(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”
Sacrifice and Commitment
Sacrifice = choosing to give up something for the benefit of the other
“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
- 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.”)
- 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”:
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.
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.
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?
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