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来源:天星 更新日期:2008-08-18 点击:

More than a century ago, the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."


The words have become immortalized, and the unhappy story of "Anna Karenina" is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. Recently, however, psychologists and sociologists are starting to question the observation.


"I think Tolstoy was totally wrong," said John Gottman, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Unhappy families are really similar to one another - there's much more variability among happy families."

"我认为托尔斯泰完全错了,"位于西雅图市华盛顿大学的心理学教授John Gottman说道。"不幸的家庭其实是彼此相似的,而幸福的家庭才各不相同。"

Gottman and others are trying to understand why as many as one in two marriages end in divorce, and why so many couples seem to fall out of love and break apart.


Some of the most revealing answers, it turns out, come from the couples who stay together.


While conventional wisdom holds that conflicts in a relationship slowly erode the bonds that hold partners together, couples who are happy in the long term turn out to have plenty of conflicts, too. Fights and disagreements are apparently intrinsic to all relationships--couples who stay together over the long haul are those who don't let the fighting contaminate the other parts of the relationship, experts say.


"Why do people get married in the first place?" asked Thomas Bradbury, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles. "To have someone to listen to--to have a friend, to share life's ups and downs. We want to try to draw attention to what's valuable in their relationship."

"人们结婚最主要是为了什么?"位于洛杉矶加州大学的心理学教授Thomas Bradbury问道。"是为了找一个说话的人?是找一个朋友,来共同走过充满欢乐与痛苦的坎坷的人生道路。我们试图要人们注意他们关系中有价值的一些方面。"

Researchers are finding that it is those other parts of relationships--the positive factors--that are potent predictors of whether couples feel committed to relationships, and whether they weather storms and stick together. As long as those factors are intact, conflicts don't drive people apart.


"What we've discovered is surprising and contrary to what most people think," said Gottman, the author of "The Mathematics of Marriage." "Most books say it's important for couples to fight fair - but 69 percent of all marital conflicts never get resolved because they are about personality differences between couples. What's critical is not whether they resolve conflicts but whether they can cope with them."        


"Every couple has irreconcilable differences," agreed Diane Sollee, the founder of www.smartmarriages.com , a Web site devoted to teaching couples the skills to improve their relationships. She explained that such differences ought to be "managed," instead of being grounds for separations, split-ups and divorce.

"每一对"夫妻之间都存在着不可调和的差异," Diane Sollee同意这一观点说道。她是www.smartmarriages.com网站的创立者,该网站致力于教授夫妻们学会改善他们关系的技巧。她解释说对这些差异应该  "管理",而不是用来作为分居、断绝关系乃至离婚的理由。

Almost 90 percent of Americans marry at some point in their lives. An overwhelming number of those who get divorced marry a second time, meaning that although they may have lost faith in a partner, they have not lost faith in the promise of the institution. At the same time, changing social mores and expectations have placed stresses on long-term relationships. Two-income couples juggle demanding jobs, and professional advancement can sometimes detract from family and intimate relationships.


Simultaneously, the rising number of women in the work force has given women the economic security to leave unhappy relationships, the sexual revolution has made sex before and outside marriage common, and the destigmatization of divorce has contributed to the phenomenon of serial monogamy.


Despite these pressures and temptations, most Americans still seek lifelong soul mates--and expectations from love and marriages have never been higher.


The juxtaposition of high expectations with the stress and cycles of relationships appears to be an important reason why many relationships don't work, said Ted Huston, a professor of human ecology and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who tracked 168 couples over 13 and a half years

高期望值和婚姻关系中压力和周期循环的并存似乎是很多婚姻失败的一个重要原因,位于奥斯汀德州大学的人类生态学和心理学教授Ted Huston说道。他对168对夫妻进行了为期13年半的跟踪调查。

Huston found that changes in the first two years of marriage often predicted the outcome of relationships. Almost half of divorces occur within the first seven years of marriage, according to national census data, and many of these "early exiters" report a decline in "bliss" right after marriage.


"When you look at them as newly-weds, they look like they are mutually enchanted and deeply in love and a prototype of your perfectly wed couple--they hug, kiss, say 'I love you' all the time," he said. "Two years later - they've lost a lot of that romance. They think, 'We once had this great romance, and now we don't.'"

"观察一下新婚燕尔的夫妇生活,他们显得彼此迷恋,深陷情网,似乎是完美的结合-他们拥抱,亲吻, '我爱你 '不离口,"他说。"但是两年以后他们就已经失去了很多这种浪漫。他们在想,'我们曾经拥有浪漫,而现在却没有了。' "

"People have this fairly unrealistic idea: 'I have got to have bliss and it's got to stay or this is not going to work,'" he said. "at some level, you don't need the bliss. The Hollywood romance may not be the prelude to a long-term happy marriage."

"人们有着这样一种很不切实际的想法:'我必须得有幸福感,而且得一直有,否则我的婚姻就是不行的,' "他说。"其实在某些层次,你并不需要这种幸福感。好莱坞似的浪漫并不一定是长期、幸福的婚姻的序幕。"

Couples who were happy over the long term reported being content at the start of relationships and still content two years later. Some of these couples told Huston, "'I wasn't sure I was in love because I didn't have the tingly feelings you are supposed to have,'" he said. "They worried their feelings were positive but not intense."

International Herald Tribunal

那些长相斯守的快乐夫妻在关系初建时就有一种满足感,而两年后也仍然彼此满意。他们中的一些人告诉Huston,"我并不能肯定我恋爱了,因为当时我并没有那种恋爱中似乎应该拥有的触电的感觉,' "他说。"他们当初还担心,尽管他们的感情是积极的,但似乎来得不够强烈呢。"