Think Positive!

Research findings support the idea that the most complete love has a number of components. Robert Sternberg (1986) asked subjects to describe their relationships with lovers, parents, siblings, and friends. Analysis of the results revealed three components of close relationships: (1) intimacy, (2) passion and (3) decision/commitment to maintain the relationships.

Intimacy involves sharing feelings and providing emotional support. It usually involves high levels of self-disclosure through the sharing of personal information not ordinarily revealed because of the risk involved. Intimacy gradually increases as the relationship matures and deepens.

The passion component refers to sexuality, attraction, and romance in a relationship.

The decision / commitment component involves both short- and long-term factors. The short-term factor is the decision, made consciously and unconsciously, to love another person. The long-term factor is the commitment to maintain the love. Sometimes people fall in love but do nothing afterward to maintain it.

Sternberg and Barnes (1988) described eight different combinations of these three components of love:

1.    Absence of intimacy, passion, and commitment— no love

2.    Intimacy only— liking (but no passion or commitment)

3.    Passion only— infatuation (but little intimacy or commitment)

4.    Decision/commitment only— empty love (with no passion or intimacy)

5.    Intimacy and passion— romantic love (no commitment)

6.    Intimacy and commitment— companionate love (without passion)

7.    Passion and commitment— fatuous love (foolish love, without real intimacy)

8.    Intimacy, passion, and commitment— consummate love (the most complete love)

Sternberg, a love specialist, emphasizes that the most complete love, consummate love, results from a combination of all three components. The love relationship is balanced when all three elements are present in relatively equal degrees. People are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship if their love triangles match—that is if they have fairly equal amounts of the same components of love.

An interesting question regarding romantic love is whether it is a sound basis for marriage. There is no question that romanticism plays a significant role in attraction and the decision to marry. Romanticism brings individuals into serious sexual association that may eventually lead to marriage. In this sense, romantic love is very functional.

However, if romantic love is taken as the only criterion for marriage, love can be very problematic. The idealism of romantic love is functional if it approaches reality. Sociologists say, when we love someone consciously, we are aware of who that person is. We do not relate to their image, but to their reality. Romantic love becomes problematic if it blinds us to reality.

In addition, passion which fuel romantic love generally fades over time and is a function of a rapid increase in intimacy, which can not be sustained over the lifetime of a marriage. Sharing new experiences finding out that the other person cares for one deeply and learning new things about the other person can all increase passion. In contrast, when people reach a point at which they understand each other completely, know all there is to know about each other, and do not share new experiences together, passion fades. Thus, partners in long-term relationship may have to deal with decreased passion even when intimacy and commitment remain high.

Schacchter and singer (1962) developed a two component theory of human emotional response. They suggest that for a person to experience true emotion, two factors must coexist: (1) the individual must be physiologically aroused, and (2) the arousal must be interpreted as a particular emotion. They suggest that it does not really matter how someone produce an agitated state in an individual.

Romantic live is influenced not only by negative emotions but by positive ones as well. Sexual arousal produces intense physiological changes in the body, and these changes facilitate attraction.

The more positive excitement, a relationship generates, the more likely the participants are to report that they are in love. However, since intense emotional arousal and excitement cannot be sustained, love that is to endure in a marriage must include components other than emotional excitement.

Western culture emphasizes romantic love as the basis for mate selection. Because it is so highly regarded, it can not be ignored. When based on reality instead of an idealization of the partner, romantic love provides a function basis for marriage.

Erotic love is an important part of love. Certainly, sexual attraction is an important factor in relationship building, and sexual satisfaction strengthens the bond between two people. Ordinarily, love and sex are interdependent. A loving relationship becomes a firm foundation for a happy sex life, and a fulfilling sexual relationship reinforces the total love of the partners for each other.

Dependent love is an important basis for a strong relationship when it involves mutual dependency. Integration in the relationship takes place to the extent that each person meets the needs of the other. Difficulty arises if the needs of one person are excessive, so that neurotic, possessive dependency becomes the basis for the relationship. Most people need to receive as well as give if they are to remain emotionally healthy. Those who enjoy giving without receiving become either martyrs or masochists.

Friendship love, based on companionship, is an enduring bond between two people who like each other and enjoy each other’s company. It can endure over many years. For most people, friendship alone is not enough for marriage, but it is an important ingredient in loving relationships.

Finally, altruistic love adds genuine concern and care to the total relationship. Behavior, rather than feelings, is the active means by which the individual shows care. As in dependent love, giving and receiving must be mutual. Altruistic love allows the person expressing it to gain satisfaction through caring for another. It allows the receiving person to be cared for and loved for his or her own sake.

Each person defines love according to his or her own background and experiences. One person may describe love in terms of emotions and strong feelings. Another may describe it as a biological attraction or as a way of acting toward and treating others. Another may frame love in terms of love of liking and friendship or in terms of care and concern for someone else. Still another may say that there is no such thing as love, that it is just a myth or a delusion.

In fact, there are many different delusion of love. Although, in a sense, love is what each person thinks it is, this subject view is not always helpful. It leads to misunderstandings between two people who say they love each other but have entirely different concepts of what they mean.

When we talk about love, therefore we need to know what kind of love we mean. The point of view reflected here is that love is not a single concept but has different dimension. Let’s start with a five dimensional view of love:

1. Romantic love

2. Erotic love

3. Dependent love

4. Friendship love

5. Altruistic love

Romantic love

Romantic love has been defined as a profoundly tender or passionate affection for another person. Its chief characteristic is strong emotion, marked by intensity of feelings. A glance, a smile, a brushing of the hand of one’s beloved may arouse powerful feelings of warmth and affection. Individuals in romantic love report that they become “alive again and start to really feel for the first time in years.” If the love is mutual and fulfilling, there is a strong sense of joy, exhilaration, and well-being.

Romantic lovers have a strong desire to be together so that they can continue to enjoy the pleasure of love. When apart, these lovers can become obsessed with thoughts of each other. It is also common for romantic love to result in physiological changes and manifestations: palpitations of the heart, a quickening pulse, breathlessness, trembling, tightness in the chest, or halting speech. Loss of love can be so upsetting that the person can’t eat or sleep.

The primary component of romantic love is strong emotion but current research has indicated that a host of negative emotions, including anxiety and fear, may also be related to increased romantic love.

There is also a strong feeling of sexual attraction and a desire for physical contact in romantic love.

But romantic love can also involve altruism and unselfishness, with the lovers filled with feelings of generosity and wanting to shower each other with gifts. The sense of devotion and willingness to serve and to sacrifice is often astounding. Along with this desire to give up much for the sake of love comes a renewed feeling of self-confidence that one is beautiful and capable and can do the impossible.

Erotic love

Erotic love is sensual love. This type of love can be defined as sexual attraction to another person. It is the biological, sensual components of love relationship. What is the relationship between love and sex?

According to Sigmund Freud, love and sex are really one and the same thing. Freud defined love as “aim inhibited sex”, as a yearning for a “love object” — for another person who could meet one’s own sexual needs.

Freud emphasized two important elements of the sexual aims of adults. One element is physical and sensual. In both men and women, this element consists of the desire for physical pleasure such as the release of sexual tension through orgasm.

The second element of the sexual aims in adults in psychical; it is the affectionate component – the desire for emotional satisfaction. Freud emphasized that a normal sexual life is assured when there is a convergence of the affectionate and sensual components.

While Freud emphasized that love and sex are the same thing, other writers would say love and sex are two separate entities, that they are not identical, and that a distinction must be made between them. Reik, a specialist, argued that love and sex are different in origin and nature. Sex is a biological function whose aim is the release of the physical tension. Love stems from psychic needs and provides affection and emotional satisfaction.

More recent research indicates only a low correlation between sexual desire and love. This means that many individuals tend to separate the two things- that they can be in love without having sexual desire or they can have sexual desire without being in love.

Dependent love

One of the components of a durable love is dependency. Dependent love develops when someone’s needs are fulfilled by another person. In its simplest form, it works like this: “I have important needs. You fulfill those needs; therefore I love you”.

This is the type of love the dependent child feels for the mother who feeds, clothes, and cares for him or her. “You give me bottle; you keep me warm; you hold me, cuddle me, and talk to me. That’s why I love you.”

But it is also the kind of love that develops when the intense psychological needs of adults that have been denied in the past are now fulfilled by a lover. For example, a lover who has a strong need for approval may be getting that need met through a partner who is full of compliments and praise.

Friendship love  

Another important element of love is friendship love, similar to companionate love. This implies a type of love between individuals with common concerns. This type of love may exist between good companies because of similar interests; it may arise out of respect for the personality or character of another. Research has shown than the most comprehensive and profound relationships are between two lovers whose involvement includes friendship. While romance may exist without friendship, love becomes more complete and enduring with it.

There is some evidence to show that loving and liking are separate phenomena and may be measured separately. But this research defines love only in romantic terms. Other research emphasizes that as love matures over the years it contains more and more elements of friendship. This means partners grow to like each other. In fact, liking had been called the key to loving. Liking in a relationship brings relaxation in the presence of the beloved; it is stimulus for two people to want to be with each other. It is friendship in the simplest, most direct terms.

Friendship love is certainly more relaxed and less tense than romantic love. It is less possessive and less emotional, and it affords more security without anxiety. In such a secure environment, partners are free to live, to work, and go about their lives supported by their friendship.

Altruistic love

Altruistic love reflects unselfish concern for the well-being of another. It is the investment of someone’s psychic energies and abilities in caring for another individual and in seeking what is best for the other person. By nurturing someone else and doing all one can to make that person happy, the individual finds meaning and satisfaction in his or her own life.

When spouses are dissatisfied with their marriage, they might consider marriage counseling, marriage enrichment programs, and separation.

Marriage counseling:

Some couples need to consider that there may be alternative to divorce. One important alternative is marriage counseling. Couples can not be expected to live together unhappily, but breaking up the marriage may not always be the best or only option. Divorce often substitutes one set of problems for another. With professional help, the unhappy marriage can become a satisfying one.

Couples are often skeptical about the outcome of counseling — specially if they have never been to counselor before or if they have had unhappy experiences with therapists, though not all therapists are equally competent.

One summery of the efficiency of marital and family therapy found that therapy involved beneficial outcomes in about two-thirds of the cases. Analysis of the effects of marital and family therapy indicated very definitely that it works. Other research has indicated that marital therapy is effective, at least in the short-term, in reducing marital conflicts. In addition, research has shown marital therapy to be effective over the long-term in promoting marital stability, reducing marital conflicts, and preventing divorce.

Some states require conciliation counseling before a divorce may be granted. Even when it is required rather than chosen, counseling may help.

From a clinical point of view, the earlier, couples in a troubled marriage seek counseling, the more likely it will succeed. Many couples never seek therapy until the relationship has deteriorated to the point at which it’s very difficult to strengthen things out. Actually, couples need help the most during the first year of marriage. Mace suggested that professional practitioners schedule monthly sessions with newlyweds (either as couples or as groups of couples) during the first year of marriage.

Marriage enrichment programs:

Marriage enrichment programs combine education with group discussion to assist couples in improving marital communication, relationship, and problem solving. Programs are conducted in groups shortly before or after the wedding or any number of years after it. The central purpose of such programs is preventative: to address issues before they become unmanageable conflicts.

One such program, the prevention and relationship enhancement program (PREP) are designed to teach partners skill and ground rules for handling conflict and promoting intimacy. It is crucial that couples learn constructive ways to handle differences and negative affects, such as anger and frustration. PREP couples practice key techniques in sessions with trained consultants and in homework. Specific readings are also assigned.

Separation:

A trial separation is another alternative before divorce. Separation can be effective treatment method in some instances, specially if the separation is carefully structured and if marital therapy continues during the separation. Separation is not to be taken lightly. It is a time of emotional upheaval and extreme stress—for spouses and for children—and it has both potential benefits and risks. The objective of the separation is change; it is designed to interrupt old international patterns through the creation of an environment conductive to change. It is characterized by ambivalent feelings between the spouses and toward the marriage. The anticipated result is that spouses will move either closer together or farther apart.

Not only has family structure changed over the years, but there have also been significant changes in family functions. These changes have been from institution to companionship and from patriarchy to democracy.

 From Institution to Companionship

One of the most important changes in family function has been a shift in emphasis. Traditional views emphasized the role of the family as an institution whose function was to meet the demands of society; this is the instrumental role of the family.

More modern views of the family emphasizes its role in fulfilling personal needs for emotional security and companionship; this is the expressive role of the family.

In an industrial society in which the majority of people live in urban areas, neighbors remain strangers, and it becomes harder for people t find friendship, companionship and emotional support. Affectional needs may not be met; the individual feels isolated and alone even though surrounded by millions of people. In such an impersonal society, it becomes more important to find intimacy, a sense of belonging, and emotional security in the family itself. Most humans need a profoundly reaffirming experience of genuine intimacy. In a highly impersonal society in which emotional isolation is frequent, developing a close family relationship is vital to one’s identity and security.

There has been some shift, therefore, in family functions. In the 1800s, people openly admitted to marrying to obtain economic security, to provide goods and services for one another, to attain social status, to produce and to raise children.

By the 1970s, people professed to marry for love, companionship and the satisfaction of emotional needs. Raising healthy and happy children and having economic security are still important reasons for marriage, but love and affection are people’s primary expectations in marrying today.

This shift has placed a greater burden on the family itself. When people establish a family for love, companionship and emotional security but do not find fulfillment, they become disappointed, frustrated, and full of feelings of failure. This might cause a reason for divorce. Rather than staying together for the sake of the family, couples often separate if their personal needs and expectations are not met.

 From Patriarchy to Democracy

 Through out most of history, the American family was patriarchal. The father was considered head of the household, with authority over other members of the family.

As head of the household, he owned the property, which was passed to the next generation through the male line. This is known as patrilineal descent. The wife and children were expected to reside with the husband with or near the husband’s family, according to his choice. This is patrilocal residence. The term that refers to female descent and residence are matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence.

Generally, in the 1950s and before, one characteristic of the traditional patriarchal family was a clear-cut distinction between the husband’s and wife’s role in the family. The husband was the bread-winner and usually responsible for man’s work such as making house repairs. On the other hand, the wife was responsible for women’s work including housecleaning, cooking, caring for the children etc.

Husband-wife relationship lasted because women had few alternatives, but there may have been little emotional closeness and companionship. Sex was considered “ a man’s pleasure and a woman’s duty” and often resulted in an endless succession of pregnancies.

Not all patriarchal family were unhappy or unsuccessful. The structures were stable, sustained by law and social custom, as well as by the lack of economic and social opportunities.

However, with the cultural climate of activism of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and the women’s rights movement of the 1960s, the ideals of the patriarchal family was challenged. The patriarchal family was replaced by the democratic family, in which women were treated more as equal and demanded a greater voice in family governance.

The development of democratic family ideal that emphasizes egalitarian rights and responsibilities in a group with the welfare of all. This ideal has not always been achieved, but family philosophies , forms and functions continue to change as new needs arise.

Family as a social institution is present in all cultures. It is an extremely vital part of human social life. It has always been an important part of society. Everyone has been brought up in a family and most of us will have a family of our own. Family is probably the oldest of all human institutions.

Origin/Emergence of Family

Anthropologists have done much research on various ancient societies to know about the origin of the family, but they differ in their opinions. A group of anthropologists think that the institution of family or at least some forms of the family (especially the monogamian family) have existed from the very beginning, while another group of anthropologists believe that there was no existence of family in ancient times, and gradually as a result of the progress of human society, family come into existence and it has ultimately assumed its present complexion.

Definition of Family

The traditional definition of family is a unit made up of two or more people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption, and who live together, form an economic unit, and bear and raise children.

Such definitions have recently been challenged because they excluded a multitude of diverse groups who also consider themselves families. For example, one childless couples considered families? What about cohabiting couples? Gay and lesbian couples with or without children? Three elderly sisters living together? Definitions may become even more complicated in the future. For instance, medical technology has made it possible for a child to have more than two parents at birth.

In a recent definition the U.S census defines family as a group of two persons or more related by birth, marriage or adoption and living together.

Whinch defines family as “a set of persons related to each other by blood, marriage or adoption and whose basic societal function is replacement”

According to DeGoneva and P. Rice, “family is a relationship in which (1) the adults co-operate financially (2) the members are committed to one another in an intimate relationship (3) the members see their identities attached to the group.

This definition has a number of advantages. It includes a variety of family structures: the traditional married couple with or without children, single parent families, family consisting of blood relatives (such as grandparents and grandchildren). It also includes persons not related by blood, marriage or adoption who have a sexual relationship: an unmarried cohabiting couple, a gay or lesbian couple, a communal family etc.

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