Thursday, February 3, 2011

A metaphor of matrimony: "The Michaelangelo Marriage"


According to the “Michelangelo Phenomenon,” you and your spouse can sculpt each other, through affirmation and support, to more closely resemble your ideal selves. In doing this, you and your partner will be happier, as will your marriage.

The key to helping your mate achieve their ideal self is supporting them in a way that is consistent with what they dream of becoming. In doing so, a relationship “functions better and both partners are happier,” says Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

Summarizing this concept, Pat Vaughan Tremmel says,"Just as the sculptor chisels, carves and polishes away flaws in the stone to reveal the ideal form, so do skillful partners support their loved ones' dreams, aspirations and the traits they hope to develop, such as completing medical school or becoming more fluent in a second language or more sociable."

It is also important to note that couples can jeopardize their relationships by encouraging their partner to be something different from what they envision as their ideal self. Therefore, get to know your spouse (or fiance) so that they you can better understand who exactly that person wants to become. This is especially important for those of you who are dating or engaged. Learning who your sweetheart wants to be in 10 years will give you more insight to your life-long compatibility.

Finkel concludes, “When our partners can chisel and polish us in a way that helps us to achieve our ideal self, that's a wonderful thing."

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