Dr. Frank Fincham on the Paradox of Marriage

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There are struggles and successes in any close romantic relationship, as we talk about here and here, but those who can forgive forge a lasting bond, said Dr. Frank Fincham in a 2013 Hinckely Lecture. “Here’s the paradox of close romantic relationships such as marriage,” he said. “We get our deepest affiliate needs fulfilled in our close romantic relationships, and it’s a rare person who has never been hurt, betrayed, wronged, or let down by their partner.” Because marriage is such an intimate relationship, spouses are their most vulnerable. This vulnerability is deeply satisfying, but also reveals what hurts the most, he explains in this two-minute highlight video and in the full lecture, found here.


To this Fincham said, “So forgiveness needs to be available in that relationship, because in those types of relationships we make ourselves vulnerable.” To properly argue and forgive in close relationships like marriage, one must their partner as the whole person that he or she is. While it is important to keep in mind that forgiveness is not necessarily trust, as he mentions here, it’s almost important to remember that “there’s more to the offender than the offending behavior.” A Florida State University professor, Fincham’s research focuses on understanding marriage/partnerships, particularly cognitive processes involved in conflict and the impact of interparental conflict/divorce on children. He’s also conducted two more recent research programs on forgiveness and on prayer in close relationships. He is integrating hemodynamics and cardiac functioning into his research on families. Fincham’s research has been recognized by multiple awards from professional societies.

As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University he was named “Young Social Psychologist of the Year” by the British Psychological Society. Other awards include the Berscheid-Hatfield Career Award for “sustained, substantial, and distinguished contributions to the field of personal relationships.” A Fellow of five different professional societies, he has been listed among the top 25 psychologists in the world based on number of citations per published article.




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