Scott Stanley, Ph.D. “Paradox of Silence” (CAPS 2010, Second Plenary)

(More of my notes from the CAPS conference here in Kansas City, KS.  Please forgive the typos.)

Scott Stanley, Research Psychologist, University of Denver, “Paradox of Silence”

Prepinc.com

SlidingvsDeciding.com (blog)

Sacrifice and Commitment

Sacrifice = choosing to give up something for the benefit of the other

It is fundamental to commitment to make the choice to give up other choices (Stanley, Power of Commitment, 2005), e.g., traditional wedding vows, Royal Bank of Scotland commercial.

Maybe I do” vs. “I do”

Sacrifices are required because in a close relationship conflict between self-interest is common.

Paradox of sacrifice is that focusing on getting an “equal” return will get one less; givers make better lovers (exchange orientation).

Link between commitment (long term dedication), sacrifice, and marital quality

Marital quality increases when people have a sense of a extended future

Game Theory = helpful here

Zero sum = “I” win, “you” lose—the long term view suggests that score keeping is ridiculous in a reasonable healthy relationship—besides it’s all “us” with a future, not “me” vs. “you”

At least in two studies suggest that sacrifice is more strongly related to long-term commitment in men than women; for men, commitment is the light switch that makes sacrifice acceptable; women tend to be socialized to sacrifice and so will do so sooner than men.

Visibility: Seeing is Believing

  • We get acclimated (habituated) to the positive things our partner does
  • We just don’t notice it unless we push reflection and gratefulness. e.g., a gratitude journal

Potential to notice partner’s sacrifice early in a marriage is a better predictor of future happiness and commitment then happiness and commitment

Signaling Commitment

  • A general function of sacrifice
  • Culturally, there are few generally accepted signals of commitment
  • Connection to the group & individual sacrifice are related; if I feel I belong to you, it is not about me anymore but us; at the same time, my willingness to sacrifice for you or the group signals my trustworthiness
  • The Cross = a symbol of God’s commitment to humanity
  • What is Jesus’ preaching worthy without the Cross? It is a promise of commitment but not its actualization

Whose is Happy?

  • have and protect friendships
  • giving of themselves
  • grateful to others
  • more forgiving

The painting Pieter Breugel “Peasant Wedding”

Well being = connected not simply with support but sacrifices Fr Christopher, “We need not only to be loved, but to love.”)

Going Small

  • We need to think not only about big things but little things
  • BUT big sacrifices require big opportunities and mostly what we get are small opportunities
  • George MacDonald, “Willie’s Question”:

Willie speaks.

What is it, father dear,
That he would have me do?
I’d ask himself, but he’s not near,
And so I must ask you!

The Father answers.

Me ’tis no use to ask,
I too am one of his boys!
But he tells each boy his own plain task;
Listen, and hear his voice.

Willie speaks.

Father, I’m listening so
To hear him if I may!
His voice must either be very low,
Or very far away!

The Father answers.

It is neither hard to hear,
Nor hard to understand;
It is very low, but very near,
A still, small, strong command.

Willie answers.

I do not hear it at all;
I am only hearing you!

The Father speaks.

Think: is there nothing, great or small,
You ought to go and do?

Willie answers.

Let me think:-I ought to feed
My rabbits. I went away
In such a hurry this morning! Indeed
They’ve not had enough to-day!

The Father speaks.

That is his whisper low!
That is his very word!
You had only to stop and listen, and so
Very plainly you heard!

That duty’s the little door:
You must open it and go in;
There is nothing else to do before,
There is nowhere else to begin.

What can I do this week to show my love and commitment?

Two small things I can do but likely would not unless I choose to do so.

How do we get around acting only in self-interest?

  • Practice non-random acts of kindness (Mt 25)
  • The things that burn the brightest in this life are mostly likely to burn brightly in the life to come
  • Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, we tend to regret not what we do but what we left undone

  • Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, we tend to regret not what we do but what we left undone
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  • timothyrgates

    Good thoughts. I appreciate these posts, for me at least – these and you cause me to think beyond my own boundaries. Thank you. What I've noticed, though, over the years in most Christian circles is that 'duty' is the sum of meaning behind the words 'sacrifice' and 'commitment.' (I'm not concluding this from the article) There is no sacrifice when someone loves another, i.e., giving up themselves because the other needs them or it. It is because the word 'love' is never abstract. The heart of all virtue, as with the words sacrifice and commitment, is love. It is the greatest, spoken of by St Paul to the Romans as the fount of love given by the Holy Spirit, giving us the freedom to love, hope, endure, and tribulation endurance, as he states in another way to the Cortinthians. Interestingly the ancient word was spoken, 'It is better to obey than to sacrifice.' Our Lord spoke of his reasons for coming into this world flowing out from the love that he shared with the Father before the foundation of the ages, and that his desire was that 'they' and 'us' would know this love. Another place he sums up this, 'If anyone loves me, they will keep my words, and my Father will love them, and we will come and make a home with them.' I can hear someone saying that this means they don't need to sacrifice or commit to anyone or thing. No, this would mean they have to yet know love. The irony of the 'sacrifice' of God is akin to the Poet's words, 'the cross could be found in God's heart from all eternity.' What is sickening – when people will get up at any given meeting and praise so and so or this group or that group for all their sacrifice. It may or may not be such, but to note it, and for most us, at least in America, to think it so, robs any beauty that might be therein. The sacrifice of love and it extended with an embrace is the only one that will write a hymn.

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  • timothyrgates

    Good thoughts. I appreciate these posts, for me at least – these and you cause me to think beyond my own boundaries. Thank you. What I've noticed, though, over the years in most Christian circles is that 'duty' is the sum of meaning behind the words 'sacrifice' and 'commitment.' (I'm not concluding this from the article) There is no sacrifice when someone loves another, i.e., giving up themselves because the other needs them or it. It is because the word 'love' is never abstract. The heart of all virtue, as with the words sacrifice and commitment, is love. It is the greatest, spoken of by St Paul to the Romans as the fount of love given by the Holy Spirit, giving us the freedom to love, hope, endure, and tribulation endurance, as he states in another way to the Cortinthians. Interestingly the ancient word was spoken, 'It is better to obey than to sacrifice.' Our Lord spoke of his reasons for coming into this world flowing out from the love that he shared with the Father before the foundation of the ages, and that his desire was that 'they' and 'us' would know this love. Another place he sums up this, 'If anyone loves me, they will keep my words, and my Father will love them, and we will come and make a home with them.' I can hear someone saying that this means they don't need to sacrifice or commit to anyone or thing. No, this would mean they have to yet know love. The irony of the 'sacrifice' of God is akin to the Poet's words, 'the cross could be found in God's heart from all eternity.' What is sickening – when people will get up at any given meeting and praise so and so or this group or that group for all their sacrifice. It may or may not be such, but to note it, and for most us, at least in America, to think it so, robs any beauty that might be therein. The sacrifice of love and it extended with an embrace is the only one that will write a hymn.

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