Three Essential Traits for a Solid Union

Psychologists, researchers, therapists, mental health professionals and others have sought to identify the essential emotions and behaviors necessary for creating a secure and healthy love relationship. Many theories have evolved and studies conducted to decipher the mysteries of satisfying unions. Much has been learned, but a definitive formula for achieving a long term bonded connection, has yet to be secured.

In meeting a new couple, most people can quickly decipher whether the pair they met is bonded or unhappily together. How can we “sense” the quality of a relationship and yet be unable to define the ingredients that help secure a loving connection?

Dr. John Gottman, who has studied thousands of couples for over 40 years has identified the elements that obstruct healthy pairing. He found that trust and trustworthiness are the number one traits people selected when asked, “What is the most desirable quality you’re looking for in a partner when you’re dating?” He concluded, “By understanding the dynamics of trust and betrayal, we can work to make relationships more trusting. But more than that, we can help people become more trustworthy.”

It appears that safety may be an underlying core issue in our need to be secure enough to trust our mate.

As a clinician working with couples as a therapist, I would certainly agree that trust is a crucial element for all couples’ stability and happiness. It is also commonly flanked by two other crucial traits: respect and attraction.

Respect for a mate’s essence, personality and behavior helps one develop the trust in the partner’s capacity to be a competent, reliable, wise, helpful and worthy teammate. Without respecting a partner’s essence, skills, wisdom and judgment, it is hard to develop a sense of trust in one’s partner’s capacity as a solid team member.

Attraction is the strong physiological magnet that draws mates to each other. Researcher Helen Fisher of Rutgers University described the three primary emotional categories in mating and reproduction as: “1. The sex drive, or lust, characterized by cravings for sexual gratification; 2. Attraction, characterized by increased energy and focused attention on potential mates accompanied by feelings of exhilaration and intrusive thinking and 3. Attachment accompanied by feelings of calm, comfort and emotional union with a mate. Each emotion is associated with a discrete constellation of neural correlates.”

In my clinical experience I have observed three common emotions that facilitate mate selection and lead to successful unions: Respect, Trust and Attraction. When pairs maintain a high level of these three emotions, their connection survives and thrives. When either one of these essential feelings is reduced, damaged or neglected, pairs are in need of help in restoring these emotions to a proper level to regain satisfaction with their relationship.

Safeguard your healthy union:

  • Maintain your mutual respect, trust and attraction for each other to safeguard the stability of your marriage.
  • Restore your connection, if needed, by recalling and re-practicing your courtship’s feelings and habits.
  • Envision your children imploring you to re-connect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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