never married, over forty, a little bitter


Bitterness, much like other negative emotions, could forecast physical disease.

Wrosch says: “Health psychology has shown that negative emotions can influence stress responses and release the hormone cortisol. Chronically high levels of this hormone in turn can disrupt other bodily systems, including the immune system. If this happens, it can increase vulnerability of a person to developing a number of diseases.”


If success is unlikely, individuals should move on to other pursuits.

Wrosch says: “Goal disengagement can prevent repeated failure and associated negative emotions, and has been associated with lower cortisol levels, less systemic inflammation, and fewer reports of health problems. However, people also need to find new purposeful activities. They have to reengage—find a different job or look for a different partner. Reengagement in turn has been show to predict higher levels of positive emotions and purpose in life.”


Definitely an idea for me to chew on:

You picked up on a pattern of men saying, “It would hurt my wife if she found out” they went to the strip clubs, but they go anyway. You explain that with object-relations psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg’s theory that aggression is an integral part of marriage that couples should accommodate rather than deny. Can you say a little more about his theory and why you subscribe to it?

I wouldn’t say I subscribe to it in whole, but his primary idea that relationships involve and re-create past object relations [primarily with one’s parents] and that they involve more than just positive emotions is one that I think deserves careful consideration. I think most of us can think about our own relationships and recognize times when we’ve been nasty to the person supposedly closest to us. The question is where this hostility comes from and what we can do about it. What appealed to me about Kernberg and other object-relations psychoanalysts was the attempt to look at this hostility as something that inevitably arises but that does not necessarily destroy the passion that two people have for each other.


So, why did women buy into the fairy tale that if they quit their jobs, everything would be hunky dory? Because American corporate culture is outdated and inflexible that participation in it has become incompatible with how many people feel it’s best to raise their families. As Warner points out in the JK About That Opt Out Revolution piece, smartphones and computers and whatzitgadgets have all but shackled workers to their employers, and the expectation of constant availability means that the demands of corporate employment keep people from fully engaging with their families even when they’re not “supposed” to be working. A number of women cited in the Times piece say they dropped out of the workforce because they thought it was a healthy decision for their marriage and their kids, but it seems that a healthier decision for everyone involved would be if companies allowed parents some flexibility — telecommuting, more flexible hours, actual goddamn time off to be a real person outside of dronehood.