Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Well-being and Committed Relationships
David Brooks of the New York Times has a new Op-Ed piece called the The Sandra Bullock Trade where he asks the following philosophic question: "Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?"
As I was reading Brooks' piece I kept thinking that life scenarios aren't always so black and white, or better, what's entirely tragic to one might be a bit of a stumbling block to others. The thing is, people tend to have different views and expectations of commitment and monogamous relationships. However, certain life choices and lifestyles are more conducive to certain levels of commitment in a congealed union.
For example, if one of the partners has to be on the road a lot for work reasons, it would be quite difficult to keep the union strong and organically healthy. Spending quality time with the other party is, after all, what makes a relationship a relationship. However, if one needs to travel a lot and/or needs a lot of alone time to cogitate and do one's work, the best scenario for a person in such a situation would be to be paired up with an equally independent person who doesn't define the intimacy in the relationship by how much time is spent together but rather by how qualitative common time is.
This, I would say, is the mark of a strong union. In our day and age where careers are demanding and much time, focus, and dedication goes to good work ethics one thing will undoubtedly suffer, at least to some degree, and that is the committed relationship, marriage and/or domestic unions as there is only a certain amount of attention to go around, after all.
David Brooks notes:
"Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled."
Again, I would agree with the general sentiment here but not with the extreme degree to which Brooks takes the argument. Marital and/or committed happiness is more important than most things. It, after all, can inform for the better (and, alas, at times for the worse) a person's quotidianity i.e., how the world perceives one's presence when out there. A functioning union is one that facilitates the other things of substance in which the couple is engaged. And is it not all about creating the better version of one's self after all?
Commitments don't always get a lot of praise and they should as in many cases, if not all of them, they do play a pivotal role and are mostly responsible for professional success. I absolutely agree with Brooks when he notes that "worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through." I would also add that one way to secure some measure of good success in both areas is by daily negotiating the allocation of personal attention and what aliquot of attention goes where.
Bottom line, to make anything work in life one would first need to want to do it. Success comes with a lot of sacrifice and a lot of pain. In order to finance all of the pain and suffering, one needs to have genuine commitment and love for the subject at hand.
But, most importantly, success, be is professional or personal, depends on a lot of factors, two of the most important ones being endurance and work, a heck of a lot of work.
graph per blog.not2wo.com