For Better - Or What?

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March 8, 2017

This Question Changed My Life

In my last post, I wrote about the experience my husband and I had with a questionnaire designed to help people feel closer.

The questionnaire encourages people to share some of their thoughts and feelings in a way that becomes more intense as the questions progress.

Question 19 asks, "If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?"

This is a powerful question, because it requires us to examine our priorities and think about the value of how we spend our time. It asks what we really want from life.

My husband's answer was, "I would sell everything and travel the world with you."

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was what I would want to do, too. A few nights later I said, "You don't have to die to travel the world. What if we just did it, sold everything and started traveling?"

It didn't take much discussion for us to agree that this didn't have to be a fantasy. We really could leave our jobs, sell the house, and hit the road.

And that is exactly what we are about to do.

Note: The name of the published study that includes the questionnaire is "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings". You can find it by clicking on the questionnaire link in the above article. If you just want to go straight to the questions, click on this link to a printable version.

Although some sources say it takes about 45 minutes for a couple to answer the questions, I recommend setting aside two hours when you will not be interrupted. That way you can move at a relaxed pace without any pressure to finish too quickly.

February 26, 2017

Can a Questionnaire Make you Fall In Love?

Perhaps you have seen the claim that a series of 36 questions can make you fall in love with someone.

This idea is based on a 1997 experiment conducted by Arthur Aron and colleagues. The researchers were studying close relationships, and they wondered if it would be possible to generate feelings of closeness by getting pairs of people who did not know each other to participate in some kind of relationship-building task. Their goal was to "create a temporary feeling of closeness, not an actual ongoing relationship."

In a series of experiments, people were assigned to pairs. They were then given a set of questions to answer. The questions were designed to allow the participants to reveal themselves to each other in a way that become more intense as the questions progressed.

All the participants were given personality assessments prior to the study. To test different theories, there were three different variations of the study, in which people were paired in different ways.

The study found that this method was quite effective in getting people to feel close. Of course, there were individual variations, and some personality types or combinations were more affected than others. Despite the often strong feelings evoked by the experiment, the researchers do not claim that these questions would be enough to create a real relationship. Normally, shared experiences and the development of trust and affection over time are required for friendship or romance to progress.

The test subjects were under no obligation to stay in touch after the experiment, but some did. Many of them did develop friendships or romances afterwards, and at least one couple got married. Of course, this didn't happen to everyone who participated, but the researchers did find it very encouraging.

Despite the researchers' caution in reporting their findings, many people have jumped on this story and touted these questions as a sure-fire way to "fall in love with anyone." A few bloggers say that they and their partners used this method to start a serious relationship.

Naturally, Hubby and I had to try this. We printed out a copy of the questions and carefully went through them.

After 30 years of marriage, we certainly weren't in the same position as the study subjects, who were unknown to each other. And we weren't the same as people casually dating who decided to take their relationship to another level.

Even so, we did feel a positive effect from trying this exercise. This is in alignment with the advice of many marriage experts, who say that marriages thrive when the partners maintain an interest in all kinds of information about each other. Asking questions is one of the recommended ways to do this.

For example, The Gottman Institute uses the term Love Maps for the personal information couples collect about each other, and offers some lists of questions to use. The Lifehack website has a list of 100 questions to make Date Night more interesting.

For a truly interesting experience, the questions from the Aron study are great. It took us about two hours to answer them all; some people might do it more quickly, while others might need a little more time. It's best not to read the questions ahead of time. Spontaneity is a bonus. If you're doing this with your long-time partner, remember that the questions were originally intended to be shared by strangers. Don't assume you know what your partner will say. And above all, don't argue or debate the answers. This is about getting better acquainted.

For us, one of these questions was life-changing. I'll explain that in my next post.

Source: Arthur Aron, Edward Melinat, Elaine N. Aron, Robert Darrin Vallone, Renee J. Bator. "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Vol. 23 No. 4, April 1997.

February 7, 2017

So Much to Do

Right now I'm involved in a major life change. So much to do, so little time! It's keeping me away from the blog, but within the next few weeks I will be writing about everything that's happening. Good stuff.

January 27, 2017

It's Windy Out There

Last night the wind started to blow really hard. I woke up around 4:00 am and could hear something making a metallic banging noise outside. Getting back to sleep wouldn't be possible unless it stopped.

I was lying there in the dark, steeling myself to get up, put on some pants and a heavy jacket, and go outside. But before I was quite ready to make my move, my husband got up, put on some pants and a jacket, went outside, and fixed whatever it was.

My husband does uncomfortable things that keep us both comfortable. We take care of each other. I don't have to do it all myself!

January 20, 2017

My Experience With Amazon Locker

Yesterday I tried something new. I had known for a while that Amazon offers the option of delivering packages to a locker instead of your address. Lockers are located at places like convenience stores, supermarkets, transportation centers, and residential facilities. This is helpful for people who, for any reason, cannot receive deliveries at their home or at work. There is no extra charge to use a locker.

I wanted to test the locker concept, so I chose the one closest to my house, which happened to be in front of a convenience store about three miles away. As an added bonus, I was offered same-day delivery for no charge (because I'm a Prime member), and I accepted.

The email I got said I would receive my item by 9:00 pm. I hoped it would come earlier. I don't know what time the package was actually placed inside the locker, but the delivery notification arrived at exactly 9:00. I could have waited until the next day (Amazon allows a few days for pickup), but I was eager, so Hubby and I drove to the location.

These convenience stores sometimes make me uncomfortable because of the odd-looking characters always hanging around outside. Although the location was not in what I would call a dangerous neighborhood, I wouldn't have done this nighttime pickup alone.

The locker was a small bank of mailboxes connected to a computer screen, keypad, and bar code scanner. The email notifying me of delivery included an alpha-numeric code as well as the image of a bar code I could submit to the scanner, using my phone. The scanner did not recognize the bar code (the scanner was placed at an odd angle, and I couldn't tell if it was working), so I manually entered the code. One of the boxes opened. My package was inside. As soon as I took delivery, an email arrived to let me know my package had been picked up, with a link to a survey about the experience.

Overall, this was easy to do. I wanted to try it because Hubby and I are planning a long road trip, and this service might be very convenient while we are away from home. Same-day delivery will not be available for all items or in all cities, but we could have items delivered to locations where we plan to be. While I don't expect to do a lot of shopping on the road, it's good to know that this option is available.
This is NOT a sponsored post. Nobody asked me to write it, and, alas, I did not receive any compensation.