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Recognizing Mr. Right--and Hanging Onto Him : Relationships: Good sex does not a marriage make--and keep your secrets quiet. These are some of the tidbits psychologists offer to women seeking a man to spend the rest of their lives with.

October 03, 1994|From Times Wire Services

Joyce Brothers points out that a man is not a room--he cannot be redecorated-- while Ruth Westheimer advises you to keep your past to yourself.

Brothers and Westheimer are among the mental-health experts writer Neil Chesanow asked about love and relationships in an article in the current issue of Cosmopolitan.

Here is a sampling of what they have to say about meeting Mr. Right, getting married, fighting and forming an enduring partnership.

"Wishful thinking is the enemy of real romance," says psychologist Judith Sills, adding that reality is the most romantic thing of all. "Romance means seeing him as he is and loving him anyway."

Psychologist Bruce Hamstra warns against being a prisoner of your past, saying: "Learn to recognize self-destructive patterns that set you up for romantic failure."

Psychologist Brothers warns against trying to redecorate your man and advises asking yourself two questions: Can you live with his faults for a lifetime? And would you rather be with him than anyone else in the world?

"If the answer is no, cancel those wedding plans immediately," she says.

"Great sex isn't enough--you must share goals," says psychologist Mada Hapworth, who believes that it's great to be different, but without similar goals, "life together will be one continuous battle."

"When it comes to marriage, be able to take it or leave it," advises psychologist Harriet Goldhor Lerner. "Have a life plan that neither requires nor excludes marriage and make sure you're not just one husband or lover away from a welfare check."

In a section on fighting, therapist Westheimer has this advice:

"Some secrets should be kept secret. Your past life? Leave it in the past. To reveal everything about yourself, all your innermost thoughts, is to give your partner permission to use those things against you the next time you have an argument."

Psychologist Wayne Dyer has a gentler thought, saying: "When your choice is to be right or to be kind, always be kind."

In the same vein, psychotherapist Bonnie Maslin says, "Say you're sorry even when you'd rather not. Giving love to your partner even though he's hurt or angered you takes maturity. Acknowledge that he might also have bruised feelings. Take a step toward him, put your arm around his shoulder--even if that's the last thing you feel like doing. Such small gestures are what ultimately make a relationship work."

To have an enduring relationship, psychologist Nathaniel Branden says, you must realize romantic love is for grown-ups.

"Love is not for children or grown-ups who, on a deep subconscious level, still think of themselves as children," he says. "Romantic love often dies because the two people involved are simply not mature enough to nurture and sustain it. When there's conflict, and you're having trouble communicating with your partner, concentrate on how much you love him. Don't disengage and let childish fear, anger or hurt sabotage the relationship."

"What really scores big with men? Overlooking their mistakes," says psychologist John Gray, who adds: "Also, go out of your way to acknowledge thoughtful things he does for you--thereby ensuring he'll do more."

Psychiatrist Bill Hapworth advises that partners should not compete with each other, adding: "If you compete with the person you love--I earn more money, I'm a better parent--you're needlessly creating friction. Relationships are meant to provide mutual support--competition derails love."

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