Comments from “Write About Your Love, build a virtuous cycle” 

Dear Kindle Subscribers,

Guest author Jena Pincott’s column about research on the benefits of writing about one’s beloved generated these interesting topics: Journaling as a way to handle emotions about grief and other (non-romantic) relationships; whether both members of a couple have to journal for both to benefit from it; whether instant messaging can kindle feelings of love as well as journaling does; whether journaling might lead to better sex; and how acting all mushy can create happier couples even when they weren’t happy before.  Enjoy!

Cheers, Duana

 Reader comments from  “Write About Your Love, build a virtuous cycle”:

Reader Comments (11)

This kind of journaling helped me to work through grieving the death of my 24 year old son. I had a lot of stuck anger and to write about it helped me to see in black and white my feelings about all of it. I was able through that to become a more objective observer. It does help to articulate feelings when it comes time to express our emotions to another. In any highly charged emotional situation when we need to express complex and sensitive feelings, writing it out helps us to sort through and our communication becomes clearer and more fluid.

August 31, 2009 | Karen Emerson




@Karen, I’m so sorry about your son. Good point that journaling can help us in our awareness across many of our life experiences.

August 31, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. (




One thing I love about this post of Jena’s is this conclusion we can glean from it:

A major cultural myth of ours is that both people must be involved in order to create a positive shift; yet this and other studies show that one person alone can have a large impact (typically, the Relationship Mechanic is the woman, but not always; please see posts here called “Dealing With Your Difficult Woman” and “Dealing With Your Difficult Man” and In Jena’s posting today, it didn’t matter whether the journaler was a man or woman, and it didn’t matter that both relationship partners weren’t involved in the writing—only one person in a couple was doing the journaling, and it enhanced the relationship.

August 31, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. (




A simple thing like “communication” is so easily overlooked in relationships as time goes by. Two people can live under the same roof for years avoiding each other by never talking, or even being in the same room together, wasting their lives. I have lived that and swore never to go back to it. It does not take any effort to show some affectionate gesture, whether an IM, email, post-it note, or just a rub on the back, to keep the spark going. What takes effort is not doing these things and then finding out years later that it is a major hurdle to just look at one another.

Nice article! These reminders are so very important. Thanks.

September 1, 2009 | Vincent




@Vincent—“What takes effort is not doing these things and then finding out years later that it is a major hurdle to just look at one another.” —Very well-said. And I’ll be sure to pass your kudos along to Jena.

September 1, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.




Most of us don’t journal, but wouldn’t the messaging itself work in a similar fashion?

September 2, 2009 | Monica




@Monica, Good question. In this study, messaging alone was not as effective as journaling. IM’s can be sweet, but they are of necessity short and quickly delivered; my guess is that the reflective quality required in journaling is the element that enhances relationships.

September 3, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.




Makes sense that writing about your loved one allows you to see what you understand and have learned about her/him. It’s a love review either for the better or worse. Hopefully for the better since it puts into your mind that you are in a relationship and are hopefully loved. Ya know I wonder if it enhances love making if a journal entry topic explores the “animal magnetism” one has for the other and …. ;)
Had to be a man and go there.

September 4, 2009 | Gabriel C.




LOL, Gabriel! I imagine that anything that stokes passionate feelings will result in more “animal magnetism”. Men tend to be more visual—women, more auditory/language-oriented. Men who want to “be a man and go there” more often would probably do well to write the occasional amorous letter to their lady love.

September 5, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.




Hey, Duana and the Love-Sci gang! Greystoke’s Mom again with a question.

This column has led me to ponder how verbal reinforcement works in a relationship — not merely how we write or talk about a spouse, but also how we write and talk to a spouse.

I am the type of person who tells her husband at least a few times a day that he is sexy. He is, factually, sexy. He’s a six-foot blue-eyed mezomorph silverback with a brain that won’t quit.

I assure you that the preceeding sentence was presented merely for illustrative purposes, and I’m not just bragging about my spouse. Okay, I’m bragging, but there is a point to it.

However, after reading this, I am wondering: does the fact that I talk about how sexy my husband is make me see him as super-sexy or vice-versa? How much does verbal reinforcement (written or spoken) stem from attraction and how much does it create attraction?

In other words, is complimenting my husband and verbally informing him of his many strengths merely a way to strengthen the relationship by reminding him of the fact that I dig him, or does is it a self-perpetuating cycle of mush?

I grew up with parents who complimented and thanked each other all of the time. My mom never cooked a meal my dad didn’t thank her for making; my dad speaks admiringly of how discipllined, attractive, and youthful she is all of the time, both to her and to others.

So I guess I’m pre-programmed to use verbal reinforcement. And I’m wondering if verbal reinforcement is a more complex and intricate dance of attraction than simply making a spouse feel appreciated. Thoughts?

September 6, 2009 | Greystoke’s Mom




Hi there, Greystoke’s Mom. What a delightful post. As for your question: “Is complimenting my husband and verbally informing him of his many strengths merely a way to strengthen the relationship by reminding him of the fact that I dig him, or does is it a self-perpetuating cycle of mush?”—the answer is Yes.
Yes to both questions, that is.
Researcher John Gottman would say that you and your sweetie have a well-tuned “fondness and admiration system” in place (Susan Page calls it “goodwill”). My guess is that you spend a lot of effort telling one another what you like—rather than criticizing each other—and you make it a priority to keep up with what the other is doing and to be supportive of one another in all things. If the boss says something mean to either of you, the other will side with you—not the boss! Who wouldn’t want that?
It’s been scientifically demonstrated that showing fondness and admiration for one’s mate causes the relationship to improve. Gottman and others have assigned unhappy couples to do the sorts of stuff you and your husband are already doing, and voila! Happier marriages result. In fact, the difference between happy and unhappy couples is not the number or severity of their problems, but the fondness and admiration they lavish on one another. Everyone Has Problems.

So, it’s not just that happy couples do mushy stuff; mushy stuff makes for happy couples. We can behave our way into feeling—not just feel our way into behaving. We can decide, in short, to behave in ways that will really make us happy. You and your mate have shown how.

As for why you and he became powerfully attracted to one another to begin with…that’s a topic for a future column :).

September 6, 2009 | Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.


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