Photo of the day

Great In Focus gallery of World Cup images.  So many good ones, but given my fear of insects– even small ones– I loved this series showing James Rodriguez making a penalty kick even while being molested by a massive flying insect.  That would have made me miss.  Also, I have taken to calling my son, Evan James, Evan Ha-mes.

A combination of pictures shows a giant insect flying toward, and landing on Colombia’s midfielder James Rodriguez, after he scored from the penalty spot — and then later on a photographer’s seat, during the quarter-final football match between Brazil and Colombia at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza on July 4, 2014. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Marriage and kindness

Really, really good post in the Atlantic on what makes for a happy marriage (based on lots of social science studies).  One of the best things I’ve read on what makes a good marriage.  If you are married or ever plan on being married, it’s surely got useful advice.  Or heck, even in a romantic relationship ever.  The encouraging news– be nice, it works:

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work…

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart. In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.

In one interesting study, those in failed relationships responded to (subtle )requests for connection only a third of the time whereas those in healthy, lasting relationships responded nearly 90%.  Honestly, I know I’m well above 33%, but I think I’ve got work to do to hit 87%.  But, now I’m going to make a real effort.

On the other hand, another key of relationship quality is how one responds to the good news a partner shares (interestingly, much more important than when they share bad news).  I’m pretty sure both Kim and I are quite good at this– active constructive, in the parlance.  So, even if I’m not up to the 87% reciprocating kindness/connection, at least I’ve got the response to good news down.  Of course, twenty years of a happy marriage does suggest things are going right.

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