For Better - Or What?

       Welcome to my world!

April 15, 2017

Missing Link?

It appears that this blog's email subscribers who receive posts on mobile devices did not receive the link to a short video that was part of yesterday's post, a clip showing Steve at his retirement party. For those who missed it, here is the link:

April 14, 2017

"But Not For Lunch"

"For better or worse, but not for lunch."

It's a saying familiar to my mother's generation, a humorous way of suggesting that when a husband retires, his wife may not welcome having him home all the time.

After Steve and I announced our plan to retire and spend months or years traveling together, some people wondered if this might turn out to be too much of a good thing. Will being together "all the time" prove to be boring, irritating, or suffocating?

Not yet.

Maybe if we were sitting around doing nothing all day we would have a problem, but for the past few months we have been busier than ever, as we get ready for the next phase of our life together.

We couldn't stay in our house once we moved our possessions out. Everything was either stored, sold, or donated. We moved into temporary housing (a small, one-bedroom apartment) while preparing to sell the house.

We do spend a lot of time together, working on whatever project needs to be done to move forward with our plans, taking walks, and — yes — having lunch. We also have time to pursue our own interests. We agreed a long time ago that it's okay to have separate activities, or just to seek a little solitude.

Our biggest challenge is probably the bathroom. In our old house, we shared a large master bathroom with two sinks. Conveniently, there was another bathroom off the hallway, and a third one downstairs. Nobody ever had to wait.

Here, there is one small bathroom, with one sink. Additionally, the only mirror in the apartment is the one over the bathroom sink. We need to remember that getting ready in the morning will take a little extra time. And sometimes someone may have to wait a few minutes. But this no worse than normal vacation conditions. We've had to deal with smaller spaces than this one. If this is the biggest problem we face, we'll be okay.

March 29, 2017

Let's Go Somewhere Else

My husband and I have started a new blog to chronicle our next big adventure.

It's called Let's Go Somewhere Else. We'll be writing about life on the road, and posting lots of pictures of the places we go.

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.