The Future of Monogamy

With the dust settling over the infidelity of Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger, famed relationship columnist Dan Savage asks if we should prize honesty over monogamy. In a New York Times interview, Savage calls typical modern idea of monogamous relationships skewed and unfair. According to him, honesty and openness should be prized above all, even if we admit to our partners everything from flirting with others to infidelity.

The love sphere is inseparable from the rest of our lives, and it often becomes a focus in coaching. This can lead to a renewed investment in monogamy, an alternative vision of the relationship, or, if it’s best, a break-up.

Where there are problems relationships, I have some some executive coaching advice to keep in mind.

  • Talk to a relationship coach. It takes both partners in a couple to make any meaningful decision. A coach can work with them and help decide what is the best direction for both.
  • Ask yourself and your partner what you both want out of the relationship. Are you looking for something serious and long-term? Are you just looking for fun and like to flirt with others? Does you partner know what you want? Be clear with your partner your intentions in the relationship.
  • Open discussion of issues is the first step. Keeping destructive secrets from loved ones only exacerbates the problem and is a symptom of spinning out of control. Infidelity is damaging enough to the relationship, but denial can make it even worse. Admission allows both parties to move on and attempt to salvage the relationship.

According to Savage, most couples can live happily in monogamously. He asks that couples try to be open, honest and flexible with one another. Executive coaching values the feelings of both members of a couple, and works to make sure any solution to a problem is mutual.

 

JS

 


Dr. Siegler's Book

Dr.Siegler's Bio

The Balance of Manhood

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner now joins the elite group of public officials who’ve damaged or destroyed their political careers over a bad decision. A New York Times op-ed article, “Those Manly Men of Yore,” looks at why powerful men make these kind of mistakes. The piece explains how, historically, sexual restraint was proof of a more capable man.

The idea of self-restraint is nothing new as writers from the Roman age celebrated men who controlled their desires, according the article. Obviously, many women have been in favor of greater restraint in men, in order to help protect family unity. (The author of this article happens to be female.)  Can greater restraint potentially strengthen the family and honor marital vows?   Possibly but the issue is greater than this question.  For each man, to be alive and strong, actually needs to strike a balance between restraint and pleasure.

The concept of managing oneself is important in my model of executive coaching. For example, it’s vital for those looking to quit smoking or excessive drinking to exert greater self-control. For those like Anthony Weiner, former California governor and Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, or struggling Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, restraint theoretically would have saved both their careers and reputations.

However, in life, and in coaching, we discuss when there are  pulls in two directions, as there are with the forces of restraint and “nirvana.”   Nirvana, enjoying and living in the moment,  is the opposite of restraint.  This tension is managed by all throughout the life span.  All men deal with these tensions and generally strike a balance that works.   Each man finds himself in a unique situation, culturally, situationally (i.e, married/unmarried, living in a dictatorship or free country,etc.), and needs to determine his approach to this tension.

Some coaching ideas include:

  • There is nothing at all wrong with feeling physical attraction to someone, even if you’re in a relationship. But there is a difference between recognizing attraction and acting on it.
  • Unfaithfulness can belie a lack of responsibility in a married person (unless a couple is in an “open” relationship that is mutually agreed upon).  A lack of restraint is apparently far more serious in the public eye in a married man than in a single man.  Anthony Weiner “sexted” women while his wife was flying around the globe with Hillary Clinton.  In general, the public has a different standard for a married man.
  • Managing oneself  is apparently one component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to manage habits such as food, drugs, gambling, and alcohol can prevent a lot of bad consequences.
  • If you are having difficulty with the tension between nirvana and restraint, consider talking to an executive coach or counselor who can help you get clear on what you want.

 


Dr. Siegler's Book

Dr.Siegler's Bio

Lessons of a Washington Scandal

For the past week, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has been harshly criticized for “sexting”: exchanging lewd photos with numerous young women, one allegedly a minor, during business hours as a member of the US House. The fact that he’s also married only make his situation more embarrassing. Politicians, editorial columns and President Obama have chastised him and challenged him to resign.
For an increasing number of Americans, “sexting” is an accepted part of flirting online, widespread in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and countless dating sites. But Weiner’s celebrity, his leadership role and his additional missteps have turned this personal foible into a damaging national scandal.
Regardless of how we might judge Rep. Weiner’s actions and the public’s reactions, we can agree that this episode has thusfar worked out quite badly for him. In my executive coaching work, I refer to this sort of impulsive, destructive behavior as spinning out of control, and I have developed techniques that can help you stop the spin, balance your perspective, and retake control of your life. If you find yourself in a situation like this, keep these things in mind:

  • If you’re sharing any information about yourself, particularly online, take a moment to think about how far it might spread and the damage it might do.
  • Know who you’re dealing with and don’t make assumptions. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to interact with people who aren’t who they say they are. If Weiner flirted with a minor, whether he knew it or not, his personal issues may become legal issues.
  • Our personal relationships, especially with our spouses and families, affect every other aspect of our careers and our lives. Problems at home can never really be kept hidden. They must be addressed.
  • Remember that the online world is not separate from the real one. Don’t devote time and energy to sites like Twitter and Facebook if it detracts from your professional success.

With the opportunities of new technology come emergent risks. Rep. Weiner may resign his Congressional seat or he may lose his approaching re-election bid. (Right now, he appears to be leaning toward outright resignation.) His marriage may end or he may be able to save it and discover ways for his wife and himself to heal. Somehow, he will have to live down his public humiliation. The best that we can do is to learn from his example, know how to recognize the spin, and take control before we lose control.
 


Dr. Siegler's Book

Dr.Siegler's Bio

The Economic Model of Marriage

A recent article in the New York Times called “Adam Smith, Marriage Counselor” relates building a successful marriage to economics. This is an very interesting comparison, and the article raises a number of intriguing points. It’s always encouraging to see subjective matters like marriage being successfully informed by objective models like capitalist economics. Applying the rational laws of economics is a useful approach for understanding the successes and shortcomings of a marriage.

Here are the major points raised in the article and how economic systems relate to marriage:

  • Aversion – This is the irrational competitive spirit that can elicit counterproductive behavior. The example the article gives is being compelled to try and win $200 after losing $100, leading to further losses. A major application to marriage is escalation of an argument you know you’re losing. Knowing when to avoid conflict can lead to more harmony with your mate.
  • High information processing costs – This describes the threshold in which a consumer stops being able to successfully choose between products or services due to too many choices. The article gives the example of paralysis in the supermarket when you have fourteen cereal choices. When a person gets irritable with their spouse it is sometimes because there are too many things going on. Understanding that we can only devote a certain amount of time and energy to listening to someone else will help us avoid dissappointmenting a mate. For example going for a run after work can put someone in a great space to chat over dinner.
  • Fluctuations in fairness – A major source of stress in a lot of marriages comes with the perception of a discrepancy between the respective amounts of effort put into the marriage or into parenting by each spouse. The key to getting past this is the knowledge that such discrepancies are usually temporary and often even out over time: the amount of work put in by each spouse often fluctuates throughout the marriage.

Another key point that is not mentioned in this article, but has been explored at length in previous posts on the Amplifier Blog:

  • Examine the partnership – As previously discussed in the post “Marriage and Self-Expansion,” the couples that last and are happiest are the ones in which each spouse “expands” as a result of their marriage. This is surely related to the economic model of marriage: the modern successful marriage is not simply a union, it is a partnership.

It’s useful to apply the successful concepts of economics to understanding the elements of a successful relationship. There are definitely more parallels between economics and romance.

What other parallels between economics and marriage can you think of?

JS

Marriage and Self-Expansion

New studies suggest that it’s time to rethink an effective marriage. A recent article in the New York Times called “The Happy Marriage is the ‘Me’ Marriage” compiles a few different studies about what makes marriages last, and the results are different from conventional wisdom. Contrary to notions that two people should put their relationship first, these new results find that the effective marriages are those where each person in the relationship finds something in their partner that allows them to grow as an individual. The lasting marriage is the marriage that allows each person to gain something for their own person, and help their partner do the same.

Not that this means that marriage has to be selfish. While each person gains something from their partner, ideally they also contribute something to their partner’s life as well. The broadening works both ways, and each partner gets pleasure both from personally expanding as well as expanding their partner.

Therefore, it’s worth considering how your partner contributes to your self-expansion, both in examining an existing marriage as well as considering if marriage is right for you and your significant other. Some questions valuable to this consideration include:

1. Do I have a fuller life as a result of my relationship?

2. Have I picked up any new traits or behaviors from my significant other?

3. Am I a better person as a result of my relationship?

4. Have I helped my significant other expand their life?

The new marriage isn’t so much a union, but a partnership. Instead of spouses sacrificing themselves for the sake of the relationship, each partner should look to enrich their life and enrich their spouse’s life.

What do you think about the changing attitudes towards marriage?

JS

Announcing the beginning of a fresh new version of Full Life’s Amplifier™ Blog!

From now on, you will see frequent interactive blogs focusing on 6 Key Themes:

1) Business
2) Balance
3) Momentum
4) Possibility
5) Habits
6) Love

The new edition of the Amplifier Blog will broadcast ideas about our lives, our careers, and the world around us. Together, we will reflect on how we can bring our own unique vision to life and then actually implement and achieve our goals.

We will “amplify” ideas so you can optimize your approach to living and then experience the joy of a fulfilled life. This is so you can gain a crystal clear picture of what you WANT which will then in turn “drive” your life design.

The 6 Full Life Blog Themes:

BUSINESS: We will focus on what success means to YOU and how you can further enhance your career or business performance. In this competitive time of economic challenges and downsizing, as an executive, entrepreneur, or student, you will learn tips to avoid burnout, become more resilient, and achieve HIGH-ENERGY goals. You will also get practical tips and strategies for igniting and planning the “next phase” of your business or career.

BALANCE: Living a full life is about balance, which means that you have to pay attention to all or most of the key areas of your life. Using Full Life’s Spheres of Life® Coaching, we apply a matrix of 11 key spheres and make sure you are making desired progress in each area, without letting one area become dominant at the expense of others.

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

POSSIBILITY: You will examine your vision of what lies ahead so you can build your ideal future. Also, how can communities and nations harness innovation in relationships and in technology to build a safer and healthier world?

HABITS: How addictions and bad habits, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, procrastinating, hoarding, spending, disorganization, and anything that takes away our time and functioning – actually inhibits progress in one’s life and career. We will not only look at how to overcome bad habits, but we will also explore how we can create positive habits that support us and the people in our lives.

LOVE: Whether single, dating, or in a relationship, we will examine love and how intimacy can be heightened in our lives. What are ways we can magnify our satisfaction in whatever state of love we find ourselves?

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With the new Amplifier Blog experience, we hope that you will bring your perspectives into the conversation.

Your responses will be a crucial part of helping yourself and others learn and be more satisfied with life! Enjoy and as always we appreciate your interest and contributions.

JS

Coupledom

When singles date they visualize being in a relationship while couples often picture being a better couple (or sometimes dream about being single). I read a terrific article on couple research in the New York Times Magazine on April 18th called: Is Marriage Good For Your Health? By: Tara Parker-Pope http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18marriage-t.html.

For years, many have believed that being part of a couple is good for you, but this research article shows that couple health is actually a lot more complicated. It appears that the harmony some married couples experience, often has a positive effect on their health. Downward effects on the immune system are more likely to occur to newly single people after divorce, as well as to couples with high amounts of conflict. Now it appears that many long term single people are as healthy as the harmonic couples, because single people are getting a more accurate portrayal. I also like Gottman’s work elsewhere showing that couples saying “yes” to each other all the time tend to go on to be long term relationships. This makes sense. Most of us feel good with affirmation and connection.

JS

Inspiration: Looking for love on Craigslist…in the furniture section

I always find it interesting that we can find inspiration in the strangest places. I was looking through the wedding announcement section in a recent New York Times when I read the story of Ms. Mary Ziegler and John Roberts III.

The unlikely meeting between the two, who now seem to share a real and steadfast bond, reminds us that in relationships we can never underestimate the power of blind chance. And of course, second-hand furniture.

JS

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