I feel that you do not care about whether I fall in the toilet or not when you leave the toilet seat up.’ Hey, that’s how you feel. How can they argue about your feeling being valid. They can only say that they don’t care, or that you should not care – but at least you’re not talking about the toilet seat, and you are talking about each other – which is probably what this argument is really about. P156

Wives initiate 80% of all household complaints. Men more likely than women to withdraw from any discussion of the subject. Their biology tells them to fight back, but society, conscience and common sense tell them they must not. So a man feels cornered when his wife gets angry, yet he must attempt to keep sheathed his most natural fighting tools. P134

I believe men withdraw and avoid for 2 basic reasons:
1. It’s a way to suppress that strong, but socially unacceptable, urge to fight to the death. Men, more so than women, have a harder time calming their bodies down once their fight or flight system kicks into gear. So they try to prevent those emotions from starting up.
2. They don’t realize that they have other tools for dealing with conflict. P135

Techniques for dealing with effects of conflict
Patching up is the single best tool for happy marriages. Couples that could not patch things up after a fight had a rate of divorce in excess of 90%. But when couples were successful at making up, the odds of staying happily married soared to 84% p159 Read that again. There’s probably no one single indicator that tells you more about your marriage than this fact. Couple that with the fact that 69% of all of conflicts are never resolved, even over 5 years. You must become good at patching things up, or you’ll make your divorce attorney quite rich. These are based upon John Gottman’s research.

Here are the 3 key elements for patching things up:
  1. You must want to help your partner not feel pain. Ask yourself ‘Is my objective to hurt my spouse?’ If yes, stop and leave the room.

  2. You must be calm. For repair work to take place, you cannot be flooded with emotion. If angry, afraid, sad, etc. – go cool off – and try again later.

  3. You must have your patch up attempt accepted. If you’re mate isn’t receptive or is too emotional, then wait for the right moment because it is not now. P158

Women's testesterone level is only 10% of men's... Testesterone levels drop as women get older, particularly after they have children. During their menstrual cycles, women do have a brief period of time when their level of testesterone surges a bit and increases their desire for sex. That happens once a month when they ovulate over a period of 40 hours. In fact, the rate of intercourse in women increases 24% the 6 days around ovulation. p209

Women in the 1950s had sex an avg of twice a week. 66% of today's wives said they were too tired to match that level. p210

A survey of 5000 couples found that 55% of wives said they desired their husbands sexually as much at that moment as when they first met. An amazing 24% said they desired their husbands more! Yet polls show that well over 60% of men say they would like more sex with their wives. p211

Infidelity Prevention Rule #1
If you can't share something with your wife, you shouldn't be sharing it with anyone else, especially when there is even the remotest possibility that you could have an attraction to that person. Every person you spend time with, every phone call you make, every email you send should be open and available for your wife to see. Every person you connect with should be a friend of the marriage, not just a friend of yours. p238

1 comment:

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