December 2009, Polity
They see themselves as being in total harmony but they are mistaken! The clash between their uniquely individual attitudes to life rumbles on in silence until suddenly erupting in emotional outbursts each time an object or an attitude reveals for the thousandth time the unbearable and incomprehensible otherness of the partner.
When this occurs, a whole panoply of tactics is deployed, ranging from the combative (secret acts of revenge) through the neutral (sulking) to the subtly loving. But these stormy episodes within relationships can have a happy ending, for it is through learning to overcome these irritations and aggravations that love is ultimately strengthened.
PART ONE : 1 + 1 = 4
1. The conjugal adventure
1 + 1 = 1?
Sparks start to fly
The comfort zone
Doubly irritating objects
2. Men and women - different or complementary?
The different approaches
Are men less irritated?
Irritated by a spectre
Millions of Peter Pans?
Stubborn macho reactions
PART TWO : IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
3. The causes
The symbolic toothpaste tube
A waltz in double time
Traces of the self
4. The mechanics
Letting off steam
Aspects of identity
‘Passion killers' and the magic of love
A certain notion of the truth
5. The wider picture
Inattentiveness and humiliation
Aggravating social circumstances
PART THREE : SMALL ACTS OF REVENGE AND ROMANTIC TACTICS
6. Communication difficulties
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Hot and cold
The language of gestures
The use of laughter
Inside the mind of the irritator
Secret acts of revenge
7. Love's secret ways
When irritation melts away
Judicious use of sulking
Reframing the scene
The little cinema and voice off
Accentuating the positive
A new research technique
My direct correspondents
A research project cannot be emptied out like a bag
My other sources
Translated by Helen Morrison
"Living in an increasingly detraditionalised world opens up
glorious new opportunities for individual autonomy and
self-realisation. It also creates unprecedented pressures on
long-term relationships. Kaufmann
brilliantly captures this paradox of life in late modernity, analysing the seemingly limitless sources of mutual irritation in everyday life, as well as spouses' inventive revenge and peacemaking tactics."
Véronique Mottier, Jesus College, Cambridge & University of Lausanne
"Jean-Claude Kaufman's Gripes is one of those rare books
that brings into focus a seemingly unimportant fact of life.
Irritation and the slow abrasive effect of the gripes it causes are
sands that grind down the gears of relationships. Behavioral
scientists and self-help advisers make so much of the powerful
passions. Kaufman brilliantly illuminates the simpler forces of
Charles C. Lemert, author of Muhammad Ali: Trickster in the Culture of Irony