Study: Women keep the peace in marriage

Updated 01 July 2013
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Study: Women keep the peace in marriage

NEW YORK: Picture this scenario: You’re on a road trip with your partner, trying to find your hotel, lost in an unfamiliar area and driving in circles. Your partner gets agitated, body and voice tense, and says in exasperation, “We’re never going to find it!“
How do you react? Does the stress rub off on you, or do you try to calm your partner down?
A recent study says your response may well depend on your gender.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that, for couples who cooperate well, men tend to mimic their partner’s mood while women try to regulate their partner’s emotions.
“Women try to keep the peace,” speculates relationship researcher and lead study author Ashley Randall.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, looked at 44 heterosexual couples in the United States who had been together an average of six years. Most were living together or married.
The scientists shot video of each couple conversing about eating habits, exercise and other aspects of daily life. Then subjects viewed the video while rating how positive or negative they were feeling at the time of the conversation. Researchers also looked for signs of cooperation, such as open communication, sympathy, active listening and compromise.
Among those couples who cooperated well, the partners tended to fall into gender-distinct roles, with men following an emotional lead and women seeking to moderate the man’s emotions.
Men may do this simply to appease women. In an example cited in a podcast on the study hosted by the journal, a wife asks her husband what he thinks of her outfit. He says he likes it, but chances are, her husband’s enthusiasm won’t be enough to fully convince her and she will want to try on a few other options.
Stereotypically but also anecdotally, men avoid relationship conflict, says couples therapist Michael Radkowsky, who was not involved in the study.
Randall, in the podcast, suggested that men might be subconsciously syncing their emotions with their partner’s during cooperation in order to avoid a drawn-out discussion.
If the woman suspects that is the case, Randall said, she might become less positive in an effort to determine his true feelings. Or, if he is excessively negative or agitated, she said, a woman might try to temper her partner’s feelings.
In studies examining parents’ interactions with their infants, similar patterns and gender differences arise. Mothers tend to calm their babies when they get excited, while fathers are quick to encourage and even heighten a child’s animated state.
Randall notes a “huge link” between romantic relationships and mental and physical health. Studies have shown that married people are healthier in many ways than singles, particularly singles who have gone through the difficulty of divorce. And relationship conflict can lead to physical disorders such as high blood pressure.
So what can a couple do when working together doesn’t come naturally?
Couples should try to “listen openly to a partner’s perspective, without judgment or defensiveness, and to negotiate — you have to be willing to give to get,” said clinical psychologist Sarah Holley at San Francisco State University.
Radkowsky agrees, and said people often believe it’s the job of their partner to meet their needs, which he calls “the enemy of cooperation.” He said each person in a couple shouldn’t be afraid to meet their own needs, separately.
“People don’t grasp that part of being a happy couple is also being two strong individuals,” he said. “It’s good to be in charge of your own mood no matter how your partner feels.”


Thaw of Antarctic ice lifts up land, might slow sea level rise

Updated 22 June 2018
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Thaw of Antarctic ice lifts up land, might slow sea level rise

  • The fast rise of the bedrock beneath will lift ever more of the ice onto land, reducing the risks of a breakup of the sheet caused by warming ocean water seeping beneath the ice
  • The process was too slow to save the ice sheet from a possible collapse triggered by global warming

OSLO: Antarctica’s bedrock is rising surprisingly fast as a vast mass of ice melts into the oceans, a trend that might slow an ascent in sea levels caused by global warming, scientists said on Thursday.
The Earth’s crust in West Antarctica is rising by up to 4.1 centimeters (1.61 inches) a year, an international team wrote in the journal Science, in a continental-scale version of a foam mattress reforming after someone sitting on it gets up.
The rate, among the fastest ever recorded, is likely to accelerate and could total 8 meters (26.25 feet) this century, they said, helping to stabilize the ice and brake a rise in sea levels that threatens coasts from Bangladesh to Florida.
“It’s good news for Antarctica,” lead author Valentina Barletta of the Technical University of Denmark and Ohio State University told Reuters of the findings, based on GPS sensors placed on bedrock around the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica.
Much of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which has enough ice to raise world sea levels by more than three meters (10 feet) if it ever all melted, rests on the seabed, pinned down by the weight of ice above.
The fast rise of the bedrock beneath will lift ever more of the ice onto land, reducing the risks of a breakup of the sheet caused by warming ocean water seeping beneath the ice.
The uplift “increases the potential stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet against catastrophic collapse,” the scientists wrote.
Last week, another study said that three trillion tons of ice had thawed off from Antarctica since 1992, raising sea levels by almost a centimeter — a worsening trend.
It often takes thousands of years for the Earth’s crust to reshape after a loss of ice. Parts of Scandinavia or Alaska, for instance, are still rising since the end of the last Ice Age removed a blanket of ice more than a kilometer thick.
A further report this month found that the West Antarctic ice sheet expanded about 10,000 years ago, interrupting a long-term retreat after the last Ice Age, because of a rise of the land beneath.
But it said the process was too slow to save the ice sheet from a possible collapse triggered by global warming.
One of the lead authors of that study, Torsten Albrecht at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters on Thursday: “The expected eight-meter (26.4-foot) uplift in 100 years in the Amundsen Sea region ... seems rather small in order to prohibit future collapse.”