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Recent studies provide remarkable results and can give guidelines about the important factors that ensure a long-term, fulfilling partnership.
"In entering a marriage one should ask oneself the question: Do you think you will have good conversations with this woman until old age?" A marriage advise Friedrich Nietzsche gave to men in identifying a suitable partner.
Thomas Aquinas formulated: "Love is the ability to perceive what is similar in what is dissimilar."
"Everyone gets the partner he deserves - whether he likes it or not" is the title of a book by Herman Mayer, a Munich researcher into partnership and destiny.
How different may - or should - two lovers be in order to make a long lasting, fulfilled partnership possible?
Do birds of a feather generally flock together here, or do opposites attract?
Similarity is, in principle, clearly an important element in a partnership. It can be noted that couples after decades of being together often more or less strongly resemble each other the way they look. Robert Zajonc of the University of Michigan carried out a study to find out why this is the case. He evaluated photographs of many couples taken over the years. He was able to establish that two partners appearances after a remarkable period of 25 years together showed that they both demonstrably looked more alike. There was a further interesting correlation: those couples indicating that they live in a particularly happy relationship, had grown to look even more similar.
Similarity in what?
According to the renowned New York social psychologist Art Aron, the reason why two people choose each other "often lacks a clear logic". In his "theory of self-expansion" he names one major driving force: Man is continually striving to increase the control over his life. " This is why in principle he feels particularly attracted by opposites, as they promise a maximum degree of self-expansion", Aron explains. On the other hand, the chances of establishing a partnership at all are greatest with a person similar to oneself. The key to answering the question as to whether similar or dissimilar natures are beneficial for a long-lasting, fulfilled relationship lies in my view, in a detailed analysis of the idea of the similarity. On what level, for example, should similarity be judged? With regard to character? Moral concepts? Interests?
In a 2006 study at the University of Munich in which 440 participants were asked about the most important criteria of a successful partnership, 86.5 per cent of the men and 93.0 per cent of the women indicated 'shared values/attitudes', and 63.9 per cent of the men and 65.9 per cent of the women 'mutual interests/hobbies'.
Quite tellingly, the wish for things in common was considerably less important in the responses for short-term sexual relationships.
A subsequent survey of couples in the same study shows that mutual values actually constitute a highly relevant factor: With loyalty, tolerance, trust, honesty and respect, more than two-thirds of the respondents said that their moral concepts were in line with those of the partner.
What raises the risk of separation?
The results of the study are interesting regarding circumstances that can significantly alter the risk of separation in partnerships and thereby endanger or favour a fulfilling, long-term partnership. The risk of separation rises with big differences in education between the partners. It decreases, however, with a household structure based on work sharing, matching values and fulfilled expectations.
Unreasonably high, and therefore unfulfilled expectations are a problem in many relationships today. This can be related to a development that increasingly grants sexual love the status of a substitute religion and not infrequently defines happiness in life, as well as contentment, solely on how close one's relationship is to an imaginary ideal state of affairs. Today love is expected to provide what in former times was sought in religion: fulfilment, upliftment, vibrant intimacy. Therefore social scientist speak of love as the 'secular religion' of the age.
Personality and life experience.
A study conducted at the University of Iowa, published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, underscored the importance of matching personalities of the partners. 291 newlyweds were tested on attitudes and aspects of relationship qualities. Eva Klohnen and colleagues concluded that 'similarities in personality and life experience are actually the most important prerequisite for the success of a romantic relationship, and what exercises attraction initially seldom proves a guarantee of a happy relationship. (....) ' For years similarities in personalities played the crucial role: It was assumed that the behaviour on matters of conscience and the attitude towards the environment, family and children need to match. Similar ideas on what is considered worthwhile is the foundation for a long, harmonious relationship and the prerequisite that love does not break up due to different approaches to problem solving in the daily life or to long-term planning, as the research team found in a study.'
Similarity determines the choice of the partner
Various studies show how the similarity between romantic partners even manifests on a physical level and visible matches influence the choice of partner from the outset. In an experiment the British psychologist David Parrett at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, took portrait photographs of experimental subjects and with special computer software changed male faces to female and vice versa. Afterwards he presented the test subjects with a series of pictures of the other sex and let their attractiveness be assessed. Among these faces there was also one with their own likeliness, which, however, due to the digital manipulation looked more male or female. Many of the viewers found the opposite-sex counterpart of their own image exceptionally attractive. While they also did not recognise themselves, they felt an appeal nonetheless.
Similarities of inner values
The resemblance in looks or attractiveness actually say nothing about the success of a partnership. Much more important than the exterior are the much cited 'inner values' - even in this like attracts like: same interests and hobbies, similar attitudes, values and outlook, similarities in background, culture, religiosity, education, intelligence, lifestyle and aims in life.
I think that here the conformity of interests and hobbies should not be overrated, because just in this area different orientations can lead to an increased measure of versatility and fresh perspectives. It is primarily about deeper commonalities; resemblance is not the same as similarity.
The similarities which may make sparks fly at the beginning of a relationship, are quite different from those that ensure long-lasting happiness and contentment. At first it is perhaps similar temperaments and interests, and later fundamental values right up to religion, which connect. Without decisive matches in character, love has no chance in the long run.
Complementary qualities are crucial
When we speak here of 'decisive matches in character', this should not be interpreted as that the partner should preferably have the same character traits. On the contrary, this would entail the risk of a mutual affirmation and encouragement also with regard to weaknesses and extremes. The essentially important balancing moment would be missing and the complement of the qualities (still) lacking in the other.
Yet in the search for a partner we evidently even look for this necessary balance. Although we choose people who have similar characteristics, we only do this as long as such qualities are those we like in ourselves. But if it is a characteristic, we personally perceive as weakness, then we certainly look for the matching counterpart. A rather introverted person, who would like to be more open, looks accordingly for an extroverted partner, who brings him a step nearer to his ideal image.
Also Abd-ru-shin points out in his work In the Light of Truth - The Grail Message that 'already at birth every human being brings along certain qualities, the harmonious development of which can only be achieved through those with matching qualities. These matching qualities are not identical, however, but complementary to the others, and in completing each other they obtain their full value.
' In this state of full value all the strings sound in a harmonious chord. If the one partner is complemented to full value by the other partner, then the latter will also receive full value through the former, and in their union, that is, in their living and working together, the harmonious chord will resound. Such is the marriage which has been made in heaven.'
Longing for completion
In his work "In the Light of Truth" Abd-ru-shin declares the Attraction of Homogenous Species to be one of the basic Laws of Creation. Following this statement he was asked:
"How is it then that extremes make contact whereas like poles repel each other? This can be observed everywhere, even among human beings. Good wives on the whole do not really have special husbands, while good husbands often have remarkably bad wives, and so on. Many such examples could be quoted." Abd-ru-shin replied: "When I speak of the Universal Law of the Attraction-Power of Homogenous Species, it is not a matter of a small part-species like those referred to in the question. If you wish to speak of homogenous species in the Universal Law, you must first be clear about what a species really is! Positive electricity, for instance, as well as a bad wife or a bad husband, is by no means a species of its own, such as takes effect in the Universal Law: Positive and negative parts crowd together, because only with many other parts can they form a species. Moreover, the crowding together of the various part-species is a direct effect of the Law of the Attraction Power of Homogenous Species, which compels the parts belonging to a complete species to find one another and unite."
When you deliberate over this answer, the apparent contradiction between "attraction of homogenous species" and "attraction of opposites" is solved. Thus the sexual desire for a union is based on the splitting of the species "human spirit". The male and female attract each other, as each species in Creation strives for completion.
This striving and longing for completion, of which we are generally unaware, may also form the basis of our choice of partner. Therefore we often favour a partner whose personality expresses something that we are lacking and who therefore complements us in a certain way.
So, if sometimes it is said that two people "do not really match" , they may still match after all! "Everyone gets the partner he deserves - whether he likes it or not" is the title of a book by Herman Mayer, a Munich researcher into partnership and destiny. He refers to the great power of this hidden striving for completion, while we often judge others merely by their outward behaviour. "For some non-smokers it would be unimaginable to associate with a smoker.(...) But perhaps it is just the smoker, of all people, who has the qualities and abilities that harmonise with our own disposition and would enhance our happiness?"
If we judge another person by his weaknesses or faults, there is something we should take into account: the very fact that we reject something may be evidence to suggest that inside us we unconsciously have the same deficiency of which we have not yet freed ourselves -"Thou beholdest the mote that is in they brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye".
An aversion to something can be an indication that we still bear this very flaw unconsciously in ourselves.
If we wish to have a different partner with whom we will supposedly be happier, we first have to change ourselves! In the way he behaves, our partner always holds a mirror up to us reflecting our own behaviour, which we may have suppressed. We should have the courage to look into that mirror instead of shying away from it.
When a quiet, introverted man meets a loud, fun-loving woman, the two can still be on the same "wave-length", because they are connected by a sound and healthy desire for attachment and union.
In addition, two people can be attracted to each other by the similarity (homogeneity) of a certain aspect of their volition, and a good partnership is ideally characterised by both facets.
On the one hand, a congenial inner orientation is required, on the other hand the partners should complement each other so that the personalities of both are strengthened and furthered.
This process of development involves work and the effort to refine oneself, and it is unlikely that in everyday life this can be effected without any conflicts. A probable reason why marriages that last a life-time have become so rare is that only a few are prepared to undertake the work. This means, however, that the people concerned miss valuable opportunities for personal development, and consequently the general egoism continues to escalate.
The wish for a free and independent life allows for only short-term relationships - as does the restless search for "the right partner", bound up with unrealistic expectations. Today, a frequent change of partners - caused not least of all by poor role models - has long become socially acceptable, even if ultimately such a way of life brings many disappointments and inflicts deep wounds upon the souls.
It is to be hoped that our disorientated world will undergo a reformation and that many people will recognise the intrinsic value of working on a true partnership and marriage.
This blog post was put together by Edeltraud Grace
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Corinna Huebener (Or is he the right one after all).
Quoted from Abd-ru-shin, "Questions and Answers." Stiftung Gralsbotschaft Stuttgart 1972
Siegwalt Lindenfelser (Do only birds of the same feather flock together? )
Friedrich Nietzche: Human, All Too Human
Dvit Perret, In your Face. The New Science of Human Attraction
Abd-ru-shin, In the Light of Truth -The Grail Message, Vol1, Lecture: "Marriage".
Edeltraud Jakob Grace:
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