There is a batch of research dedicated to learning about idealizing one’s spouse. Marital aggrandizement is another term used to describe how one will selectively recall only positive memories of their past relationship and can also be the perception of a negative event as a positive rather than damaging. This serves to support the continuity of the relationship. The example they gave was infidelity in the marriage is looked at as a driving force of growth within the relationship.
“We further assume that marital aggrandizement does not entail psychopathology but serves an adaptive function (O’Rourke et al., 1996).”
Under the topic of Using Your Relationship to Heal and subheading Healthy Romanticizing, the book I am reading says this:
Sometimes looking at our partners through the slightly tinted rose-colored glasses can be a predictor of long-term success. Psychologists at the University of Texas in Austin have spent a decade following 168 couples who were married in 1981. They are finding that idealization of a kind can help people stay happily married. ‘Usually, this is a matter of one person putting a good spin on the partner, see the partner as more responsive than he or she really is,’ said Ted Huston, the study’s lead investigator. ‘People who do that tend to stay in relationships longer than those who can’t or don’t (Carey 2005).
In another study, psychologists at the State University of New York at Buffalo followed a group of 121 dating couples. The couples answered questionnaires designed to determine how much they idealized their partner and how well the pair was doing every few months. ‘The researchers found that the couples who were closest one year later were those who idealized each other the most. The idealizing seemed to help carry these couples though the inevitable rough spots. “Intimates who idealized one another’ concluded the researchers, ‘appeared more prescient than blind, actually creating the relationships they wished for as romances progressed’ (Carey 2005)
The amount of idealization and marital aggrandizement in a relationship were measures of marital happiness over time, and also dating couples were included in the book. I really had a hard time with this… Idealization to me seems like you are lying to yourself about your partner. Is that really a good thing? Does it not set up expectations that may cause a lot of disappointment in the long run? It’s a lot to think about. I try to see things for what they are and right now I am so focused on looking atmy marriage and myself honestly in order to change for the better. How can I change or make things better if I don’t see them for what they are? Perhaps I am taking it too far and mild idealization what really what can be good for us. Taking a trait or behavior that isn’t necessarily a problem and seeing it as better than it really is in reality. I think the researchers were alluding to the self-fulfilling prophesy. If you expect your relationship to go a certain way (for ex. Brad and I am going to continue growing and improving our marriage together and we will not go backwards) then your positive expectations can drive the belief to happen. I can see how that would work.
I am so not good at this, being positive. I tend to be negative at the slightest opportunity and I am really trying to stop doing that. I want to be able to give the benefit of the doubt instead of automatically assuming something is going wrong. I have to believe I can change that. There was a window of time when we first started with spanking and trying DD where everything seemed perfect. I didn’t think much about how long it would last, but just enjoyed it, and I do believe there was some idealizing going on between the two of us. When we returned back from Everything is Perfect World, the real work began. I have slipped back into some old patterns, one’s that can’t exist peacefully in a DD dynamic. That is a good thing though because it is forcing me to make positive changes, forcing me to see the issues, that for the first time I can see more clearly and they actually feel manageable, changeable, and I have hope. As I said in the last post, writing for my blog has been instrumental in this and I believe has prepared me . So has reading everyone else’s blogs, I have gained a lot from you all.
The “marital aggrandizement” was a second thought for this post but I wanted to talk about it because I had already been thinking about the past 11 or so years Brad and I have been together. I was trying to remember what it felt like when we were dating, how I saw him and our relationship. How that has changed and shifted over the years. I won’t go into detail but what is interesting was I had a hard time coming up the details of the really tough times. And from what I could remember, it makes me smile and think about how silly we were to be arguing about those things. I see them as stepping stones to how we have gotten to the place we are now. This is exactly what O’Rourke was talking about. I suppose whether it really was or not does not matter now. So is it psychopathology or adaptive? Does it matter if we remember events in a different light? Does it matter if we idealize our spouse or partner if it improves the relationship? Previously I would have said you should not, but now I’m thinking it might just be a good thing. I love for you to tell me what you think –
For part two I’d like to talk about how all this might relate specifically to D/s, M/s, and DD relationships.