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Relationships: Tending to the Garden


Health and wellbeing

Relationships: Tending to the Garden

A discussion of love and the present moment

My mom recently stayed with me at my home in Southern California. She loved it here, mostly because of the daily sunshine. She lives in Vancouver, Canada which has many perks, but sunshine is not one of them. At the end of her stay, she said, “The sunshine is a gift and you should enjoy it as often as possible.” Those words resonated with me and so I’ve been starting each day outside, in my garden.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the gifts we have in life, including relationships. The importance of relationships was first brought to my attention at a conference I attended in Providence, Rhode Island. The keynote speaker stated that we study relationships because they are the essence of life. Without them, we are lonely, sad, and die early. With them, we aren’t as lonely, tend not to be as sad, and live longer.

The importance of relationships was reinforced the other night when I watched an HBO movie called “Bobby Fischer Against the World.” It was about the brilliant and legendary World Chess Champion who became successful at a young age. Although Bobby demonstrated remarkable talents early on, he did not have the support of a loving family, and perhaps as a result, suffered from mental illness in his adult years. Bobby’s dying words were: “Nothing is as healing as the human touch.”

The power of human touch has been demonstrated through research. Touch has a positive and robust affect on psychological and physical health. Affection between parents and children serves to regulate hormone levels, sleeping and eating patterns, heart rate, and emotions. Even thinking about touch, such as imagining holding hands with a loved one, serves to reduce stress and bolster health.

So what about people who do not have positive and loving relationships in their life? I recently attended a university graduation and awards ceremony, where several of my students were present. I noticed howoften the speakers referred to the importance of supportive relationships. They would say things like: “Students, you must express gratitude for the love and support of your parents, because without them, your success would not be possible.” Indeed, many of the students had brought their parents and loved ones to the ceremony, but as I looked around the room, I saw many of my own students there alone. Each one had different reasons for coming alone: their parents lived elsewhere, were too ill to attend, had passed away, or had disowned them. Some of my students had made the decision to pursue a higher education against their parents’ wishes. Yet, despite these odds, they were not only graduating, but also receiving awards.

Although some people do not have the love and support of parents, as adults we have the ability to choose our own families. We can elect to spend time with friends, romantic partners, relatives, and/or pets who love us. It is important to not only initiate these relationships, but maintain them with attention, care, and thoughtfulness. While we can’t change the past wrongdoings from our families of origin, we can make things better by tending to our relationships in the present. And in doing so, we may be surprised by the flowers that blossom.

Dr Campbell is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia specialising in human development and interpersonal relationships. Her research interests are broadly focused on interpersonal relationships and ethnic minority families. Within interpersonal relationships, Dr Campbell is interested in how chemistry operates in friendships and romantic relationships, and how being in love helps and/or hinders performance across domains (e.g., academics, athletics, creativity).She also has other lines of research in the areas of couple rituals, infidelity, and the meaning of marriage. For ethnic minority families, She is interested in health disparities and has recently examined the Latino paradox, which is that Latinos tend to fare better than European Americans in terms of health outcomes, despite being over-represented among low income groups. Dr Campbell also teaches courses on intimate relationships (HD 550), race and racism (SSCI 316), personality (PSYC 385), parenting (PSYC 303 and HD 690), and advanced human development (HD 480). Grants, Honors, and Awards Outstanding Teaching Award, International Association for Relationship Research, 2012 Faculty Professional Development Mini-Grant – Love and Functioning Across Domains: An Examination of Academics and Athletics. California State University, San Bernardino, May, 2011 Innovative Course Development Grant – Student Learning and Racial Understanding: How Technology Can Help. California State University, San Bernardino, April, 2011 Faculty Fellow: Research Infrastructure in Minority Institution Program 1P20MD002722, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Period of Funding: September, 2010 – August, 2012 Outstanding Teaching Award, Department of Psychology, California State University, San Bernardino, Spring 2011 Action Teaching Award, Honorable Mention, Social Psychology Network, February 2011 Representative Publications Campbell, K., Garcia, D., Granillo, C., & Chavez, D. V. (in press). Exploring the Latino paradox: How socioeconomic and immigration status impact health. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Silva, L., Campbell, K., & Wright, D. W. (in press). Intercultural relationships: Entry, adjustment, and cultural negotiation. Journal of Comparative Family Studies. Campbell, K., Wright, D. W., & * Flores, C. (2012). Newlywed women’s marital expectations: Lifelong monogamy? Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 53 (2), 108-125. Nazarinia-Roy, R., & Campbell, K. (2012). Feminist perspectives and diversity teaching. Family Science Review, special issue Teaching about Families: Current Reflections on Our Journeys in Family Science Educators, 17 (1), 44-53. Campbell, K., Silva, L., & Wright, D. W. (2011). Rituals in unmarried couple relationships: An exploratory study. Family and Consumer Science Research Journal, 40 (1), 45-57. Campbell, K., & Wright, D. W. (2010). Marriage today: Exploring the incongruence between Americans’ beliefs and practices. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 41 (3), 329-345. Futris, T., G., Campbell, K., Nielsen, R. B., & Burwell, S. (2010). The Communication Patterns Questionnaire-Short Form: A review and assessment. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 18 (3), 275-287. Parker, M. L., Berger, A. T., & Campbell, K. (2010). Deconstructing infidelity: A narrative approach for couples in therapy. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 9, 66-82. Kafetsios, K. & Campbell, K. (2009). Measuring non-verbal communication of emotion in personal relationships: The Affect Communication Accuracy Procedure. Scientific Annals of the Psychology Society of Northern Greece, 7, 00-30. Futris, T. G., Van Epp, M., Van Epp, J., & Campbell, K. (2008). The impact of a relationship educational program on single army soldiers. Journal of Family and Consumer Science Research, 36, 328-349. Campbell, K., & Ponzetti, J. J. (2007). The moderating effects of rituals on commitment in premarital involvements. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 22, 1-14. Wright, D. W., Simmons, L., & Campbell, K. (2007). Does a marriage ideal exist? Using Q-Sort methodology to compare young adults’ and therapists’ views on healthy marriages. Contemporary Family Therapy, 29, 223-236. Research in the Media A variety of media outlets have featured Dr campbell’s research including an NBC affiliate television station (KVOA), CBS radio, TMZ radio, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, Cosmopolitan magazine, SELF magazine, and Inland Empire magazine.

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