Inspired by Wong Fu Production’s YouTube video, The Last, this emotionally-charged book tells the story of how bipolarity and obsessive-compulsive disorder ravaged five major relationships in a young adult’s life – who, what, when, where, why. This book describes in detail, each relationship that has influenced the young adult’s life and how mental illnesses permeated themselves into such passion-driven affairs. This book tells the history of the hopeless romantic, manic-depressive individual, The History of the Hopeless Romanciac.
There are many factors that contribute to a condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome. Although it has been around for centuries, the medical profession has only begun to recognize it as a medical condition since the 1990s.
They believe the condition is brought on by an adrenaline rush that happens shortly after a severe stressful situation. The left ventricle of the heart takes on a cone-like shape which resembles the shape of a pot the Japanese use to capture octopus called “tako-tsubo” which means “fishing pot for trapping octopus. “Tako-tsubo Cardiomyopathy” is now Broken Heart Syndrome’s medical name.
Wikipedia defines it as sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). This weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one. Stress cardiomyopathy is a well-recognized cause of acute heart failure.
A study completed by Harvard Medical School provided the definitive part of this subject. Perhaps you know of someone who was married for several decades and died shortly after the death of their significant other. This is not an uncommon scenario.
Some of the symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome:
Physical symptoms may include:
chest pain and pressure
shortness of breath
arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems)
stomach pain, nausea and/or loss of appetite
death (in extreme cases)
Psychological effects of broken heart syndrome may include:
constant or frequent crying
thoughts of suicide
feelings of emptiness
Two of the most common causes of Broken Heart Syndrome are the loss of a spouse or a child. Scientists have shown that after such an incident, heart attack risks increased to 21 times higher than normal within the first day, and were almost six times higher than normal within the first week. Stress and lack of sleep after the death of a loved one increase the risks of heart failure. Interestingly, it is more common for men than women.
It is extremely difficult to counsel or comfort someone who is suffering from this syndrome because they believe the only solution is to bring their loved one back. Anything short of that does little to console them.
It has been my experience that within the boundaries of a family suffering such a loss, each member reacts differently. Some get angry. Another may turn inward and become distant to other family members. Some may take on the role of guilt and cannot overcome it. The feeling of helplessness is almost always a factor in each case and can become so overwhelming that it consumes every area of its victim’s life.
The adage states “Time heals all wounds” but very often this works in reverse for someone suffering from a broken heart. There are triggers that can pole-vault him/her back to the initial pain. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are most common.
There are a lot of internet sites that deal with this trauma that give coping mechanisms. These are certainly helpful to a point, but this type of loss is different than any other because the person who is gone can never be replaced. This is what creates the feeling of hopelessness.
It is an occurrence in life that rarely, if ever, one completely heals, and it is difficult to empathize unless you have personally experienced it. Patience, and more patience, is the best soother to help someone through this trauma.
Marriage is a complicated endeavor. Take from the populus, two people, and convince them to be around each other forever. Even the most social person in existence could tire of a single person’s company. Many different factors go into the development of a marriage, whether successful or unsuccessful. Many different marriages exist because many different personalities exist. What works for one marriage will not necessarily work for the next. Thus, trying to pin-down a all-encompassing answer to what makes a marriage successful is very difficult.
Through research and case studies, scientists and sociologists have been able to identify certain key characteristics of an individual which will make them more suited for marriage, and which will assist in improving the overall quality of the relationship. I shall touch on these subjects and identify the positive and negative behaviors for optimally spending an eternity with someone you love.
To preempt this, allow me to state that this is not the formula for a fairy tale. There is no perfect marriage. Every couple will have disagreements, and if they become content, the love will fade. Our biology directs us to pursue the propagation of our species by spreading our genetic material across many suitors. However, we are not animals and our society does not function that way. Thus we pursue a higher calling; a stronger purpose: love.
Every relationship is like an organism. They require nurturing, growth, and development. They require sustinance. From all the conversations I’ve had with long-married couples and marriage counselors, and in independent research into this subject matter, I have identified the key aspects of a successful relationship: communication, compromise, honesty, rationality, commitment, and adaptation. These are the building blocks; the characteristics which accommodate a successful marriage.
There are two opposing views which hold precedence in the perceived realm of relationships. Those are Similarity and Complementarity. To use the common adages: “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract”. Basically these opposing perspectives are generalized perceptions of the personality types which are well suited to romantic relationships. I’m here to tell you that these perspectives are wrong. Studies show that relationships based on complementarity are high in marital stress or end in divorce. I would equate this to trying to put a lion and a gazelle together, and hoping that they will get along.
On the other hand, many people find that shared characteristics between couples eventually manifest in shared weaknesses and shortcomings, producing a relationship which fares very well in some aspects, but fails completely in other areas. The solution then, is obvious. A balanced relationship where the individuals share common ground where it matters, but supplement one another’s weaknesses in other aspects.
There have been identified, cognitive styles which can greatly influence the success of interpersonal relationships. This cognitive paradigm is Adaptation vs Innovation. Adaptors are sound, compliant, cautious, dependable, self-doubtful, and prefer structure and rules. Innovators are creative and self-confident, yet controlling, insensitive, and impractical.
In a study of 85 couples 32/45 of successful marriages were identified as “adaptor-adaptor” type. 36/40 couples ending in divorce had an individual (or both) identified as “innovator” type. For Adaptor-Adaptor type, there is a 70% success rate. For any other combination involving an Innovator type, there is a 73% failure rate.
Being an “Adaptor” in a relationship means being able to produce mutually beneficial solutions to problems in their marriage. Being unwilling to bend on any subject creating an issue, contributes to further marital problems.
An adaptor association will begin as strong as it continues. Adaptors will identify their spouse’s expectations right from the start, and will aim to fulfill those expectations. Additionally, they will be interested in identifying their partner’s goals and assisting them in pursuing and achieving those goals.
Adaptors will make communication a priority. No topic should be off limits and any issues should be identified honestly and openly and addressed by the partner with a positive attitude and an open mind. A spouse should be the single definite source for confidence in discussion. There should be no doubt of the security and non-disclosure between the partners.
In a study of 32 couples over 12 years, personality similarity was widely found to NOT be related to marital satisfaction. Very little correlation was found in early marriage when couples are putting greater weight on commonalities. Greater levels of personality similarity at the initial phase in fact predicted lower levels of marital satisfaction over the following 12 years.
Great factors which contribute to this are generally universal and are based on generalized characteristics with many facets of variability. Successful traits are found with couples who are highly agreeable, and show low neurotic tendencies. Agreeableness scored high across the board in marital satisfaction in being more emotionally responsive, trusting, selfless, and with a greater need to please. Women’s marital satisfaction is directly correlated to husband’s higher Extraversion and lower Conscientiousness. Meaning, males who are more social, but more laid back, less goal-oriented, and less driven give greater satisfaction in marriages. Workaholics, perfectionists, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies are less likely to find relationship satisfaction in both males and females.
Some of the identified areas of greatest disagreement in order of precedence are: Sexual Relations (inter and extra-marital), Drinking, Handling Family Finances, Relationships with Extended Families, Recreation, Employment, Sharing of Household Tasks, Child Rearing, Friends, and Religion.
Sexual incompatibility is a greatly underestimated issue in marriages. Because couples do not communicate about their sexual preferences, shortcomings, and desires, they eventually find their sex life unfulfilling, leading to extra-marital affairs. Furthermore, individuals who improperly identify the sexual issues will attempt to mend their sex life through exploratory and inter-marital enterprises, which may appeal to one partner, but may revolt or belittle the other. Thus, an open-minded open-communication is essential to determining your partner’s, as well as your own, sexual desires which will lead to a more intimate relationship. Having proper intent helps too. Each person should be focused on fulfilling their partner, and seldom about their own satisfaction.
Drinking was identified as the second leading factor in marital stress. Not only does drinking alter a person’s behavior and rational thinking, but also can cause sexual dysfunction resulting in contribution to the aforementioned leading cause of marital problems: sexual incompatibility.
Financial Matters were identified as the third leading cause. Not surprisingly, this factor also contributed to the other factors. A partner who puts significant money into drinking habits puts undue stress on the relationship. Additionally, when a couple is overwhelmed with work in order to support individuals living beyond their means, this stress can lead to reduced sexual activity, or sexual activity used primarily as a means of endorphin reward, instead of as an intimacy-encouraging behavior.
There have been many times in my life that I have operated from the belief that no matter what it was I wanted to do or put out into the world, it had to be perfect before I could ever share it. I wasn’t going to launch my website, write any articles or hold a teleseminar until I was already well established in my field. I would sit and fantasize about the “someday” when I could do what I loved, and what things would look like when… But then I had that big “ah-ha” moment. My perfectionism was paralyzing me from living my calling and my dream and I had to ask myself that pressing question, “If not now, when?”
I knew that if I waited for whatever it was I was working on to be perfect then I would never actually complete it. I had to get out of my own way and just do it. You see, perfection is a word that goes against the action of implementation and allows us to procrastinate instead of allowing ourselves to be in motion and be part of the momentum of life living itself. And perfectionism has a payoff. It means I never have to put myself out there for fear of judgment from others or even from fear of success.
To be honest, perfection isn’t even a word that should be in our vocabulary. It implies the unachievable. There is a certain kind of tension between the opposites when it comes to this word because nothing will ever be perfect and yet everything is perfect just the way it is. The ideal way is accepting and appreciating things exactly as they are.
The beauty in taking imperfect action is it allows us to be on the journey of becoming instead of seeing a destination point that is far from our reach today. To apply imperfect action immediately brings us one step closer to that destination by just being and doing.
Here’s a great quote that compliments this idea using human relationships as the example:
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen
And so it is with everything in life.
If you find yourself challenged with overcoming perfection, let me share a few suggestions to get you moving forward:
Imperfect Action is Better than No Action
Taking imperfect action propels us into the next step of our life, it allows for things to move forward, to gain momentum and it allows us to be present and active in the creative process. So don’t wait for the perfect idea, the perfect time, the perfect person or the perfect scenario, just do it, get it out there knowing that anything you do can be improved on or tweaked at a later time if necessary. If you don’t put something out there first, then nothing will happen.
“Done is Better than Perfect” ~Scott Allen
Remember that life is happening all the time, it does not stop, it is constantly evolving and changing. Share the passion of who you are and what you do and people will feel that and appreciate your efforts and your courage. See what happens by putting it out there, try something out and let it be an ongoing part of the process and not the end of it.
Confidence is Built by Taking a Step at a Time, Even an Imperfect One
Like anything else, confidence is built one step at a time. By taking action in any form, we are taking steps towards our fullest life, our dreams and our future. You will be surprised at how much stronger and more confident you will feel in yourself just by taking action steps, even imperfect ones.
Celebrate Your Successes
In an effort to make things perfect, we forget to celebrate the little things that we accomplish. Instead of focusing on what things didn’t work, bring your focus to the things that did work and feel good about those things. Celebrate every single success with enthusiasm!