Tag Archives: Romance

To have and to thank: gratitude helps us hold onto our relationships

I had one goal when I started graduate school five years ago – to understand why some romantic relationships thrive while others fail. I also had one primary hypothesis – relationships fail when partners begin to take each other for granted. And I thought: if taking each other for granted is the poison, maybe gratitude is the antidote.

Back when I started, few people were talking about gratitude. Today it is everywhere, and for good reason. A decade of burgeoning research has highlighted the myriad benefits of gratitude for physical and mental well-being. And we’ve found that gratitude is good in large part because it helps us create and hold onto our close relationships.

In research by Sara Algoe and colleagues, grateful couples were more satisfied in their relationships and felt closer to each other  (see this post for the details of their findings). And in our research, we found that the more grateful participants were, the more likely they were to still be in their relationships nine months later.
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Science and love

I want to spend a moment talking about scientists in love. Pierre and Marie Curie are perhaps the most famous power couple in all of science; together, they shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies of radiation. Marie went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discoveries of radium and polonium, as well. Their daughter, Irène, went on to win the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband, Frédéric, for the discovery of induced radioactivity.

At the moment, Berkeley’s College of Chemistry has more than its share of scientific power couples: Teresa and Martin Head-Gordon, Marcin Majda and Birgitta Whaley, T. Don and Rosemary Tilley, Michelle and Chris Chang, Anne Baranger and John Hartwig, and Kristie Boering and Ron Cohen. As someone who is also in a scientific relationship (with fellow BSR blogger Piper J. Klemm), I wanted to share some of the benefits and challenges as I’ve experienced them:

  • Home becomes a science zone. Sitting at the breakfast table can be a moment to discuss the state of federal funding for science, and a walk to grab a cup of coffee might suddenly be a discussion of nonlinear optics. For partners who want a refuge from work and research, this can be sincerely frustrating; for others, that means that they can constantly talk about the things that excite them the most with someone who shares that interest. There are thrills to be had from highly overlapping knowledge bases.
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