Last week I started to blog about an article I read recently in the New York Times, “The Happy Marriage is the ‘Me’ Marriage,” by Tara Parker-Pope.
She cites researchers who have looked at the question of what makes a marriage. A Dutch researcher, Caryl Rusbult, found that it was the “Michaelangelo effect,” – partners ‘sculpt’ each other to help them each achieve their goals.
US professors, Arthur Aron and Gary Lewandowski, Jr. refer to the concept of ‘self-expansion” – the amount partners introduce each other to new ideas, or develop new experiences. They ask, ‘how much has knowing your partner made you a better person?’
“Spouses eventually adopt the traits of the other – and become slower to distinguish differences between them, or slower to remember which skills belong to which spouse,” Parker-Pope adds. “They actually begin to take on some of the identity of the spouse.
Activities, traits and behaviors that had not been part of their identity before the relationship were now an essential part of how they experienced life.”
I’ve noticed this with my own parents, who’ve been married for nearly 60 years. Sometimes when they tell a story about something that happened, they can’t remember if it happened to one or the other. I’ve always found this hilarious, and fascinating.
Is your relationship helping you become a better you?