Tag Archives: Marriage

Let the wrong one in

If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one who’s nonthreatening to your pathetic self-worth and low self-esteem:

Hot or Not? Why Women Shouldn’t Pick Attractive Husbands

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Boys Need Fathers: The Future of Civil Rights

The following are notes taken from Kay Hymowitz’s talking points at the US Civil Rights Commission’s event “A New Era: Defining Civil Rights in the 21st Century.”  Ms. Hymowitz is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Contributing Editor to the City Journal.

The South Side Decline Was a Direct Result of Absentee Fathers

When the South Side of Chicago began to leak industry, black families were pushed farther and farther outside of the industrial loop.  In the late 1950’s, race riots and fathers’ flight to workweeks downtown, away from their families, created a deep breach in family life.

Chicago’s South Side became descriptively “matriarchal,” i.e. single mothers were raising kids absent fathers in the home, that culture saw a sharp decline.  “South Side decline” refers to the period between the 1950’s and the late 90’s, wherein African Americans struggled to secure a place in an increasingly-competitive shrinking suburb.

President Obama and the South Side

President Obama spent nearly his entire public life in and around Chicago’s South Side.  When he was there, Barack Obama’s effect on the South Side Decline was exactly zero.

Obama could have asked: Where are the men in this neighborhood?  Instead, he ignored the utter absence of male role models — of fathers — and asked: Where are the social workers who will take care of these families?  Where are the government institutions who will provide for these single mothers raising their kids?

Marriage Civilizes Men

Marriage serves as the root of the family unit, which in turn becomes the root for strong civil society.  Men are critical for families, not only as role models for their kids, but also as providers who permit mothers to act as role models themselves.

More importantly, “marriage civilizes men.”  It’s the wooing of and providing for a wife that instills the “bourgeois habits” of self-discipline and work ethic.  Without an imposed sense of responsibility, “men remain boys.”

More from the Civil Rights Commission conference on Men and Marriage (from Heather Mac Donald, also of the Manhattan Institute).

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Contempt of Course

Blah, blah, relationships, divorce, statistics, blah, predict, and then:

“Actually, some people have tried to measure these things — one psychiatrist, made famous in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, claims to be able to predict divorce based on whether couples show contempt for each other.”

That’s interesting.  What do you think, kids?  Is contempt more deadly for a marriage than the factors listed in the original “yadda yadda statistics” article, like financial disagreements, religious differences, smoking differentials, etc.?

It makes a lot of sense.  The factors Daily Beast lists as statistically significant are all presumptively partner gaps.  Both partners are responsible for finances, for their religious choices, etc.

Contempt, on the other hand, suggests a state of inequality.  This is functionally one partner’s unwillingness to relate to the other.

Contempt can exist within any of those boxes, but it can also exist alone.  And what makes contempt unique is that it’s probably indicative of some underlying, pre-existing decision not to relate.  It’s the un-partnering.

Thoughts?

From Jezebel.

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Happiness v. Resignation

This article (from Jezebel), suggesting that

for a lasting marriage, women should pick men who are at least five years older, and have less education

for some reason makes me wonder why marital bliss is always measured by duration.  Is it naive to imagine that two different metrics might be in order?

Jezebel — my new guilty pleasure — takes the piece to task, complaining that the study

makes marriage sound like a matter of bolts and widgets. And this is essentially how the research — or at least the coverage thereof — treats it.

After interviewing 1,000 couples whose relationships had lasted five years or more, the researchers found that while the man being at least five years older reduced the chances of divorce, when the woman had five years on her partner, divorce was more than three times as likely.

Couples were also more likely to split if they’d been divorced before, but, interestingly, the effect was less if both couples had a divorce behind them.

I absolutely tend to treat relationships like science, just bc it’s interesting to see people act more or less like themselves — or more or less anything — around a given partner.

Besides, I’d love to see some nod to modern relationships.  What does “divorce” even mean anymore, when we’re talking about its effect on future marriage statistics?  Would divorce after a two-year marriage have a greater statistical effect on future numbers than would a ten-year common law situation that finally splits?  Is it living together that makes the difference, or is it making and then retracting a vow?  Or is it just the intimacy that comes from sharing a number of formative years?

In other words: what is it about divorce that’s so statistically — and, evidently,  personally — poisonous?

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Redefining “Depreciation”

Isn’t it bizarre that Mad Men, that seemingly-misogynistic, impeccably-conceived AMC series, is written by women, while Sex and the City, home of kitschy, “girl power” Platonic archetypes, was the single-girl fantasy for gay best friends?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m way into Mad Men.  While I’m not a big television person, there’s no better barometer for public culture than popular TV.  Mad Men had me at Don Draper’s first steamy glance.  What could be more decadent than a sexy anti-hero reminiscient of quaint time immemorial, before Americans got Ugly?

Over a girlie evening this summer I enjoyed a recent remake of Clare Booth Luce’s classic film, The Women.  The 1939 original featured a bevy of vacuous women twittering with such rapid fire that even had one among them not been entirely mindless, none could have understood her Mach 3 gossip.  My party hurled insults and popcorn at the screen as the 2008 version ended on a cloying “girl power” note after two hours of mind-numbing gossip and infighting among a group of women calling themselves friends.

Clare Booth Luce wrote the screenplay as a sharp parody of shrill females and their inane relationships.  The 2008 version lost CBL’s facetious edge.  We were left w/ the message that we should kiss and make up, forgive our friends’ gossip and our spouses’ infidelity.

Forgiveness has its place, and its benefits.  When Gov. Mark Sanford admitted that he’d cheated on the lovely Jenny (and then that he’d also cheated on his mistress), she forgave her husband in the manner befitting a politician’s wife.  Marriage is a fortress not limited to love and snuggles, but that protects us from myriad social ills and the pitfalls of living alone.

I do love to trace pop culture through the media.  When I learned that women write Mad Men, I felt a little like I did at the end of the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives, when it’s revealed that the protagonist behind all of this artificial perfection was actually Glenn Close, the male lead’s wife.

It’s not men who long for the days of marital security, pot roasts, and time-consuming, glamorous updos.  It’s women.  Can you blame us?  Everyone has seen the notorious Craigslist ad where an “Enterprising Young Woman” asks men what she’s doing wrong and why she can’t nail down a productive man for keeps.  One among her target demographic replies curtly that women are simply a depreciating asset, while men appreciate over time.

It’s true only if you’ll take it.  The reality is that many women will easily accept a “depreciating” label, but we all — men and women alike — benefit from staying monogamous (in case you can’t get the link: “The most consistent predictors of faster declines in cognitive functioning were being old and being single,” the researchers wrote.  “Socioeconomic status was linked to cognition, but only at the first test.  Stop doing those crossword puzzles.  Keep your mate.”).  And honestly, even if the SATC movie was a gay fantasy of single women’s lives, who wasn’t depressed that 50-something Samantha, crude-but-“fabulous” symbol of free love in the 21st century, wound up alone?

The alternative to depreciation is to decide that a relationship — and a marriage — is a contract to “want what you have,” rather than continuing to search for what you want.  Women stand to lose the most at the margins if we allow gerrymandered definitions of “depreciation” to emerge over time.

How wild that we’ve finally taken the reins away from the “girl power” screeches perched atop towering Manolos to redefine “feminine” as something solid rather than fluid, with an extended duration we’d let slip in the ’90’s, and with a new emphasis on trust, faith, and tradition in perennial danger of falling to that wayside irony.

At The New Agenda.

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Dominick Dunne

In my Insurance Law class this evening the professor began the class with an exercise wherein we all recalled current events and then searched for ways the events related to insurance.  So many celebrities died this summer!  Perhaps they just hit the ejection seat before the swine flu fear pandemic drives the rest of us crazy.

Dominick Dunne passed today.  I grew up intimately familiar with Dunne’s writing because I read Vanity Fair compulsively after a breathtaking 1996 article called The Last Opium Den (now a book!) captured my attention and kept me loyal to the magazine.

Dunne wrote primarily about lifestyle.  He joined F. Scott Fitzgerald’s genre, inspiring voyeurs’ fantasies of a quintessentially American aristocratic style.

More personally, Dunne wrote one of the most memorable pieces tattooed on my brain from those formative years.  I’ve blogged about it before — Dunne’s account of his brother’s marriage to Joan Didion.  I’m sure this is far from Dominick’s own favorite pieces of his portfolio.  But this article has stuck with me for years, and has informed my search for how love is supposed to feel.

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Keeping Up with the Friedmans

There’s been a lot of “relationship” talk on this blog lately — blame the transition between work and school, and all the introspection that comes with such a transition.  With that disclaimer, it’s no secret I’m a sucker for “soul mate” stories.  Rose and Milton Friedman are among the best modern examples of genuinely like-minded, gentle partners who inspire my generation of daters.

Read Diane Medved’s lovely account of the Friedmans’ idyllic relationship:

Milton and Rose were married 68 years, partners in every sense. They’d met in Professor Jacob Viner’s 1932 Economic Theory class at the University of Chicago; she the daughter of Jewish immigrants who’d escaped their Russian village of Charterisk just ahead of World War I, settling in Portland, Oregon; he a native of Rahway, New Jersey who’d never been west of the Delaware River.

They were seated alphabetically, Rose Director next to Milton Friedman. Their romance flourished, but they waited six years to marry, on June 25, 1938, until they were confident that they could be securely self-reliant financially. It was this staunch belief in independence and initiative that echoed throughout their professional collaboration, books, articles, presentations in the field of economics that shaped generations of policy and set thousands of young people, usually without their realizing it, off to create their fortunes. They promoted freedom and options–especially in the field of school choice, and millions came to understand the value of enterprise, and its role in fostering synergy and advancement through their co-written 1980 book, later to become a 10-part PBS TV series, “Free to Choose.”

How refreshing to read an account of love neither backed by transaction nor motivated by entitlement.  Nor was this a Clintonian Macbeth story.  This was a true partnership rife with mutual respect and support.

This blog is staunchly not a relationship blog.  But I am sad to see Rose Friedman go, and sad as always to see yet another inspiring American marriage shift from the domain of “promising” to “heritage.”

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