Marriage is difficult in the best of circumstances
Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young, the
habituation of the middle aged, and the mutual dependence of the old.
“The thing about life is that you must survive.
Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen.
What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough.
Not in the sense of being mean to others,
but being tough with yourself
and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.” Katharine Hepburn
When we contemplate the miseries that most humans have had to suffer for most of human history (and
still do), our obsession with relationships, beauty and immediate gratification is not only looks frivolous,
but also remarkably stupid. There are more things to justify the gift of life than happy-ever-after
romances. From this point of view, falling in love can be seen as a misguided quest for redemption,
based on the delusion that freedom can be attained via bonding with the ‘significant other’ of the opposite
gender and a lot of sex. As Marlene Dietrich noted "In America, sex is an obsession".
I would add say that sax is simulations an escape from the cruel reality of neoliberal society. Neoliberalism expects -- and education at every level has been redesigned to promote this -- that
economic decision-making will be applied to all areas of life (parenthood, intimacy, sexuality, and
identity in any of its forms), and that those who do not do so will be subject to discipline. Everyone
must invest in their own future, and not pose a burden to the state or anyone else, otherwise they
will be refused recognition as human beings. As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith pointed out,
neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism ) creates the culture of cruelty with its "horrific
effects on individuals" and by extension on the institution of marriage. As Katharine
Hepburn noted “The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and
dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the
sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be
defeated.” It is very important not get brainwashed by propaganda and keep realistic
While propaganda present romantic love a s liberating force, that bring individual to a new level
maturity (as if alcohol abuse does something similar to it victims :-) it is simply not
true. Does not the romantic love establish a domain in which coercion is still exercised, albeit in
more subtle manner? For example via socially enforced "standard of female beauty", and unequal
position of partners after marriage.
The questions that arise here are: What are prevalent forms of
this coercion? Why is it
so invisible? If romantic love and subsequent marriage are actually a subtle method of governance, a
unequal social relations between men and women, this presuppose (to various degree) the subservant role of women
(which partially dictated by biology),
then how is this manifest in the experience of the subjects of love and later marital partners (especially females)? Is marriage
disappointments is that is something given, taking into account exaggerated expectation and rapid decline of erotic
component ( which for a time serves an anesthetic to the pains of living as a couple is cruel and
individualistic neoliberal world) why are we not preparing young women for it ? And if so,
what is best form of coping with it and at which level of this disappointment the divorce became the
best option (approximately each second marriage in the USA ends in divorce those days, so this is a
mass phenomenon that requires careful study).
All those question should not only be asked, they should be honestly answered by those who are entering
or already entered this form of human relationships.
Love and marriage can't be much fun, if the society in which you are living is deeply sick, as is
the case with neoliberal society.
Which by definition is the paradise only for top 0.1%, which everybody else thrown under the bus, but
to various degrees, of different buses, if you wish. Still it is kind of "the last refuge" from
harsh and cruel reality. Sill despite the dominance of neoliberalism with its ruthlessness and cult
of self-centered individuality (narcissism) in modern
Western culture, there is nothing most individuals desire more than to get into the state of "encompassing
romantic love" (aka "love madness") and naively expect that if you achieve this state of exaltation
(not that different from intoxication from narcotics, such as heroine) such relationship could last
for a lifetime. Like in cults, converts cling to the illusion as long as they can, even after they realize
that they were royally duped.
What is really funny is that historically the romantic love, which serves as the basis for
"romantic marriage" pattern in our Western culture, was the feeling reserved for one's mistress
in medieval Europe during the period of arranged marriages. Yet, as a bewildered Western population
generally recognizes, people rarely achieve a sweet, lasting emotional attachments on the bases of romantic
love alone, not matter how mad they were initially of each other. This is a temporary state of
of exaltation, which sooner or later is history. The key for the lasting relationships is what is left
when it is gone.
In other words, "romantic love" (with its instinctive human mating mechanisms as the base)
is neither necessary, nor sufficient condition for a lasting, healthy relationship between two partners
of the opposite sex in a modern society. One apt comment on the famous claim that "love and
marriage go together like a horse and carriage", is the suggestion that instead "love
is a very unruly horse, far more apt to run away from the carriage than to pull it." May
be love and divorce are those that typically go together ... like carriage and a horse. If you honestly
want to have a society in which people choose their mating partners on the basis of personal affection
only, there will be many broken hearts and broken lives as affection is typically asymmetrical:
one is really passionately in love, while the other "allows" himself/herself to be loved ("in consent").
This "in_love/in_consent asymmetry was noted by many authors and reflected in quotes of such literary
giants as Oscar Wilde and
One person loves, the other person lets themselves be loved...
Find somebody over 28 who understands and likes being the receiving end of that equation. Somebody
who doesn’t have to use anger and put-down and covert manipulation to justify ‘allowing themselves
to be loved’. Someone who can just sit back and enjoy it.
The Unauthorized Letters of Oscar Wilde - C. Robert Holloway - Google Books
There is one thing worse than an absolutely loveless marriage. A marriage in which there
is love, but on one side only; faith, but on one side only; devotion, but on one side only.
-- Oscar Wilde
There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved, 'Of Human Bondage',
1915 Somerset Maugham(this is
essentially slightly rephrased quote of
There is no cruelty greater than a woman's to a man who loves her and whom she does not love;
she has no kindness then, no tolerance even, she has only an insane irritation. -- Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence
In other word this interesting and encompassing feeling typically is not shared in equal degree
by two partners. As Oscar Wilder noted one typically loves, and the other only allows to be loved. Exactly
because the spouse was chosen out of love the marriage is more fragile that people realize. In
other word marring a person on the base of romantic feeling alone is a huge gamble.
That's why our society is saturated with self-help books, crammed with advice on how to "make
relationships work", with soap operas, and stereotypical (but quite brainwashing) Hollywood
movies. In other words, our disappointments with our relationships cannot be ascribed to insufficient
attention to the subject: “love” is as magical a word in American culture as is “money.”
So the problems might well be related to the fact that there is something wrong with the society
in which we live too and cultural myths that we are brainwashed into. Successful marriage, much
like successful business between two partners, is probably more about the ability of successful
problem solving together, then romantic love. Like the period of arranged marriages in Europe
had shown quite clearly, respect might be enough. And not only respect to the partner. We need to take
into account social forces that are bigger that us. And respect them. And do not try to turn the
partner into scapegoat of our problems which might well be caused by the "society at large". Also some
amount of suffering is not completely bad idea, it typically contributes to the person maturity. Compare
this statement with sentiments expressed in the song
Lynn Anderson - I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised
You A Rose Garden (BBC Top Of The Pops) - YouTube
One possible problem is that most people enter love affairs with quite unrealistic hopes, hoping
for the escape from the dullness of their present lives, much like people enter cults or convert to
some new religion. Such marriages are drenched with illusions that they have found the perfect mate,
imagining (or even initially experiencing) ever-thrilling sex, and that magically romantic love will
help their relationship to evolve into permanently happy marriage ("happy-ever-after" mentality).
Majority, especially women, see their dreams crashed rather quickly with various levels of dashed
expectations. Levels of disappointment dramatically grow after the first year (and typically are
much higher for women, then men). In the beginning, passionate love's euphoria anesthetizes the couple
from cold winds of life. But like any anesthetic, this effect does not last forever. At some point
problems, it is problem solving abilities of the couple, are all that matters. If problems became chronic
and are not resolved, relationship eventually fails. It is not accidental that the probability
of divorce for those with a college degree was lower compared with those without a college degree. College
graduates were 20% less likely to divorce (U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Moreover, the “divorce gap” between college graduates and those with less education was larger
in the NLSY79 cohort than it was for the 1950–1955 birth cohort. In the NLSY79 cohort, the divorce
rate for first marriages is nearly 20 percentage points lower for those who have completed their
bachelor’s degree compared with those who have completed high school, regardless of whether they
have some college or not. The gap is even greater, approaching 30 percentage points, when comparing
those with a college degree to those with less than a high school diploma. Just as with first marriages,
college graduates were more likely to stay in a second marriage when compared with groups that have
Approximately half of first marriage ends in divorce in the USA.
The end of marriage -- divorce (considerable percentage of marriages ends at or before the the third
year)-- typically leave people stunned and baffled about what has gone wrong. Some men and women iterate
via this cycle several times ("serial monogamy"). In this sense the second marriage is similar
to the first one, but the the second time you at least suspect that you are gambling.
Still there is a such powerful cultural pressure and a set of feelings and ideas associated with
romantic love. It touches important dimensions of human freedom and self-worth such as: pleasure
vs fear, freedom vs regulation/restriction, procreation vs abortion, control vs abandonment, health
vs disease. For example, sex could be used to strengthen the relationships, move it toward commitment.
When the relationship has reached a stage where sexual intercourse is appropriate, people who are acting
rationally are those who offer sex as a bargain for getting commitment. While there is no a priori or
biological reason why sex and committed personal relationships should be linked, as relationships between
customers and prostitutes seem to show, But there are clearly social reasons.
Within establish Western social canon romantic love tends to be portrayed only
in positive terms, even by those writers who regard romantic love as a special case of narcissistic
delusion. But some realism gradually cripples in. Long rejected now is the old notion, still vigorously
advocated by the dating agencies and popular magazines that there are people who are destined for
each other on the basis of the set of their individual traits alone ("matching couples").
On this simplistic level, a relationship is expected to succeed just because of the set of individual
traits of partners "match" each other. Such a list used for "matching" of dating websites might include,
for instance, their attitudes, their personalities, their socio-demographic positions in the society,
educational level, and, especially, their physical attractiveness. While chances for
successful relationship are higher if individuals have common social background, education and social
status, people change and in ten years change considerably. That includes the level pf physical beauty
in woman, sexual capabilities in man (which drop rather dramatically from their peak in early twenties),
and most important the level of their education and career success. Still the confirmation by
the web site algorithms that the selected partner is an "appropriate mating partner" serves as
an powerful enticing mechanism, creating initial positive feeling toward the person during the first
date. But the idea of matching traits as the precondition for the successful relationship is definitely
false. Biological mechanisms of attraction and the social context in which individual see each
other at the first date definitely plays greater role. Unfortunately, we all judge strangers by
appearance. And this factor creates huge risks as sociopaths are especially adept in producing
a very good first impression.
In reality if we stay within the framework of "romantic love" instead of static traits the emphasis
probably should be on human mating patterns (which are partially inherited and similar to those in primates
world) and to the dynamic process of
Romantic transformation, mysterious
conversion of a rational person into infatuated lover. The latter includes idealization and adopting
some kind of self-delusion (aka "rose glasses") toward the person of other sex. Which is especially
strong in narcissists.
Infatuated lovers temporarily forfeit the personal autonomy and fall in so called "love madness".
In the latter role it has structural similarities to radically altered states of mind induced by depression,
psychosis and some drugs such as cocaine and heroine. In the latter sense lovers are not that
different from converts to a high-demand cult (and recruitment to which often uses
"love bombing" as a trap). And like is clearly the case with converts, any romantic love
as a relationship clearly involves "loss of previous identity" and the accommodation on a "newly born
individual" to the object of his love. In other world the mechanism involved bears considerable
similarity (and might be identical) to the effect of "conversion" experienced by people
who are indoctrinated into cults or a new religion ("Born again Christians" come to mind).
Attraction refers to any direct orientation (on the part of one person toward another) which have
a sign and the level of intensity. While there are several conceptually similar sentiments (such as
gratitude and respect), attraction research has concentrated primarily on romantic love and erotic attraction.
Romantic love can be defined as instant erotic attraction, spontaneous passion felt toward the individual
of other sex. In some (very rare) cases it reaches such high level of intensity that it often enables
the individual to transcend the limitations of mundane existence and his/her social circle, defying
customs, parents, laws, etc.
At the core of intense attraction (aka "romantic love') are mixture of two factors:
the biological traits (appropriate mate partner at biological level)
the socially valuable properties of individuals (appropriate mate partner at social level).
It is felt as the result on the self-evaluation of the level of of physiological and psychological
arousal ("I feel tense and excited when I'm around her, I must love her") in the presence of other person.
In other words when persons are physiologically aroused in the presence of another individual, and the
person is socially attractive to them, they tend to interpret their arousal as being in "love". There
is also strong positive feedback loop in action here: persons who behave positively, rather than
negatively, toward another individual will consequently increase his/her attraction to the individual.
In other words "true" romantic love requires reciprococity, which is quite difficult to achieve.
But people are flexible and feelings can be faked. So the person who in not really in love can react
to the person who in really in love with faked emotions. So inread of real love, the desire to
be loved can serve as substitute, especially for women.
When an individual is unsure whether or not a behavioral approach will meet with acceptance, he or
she may hesitate to make the approach. For shy individual this represent a huge problem that they might
ever overcome, losing their chances at the mating space. Kissing, for instance, in Western societies
is generally viewed as an appropriate expression of love. So if the other person allow to be kissed,
this serve as a confirmation of reciprococity (which might be completely false). If the stage of
"revelation of feelings" proves that there is some reciprococity there is an expectation that the other
person will altruistically provide benefits or favors across a number of situations and over time.
Here again the danger of sociopaths comes into play as they are especially adept is exploiting this
While physiological arousal in romantic love has mainly biological components, they are intrinsically
intermixed with the standards dictated by society (standard of female beauty is a pretty telling example;
especially perverted preoccupation with thinness, that so badly affect so many females in the USA and
Western Europe). For a heterosexual Western male, the desire to fall in romantic love seems to become
particularly strong in the presence of a psychically beautiful, well dressed,
sociopathic female. In this case an extreme
tension is experienced between the apparent self-sufficiency of the object who seems to remain "cool",
self-possessed and self-contained despite your advances, and the biologically aroused subject who typically
is dissatisfied with himself, and is full of doubts about his self-worth and wants the confirmation
of his self-worth from a female. If the woman in question is slightly younger than male (three-four
years for male in thier twenties) it substantially increases the level of attraction:
Youth is a critical cue, since women's reproductive value declines steadily with increasing age
after twenty. By the age of forty, a woman's reproductive capacity is low, and by fifty it is close
to zero. Thus, women's capacity for reproduction is compressed into a fraction of their lives.
Men's preferences capitalize on this cue. Within the United States men uniformly express a desire
for mates who are younger than they are. Among college students surveyed from 1939 through 1988 on
campuses coast to coast, the preferred age difference hovers around 2.5 years.4 Men who are 21 years
old prefer, on average, women who are 18.5 years old.
... ... ...
Actual marriage decisions confirm the preference of men for women who are increasingly younger
as they age. American grooms exceed their brides in age by roughly three years at first marriage,
five years at second marriage, and eight years at third marriage.8 Men's preference for younger women
also translates into actual marriage decisions worldwide
Human males have faced a unique set of adaptive problems and so have evolved a unique sexual psychology.
They prefer youth because of the centrality of procreation in human mating. Their desires are "wired"
to gauge a woman's future reproductive potential, not just immediate impregnation. They place a premium
on physical appearance because of the abundance of reliable cues it provides to the reproductive potential
of a potential mate. Men worldwide want physically attractive, young, and sexually loyal wives who will
remain faithful to them at least until offspring matures enough. These preferences cannot be attributed
to Western culture, to capitalism, to white Anglo-Saxon bigotry, to the media, or to incessant brainwashing
by advertisers. It looks like those criteria universal across cultures and are absent in none. that's
why we can talk about them as being 'wired" -- they are deeply ingrained, evolved psychological mechanisms
that drive our mating decisions, just as our evolved taste preferences drive our decisions on food consumption.
Homosexual mate preferences, ironically, provide a testament to the depth of these evolved psychological
mechanisms. The fact that physical appearance figures centrally in homosexual men's mate preferences,
and that youth is a key ingredient in their standards of beauty, suggests that even variations
in sexual orientation does not alter these fundamental mechanisms.
These circumstances upset some people, because they seem unfair. We can modify our physical attractiveness
only in limited ways, and some people are born better looking than others. Beauty is not distributed
democratically. A woman cannot alter her age, and a woman's reproductive value declines more sharply
with age than a man's; in this sense the evolution deals women a cruel hand, at least in this particular
area. Women learn to fight the decline through cosmetics, through plastic surgery, through aerobics
classes -- an eight billion dollar cosmetics industry has emerged in America to exploit these trends.
Eastern woman also use cosmic surgery in alarming rates to convert themselves into '"white female" standard
of beauty. Preoccupation with thinness, instilled by advertisers and fashion industry (criminal
fashion industry I would say, if we access that damage to young women health they inflict), drive make
many young females into depression , bulimia and anorexia. Such is the power of this primitive
(but socially transformed) mating mechanisms (Am
I Thin Enough Yet The Cult of Thinness and the Commercialization of Identity )
Several years ago, the director of the Counseling Center at Boston College asked me to help find
out why the Center was overwhelmed with female students reporting eating problems. The situation
had been getting worse over the past few years. Numerous cases of bulimia (compulsive binge eating,
often followed by self-induced vomiting) and anorexia (obsession with food, starvation dieting, and
severe weight loss) appeared every week.
As the author of a previous study on female student career
and lifestyle aspirations, a teacher of women’s studies, and a faculty advisor, I was fasci- nated
by the fact that eating disorders were much more common among women.1 I wanted to understand why
such problems had recently exploded. Although bulimia and anorexia are individual diagnoses, one
can assume that broader factors are at work when the incidence of a disorder suddenly in- creases.2
Was something going on in our society to foster such behavior?
Over the next several months I began researching the field of eating disorders. But the problem
didn’t strike home until one of the sophomores 1 was advising came into my office in tears. Janet
broke into sobs and said to me, “I don’t know what 1 am going to do. I’m too fat for the cheerleading
Janet was fairly tall (5' 8") with a medium build. She weighed 125 pounds. She told me that when
she showed up for the co-ed cheerleading tryouts, there had been a public weighing at the gym. All
female applicants had to line up and get weighed, and, if they were over the 115-pound limit, they
were rejected without a chance to demonstrate their skills. Janet had been starving herself for days,
hoping to make the weight cut, but had failed. A policy like this sends a clear message—there is
an “ideal" body image a woman must conform to if she wants to become a cheerleader. Society expects
to find petite women on a college cheerleading squad, “girls" whom male cheerleaders can tumble and
lift in cheerleading routines. The cultural message is the same for other popular collegiate groups
such as sororities and high status cliques: a thin woman is a “valued" woman.
... ... ...
It is no wonder that American women are obsessed with thinness. They are exhorted to strive for a
physical ideal that is laden with moral judgment. Slenderness represents restraint, moderation, and
self-control—the virtues of our Puritan heritage. But our culture considers obesity “bad" and ugly.
Fat represents moral failure, the inability to delay gratification, poor impulse control, greed,
The slim figure has also come to represent health as well as beauty. It is
promoted in advertisements for the multimillion-dollar beauty industry, the pharmaceutical industry,
and the food industry. Bookstores are full of advice on losing weight, flattening the stomach, getting
rid of cellulite, or dressing to look more slender. Ten years ago, there were 300 diet books in print;3
today, there are countless more. Some of the bestsellers include Dr. Robert Haas’ Ear to Win (over
two million copies in print), Harvey and Marilyn Diamond's Fit for Life (three million in print),
and William Duffy’s Sugar Blues (over one million in print).
Since the 1960s, the ideal body type for women has become steadily slimmer and less curvaceous
than in the 1950s, which had idolued Marilyn Monroe’s bosomy beauty. In the 1970s, visitors to Madame
Tussaud’s London wax museum rated Twiggy as the “most beautiful woman in the world." 4 Playboy centerfolds
and Miss America contestants have become more and more slender between 1958 and 1988, and the actual
Miss America winners are thinnest of all.5
Fueling this trend are large-scale market interests that exploit women’s insecurities about their
looks. American food, weight loss, and cosmetic industries thrive on the purchases made to obtain
the unobtainable goal of physical perfection. The slim and flawless cover girl is an icon created
by capitalism for the sake of profit. Millions of women pay it homage.
But why are women especially vulnerable to eating disorders? Influenced by patriarchal institutions,
from the conventional family to schools and the media, girls as young as seven and eight learn that
the rewards of our society go to those who conform, not simply on the level of overt behavior, but
on the level of biology. If you want to be valued, as a potential spouse, as a coworker, as a friend,
then get thin.6
... ... ...
... I chose to use the dramatic metaphor "The Cult of Thinness" because the basic behavior associated
with culthood — ritualistic performance and obsession with a goal or ideal — is also characteristic
of many modem women.7 I hope to convey the intense, day-to-day involvement that the pursuit of thinness
demands. The body rituals women practice, and the extent to which they sacrifice their bodies and minds
to this goal, seem to create a separate reality for its followers. An extensive interview with Anna,
a woman who had actually been a member of a religious cult, helped me to see the many parallels (Chapter
In the course of investigating this cult we’ll examine why women place such a high premium on
their bodies (Chapter 2). We'll see how body percep- tions differ among men and women, and how weight
has become a primary dcfiner of women’s worth and identity. Historically, women have always gone to
great lengths to transform themselves to meet the changing cultural require- ments of femininity. 1
trace the mind/body dualism in Western cultural thought, which casts women in the role of the body,
and men in the role of in the mind. I show how dominant social and economic interests, sometimes characterized
as “patriarchal" and “capitalist,” shape this dualism.
...In the context
of modem times and for the purposes of this study, patriarchy can be defined
as a “system of interrelated social structures, and practices in which men
dominate, oppress and exploit women."’ In this study I will examine the
various manifestations of patriarchy as they have evolved within and between
social and economic institutions. We will find that one major manifestation
of patriarchy is the primary image of women as good wives and mothers and
objects of decorative worth. I define the basic nature of capitalism as a political/economic
system based on the principle of a competitive, free market economy. These interests have made big business out of women’s preoccu-
pation with their bodies. Aided by advertising and mass media, the Cult of
Thinness generates enormous profits for the food, diet, and health industries
(Chapters 3 and 4).
There is something similar phenomenon called "trophy wives". The latter are not just the perquisites of high status
of a men (look at Donald Trump), but in fact increase the status of the
man who can win them. Experiments have documented the considerable influence of attractive mates on men's social
status. Presumably because consensus is that attractive women have high value as mates and hence usually
can get what they want in a mate.
The male unhealthy preoccupation with the female beauty, although heavily socially conditioned,
has some biological explanations. There are some evidence that physical beauty correlates with women reproductive capacity
and the survival chances of their offspring, but not to the extent it became the criteria of success
in mating process in Western societies. Still, while beauty
may be in the eyes of the beholder and the social standard of beauty is quite irrational, those eyes and the minds behind the eyes have been shaped by
millions of years of human evolution.
Our ancestors had access to two types of observable evidence of a woman's health and youth: features
of physical appearance, such as full lips, clear skin, smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, and
good muscle tone, and features of behavior, such as a bouncy, youthful gait, an animated facial expression,
and a high energy level. These physical cues to youth and health, and hence to reproductive capacity,
constitute the ingredients of male standards of female beauty.
Because physical and behavioral cues provide the most powerful observable evidence of a woman's reproductive
value, ancestral men evolved a preference for women who displayed these cues. Men who failed to prefer
qualities that signal high reproductive value--men who preferred to marry gray-haired women lacking
in smooth skin and firm muscle tone--would have left fewer offspring, and their line would have died
Clelland Ford and Frank Beach discovered several universal cues that correspond precisely with this
evolutionary theory of beauty,12 Signs of youth, such as clear skin and smooth skin, and signs of
health, such as the absence of sores and lesions, are universally regarded as attractive. Any cues
to ill health or older age are seen as less attractive. Poor complexion is always considered sexually
repulsive. Pimples, ringworm, facial disfigurement, and filthiness are universally repugnant. Cleanliness
and freedom from disease are universally attractive.
... ... ...
Cues to youth are also paramount in the aesthetics of women's attractiveness. When men and women
rate a series of photographs of women differing in age, judgments of facial attractiveness decline
with the increasing age of the woman.14 The decline in ratings of beauty occurs regardless of the
age or sex of the judge. The value that men attach to women's faces, however, declines more rapidly
than do women's ratings of other women's faces as the age of the woman depicted in the photograph
increases, highlighting the importance to men of age as a cue to reproductive capacity.
...In a third study, they found that twelve-month-old infants played significantly longer with
attractive dolls than with unattractive dolls. No training seems necessary for these standards to
emerge. This evidence challenges the common view that the idea of attractiveness is learned through
gradual exposure to current cultural standards.
Unfortunately in cultures where food is relatively abundant, such as the United States and many western
European countries, the relationship between plumpness and status is reversed, and the rich distinguish
themselves through thinness. Men apparently do not have an evolved preference for a particular
amount of body fat per se. Rather, they have an evolved preference for whatever features are linked
with status, which vary in predictable ways from culture to culture. Actually in the Us man prefer
fatter bodies of woman as most desirable partners that woman assume, but cultural pressure destroy lives
of so many young girls and woman, when they try to comply with unachievable standard of thinness dictated
by fashion magazines and Hollywood.
While men's preferences for a particular body size vary, the psychologist Devendra Singh has discovered
one preference for body shape that is invariant -- the preference for a particular ratio of waist size
to hip size.25 Before puberty, boys and girls show a similar fat distribution. At puberty, however,
a dramatic change occurs. Boys lose fat from their buttocks and thighs, while the release of estrogen
in pubertal girls causes them to deposit fat in their lower trunk, primarily on their hips and upper
thighs. Indeed, the volume of body fat in this region is 40 percent greater for women than for men.
The waist-to-hip ratio is thus similar for the sexes before puberty. After puberty, however, women's
hip fat deposits cause their waist-to- hip ratio to become significantly lower than men's. Healthy,
reproductively capable women have a waist-to-hip ratio between 0.67 and 0.80, while healthy men have
a ratio in the range of 0.85 to 0.95. Abundant evidence now shows that the waist-to-hip ratio is
an accurate indicator of women's reproductive status. Women with a lower ratio show earlier pubertal
endocrine activity. Married women with a higher ratio have more difficulty becoming pregnant, and
those who do become pregnant do so at a later age than women with a lower ratio. The waist-to-hip
ratio is also an accurate indication of long-term health status. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension,
heart problems, previous stroke, and gallbladder disorders have been shown to be linked with the
distribution of fat, as reflected by the ratio, rather than with the total proportion of body fat.
The link between the waist-to-hip ratio and both health and reproductive status makes it a reliable
cue for ancestral men's preferences in a mate.
Singh discovered that waist-to-hip ratio is a powerful cue to women's attractiveness. In a dozen
studies conducted by Singh, men rated the attractiveness of female figures, which varied in both
their waist-to-hip ratio and their total amount of fat. Men find the average figure to be more attractive
than a thin or fat figure. Regardless of the total amount of fat, however, men find women with a
low waist-to-hip ratio to be the most attractive. Women with a ratio 0.70 are seen as more attractive
than women with a ratio of 0.80, who in turn are seen as more attractive than women with a ratio
of 0.90. Studies with line drawings and with computer-generated photographic images produced the
same results. Finally, Singh analysis of Playboy centerfolds and winners of beauty contests within
the United States over the past thirty years confirmed the invariance of this cue. Although both
centerfolds and beauty contest winners got thinner over that period, their waist-to-hip ratio remained
exactly the same at 0.70.
Advertisers exploit the universal appeal of beautiful, youthful women.
Madison Avenue is sometimes charged with inflicting pain on people by advancing a single, arbitrary
standard of beauty that everyone must live up to. Advertisements are thought to convey unnatural images
of beauty and to tell people to strive to embody those images. This interpretation is at least partially
false. The standards of beauty are not arbitrary but rather embody reliable cues to reproductive value.
Advertisers have no special interest in cultivating a healthy set of beauty standards and merely want
to use whatever sells most. Advertisers perch a clear-skinned, regular-featured young woman on the hood
of the latest model car because the image exploits men's evolved psychological mechanisms and therefore
sells cars. Sex sells. But those media images we are bombarded with daily, however, have a pernicious
In one study, after groups of men looked at photographs of either highly
attractive women or women of advertisements, were asked to evaluate their commitment
to their current romantic partner. Disturbingly, the men who had viewed pictures of attractive women
thereafter judged their actual partner to be less attractive than did the men who had viewed analogous
pictures of women who were average in attractiveness. Perhaps more important, the men who had viewed
attractive women thereafter rated themselves as less committed, less satisfied, less serious, and
less close to their actual partners. Parallel results were obtained in another study in which men
viewed physically attractive nude centerfolds--they rated themselves as less attracted to their partners
The reason for these distressing changes are found in the unrealistic
nature of the images. The few attractive women selected for advertisements are chosen from thousands
of applicants. In many cases, literally thousands of pictures are taken of a chosen woman.
Playboy, for example, is reputed to shoot roughly six thousand pictures for its centerfold each
month. From thousands of pictures, a few are selected for advertisements and centerfolds. So
what men see are the most attractive women in their most attractive pose with the most attractive
background in the most attractive airbrushed photographs. Contrast these photographs with what
you would have witnessed in ancestral times, living in a band of a few score individuals. It is doubtful
that you would see hundreds or even dozens of attractive women in that environment. If there were
plenty of attractive and hence reproductively valuable women, however, a man might reasonably consider
switching mates, and hence he would decrease his commitment to his existing mate.
We carry with us the same evaluative mechanisms that evolved in ancient times. Now, however,
these mechanisms are artificially stimulated by the dozens of attractive women we witness daily in
our visually saturated culture in magazines, billboards, television, and movies. These images do
not represent real women in our actual social environment. Rather, they exploit mechanisms designed
for a different environment. But they may create sources of unhappiness by interfering with existing
As a consequence of viewing such images, men become dissatisfied
and less committed to their mates. The potential damage inflicted by these images affects women as
well, because they create a spiraling and unhealthy competition with other women. Women find themselves
competing with each other to embody the images they see daily -- images desired by men. The unprecedented
rates of anorexia nervosa and radical cosmetic surgery may stem in part from these media images;
some women go to extreme lengths to fulfill men's desires. But the images do not cause this unfortunate
result by creating standards of beauty that were previously absent. Rather, they work by exploiting
men's existing evolved standards of beauty and women's competitive mating mechanisms on an unprecedented
and unhealthy scale.
Exchange theory of attraction
This observation lies at the core of so called "exchange theory" of attraction which suggests
that outside biological component individuals are most attracted to persons who provide the highest
ratio of social rewards to social costs. Thus, we know, for example, that "propinquity" (with is larger
then proximity), cooperativeness, the possession of culturally valued attributes (for example, physical
beauty), similarity in personality, social background, and attitudes all lead to attraction and, hence,
are presumed to be rewarding. In other words "exchange theory" aligns with the philosophical position
that human behavior is hedonistically determined. That this social transaction is regulated by the desire
to derive maximum pleasure and minimum pain from others. One reason women exert choice about mates stems
from the most basic fact of reproductive biology. One act of sexual intercourse, which requires minima
atory and energy-consuming nine-month investment by the woman that forecloses other mating opportunities.
Women then bear the exclusive burden of lactation, an investment that may last as long as three
or four years. This great initial parental investment of women makes them a valuable, but limited, resource.
Those who hold valuable resources do not give them away cheaply or unselectively. Evolution has
favored women who prefer men who possess attributes that confer benefits and who dislike men who possess
attributes that impose costs. Modern birth control technology has altered these costs. Now women can
have short-term dalliances with less fear of pregnancy. But human sexual psychology evolved over millions
of years to cope with ancestral adaptive problems. We still possess this underlying sexual psychology,
even though our environment has changed.
While male attraction mechanisms are based of biological signals and they can take a risk of making
mistakes, woman needs to be more conservative in their mating strategies. So it is more important foe
a women to evaluate correctly the cues. Women on the mating market look for "eligible" men. The word
eligible is a euphemism for "not having his resources already committed elsewhere." The term
eligible here is a euphemism for the highest-status, most resource-rich unattached man around. The eligibility
problem becomes especially acute in areas where men are apt to deceive women, such as pretending to
have higher status than they do or feigning greater commitment than they are willing to give. Men also
differ widely in how willing they are to invest their time and resources in long-term mating. Simplifying,
some men are "cads", preferring to mate with as many women as possible, investing very little in each.
Other men are "dads", channeling all of their resources to the chosen woman and her children.
that means that in selection a mate, the male's resources for female play more important role as the
criterion of mating preference,. Husbands provide their wives and children to an extent that is unprecedented
among primates. For all primates females must rely solely on their own efforts to acquire food, because
males usually do not share food with their mates. Men, in contrast, provide food, find shelter, and
defend territory. Men protect children. They tutor them in the strategies of social influence
and valuable skills, transfer status, aiding offspring in forming reciprocal alliances later in life.
In other words women themselves and their offspring gained a powerful advantage by being able to choose
"right" mates. Such cues are often indirect, such as those that signal a man's upward mobility
Some of those are physical, such as a mans athletic ability or health. Chomical diseases, especially
any venereal disease, are regarded as extremely undesirable characteristic in a mate. Physical
characteristics, such as athleticism, size, and strength, convey important information that women use
in making a mating decision. In Western cultures, tall men make more money, advance in their professions
more rapidly, and receive more and earlier promotions. Few American presidents have been less than six
Barbara Smuts believes that during human evolutionary history physical protection was one of the
most important things a man could offer a woman. The presence of aggressive men who tried to dominate
women physically and to circumvent their sexual choices may have been an important influence on women's
mate selection in ancestral times. Given the alarming incidence of sexual coercion and rape in many
cultures, a mate's protection value may well remain relevant to mate selection in modern environments.
Many women simply do not feel safe on the streets, and a strong, tall, athletic mate acts as a deterrent
for sexually aggressive men.
This preference for taller men is not limited to Western cultures. Among the Mehinaku tribe of the Brazilian Amazon, the anthropologist Thomas Gregor
notes the importance
of men's wrestling skills as an arena where size differences become acute:
A heavily muscled, imposingly built man is likely to accumulate many girlfriends, while a small man, deprecatingly referred to as a peritsi, fares badly. The mere fact of height creates a measurable advantage. . . . A powerful wrestler, say the villagers, is frightening
. . . he commands fear and respect. To the women, he is "beautiful" (awitsiri),
in demand as a paramour and husband. Triumphant in politics as well as in love, the champion wrestler embodies the highest qualities of manliness.
Not so fortunate
the vanquished! A
chronic loser, no
matter what his virtues, is regarded as a fool. As he wrestles, the men shout mock advice. . . . The women are less audible as they watch the matches from their doorways, but they too have their sarcastic jokes. None of them is proud of having a loser as a husband or lover.41
Barbara Smuts believes that during human evolutionary hisSeveral
years ago, the director of the Counseling Center at Boston College asked me to help find out why
the Center was overwhelmed with female students reporting eating problems. The situation had been
getting worse over the past few years. Numerous cases of bulimia (compulsive binge eating, often
followed by self-induced vomiting) and anorexia (obsession with food, starvation dieting, and severe
weight loss) appeared every week. As the author of a previous study on female student career and
lifestyle aspirations, a teacher of women’s studies, and a faculty advisor, I was fasci- nated by
the fact that eating disorders were much more common among women.1 I wanted to understand why such
problems had recently exploded. Although bulimia and anorexia are individual diagnoses, one can assume
that broader factors are at work when the incidence of a disorder suddenly in- creases.2 Was something
going on in our society to foster such behavior? Over the next several months I began researching
the field of eating disorders. But the problem didn’t strike home until one of the sophomores 1 was
advising came into my office in tears. Janet broke into sobs and said to me, “I don’t know what 1
am going to do. I’m too fat for the cheerleading squad. ’’ Janet was fairly tall (5' 8") with a medium
build. She weighed 125 pounds. She told me that when she showed up for the co-ed cheerleading tryouts,
there had been a public weighing at the gym. All female applicants had to line up and get weighed,
and, if they were over the 115-pound limit, they were rejected without a chance to demonstrate their
skills. Janet had been starving herself for days, hoping to make the weight cut, but had failed.
A policy like this sends a clear message—there is an “ideal" body image a woman must conform to if
she wants to become a cheerleader. Socierv ex-n>physical protection was one of the most important things a man could offer a woman. The presence of aggressive men who tried to dominate women physically and to circumvent their sexual
choices may have
been an important
influence on women's
mate selection in
ancestral times. Given
the alarming incidence
of sexual coercion
and rape in many cultures, a mate's protection value
may well remain relevant
Another important set of cues relate to social status (which in all societies mean greater access
to resources), education, possession of a promising career and the esteem in which a man is held by
his peers. But the working hypothesis in "exchange theory" of attraction is that for women they are
directly or indirectly about economic resources for raising offspring. American women generally
value education and professional degrees in mates -- characteristics that are strongly linked with social
status. Women shun men who are easily dominated by other men or who fail to command the respect of the
group. Other things equal they prefer to marry up. The age of a man also provides an important cue to
his access to resources. Just as young male baboons must mature before they can enter the upper ranks
in the baboon social hierarchy, human adolescents and young men rarely command the respect, status,
or position of more mature older men. On average women prefer men who are roughly three-five years older.
Physical strength also increases in men as they get older, peaking in their late twenties and early
thirties. Women who prefer older men are in a better position to gauge how high they are likely to rise.
But the difference in age should be small -- no more then three-five years. Young women typically
prefer mates who are no more then three-five years older but who have considerable promise, rather than
to substantially older men who already have attained a higher position. In the USA hard work proved
to be one of the best predictors of past and anticipated income and promotions. Those who said that
they worked hard, and whose spouses agreed that they worked hard, achieved higher levels of education,
higher annual salaries, and anticipated greater salaries and promotions than those who failed to work
hard. Industrious and ambitious men secure a higher occupational status than lazy, unmotivated men do.
Another important dimension for woman is the emotional stability of mates. Emotionally unstable men
are very costly to women. First, they tend to be self- centered and monopolize shared resources. Furthermore,
they tend to be possessive, monopolizing much of the time of their wives. They show higher than average
sexual jealousy, becoming enraged when their wives even talk with someone else. They show dependency,
insisting that their mates provide for all of their needs. They tend to be abusive both verbally and
physically. They display inconsiderateness, such as by failing to show up on time. And they are moodier.
They have more affairs than average, which suggests a further diversion of time and resources. The unpredictable
aspects of emotionally unstable men inflict additional costs by impeding solutions to critical adaptive
problems. The erratic supply of resources can wreak havoc with accomplishing the goals required for
survival and reproduction.
The ephemeral quality of intelligence provides another important cue. No one knows for sure what
intelligence tests measure, but there is clear evidence of what high scorers can do. Intelligence is
a good predictor of the possession of economic resources within the United States.29 People who test
high go to better schools, get more years of education, and ultimately get higher paying jobs. Even
within particular professions, such as construction and carpentry, intelligence predicts who will advance
more rapidly to positions of power and who will command higher incomes
The other crucial cue is compatibility with a mate. Women generally prefer those who are most
likely to mesh cooperatively with one's own particular personal characteristics and thus are most similar
to one's own. Discrepancies between the values, interests, and personalities of the members of a couple
produce strife and conflict.
The psychologist Zick Rubin and his colleagues studied 202 dating couples over several years to
see which ones stayed together and which broke up.32
They found that couples who were mismatched in these regards tend to break up more readily than their
matched counterparts. The 103 couples who broke up had more dissimilar values on sex roles, attitudes
toward sex among acquaintances, romanticism, and religious beliefs than did the 99 couples who stayed
But like in cults there a hidden power play here, with man usually emerge as a domineering partner
in the relationship. Some patterns of falling into the state of "love madness", especially so
love" (the phenomenon of intense love reliably arising between a patient and the therapist) might
simply reflect a general tendency for women to be drawn to those in a more powerful position and who
are young enough to be able to procreate children successfully.
A further odd cultural assumption is that the future "bliss" is guaranteed for those who experienced
Romantic transformation as if
the present form and that the initial intensity of a relationship determine its future success. Nothing
is more remote from truth. infatuation with the "object of desire" can never be a solid foundation
for such a complex enterprise as modern marriage. Moreover, if we view romantic love through the prism
of "cult indoctrination" mechanism, people often leave cults. No matter how intense is the initial
love we are never able to predict with absolute certainty the future of the relationship. People evolve,
mature, change, their daily involvement with others and each other is often replete with dilemmas
and new experiences and circumstances. Including extramarital affairs. Biological mechanisms of
mating of human species which "romantic love" reflects does not answer those challenges. The level of
involvement, as well as sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, sexual motivation, and so on, are not constants,
but are highly variable (and individual, contrary to Hollywood propaganda) and drastically change with
age and the number of years in the relationship. This variation alone may be a cause for relationship
problems or a relationship breakup, if it is based solely on "romantic love" as the fundament of the
It is also possible that couples at varying stages in the life cycle are tied to one another by different
patterns of sentiments. Love may be necessary for some relationships in their early phases of development,
whereas liking and respect may suffice at later stages (samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk)
Levinger (Chapter 5; Levinger & Snoek, 1972) has distinguished between levels of relationships
in terms of the degree of the involvement of the persons with one another and has suggested that
the antecedents and consequences of attraction vary for the different levels. According to Levinger,
attraction in the early stages of a relationship is largely based on the expected rewards and costs
of a relationship as estimated from the image projected by the other person. Image includes factors
such as physical appearance (body build, facial attractiveness, clothing, grooming, etc.), demeanor,
and attitudes toward a limited number of topics. At later stages of interdependency, however, actual
rewards and costs are seen by Levinger to take on greater importance in determining attraction.
In other words, we can view romantic love as a secular religion supported both by biological mechanisms
of mating inherent in human species and by the society.
Most men and women articulates their experiences of falling in love through a cultural narrative
of "romantic transformation"; loneliness and the struggles of being single or in a loveless partnership
suddenly became history by the sudden appearance of ‘true
love’. Life instantly obtains a new meaning. From a rational perspective, this "romantic transformation"
is based on biology.
This "romantic transformation", the abrupt falling in love, has the features of loss of rational
self-control and due to this is often called "love madness". It involves an emotional storm, a
violent rapture, with consequent bewilderment. But it does color the world differently and often
such a meeting "opens the eyes of the affected person to the bleakness of their existence". Dante speaks
of a “stupor” when he first encountered Beatrice, and all who have fallen into romantic love can testify
to the sense of being overwhelmed, thrown into confusion, joyful at being in the same world with such
a heavenly creature as the beloved and yet pained by a sense of inadequacy and despair of ever being
worthy of and ever winning his or her love. They desperately long to reciprocation and fear
the lack of thereof. If genuine reciprocity follows on falling in love, the feeling became
more serene or at least less violent and disturbing.
In the state of "love madness", the lover is disabled as for the ability of rational thinking and
acting with regard for reality. In this state, he/she can be destructive of the beloved, of self, and
of others (such as his male competitors or her female competitors for the object of desire). For the
infatuated lover, the “love” is a law to itself, tending to override all loyalties, commitments, and
ethical norms for human actions. It can withstand the powerful opposing forces, violate
taboos (Lolita) to let their feelings override reason and the current commitment. An interesting cinematic
treatment of the latter phenomenon was given by David Lean famous film
Brief Encounter. From Amazon reviews:
... It captures the time beautifully and how people used to have higher standards & actually cared
about their families, unlike the vulgar times of now..for example, look at Titanic...enough said.
I love the cinematography...capturing the smokey dark train stations with high contrast black and
white...it's so grand. This film has it's own atmosphere, like Casablanca. If you like Casablanca,
you'll love this movie. I love ending because it is so mysterious-- After Laura relives her story
in her mind, you can almost read it on her face and her husband goes over to comfort her: "What ever
dream you had, it wasn't a very happy one, was it? You were a long way away. Thank you for coming
back to me." He says it as if he heard the story while she was telling it, but then again we shall
never know. It is almost haunting because I think about so often. This film my be brief, but my encounter
with it will be forever.
...Made in 1945, the film is remarkable because even though Laura and Alec engage in a furtive
affair, they elicit audience sympathy, partly because we enjoy their delightful repartee and intelligent
conversation and partly because they find in each other the attention and appreciation — and later
love — that they lack in their marriages. The contrast between what they have and what they might
have leads to the illicit affair. The tone of the movie has an elegance and gentility compared with
modern romantic dramas, which usually run from melodramatic to cutesy. These are not wide-eyed teenagers
swept up by infatuation. They are mature people whose chance meeting opens their eyes to the bleakness
of their existence.
Those who are overwhelmed by "love madness" are favorite tragic or comic figures for dramatists and
novelists. For example, romantic obsession with Mildred Rogers, in Somerset Maughm's novel, Of Human
Bondage, is a classic illustration of romantic infatuation.
The subjective experience identified by the term "love madness" as revealed in personal testimonies
contains the following elements:
intrusive thinking about the person who is the object of desire;
acute longing for reciprocation from "object of desire"; dependency of mood on object of desire"
actions, or more accurately, interpretation of "object of desire" actions with respect to the probability
inability to be in the state of "love madness" to more than one person at a time;
some fleeting and transient relief from unrequited passion through vivid imagination of
action by "object of desire" from which reciprocation can be inferred;
fear of rejection and shyness in "object of desire" presence, especially in the beginning and
whenever uncertainty strikes;
intensification through adversity (at least, up to a point), acute sensitivity to any act or
thought or condition that can be interpreted favorably;
extraordinary ability to devise or invent "reasonable" explanations for why the neutrality or
even rejection that the disinterested observer might see in "object of desire" behavior is in fact
a sign of hidden passion;
an aching of the "heart" (a region in the center front of the chest) when uncertainty is strong;
buoyancy (a feeling of walking on air) when reciprocation seems evident;
a general intensity of feeling that often leaves other concerns in the background; and a remarkable
ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in "objecto of desire" and to avoid dwelling on less
Love madness theory holds the following:
The underlying mechanism is universal for "romantic love" and human species in general, across
all cultures and civilizations.
The state of love madness comes into being automatically when barriers to receptivity are down
and a likely person appears. What happens thereafter depends on how strongly it seems that
the hoped-for reciprocation will indeed occur. This is largely, though perhaps not entirely, a matter
of "object of desire" actions. Small doses of attention from the "object of desire" increase
the intensity of love madness
Reciprocation leads to euphoria, followed by a union that might be stable or unstable, and that
might or might not endure.
Similarity of experience among diverse persons as well as involuntariness suggests that "love
madness" is rooted in biological properties of human species, nos o much in culture or lifestyle.
When "love madness" is intense, no aspect of living is as important as is the hope of achieving
the persistently envisioned goal of reciprocation. Surely it is no accident that the time of life during
which, by group consensus, human beings are most attractive -- post-adolescence and early adulthood
-- is also the time at which most romantic love based mating is initiated. Physical attractiveness and
youth are rough indications of good health and other attributes that relate to breeding capability and
thus genetic fitness. Sex differences in the importance of physical attractiveness to human beings is
also well documented. Isn't one of the biggest problems of living that of trying to meet standards that
can only be achieved by a few at the top? Wouldn't transmission of the most favorable genetic material
to future generations be better served by a mate selection process that did not depend so much on stereotypes
of appearance but rather depended on assessment of a possible mate's aptitudes and capabilities? In
other words, wouldn't producing healthy and desirable children be more likely if it did not depend on
superficial physical traits when other features might be of greater importance?
The answer might be that the large role physical attractiveness plays in mate selection permits traits
uncorrelated with beauty to be selected randomly. That is, there may be greater genetic benefit
from not allowing individuals to choose mates by conscious, rational means. What appears to be a good
match by "rational" criteria might in fact have amounted to a genetically unfit form of inbreeding.
Physical attractiveness draws individuals to a mate who may be unlike themselves in other respects.
The ability of the culture to shift specific standards of beauty seems to occur only within a certain
range. Whatever factors cause an individual to "select" a specific person as "object of desire"
the mechanism of "love madness" cements the reaction and locks the emotional gates against competitors.
This exclusivity weakens the effect of physical attractiveness, since the most beautiful individual
in the world cannot compete with the "object of desire" in the this state once "lock-in" has taken hold.
Thus, persons across a wide range of physical appearances are able to secure mates.
In modern Western societies, couple relationships almost always come into being through a more or
less powerful experience of emotional ‘bonding’, infused with erotic attraction. Being part of such
a couple is held to be fundamental to our happiness, well-being and sense of place in the world. Reproduction,
the family, and to a great extent social life itself, are seen as ideally based upon and around the
loving (heterosexual) couple. Thus, while "falling in love" remains something of a religious mystery
in romantic love cult, it is generally understood and experienced as a beneficial and foundational life
event... Much like the idea of salvation in Christianity.
In other words, falling into romantic love looks like a variation of the older, deeper narrative
of salvation. Women’s accounts of ‘losing themselves’ and ‘finding themselves’ may be dressed up in
the flowers of romanticism, but they are rooted in the notion of salvation, another long-forgotten religious
mechanism to give up an imperfect self in exchange for existential security of religious zeal. As psychoanalysts
often postulate, sexual love may be an ‘adult’ phenomenon, but might have some correlation (as psychoanalysis
suggests) with the expression of a tiny infant who, in terrified apprehension of a large, changing,
frustrating world, takes refuge in the blissful illusion of the security in the hands of perfect and
As the structure of neoliberal society breaks down, as the labor market grows more competitive and
ruthless, and as people become more mobile in their search for work, traditional sources of stability
of marriage are fast disappearing. Commoditization of sex has further contributed to a society in which
life is experienced as empty and soulless. Even for the lucky ones, new ‘freedoms’ offer little compensation
for a lonely and hollow life. It is in such a society that romantic love is gaining ever greater significance
as a ‘secular religion’, ‘a faith quickly finding followers in a society of uprooted loners’. Yet, paradoxically,
the more that love appears as the escape from social instability and meaninglessness, the more impermanent
and chaotic love becomes. The more desperately we grasp at the hope of ‘intimacy’, the more surely
we are cast down into loneliness and alienation.
While "romantic love" is a religious doctrine, marriage is a social institution. In other words without
an organized society ("civilization") there is no marriage. A social institution can be defined: “a
set of positions, roles, norms and values integrated in particular types of social structures and organizing
relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining
resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.”
The emphasis is on stability, predictability and raising children. As such marriage is badly compatible
(or, more correctly, incompatible) with the notion of romantic love. There is also problem with the
equality which does not depend on the traits of the particular spouse, but are culturally defined:
Mansfield and Collard (1988:230), for example, found that the newly-wed couples in their study
were ‘eager’ to present their marriages as conforming to the egalitarian ideal, even though what
they actually said about their relationships revealed that ‘despite the current rhetoric of sexual
equality, it seems that husbands and wives frequently experience each other as intimate strangers’.
In a study of the domestic division of labor among Dutch couples, Aafke Komter (1989) was similarly
struck by the contrast between her own conclusions that these marriages were thoroughly unequal,
and the keenness of both husbands and wives to present their relationships as equal. Duncombe and
Marsden (1993:237) also report ‘wives in our study who claimed to be happy despite overt evidence
to the contrary’ and note in particular ‘the couples’ management of their image to outsiders—including
interviewers—so as to present a picture of companionate love’. They suggest, moreover, that this
effort may not only be for the benefit of others, and cite Arlie Hochschild’s (1983) theory of ‘deep
acting’, whereby a feeling that one believes one should have or wants to have obscures the authentic
feeling, even for actors themselves.
It is of significance that the contradictions of love often seem to be most visible in the accounts
of women, who appear to put considerable effort into papering over the very cracks which are at once
revealed by their own expressions of dissatisfaction. Evidence of gendered patterns further belies
the claim that love is becoming chaotic, fragmenting into ‘an infinite number of private systems
of love’ (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim 1995:180). It suggests, on the contrary, that predominant configurations
of love are still very much with us.
What has perhaps changed is that where once the relationship between gender, power and love
may have been betrayed by formalized modes of deference and institutionalized inequalities, it is
now obscured by individuals’ own attempts to contain the contradictions in their experience. Those
who seek the truth about love must therefore, above all, maintain a critical distance from the new
romantic ideal. This is not easy; even theorists who do not deny that power and love are connected
are easily ‘put off the scent’ by the hiddenness of power and their own romanticism. Ethel Person,
for example, accepts that male domination can be a problem in love relationships, but is at once
blinded by her own faith in the ‘power of romantic passion’. She thus observes that ‘successful’
couple relationships involve ‘a workable balance of power, often so subtle and so apparently automatic
in its operation that neither the lovers themselves nor outside observers even notice it’ (1990:
162). Lapsing into a subjective moral individualism based in the emotion of love itself, she thus
concludes that the ‘only criterion that can be used to judge them is whether the lovers themselves
feel satisfied that neither the one nor the other is being unduly exploited’ (ibid.: 163). This,
however, may be precisely the criterion which renders the couple relationship an effective and unseen
field of governance.
While redemption/salvation via romantic love is a dangerous fantasy, cultural legitimization
is given to the desire to seek completion through the romantic attachment to a sexual object, unconscious
conviction that what we lack in ourselves is possessed by someone who represents our ‘opposite’, most
likely, although not necessarily, someone of a different sex. Both lovers have surrendered their desire
to control, given up their defenses, and opened their hearts to the "healing power of a love" which
is benevolent and empowering, a Goddess which will not let them down and is able to transmuted pain
into pleasure, sorrow into joy, envy into admiration and resentment into affection.
But what will happen if this newly acquired faith becomes tinged with rational doubts? What will
happen if love reveals its contradictory and unstable nature. That it is actually a form
of coercion and subordination, In any case a rational analysis clearly does not augur well for the development
of ‘democratic love’. It is highly unequal, by definition with a woman on the receiving end of
inequality. In other words falling in love, brings both partners, but especially a female into a social
bond which is deeply and inherently problematic if we strive for absolute gender equality. It's
certainly the case that dissatisfaction and disappointment about "high load, no reward" situation
into which they slide were prominent themes in women’s accounts of current and previous love relationships.
Accounts were imbued with a sense of mourning for a lost world of the initial period of intense verbal
and physical communication, lost emotional closeness and a deep sense of connection (aka "lack
of intimacy" in marriage). The loss which seemed to most complete and irrevocable. In other words this
is not a bug, but a feature. Women’s perception, however, was that it was their partners who were responsible
for this change. Few are able to transcend the scapegoating and see that it was the concept of "romantic
love" itself that contains irreconcilable contradictions, like any organized religion. Remember Marx's
classic quote "Religion is the opium for the masses". Here we can say that "Romantic love is the opium
Like with any organized religion, there is a social consensus, set of rituals and
about what and how a "proper love" needs to be worshipped with a date and then intercourse as a kind
of religious rituals for this religion. This religious doctrine dictates (literally dictates) what are
proper sexual activities, and what "turns us on", igniting this mysterious (mystery is the core of any
religion) feeling Especially what is the current standard of female beauty, female presentation
of self through clothes and makeup (fashion); even the cars we choose to drive..
Sex is heavily overemphasized
in the religious doctrine of romantic love, providing, in a way, the backbone for the relationship,
the element of "compulsory program" without high performance in which the relationship became the second
rate. Which creates a lot of anxiety in young woman. There is even a specialty of
sex coach :-)
One interesting consequences of this is that an 'immoral' act is almost invariably a sexual act;
immorality in the printed media, in cinema or in visual imagery is likewise predominantly defined in
terms of the sexual content. There is an immediate recognition that sex, even at the commoditized level
that is used for advertizing and by Hollywood, has a significance which is profoundly social.
Simultaneously our ability to give 'a wonderful sex' (whatever it means) is persistently cultivated
by Hollywood and mass media. That creates so much stress on young men and woman, which in reality it
is just a perverted indicator of our right to membership to the "romantic love cult" and to the world
of artificially moldered female beauty,
There are two basic forms of marriage voluntary and arranged with many variants falling
In case of voluntarily marriage the primary factor is consent of the groom and bride
to form a family (although other factors like parental consent, age and social standing are also
important). It is also called "romantic" model of marriage as historically this is a very recent
It can be based on friendship with erotic attraction playing the secondary role (but still
important role; as sex with person who is erotically repugnant is a punishment, not a gift).
It can be based on romantic love with erotic attraction playing the primary role in the chose
of the partner. In Western societies the this "romatic love" varist is advertized
as sine qua non of "blessed" marriage and this is deeply ingrained in the culture (with
important contribution from Holliwood movies). We are so brainwashed that we can hardly imagine
it to be otherwise. But again, historically basing your marriage purely on sexual attraction (with
"romatic transformation" as the sygnal that you found "him" or
" her") is a relatively recent idea; it is less then 200 years old. And there is no guarantee
that it will be a dominant mode of selection of marital partner in the future although this model
made huge inroads into regions that practice old "arranged marriage" model.
In arranged marriage the primary factor is consent of parents of the groom and bride.
In many non-western societies marriages are arranged based on age, personality, and social standing;
some spouses don't even see each other till their wedding day. BTW, in many regions of China, India,
and the Arab countries people still consider “being in love” the worst possible reason for getting
married. In those regions individuals do not personally choose to marry other individuals; marriages
are arranged by family members and go-betweens, the assumption being that the only sensible approach
is for families to marry their offspring into other families and that the adult members can judge
better what is the best partner for their son or daughter, or decide to sacrifice the selection of
the best possible partner to other, often material considerations, benefitting the larger family.
In western societies money often play the same role as consent of parent is Eastern societies. Such
marriage also can be classified as arranged.
Despite difference in forms, the institution of marriage is virtually universal in human societies.
It contributes immensely in forcing two people of different gender to cooperate with each other and
with other relatives in the maintenance of household. The family is supposed to produce children,
security to maintain procreation and meet emotional needs of spouses. But the devil is in details and
happiness in marriages is achievable only in few cases. So excessive expectation undermine chances for
life-long marriage. Of couse problem-solving skills are also important and people with higher level
of problem-solving skills has better chances to have a happy marriage. While ideally, marriage
is meant to be permanent, marriage in modern societies becoming increasingly fragile and unstable. Many
last just several year (there is a jump in the rate of divorces approximately after two years of marriage).
fidelity is a great problem in neoliberal society with its cult of individualism and "self-realization".
Things became complicates if marriage became a classic "love triangle". In such cases the marriage hardly
can be viewed as monogamous. Actually the degrees of polygamy/bigamy the actually exist in Western
societies are usually brushed under the carpet
Based on the number of female partners (aka wifes) we can distinguish several additional types of
marriages, notably, monogamy (1:1), polygamy and bigamy (one to many). Please note that
a considerable part of mankind still practices arranged marriage model, with many countries using this
model allowing some form of polygamy (typically for Muslim part of population). Classic "love triangle"
in Western marriages can be classified as a cease of bigamy. In no way Western societies, especially
the USA can be considered completely monogamous.
Monogamy: Marriage in which you're legally able to have one wife at a time. Actually what
is practiced is "serial monogamy" when a man or a woman marries several different partners during
Bigamy, is generally
the same as polygamy but two or more spouses are usually unaware of each other. Many US courts (e.g.
Turner v. S., 212 Miss. 590, 55 So.2d 228) treat bigamy as a strict liability crime: in some jurisdictions
a person can be convicted of a felony even if can be proved that at any time there was more then
one legal spouse. For example, if a person has the mistaken belief that their previous spouse is
dead or that their divorce is final (while it was not), they can still be convicted of bigamy if
they marry a new person.
In other words, such archaic and dehumanizing for women arrangement as polygamy is still practiced
in large number of countries including the USA.
An Marilyn Monroe noted: "Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a
passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which,
in my book, is a good definition for friendship. "
Hollywood produces a simplistic and harmful myth that nothing is more important for a happy marriage
them falling into romantic love and experiencing "romantic transformation" first. And this myth continued
to be the prevalent idea about love and marriage in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
At the same time there is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous
hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love and by extension marriage based on
romantic love. If this were the case with any other activity, people would be eager to know the reasons
for the failure and to learn how one could do better — or they would give up the activity. Since the
latter is impossible in the case of love, there seems to be only one adequate way to overcome the failure
of romantic love as a basis for the marriage — to examine the reasons for this failure, and to proceed
to study the alternatives.
The fundamental reason of instability of marriage based on romantic love is the erotic attraction
itself is unstable and fleeting phenomena that rarely last several years and never a lifetime.
That makes friendship is a more solid base for a stable marriage and to a certain extent preferable
to "romantic love" scenario (which actually does not exclude experiencing some weaker forms of romantic/erotic
attraction, without "romantic transformation"). This was notched by Aristotle. It is commonly said that
a friend is an other self ("other me"). The mutual personal attraction at the core of personal
friendship is not and cannot be obtained via "romantic transformation" which is at the core of "romantic
love". In case of "love madness" some biological trait matching and the vision of the beloved's beauty
and splendor, is what incited the lover and initiates an affective response. The lover in the
state of "love madness" experience “recognition,” a abrupt discovery of the splendor of the beloved
the has not been known before. In extreme cases it comes as a revelation.
One frequently employed way of contrasting personal friendship and "romantic love" is that of saying
that romantic lovers face each other; while friends face together in the same direction. While romantic
lovers are united by the erotic splendor of the partner, personal friends are united rather by some
common interest and mutual non-erotic attraction. Even when their attention is directly
focused on some activity they are engaged in together, friends have a keen oblique attention to each
other, while still the presence of the friend affects the experience. There are clear and convincing
indications of this in experience. One is that when doing some things together, for example, listening
to music, contemplating the beauty of nature, entering into a social gathering, friends are by their
presence to each other sensitized to the beauty of the music or of nature or other persons in a way
they would not be, if alone. A second indication is that during shared activities, even those that demand
close attention to the activity, for example, working together at a difficult task that requires great
concentration, playing competitive games – during these activities there is a special delight for the
friends just because the activity is shared with each other. After their activity together, each
frequently remembers not only what they were doing, but also what was revealed about the other's style
and qualities while they were doing it. Friendship grows during the friends' shared activities, whether
those in which they seek enjoyment or those in which they work together for common goals.
Old friends go to the concert together. As soon as the music begins, they are rapt and seemingly
totally oblivious ‘each’ to the other. But neither would consider for a moment going to the concert
alone. Underneath the silent raptness, their friendship continues to grow quietly -- a conclusion
proven by a new depth of sharing as they return home amid slow, mulling conversation. Not rarely
three friends hike the mountain trails for six to eight hours with only an occasional word and an
almost silent midday lunch. Yet the enjoyment of each other is intense and, underneath the quiet
calm intimacy grows. It would seem that the beauty of music and nature mysteriously sensitizes each
person to the other instead of distracting each from the other (Hassel 1982, 40).
The core of personal friendship, we saw, is mutual non-erotic attraction. There can be various other
relationships between the friends. They may, for example, be related as father and son, as father and
daughter, as mother and son, mother and daughter, sisters, brothers, sister and brother, teacher and
disciple, leader and follower, wife and husband, and so on. Each of these relationships can specify
a subtype of personal friendship in which the friendship is enriched by some special affective tone
or coloring, including is case of husband and wife sexual. But this is enrichment element, not
the cornerstone of the relationship as with romantic love.
Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries
and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him.
~H.L. Mencken, A Book of Burlesques, 1916
Unsentimental views of love and marriage and common sense are healthier attitudes than Hollywood-induced
fantasies of the magic of "true" love.
The "power of love" is celebrated by most writers, even those
writers who admit it to be a narcissistic illusion. They nevertheless praise the apparent benefits
which "romantic love" brings to those involved. Are those benefits real, that's the question.
However, we act if those illusions are gospel to be compliant with. Whether the luck of
finding "true love", makes such a person really happier and whether such a couple can "live happily
ever after" is quite another story.
In reality, if only romantic love serves as the raison d’être
of an actual relationship, this bond proved to be deeply problematic. It is of a fragile, contradictory
and unstable construction, fused with unrealistic expectations which are experienced as crucial and
yet which are largely unconscious. It is nice supplement to existing foundation of the relationship,
but is more problematic as the cornerstone of the relations. It implicitly requires each lover to be
their partner’s perfect parent, and allow the projection of their ideal self-image. That means that
lasting romantic love is a ambitious venture indeed! In the bliss of initial mutual attraction no problem
is apparent, for mutual idealization causes powerful positive emotions to flow between the lovers. Little
hurts and ‘misunderstandings’ will be laughed at and dismissed, for neither wants to see that the worm
is already in the bud. Gradually things change. And they change irrevocably.
Chances are that gradually the woman will be molded into alienated from
her husband ‘everybody’s Mummy’. Their male partners assume a distant and frustrating "detached" stance
which is combined with an apparent desire to be a ‘good boy’, to please ‘Mummy’, and to hide things
which might get him into trouble. Perceived in terms of roles, rules, and functions rather than as individuals,
many woman begin to feel more like objects than people (which is the essence of alienation). At
this point for most women, the bliss of "true love" completely disappears and is replaced by feelings
of hurt and rejection as male partners quickly lose interest and withdrew emotionally. Essentially putting
themselves in the position of power over their spouse, and implicitly enforcing traditional marriage
"master-servant" relationship between partners. So much for gender equality.
Alienated, frustrated and overworked women began to lose self-respect.
Attempting to talk to their partners about this loss did not usually help, since men appeared baffled
and complained that women are ‘too demanding’. If challenged, the man usually state that he still loves
his partner, but this contradicts his actual behaviour. So those women who hoped that the relationship
was a shared project, need to assume the responsibility for ‘holding it all together’ —a task which
could become quite emotionally and physically extensive. They experience their situation as grossly
unfair and men were frequently described as lazy, irresponsible, selfish and immature. Some became
psychically abusive. Sex becomes a routine. Considerable amount of men (and much lesser amount
of women) engage in extramarital relationships (up to 50% in the USA ).
At this stage both previously "deeply in love" partners are deeply hurt,
disappointed and frustrated, but the loss of self-respect and the degree of frustration of women is
much higher. On another, being ‘everybody’s Mummy’ provided certain "compensatory gratification";
women could feel pride in their "strength" and preserving the family (especially if there are children
in the household) as well as their competence in comparison to their ‘hopeless’ partners, which they
learn to manipulated from the position of weakness. And, that in a limited and paradoxical ways,
affords them an exercise of control which appeared to be completely lost due to partner emotional withdrawal
and molding the relationship into traditional marriage with well defined and unequal roles.
Men tend to exercise forms of control which had demoralizing effects upon their female partners.
As men withdraw, lapse into silence and hide their feelings, secrets and problems, women became
increasingly anxious and uncertain. They felt alienated and tried to close the gap by developing an
exaggerated sensitivity to their partner’s emotional state in the effort to "work him out", and by trying
to persuade him to "have a open talk" Their efforts are typically rebuffed.
The dynamic of the relationship from romantic love to alienation greatly
affects people involved. And its overall effects are not neutral. Romantic love does not merely fail
to give us what we desire but in so doing compounds painful feelings of dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.
Especially foe women. After all, it was to solve the problem of our unsatisfactory existence that we
fell in love in the first place, and underneath feelings of hostility and frustration with the love
object lurks a lack of faith in our own potential. Love’s painful failure and the problems it reveals
have become the subject of a proliferation of professional advice, counseling and self-help literature.
We need to be aware that romantic love does not bring lasting happiness. Strangely, however, people
look to almost any explanation for this but the fact that they fell in love in the first place. Indeed,
quite often the cure prescribed for love is more love— ‘don’t worry, you’ll meet someone else’. While
we blame ourselves, our partners, our parents, ‘men’, ‘women’ and society (and not without merit, as
neoliberal society is a very cruel one and that affects relationships), we fail to see the inherent
problems and contradiction in the romantic love concept. Romantic love may, temporarily, bring pleasure,
excitement and feelings of great joy. It can challenge us and provide us with some opportunities to
learn. For many people this is the way to have their first sexual experience. But romantic love in itself
is not a stable fundament for a lasting relationship.
In his ABCDE model of relationship development, George Levinger (1983) traced five
phases in personal relationships based on romantic love:
Acquaintance. When couples first meet, they strive to make a good impression. They try
to present carefully edited versions of their life histories, which present them in the positive
light. They size up one another. Erotic drive can develop. For the heterosexual Western male, the
desire to fall in love seems to become particularly strong in the presence of feminine narcissism
when an extreme tension is experienced between the apparent self-sufficiency of the object who ‘seems
to remain cool, self-possessed and self-contained’ and the subject who is dissatisfied with himself,
and full of doubts about his self-worth. If the woman has a certain vulnerability, being perhaps
younger than himself or in a less powerful social position, so much the better. Psychoanalysts think
that this is the image of ‘mother’ who is the object of the male romantic transformation (Man
marry the womand who are like his mother). The female "romantic transformation" (aka falling
in love) begins with the ‘affirmation’ of her hero, an affirmation which bestows upon her
a coherent, potent and radiant subjectivity. For the male subject, however, the heroine is
merely a support for his own ‘self-esteem and self-worth. Outside sexual attraction, her actual qualities
matter less. In a way she is idealized as the always-loving, ever-giving woman who confirms his narcissistic
longings by being completely satisfied with him and by him. So the state of being in love for a male
is a grandiose illusion which manifests as the profoundest attraction to a woman he does not know
and does not understand. Those contradiction are well reflected is popular quotes about love. For
It's so easy to fall in love but hard to find someone who will catch you. ~Author Unknown
he lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself
imagine that there could be other gods. ~Theodor Reik, Of Love and Lust, 1957
When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself, and one always ends by deceiving
others. That is what the world calls a romance. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. ~Robert Frost
True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. ~FranГois VI de la
A lover is a man who tries to be more amiable than it is possible for him to be. ~Nicholas
Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. ~W. Somerset
Maugham, A Writer's Notebook, 1949
Do I love you because you're beautiful, Or are you beautiful because I love you?
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella
The art of love... is largely the art of persistence. ~Albert Ellis
It is the same in love as in war; a fortress that parleys is half taken. ~Marguerite de Valois
Love is, above all, the gift of oneself. ~Jean Anouilh
Men love because they are afraid of themselves, afraid of the loneliness that lives in them,
and need someone in whom they can lose themselves as smoke loses itself in the sky. ~V.F. Calverton
Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love; it is the faithless who know love's
tragedies. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
People who are sensible about love are incapable of it. ~Douglas Yates
Love, love, love -- all the wretched cant of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy
under a mythology of sentimental postures. ~Germaine Greer
Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance
if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. ~W. Somerset Maugham
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. ~William Shakespeare
Love is the self-delusion we manufacture to justify the trouble we take to have sex. ~Dan
Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another. ~Henry Louis Mencken
Romance is dead ≈ it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized,
and sold off piece by piece. ~Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion. ~Miguel de Unamuno
Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else. ~George
Buildup of an ongoing relationship. Couples assess the pleasures and problems of connecting
with each other. In a couple fall in love, lovers idealize one another; and for some period ("honeymoon")
they “fuse” with one another, emotionally and physically. During this period lovers assume that the
other is able to fulfill all their needs. Those contradiction are well reflected is a couple of following
You have to treat your wife like you treated her when you first met her and were trying
to get her in bed. ~Alice Cooper, interview with Cal Fussman, 2008 August 2nd, for Esquire's
January 2009 eighth annual Meaning of Life issue
An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit. ~Pliny
the Younger, Letters
Commitment. A couple "ties the knot", entering marriage. This is a more important stage
for a woman then for a man. Women past and present face the adaptive problem of choosing men
who not only have the necessary resources but also show a willingness to commit those resources to
them and their children. This problem may be more difficult than it seems at first. Although resources
can often be directly observed, commitment cannot be. Instead, gauging commitment requires looking
for cues that signal the likelihood of fidelity in the channeling of resources. Love is one of the
most important cues to commitment. But initial romantic feelings and sexual attractiveness of two
partners are a very unstable basis, at best. Please note that sexual attractiveness typically
is asymmetrical in a sense that one partner has much stronger feelings ("in love"), while other has
weaker feelings and just "allow" the other to love her/him ("in consent"). This asymmetry can
be allowed only if a woman see that the the mate committed himself to the relationship. In this case
they can commit themselves to long-term relationships and continue to merge and consolidate their
lives around the other spouse. But lovers cannot stay on undecided forever. If a male
fails to commit, the female often leave him:
The weight women attach to commitment is revealed in the following true story (the names
are changed). Mark and Susan had been going out with each other for two years and had been
living together for six months. He was a well-off forty-two-year-old professional, she a medical
student of twenty-eight. Susan pressed for a decision about marriage--they were in love, and
she wanted to have children within a few years. But Mark balked. He had been married before;
if he ever married again, he wanted to be absolutely sure it would be for good. As Susan continued
to press for a decision, Mark raised the possibility of a prenuptial agreement. She resisted,
feeling that this violated the spirit of marriage. Finally they agreed that by a date four
months in the future he would have decided one way or another. The date came and went, and
still Mark could not make a decision. Susan told him that she was leaving him, moved out, and
started dating another man. Mark panicked. He called her up and begged her to come back, saying
that he had changed his mind and would marry her. He promised a new car. He promised that there
would be no prenuptial agreement. But it was too late. Mark's failure to commit was too strong
a negative signal to Susan. It dealt the final blow to their relationship. She was gone forever.
One major component of commitment is fidelity, exemplified by the act of remaining faithful to
a partner. Fidelity signals the exclusive commitment of sexual resources to a single partner. Another
aspect of commitment is the channeling of resources to the loved one, such as buying her an expensive
gift or ring. Acts such as this signal a serious intention to commit economic resources to a long-term
relationship. Emotional support is yet another facet of commitment, revealed by such behavior as
being available in times of trouble and listening to the partner's problems. Kindness is an enduring
personality characteristic that has many components, but at the core of all of them is the commitment
of resources. The trait signals an empathy toward children, a willingness to put a mate's needs before
one's own, and a willingness to channel energy and effort toward a mate's goals rather than exclusively
and selfishly to one's own goals. Kindness, in other words, signals the ability and willingness of
a potential mate to commit energy and resources selflessly to a partner. The lack of kindness signals
selfishness, an inability or unwillingness to commit, and a high likelihood that costs will be inflicted
on a spouse. Commitment entails a channeling of time, energy, and effort to the partner's needs at
the expense of fulfilling one's own personal goals. Acts of reproduction also represent a direct
commitment to one's partner's genes.
Because sex is one of the most valuable reproductive resources women can offer, they resist giving
it away indiscriminately. In this sense sex means commitment on the part of a woman. In return
they universally require love, sincerity, and kindness is a way of securing a commitment of resources
commensurate with the value of the resource that women give to men. Requiring love and kindness helps
women to solve the critical adaptive mating problem of securing the commitment of resources from
a man that can aid in the survival and reproduction of her offspring.
Some quotes that reflects inherent contradictions of commitment phase:
People do not marry people, not real ones anyway; they marry what they think the person
is; they marry illusions and images. The exciting adventure of marriage is finding out who
the partner really is. ~James L. Framo, "Explorations in Marital & Family Therapy"
A man marries to have a home, but also because he doesn't want to be bothered with sex
and all that sort of thing. ~W. Somerset Maugham
Mother-in-law: a woman who destroys her son-in-law's peace of mind by giving him a piece
The difficulty with marriage is that we fall in love with a personality, but must live
with a character. ~Peter Devries
Before marriage, a girl has to make love to a man to hold him. After marriage, she has
to hold him to make love to him. ~Marilyn Monroe
Deterioration of mutual attraction. Familiarity breeds contempt. People usually respect
less someone they know well enough to know his or her faults. Unfortunately, as couples settle into
a routine, kind words are often replaced by harsh evaluations, thoughtful courtesies by neglect.
Coincident with this was an apparent loss of interest of a man in his woman; whereas early in the
relationship the man openly demonstrated that he liked his partner, admired her and enjoyed being
with her, he now seemed increasingly indifferent. Roughly 41 percent of newlywed women and 45 percent
of women married for four years complain that their partners do not spend enough time with them.
The analogous figures for men are only 4 percent during the newlywed year and 12 percent during the
fourth year of marriage. Other things became the focus of the husband interest and attention. Examples
included sport, socializing with other men, and especially work. These changes led most married women
to experience powerful and painful feelings of abandonment. During the first year
of marriage, only 13 percent of women complain that their partners are self-centered. The key
complain during the first year is the dramatically increased workload. By the fourth year of marriage,
the numbers more than double. In other word each third woman feels abandoned by her partner. Many
start contemplating divorce.
For some reason, married couples frequently (or even typically) treat one another worse than they
would treat total strangers. Man especially tend to take way too many things for granted. Some couples
almost completely stop looking at each other, stop touching, stop talking kindly essentially living
like two strangers in the same house/apartment. Moreover, when a wife tried to talk to her
husband about what was happening, they typically met with very little success. On the contrary, women’s
efforts seemed only to compound the problem. as men often seemed completely baffled as to why women
were so upset. They would increasingly react by maintaining their ‘distant’ and ‘unemotional’ stance,
while becoming angry and defensive if women ‘pushed the issue’. Whereas 64 percent of newlywed women
complain that their husbands sometimes fail to pay attention when they speak, 80 percent of women
are disturbed by this behavior by the fourth and fifth years of marriage. Fewer husbands overall
show distress about their partners' inattentiveness, but the increase in this complaint over time
parallels that of their wives, rising from 18 percent to 34 percent during the first four years of
marriage. Mosti woman compain about husnabds ignoring
a spouse's feelings. Among
newlywed women, 35
percent express distress
about having their
feelings ignored, whereas
four years later
this figure has jumped to 57 percent. The comparable
figures for complaints
by men are 12 percent in the first year and 32 percent in the fourth.
Some of this dynamics is due to the switch of priorities of the male in the relationship.
Effective courting signals
to a potential mate one's selfless willingness to put that mate's interests before one's own, or at least on par with one's own. That instantly
disappears after marriage. After the marriage is reasonably secure, the tactics signaling selflessness
subside because their initial function of attracting a mate recedes in importance. As Helen Rowland
sarcastically noted "When a girl marries she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention
of one." Perhaps this is
what married womenmean when they complain that their spouses "take them for granted." Initially, during honeymoon
period, most husbands are typically loving and devoted, and women feel that they were ‘special’
and loved. But after the first year or so, their desire for attention and affirmation of love
starts being ignored or, even worse, reflected back to them as "unreasonable" demand. This would
lead women to feel hurt. Women’s efforts to communicate this problem seemed only to compound the
problem in that, paradoxically, the more they asked for recognition of their hurt feelings,
the more their partners were liable to ‘back off’. In reality this is about terms the ‘unequal emotional
contract’ of heterosexual love. While wives attempt to uphold their expectations that love relationships
is reciprocal they are forcefully molded into traditional marriage role.
Attempts to change this rising inequality, however, brings its own set problems. Relationships could
come to feel like a constant ‘battleground’ of sexes. While women themselves felt that they "couldn’t
have spelled out more clearly" why they were dissatisfied, their husbands remained puzzled. Men appeared
to alternate between making ‘efforts’ which women complained were ‘hopeless’ and ‘pathetic’ and getting
angry and defensive, complaining that they felt unappreciated. Thus in many marriages there seemed
to be no way for women to resolve their anger and disappointment at their partner’s withdrawal. Accounts
suggested a tendency for them to oscillate between the two unsatisfactory positions outlined above:
either fighting for a ‘better deal’ which meant constant struggle and frustration, or giving up the
struggle. The latter enabled a greater degree of ‘harmony’, but instills in a wife feelings of dissatisfaction
and resentment which did not go away. That leads to the growing sense of alienation which she had
come to experience.
It is quite clear that a fine balance of "in love"/"in consent" feelings (the asymmetry of feelings
of two spouses toward each other; reciprocal romantic love is an extremely rare event) achieved during
courtship gradually dissipates within a couple of years of marriage. Some spouses attempt to
force their "significant other" to become what they think they should be and sometimes change is
possible. But in most cases it is not. So the spouse iether accept the reality and the relationship
remain stable but lo longer based solely of mutual attraction, or relationship goes into decline
phase. One solution to this contradiction therefore seemed to be for women to channel their
efforts into trying to ‘make the relationship work’. This strategy, however, brought further problems.
Faced with a partner who himself appeared disinterested in ‘making it work’ in the way she wanted,
a woman could easily come to feel that the only way to ‘keep things going’ was to take on that responsibility
herself. Such was the extent of this that several women described themselves as more or less singlehandedly
‘providing a relationship’ for the man to ‘be in’. This can be illustrated by the following
Ruth:[breaks into laughter] You’re joking! [laughter] Oh well really, are they ever? No, of
course they haven’t. They never are, never. I can say that absolutely, absolutely across the board.
No. It’s always been me looking after the relationship. I sometimes like envisage it like
a little garden, you know? I’m the one who does all the gardening and the men come out and sit
in it [laughter]. I do. That’s how I imagine it. They sit in it, and I’m pulling the weeds up,
pruning the roses [laughs]. That sums it up for me.
Responsibilities could come to stretch way beyond the ‘front door’ to include the maintenance
and support of wider family and social networks. One woman, for example, described how she had
come to take responsibility for remembering her husband’s relatives’ birthdays, and buying, wrapping
and sending presents and cards to them. She also reminded him when he should telephone his parents
and even on occasions did this on his behalf if he ‘couldn’t be bothered’. In addition to the
lack of intimacy, women’s other major area of complaint about men was their selfishness, laziness
and expectation that their female partners should be responsible for ‘everything’.
But such complains do not take into account often high demand modern work environment inflicts
on man, with the danger of losing the job always lurking nearby for many marring man. Losing job
and entering long term unemployment is a hit that can destroy marriage even more effectively than
alienation of the wife. culturally a husbands still is viewed as a breadwinner and loses his
social status if he becomes unemployed, see Marriage
Women’s claims that they were responsible for ‘everything’ did not necessarily imply that men
did nothing. Most male partners were prepared to contribute to some extent. However, women complained
that what men would not do was to take domestic responsibility or show initiative. Even
where both partners were in full-time employment, men were reported as assuming their contributions
to be ‘helping’ the woman and deferring to her overall organizational responsibility
for the household. This was experienced by the woman as very hard work (and it really is), since
each time she wanted her partner to do something, she would need to give him specific instructions.
He might then carry out the task, often with some degree of grumbling or procrastination, but would
then return to his passive position and do nothing more until a further instruction had been issued.
The responsibility which women carried often led them to feel constantly tired and overworked. Again,
however, there seemed no way to resolve this problem in a couple in which both spouses work, so iether
a women in this situation accepts this additional workload or they would find themselves oscillating
between two equally unsatisfactory positions. As Mignon McLaughlin sarcastically put it "Many
marriages are simply working partnerships between businessmen and housekeepers." (The Neurotic's
One of the most prominent changes within marriage over time occurs in the realm of sex.
One indication of the lessened sexual involvement of married people with their spouses over time
is the decline in the frequency of intercourse. When married women are less than nineteen years old,
intercourse occurs roughly eleven or twelve times per month. By age thirty it drops to nine
times per month, and by age forty-two to six times per month, or half the frequency of married women
half their age. Past age fifty, the average frequency of intercourse among married couples drops
to once a week. These results may reflect a lessened interest by women, by men, or most likely by
both. Another indication of the reduction in sexual involvement with age comes from a Gallup poll
measuring the extent of sexual satisfaction and the frequency of sexual intercourse over time among
married couples.8 The percentage of couples having intercourse at least once a week declines from
nearly 80 percent at age thirty to roughly 40 percent by age sixty. Sexual satisfaction shows a similar
decline. Nearly 40 percent of the couples report "very great satisfaction" with their sex lives at
age thirty, but only 20 percent voice this level of satisfaction by age sixty. The arrival of a baby
depresses the frequency of sex even more, when the rate of intercourse averages about a third of
what it had been during the first month of marriage. Although more extensive studies over longer
time periods are needed to confirm this finding, it suggests that the birth of a baby has a longlasting
effect on marital sex, as mating effort shifts to parental effort.
Some relevant quotes:
For two people in a marriage to live together day after day is unquestionably the one miracle
the Vatican has overlooked. ~Bill Cosby, Love and Marriage
Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage,
he won't even lay down his newspaper to talk to you. ~Helen Rowland
I've been married to one Marxist and one Fascist, and neither one would take the garbage out.
Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving
about three or four things a day unsaid. ~Harlan Miller
A husband is what is left of the lover after the nerve has been extracted. ~Helen Rowland
After a few years of marriage, a man can look right at a woman without seeing her — and a
woman can see right through a man without looking at him. ~Helen Rowland
Ending of the relationship, or separation. Most divorces are sought by woman, Separation
happens when by woman became convinced that it is only husband who has their ‘needs’ and ‘demands’
were increasingly met, while she felt abandoned and devalued. As we mentioned above, as the couple
became more established, so the distribution of labor often takes more traditional forms. Gradually,
women came to assume responsibility for other areas such as housework, household budgeting, shopping,
childcare, arranging holidays and organizing family occasions such as Christmas celebrations. If
a woman is not satisfied with this arrangement, one solution to this dilemma was to consider ending
the relationship. This, however, was in complete contradiction to women’s own powerful desire not
to lose the love in which they had invested so much hope. At the end of the day all relationships
end. Happy one with the death of the spouse, distressed with the divorce or estrangement and separation
without divorce, but when spouses pursue their own life path separately.
The picture is not a very pretty one, but humans were not designed by natural selection to coexist
in matrimonial bliss. They were designed to fight for survival and genetic reproduction. The psychological
mechanisms supporting those two mechanisms are often selfish ones.
The processes of change through which the newly formed couple moved as they ‘settled down’ certainly
appeared detrimental to the women. On top of the painful experience of the emotional withdrawal
of their once-keen partners and the frustration of needs and desires they hoped would be fulfilled,
they ended up experiencing themselves as ‘responsible for everything’. Women felt hurt, angry and
devalued as they grappled with the contradictions that these changes entailed. The relational dynamics
which emerged appeared to facilitate women’s disadvantage within their love relationships. Through
withdrawing interest in their female partners, focusing their affirmation on other things and by
‘opting out’, men appeared able to benefit from a dominant pattern of gender relations characterized
by an unequal division of labor, and to ensure that their own needs and desires were met while those
of their partners were rendered illegitimate.
Certainly, few of the women presented their marital history as a straightforward narrative
of her own subjection to the demands of traditional role of the woman in the family and loss of power
in comparison with her husband. While women looked for explanations for their partner’s disengagement,
however, the exact relationship is a typical power relationship. Through withdrawing interest in
their female partners, focusing their affirmation on other things and by ‘opting out’, men appeared
able to benefit from a dominant pattern of gender relations characterized by an unequal division
of labor, and to ensure that their own needs and desires were met while those of their partners were
Moreover, where the operation of male power was visible to women in relationships of their friends,
this was not usually in respect of their own current relationships. Several women, for example, talked
about how other women they knew were dominated by male partners, sometimes speaking very critically
about the woman concerned in the vein of ‘I don’t know why she stays with him. I wouldn’t put up
with it’. Women were also much more likely to see themselves as having been subordinate in their
own past relationships. With the benefit of hindsight and the comfort of having ‘moved on’ from a
painful situation, it was perhaps easier to admit that they had been ‘naive’ or ‘stupid’ and allowed
a man to ‘get the better of them’. They might stress, however, that they certainly would not let
this happen now.
However, things are perhaps more complex than this in respect of love relationships. In some studies
women not only claimed to feel powerful, but gave examples of how they were powerful in the sense
of being able to get their partners to do things they wanted them to. Which is the essence of power.
Most typically, women claimed they had a kind of ‘emotional power’ over men which enabled them to
get their own way.
Generally speaking, then, men would only ‘do anything’ in certain narrowly defined senses. This would
mainly involve supporting the woman in her ‘Mother’ role by doing practical tasks ‘for her’ such
as DIY jobs, washing up, getting her car serviced and so on. Sometimes it would extend to supporting
women’s outside activities. Examples included giving her lifts to evening classes and making tea
and coffee if she had a group of people round to the house for a meeting. Indeed, it seemed that
some men were very keen to do these things, and were sometimes quite amenable to being ‘bossed around’
by their female partners. However, the ‘anything’ that men would do generally did not include all
the things that women claimed they really wanted men to do, such as taking domestic and relational
responsibiliand giving emotional support. Moreover, women complained that men expected them to be
pleased and grateful for anything they did and wanted to be praised for their efforts.
A second sense in which women felt they could exercise power was in respect of acting as a judge
of their partner’s behaviour. Paradoxically, although men seemed very reluctant to do what women
wanted them to do, this did not mean that they were necessarily unconcerned about women’s approval.
On the contrary, according to some accounts, men appeared to be quite anxious about what their partners
thought of them, especially as to whether they were ‘good’.
However, although men sought women’s approval, this did not generally mean that women had the power
to determine the criteria by which the man was to be judged. On the contrary, so long as a man did
not indulge in excessive ‘bad behaviour’ (drinking, gambling, womanizing, wasting money), ‘did his
best’ in terms of the traditional male role, and especially if he did something ‘extra’ such as ‘helping’
around the house, he expected to be seen as a ‘good boy’. Indeed, he might be quite indignant and
defensive if, despite all of this, he still did not meet with his partner’s approval.
... ... ...
More specifically, several psychologists have observed how heterosexual relationships are characterized
by a particular gendered dynamic whereby men avoid women’s demands for intimacy and connection, while
women alternate between approaching men and coping with the pain and frustration of being ‘shut out’.
This has been variously termed the ‘pursuer—distancer’ pattern (Fogarty 1976), the ‘rejection-intrusion’
pattern (Napier 1978), the ‘demand-withdraw’ pattern (Wile 1981) and the ‘approach-avoidance dance’
(Rubin 1983). The analysis presented here, however, features three particular aspects which have
not been highlighted in other studies. Firstly, this gendered pattern appears embedded within, and
characterised by, a ‘mother-son dynamic’ which is visible and at times quite explicit in women’s
accounts. Secondly, this dynamic has a particular and paradoxical relation to gender hierarchy. Thirdly,
and crucially, the dynamic is one which ‘grows out of’ an initial situation in which love appears
to have a quite different manifestation.
Today novels, and films are filled with stories of passionate mutual love. Surprisingly, we rarely
see reports of people who were loved but failed to love in return. Sometimes, the rejected lover's pursuit
of the other turns into harassment. Here harassment is defined as “the persistent use of psychological
or physical abuse in an attempt to begin or continue dating someone else after they have clearly indicated
a desire to terminate a relationship”. A majority of college women (56%) reported that they had been
Romantic harassment includes such behaviors as these: Rejected lovers repeatedly telephone late
at night; they ring the bell and run; watch, follow, repeatedly telephone at home or work; besiege
with an avalanche of letters; send flowers; jump out of the bushes when the other returns home late
at night from a date; insult or physically attack; or threaten to kill. Interestingly enough, when
harassers are interviewed, they generally do not think of such activities as harassment! They think
they are trying to establish a love relationship.
In attempting to combat male harassment (it can go both ways), women attempt a variety of strategies.
Some do nothing. Some try to “be nice” (“Can't we just be friends”?) and reason with the man; some
are direct or rude, saying or yelling “leave me alone!” Some change their telephone numbers or move.
Some get boyfriends or parents to talk to or threaten the man; some file harassment charges in civil
court. Such harassment is painful for women. They experience fear, anxiety, and depression. They
suffer from stomachaches and nervous tics. In the short run, nothing works terribly well; lovers
refuse to give up.
The best strategy for anyone who wants to get rid of someone who just won't quit seems to be to
adopt a “zombie” approach—being polite, brief, and displaying no emotion. This approach means that
harassers no longer can get any rewards for calling, writing, following, or threatening. Most harassers
find it extremely rewarding if the woman is “nice” and tries to explain her feelings with infinite
patience because they get the contact they crave. They experience equal rewards if she gets furious
since they are finally getting through to her.
Better to say in a lifeless tone, “I put that in the hands of my lawyer.” As a zombie you may
be permitted one more polite sentence, such as: “Feel free to talk to him.” Eventually, lovers/harassers
lose interest in zombies. If there is no emotion off which to bounce, the unrequited passion turns
into boredom. Time eventually dims the fervor, and the nightmare comes to an end.
Familiarity breeds contempt. People usually respect less someone they know well enough to know his
or her faults. Western-style marriage now primarily based on initial romantic feelings and sexual attractiveness
of two partners, which is very unstable basis in itself.
Sexual attractiveness typically is asymmetrical in a sense that one partner has much stronger
feelings ("in love"), while other has weaker feelings and just "allow" the other to love her/him
One of the key problems is that sexual attractiveness typically is asymmetrical in a sense
that one partner has much stronger feelings ("in love"), while other has weaker feelings and just "allow"
the other to love her/him ("in consent"). This asymmetry might well be not an optimal criteria
for forming a lasting union. It is quite clear that such this "in love"/"in consent" feelings can gradually
dissipate within a couple of years of marriage. Some spouses attempt to force their "significant other"
to become what they think they should be and sometimes change is possible. But in most cases it is not.
So the spouse iether accept the reality and the relationship remain stable, but lo longer based solely
of mutual attraction, or relationship goes into decline phase. Troubled couples quickly get locked
into negative tit-for-tat exchanges. Warring couples can manage to fight over almost anything. They
fight over their personal dispositions (he is messy; she is compulsive), over marital norms (what is
“right” or “wrong”; he doesn't spend enough time with the children; she doesn't keep the house clean
enough), or over a thousand and one specific issues.
In The Second Sex, first published in 1949, de Beauvoir developed a Hegelian analysis of
patriarchy. The key dynamic is a fundamental tendency of human consciousness, when it becomes aware
of itself as a subject, and in turn becomes aware of the existence of other subjects, to see them as
objects, as ‘other’, and as inferior, as a defense against its own fear of their subjectivity. If no
effort is made to construct reciprocity (the recognition of each other as free and equal beings), this
tendency, combined with the varying life conditions of different groups, leads inevitably to relations
of domination and subordination. Members of dominant groups become the ‘Ones’, who reduce the existential
threat of the ‘Others’ by objectifying them. This is the basic dynamic that, historically, has shaped
relations between men and women, producing gendered forms of consciousness which are in turn reinforced
through the actual life situations of the sexes. Women, defined as ‘Others’, are directed towards a
life of dependence, vulnerability and self-sacrifice in a sphere of ‘immanence’. Men are defined as
the ‘Ones’ who are capable of ‘transcendence’, and are directed towards a life of independence, strength
According to de Beauvoir, the ideology of romantic love plays a significant part in maintaining patriarchy
pattern of social arrangements. Denied a vision of her own transcendence, a woman learns that devoting
herself completely to a man is the way that her own life can have a meaning beyond the realm of immanence.
In an account which adds a gendered dimension to the claim that modern love has a religious or spiritual
significance, de Beauvoir argues that feminine consciousness in particular is structured to seek freedom
through self-sacrifice in love:
She chooses to desire her enslavement so ardently that it will seem to her the expression of her
liberty; she will try to rise above her situation as inessential object by fully accepting it; through
her flesh, her feelings, her behaviour, she will enthrone him as supreme value and reality: she will
humble herself to nothingness before him. Love becomes for her a religion.
(de Beauvoir 1988:653)
In order to pursue this apparent route to salvation, a woman must believe in the impossible: liberation
through servitude. She may employ ‘bad faith’ in an attempt to resolve this paradox, but this involves
entering into a series of manipulations and self-deceptions which trap her even further. Only ending
the liaison can free her, but this is terrifying because it means facing up to that which caused her
to enter it in the first place: her failure to achieve her own transcendence. Romantic love is thus
an ‘existential fraud’
De Beauvoir’s analysis was taken up, for example, by the US group The Feminists, who integrated it into
a Marxist framework in order to argue that love is an ideological device, a form of ‘false consciousness’
which serves the interests of the ‘ruling class’, men, through preventing women from bonding with their
own ‘sex class’. Being ‘in love’ acts as a self-defense against the painful truth of subordination by
offering women the delusion that they are both givers and receivers.
Despite its limited development, however, the radical feminist critique of the 1970s stands as a
cogent challenge to an ideal which promises comfort, security and identity within a cozy world of coupledom.
It certainly paints a very different picture to the one that prevailed in ‘malestream’ sociology at
this time, which departed little from the romantic ideal in its portrayal of the couple as an increasingly
‘symmetrical’ and humane relationship between intimate equals (Young and Willmott 1973; Berger and Kellner
We can see, then, that love does not exist in a fixed or unchanging form; our contemporary experience
of love is something which has come into being. Love has become an exclusively focused, ‘spiritualised’,
erotic passion which is articulated through romantic codes, and which forms the basis of our social
In exploring sexual decision making we need to clarify the ways in which people propose sexual activity,
eroticize their discussions with each other, say no to sexual advances, verbalize the problem of asking
about safe sex, talk to others in the peer group about sex, and so on. In addition, we need an understanding
of the ways in which sex talk arises from the normal interaction of two people in the relationship,
as partners get ideas and desires, make suggestions to each other, react to the other's suggestions,
and generally fit sex into their ordinary lives.
When couples were happy with the status quo, they were unlikely to bother trying to understand why
things were going so well. When unhappy, however, they willingly spent a great deal of time figuring
out who was in the wrong and why. Unfortunately, such ruminations are almost always self-serving.
People are too eager to believe their own justifications and excuses; they rarely admitted even to themselves
that it was them who were selfish, neurotic, stupid, or mean. But they were more than willing to see
their partners in a negative light. If people replay old grievances over and over again in their minds
coming up with the same old answer: “I am right and you are wrong”. That's why marital conflicts tend
to became self-sustained, if not resolved promptly. Attitudes harden and spouses became distant from
There are multiple problem in "making marriage work" and they are far more complicated than is generally
recognized. Some conflicts are inevitable, for example, conflicts between commitment to the relationship
and intimacy and the demands of one's successful career. Or at least much more common then recognized.
Few people are fully aware of the level of difficulties most people encounter in simultaneously
maintaining a successful and durable relationships and advancing one's career, of the psychological
obstacles to this, and a role that pure luck/accident plays in a good fortune. Couples do not exist
in a vacuum. First, they must deal with their personal social net —with parents, children, stepchildren,
friends, and rivals. Next they need to deal with social net that encompass work colleagues, and dangers
that can come from this social network (such as extramarital relationship with secretaries and such).
They must face huge time the demands of their careers, especially if they have tendency to workagolism
(which might be viewed as a king of escapism ;-). They must handle the powerful feelings associated
with jealousy. Internet pornography further complicated things creating some unrealistic model of intercourse
and sexual games.
Paradoxically romantic love is neither necessary, no sufficient for a stable, mutually beneficial
relationship. Ability to use relationship for mutual benefits does not depends on love. The same
is true about raising children. How good couples are at solving the problems presented by the arising
in the relationship problems, conflicts and challenges is more dependent not on the initial intensity
of romantic love (which can serve as anesthetic for the brief initial period of the relationship), but
it is highly dependent on the intellectual abilities of the individuals, including knowledge their self-control,
and their past experience. Avoiding jumping to conclusions, skeptical attitude to the information on
the Web and reading a good book on the subject is always a good start ;-)
Traditionally, IQ tests have assessed language and mathematical ability. Recently, there is a tendency
to distinguish between IQ and social skills. It is the latter that are enabling people to deal with
loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and the world. (We all know brilliant people who are so arrogant,
obnoxious, irritating, or insensitive that their intelligence does them little good. Others end up muttering
“I'll be darned if I'll cooperate with that jerk.”)
Social skills (sometimes also called emotional intelligence) refer to the ability to communicate
and behave with others in ways that are socially appropriate and effective
The best way to gain fulfilling relationships lies less through obsession with romantic love (which
by definition is a short term phenomenon, as familiarity breeds contempt) than with greater efforts
toward building a balanced life, of which healthy marriage is an important part, based on one's
unique biology, history, personality, and individuality. Romantic intimacy can bestow on us a lot of
fun and pleasure. But there are other kinds of intimacy and other glories of life outside sex. It you
carefully add them they can enhance even 'average" romance or even replace it when necessary: fruitful
work but without obsession, healthy family without infatuation, reliable friends, raising children,
healing, developing your own creativity, enjoying music, theater, sunrises, and sunsets.
In other word ability to have a lasting relationship with a good (but far from perfect) marital partner
is a learned art. Much depends on the person you selected, but the level of compatibility between
two intelligent people is usually very high (given you you was not too overwhelmed by feeling and did
not married a borderliner, narcissist or sociopath) is an art and as such it can be learned.
Of cause, some buyer remorse is always present (and please not that psychical beauty, and it's
ugly perversion -- thinness of women -- is way too overvalued in Western societies) And it is important
to understand that a perception of reality is not the same as reality itself (which any drunk person
can attest ;-). The same is true about your perception of your marital partner. So some level
of disillusionment is given. Did you here about such thing as 'confirmation bias", If not read
In general if we want to learn how to love and live in marriage, we must proceed in the same way
we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, like playing piano, or painting, or the
art of medicine or engineering. We can formally divide the process of learning into two related and
intermixed, but still distinct parts.
The mastery of the theory. Good books realistically depicting love and marital relations
exists (see for example
Love, Sex, and Intimacy Their Psychology, Biology, and History), starting probably from late
60th. At the same there is a lot of psychoanalytic junk that only makes the picture muddier. Psychoanalysis
remains a controversial and contested collection of theories and practices. Good, realistic movies
depicting problems in marriage also exist, although they are extremely rare and are completely invisible
in the stream of Hollywood generated junk. As you are reading this page you made the first initial
step in this direction. If you are a woman who has much higher stakes in marriage and should expect
to sacrifice more in entering one, buying several books and watching at least a dozen preselected
films (for example,
female sociopaths, and "couples openly discuss" type of movies such as
What Other Couples Do), realistically
depicting problems and conflicts in marriage, is simply a must. Everything else is can be classified
as reckless behavior if we thing about stakes involved. If you a man then in addition to the
same, you need to pay attention to dangerous myth of 'sexual conquest" and other brainwashing
that that happen in the modem western culture.
The mastery of the practice. Like in medicine, if you have all this theoretical
knowledge, you in no means is competent in the art of medicine. It requires a great deal of practice,
and here we have problem Watson. You can't practice love and marriage without affecting your
partner. And what your partner will think of you if you declare that this is only "practice". Sound
unrealistic. But truth be told, multiple dates as well as "serial monogamy" provides some openings.
But, aside from learning the theory and practice, there is a third factor necessary to becoming a
master in any art — the mastery of the particular art should be the priority for the individual in question.
And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn
this art, in spite of high rate of failed and unhappy marriages. In spite of the deep-seated craving
for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love. The career success, prestige,
money, power — almost all of our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost
none to learn the art of loving and living in the marriage... Dating and marriage are considered
as 'afterthought" and often done of autopilot, without critical analysis and attempts to learn, who
actually you are dating (at least question is this person a boderliners or a sociopath should
be asked). But it should be viewed as a difficult and challenging "college level" class. A person
spends dating and then in marriage as much, if not more time, then in any other activities. If we add
bedroom time, then more. Could it be worth to learn at least how to avoid typical blunders and how to
resist cultural brainwashing? Is no this art worth the right amount of energy to spend learning
Here we also come to topic of social skills. Skills that constitute the "art of love and marriage"
actually are generic social skills that can be polished in environments distinct from dating and marriage.
Traditionally, IQ tests have assessed language and mathematical ability. Recently, researchers have
begun to recognize the importance of social skills in enabling people maintain healthy relationships
in marriage, to deal with loved ones during inevitable conflicts, create a circle of friends, acquaintances,
and to deal with the world and social environment as a whole. We all know that some brilliant
people who are narcissists, borderliners or other types of sociopaths, or are so arrogant, obnoxious,
irritating, or insensitive that their intelligence does them little good and dooms them to be a failure
with the marriage with any partner. As others muttering behind their backs after each interaction “I'll
be damned, if I deal with that jerk again.”
Social skills refer to the ability to communicate and behave with others in ways that are socially
appropriate and effective. Among them:
Skills in detecting abnormal, but flashy personalities such as borderliners and sociopath.
Dating and then marring borderliner or sociopath is the blunder that is difficult to correct.
General knowledge of social psychology and sociology at least on college level. This probably
should be a prerequisite for getting marriage certificate ;-)
Communication skills. the art of diplomatic communication. Negative politeness is also
very important for maining healthy and lasting relationship.
Skills in conflict resolution. This is probably the most important part of maintaining
a healthy, long term relationship. Marital conflicts are sticky and without skills to overcome
that effect and move on you can be trapped. Humor is a great tool in marital conflict resolution.
It allows to view you problems with some level of skeptical detachment. Especially if you are dealing
with psychopathic personality of a borderliner. One problem is that marital conflicts tend to became
self-sustained, if not resolved promptly. Attitudes harden and spouses became distant from each other
Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) A Step-by-Step Guide for Resolving Marital Conflict Jamie
MMF, May 15, 2011
Learned so much
i read this book after a break up and wished i would have known about it while i was in the
relationship. it taught me so much about how terribly both me and my boyfriend at the time
were communicating with each other. And especially how much overanalyzing i was doing.
But all my future relationships did benefit from it. it definitely taught me to relax a lot
more in relationships. The overanalyzing was killing my relationships.
This self-help book centers on Dr. Turndoff's
twelve-step method to resolve marital conflict before it turns ugly, abusive, and over. The
author AKA Dr. Love bases her conflict resolution methodology on research that has led her
to conclude, "fighting creates a chemical imbalance in men" that leads to more aggressive and
negative behavior. This book provides ways to end or at least reduce the cycle of marital warfare
that spirals into divorce, hatred, and often time's leads to physical and mental abuse.
Though the steps seem obvious, it is helpful to see them written in a simple anecdotal manner
that most adults can easily follow. The claim of 90% solution using this technique needs proper
perspective, as the users will not have Dr. Love to personally guide them.
It seems most likely that most relationships spiraling out of control need a third party
arbitrator like Dr. Love to help the couple attain consensus rather than conflict. However,
this book might prove beneficial to those partnerships not quite down the escalator trying
to avoid the ride to marital hell.
Skills in maintaining interest in your partner as an equal human being. This
is easier said then done, but even with high demand from your career and all those difficulties of
modern life you should find time for your partner. Consider this to be your second job. And
try not to fail the annual performance review ;-)
There is no way to avoid conflict in any marriage. The question is: How will you deal with it? Two
people with different backgrounds and personalities unavoidably have different interests. different
idiosyncrasies, different expectations, If those interests diverge chances on preserving the marriage
are slim. Now add to this some bad habits or personality problems and social pressures.
Conflicts are unavoidable. A good movies that touched this theme in an intelligent way is
What Other Couples Do . One way or
another, all conflicts end. among possible endings are separation, domination, compromise, integrative
agreement, and structural improvement
Often people choose to avoid conflict. Many happily married couples simply ignore small day-to-day
irritations. Couples may also avoid conflict for less appealing reasons. Some men or women are bullies.
A wife may know she can get her way simply by laying down the law and refusing to discuss things. Her
husband may be afraid to “push it.” He may know he can get his way by nagging, nagging, and nagging.
Sometimes couples avoid conflict because they know that it is hopeless. They have been through the same
discussion again and again; it never goes anywhere and they are simply tired of the fight. Such marriages
may seethe with hidden conflict. Some older couples settle for empty relationships. In these
marriages, former lovers now just don't care enough even to fight.
Once conflict starts, it can take either of two main turns—toward direct negotiation and de-escalation,
or in opposite direction
Direct Negotiation Couples can settle their disagreements by bargaining. Both state their
positions in a straightforward way. Pertinent information is accurately expressed and received without
distortion. Intimates feel confident that their partners care about them. They try to figure out
a solution that feels right to both of them.
Escalation Some conflicts quickly spiral out of control. Spouses insult, threaten the
other, lie, and try to force the other to see things their way. For example the wife can try mild
criticism and intimidation, in order to push her husband to do what she wants. He refuses. Her attacks
more ferociously. Stunned, he gives in “to avoid trouble.” It doesn't occur to him that he has actually
taught her that insults and blackmail work; that she has become more likely, not less likely, to
use them again.
We can view compromise as a process in which two individuals both give up a little bit so that the
other can get some of their needs met. (Or, as Professor Higgins wryly observes in My Fair Lady, so
“neither gets what either really wants at all.”) For example, let's assume that a couple was
fighting over the division of household tasks. Both were working all day. They picked up the children,
made dinner, cleaned up, and fell into bed totally exhausted. They were arguing about who should do
the gardening. This tiny issue is inflated out of proportions since neither had any more to give. A
compromise might involve something skipping the church altogether on some Sundays or cut back
on daily expenses so that they could afford to hire a part-time housekeeper or gardener.
The keys to attaining lasting agreements is the determination to work out a solution that satisfy
both as for basic goals, demonstrating flexibility in regard to the means and ends of achiving those
goals. Couples have to be flexible about the means for attaining their goals but try not to compromise
their basic goals. If either of them sacrifices too much, the agreement will not last.
Structural Improvement depends on the ability to see big picture. Some people are able even after
a severe conflict to step back and try to see the bigger picture. For example, if an overworked couple
desperately trying to meet ends realize that living in Manhattan is too expensive for their incomes
and moving say to NJ they could have less stressful life and have a better school for their children
and rent a bigger apartment or buy a small house with mortgages and expenses for a fraction of the cost
of the two bedroom apartment in Manhattan. All they had to sacrifice is time to commute to Manhattan.
In this case, they can chose to make that particular structural change which might eliminate the source
of the conflict. Or that it might be a time to leave highly stressful job and lower their standard of
living in order to preserve their physical and mental health.
Riggio found that women scored higher than men on the expressivity and sensitivity scales. Men scored
slightly higher on the control and manipulation scales. Social skills allow people to shape social situations,
cooperate with others, and solve problems. People's social competence cannot help but influence how
comfortable they feel in romantic social settings and how adeptly they deal with social difficulties.
Among the catalysts of marital conflict are children, in-laws, money and career issues, extramarital
affairs, and the neoliberal imperatives that come from the society in which we live. There are many
factors that can destroy the relationship really quickly. Extramarital affairs are one of them.
Perhaps we should be less surprised at the number of divorces than by the fact that a good number of
marriages manage to survive and prosper.
We can list four initiating events that can spark conflict: criticism, illegitimate demands, rebuffs,
and cumulative annoyances. Once an initiating event has occurred, the interaction takes a decisive turn.
The couple may either engage in conflict or avoid it. Generally, more powerful spouses are more likely
to open the battle; the powerless are more likely to try to avoid trouble. But if things get bad enough,
even a less powerful spouce may decide to “stand up and fight.”
Neoliberal society amplifies those conflicts with its cult of individualism, cult of the "sex for
sake of sex" instilled by Hollywood ("sex as an entertainment"), insecure employment and "homo
homini lupus est" (a Latin proverb meaning "A man is a wolf to another man" ) mentality. Cult
of consumerism also has large destabilizing effects.
As "feelings" fade and economic circumstances became more challenging (for example a long period
of unemployment of the husband -who still is considered to be a "breadwinner"), it is important that
they are naturally replaced with other bonds. If not marital conflict arise, which in many cases
leads to divorce. In other words conflict is inherent in marriage as an institution and stable marriage
is just temporary state of any marriage. most marriage periodically come under stress and their stability
depends on how such a stress is resolved.
Recently increased rate of divorce became interpreted in sociological terms as the result of interaction
of romantic, voluntary model of marriage with several negative factors (and first of all with the neoliberal
society with its cult of individualism):
High demand on spouses placed by the level complexity of modern life, and, especially, jobs.
Workagolism are especially probe to problem and conflicts in marriages. Sometimes family is
simply sacrificed for the sake of success in career. While female now have won the right to work
for equal pay with males, this freedom tends to undemine their marriages as due to increasingly difficult
and demanding work relationships often breaking down under the strain. Thus the disintegration of
traditional patriarchal industrial society is being partly re-played within intimate relationships;
The commercial effectiveness of selling with sex, whether it be cars, ice-cream, holidays or
magazines, suggests otherwise. Commercial exploitation of woman body. Destructive cult of thinness.
Growing rate of unemployment. Employment insecurity and growth of number of psychopathic
managers. Men who spend lion share of their time on the job are more prone to extramarital affairs
with female coworkers, or if they are managers with secretaries.
Financial difficulties experienced by middle class families as they are pushed into poverty
by neoliberal globalization.
Changes in morality due to declining religiosity of population. Which is not necessary
bad thing as religious fundamentalist do not consider woman as equals and sometimes behave like double
high authoritarians. The process of democratisation of "love ad marriage" is being driven by the
fact that emotional satisfaction has become the raison d’être of the couple. While desired
levels of intimacy are hard to maintain, ‘the emphasis on personal commitment as the key to emotional
satisfaction is pretty radical concept. Since now individuals can simply leave relationships
that are not emotionally ‘satisfying’. And this does lead to a high degree of instability. That also
does not mean that the world is no longer characterised by hierarchical social relations
Relentless propaganda of "recreational" sex, sex perversions and recreational drugs.
Usage of sex of profit center by Hollywood and TV. Soft-porn as almost acceptable element of mainstream
movies my major studios. And related additional pressure both you young man and girls "to perform"
according to bizarre standard depicted. This destructive role was noted by several Hollywood
insiders including the actress who played the main heroine of the
The Last Seduction
Linda Fiorentino, who observed:
I have four younger sisters and they're sick of being shown how they're supposed
to react in bed.
1995.] I'm single and I've gone on a few dates since
The Last Seduction
(1994) came out and I could see the disappointment in the eyes of men who thought I was going
to be a hot date and teach them all this weird stuff. And then they find out I'm just a normal
person, you know, and I don't have leanings towards strange sexual behavior and it's like a disappointment
crosses their faces.
Growth of porno industry into the major industry. With Internet ass the main distribution
channel affecting almost all population, starting with teenagers, which for some people changes expectation
in marriage when they grow up.
In a study of sixty-five newly-wed couples, for example, Penny Mansfield and Jean Collard (1988)
found that while both partners were eager to present their relationships to the researchers as conforming
to the egalitarian ideal of ‘sharing and caring’, much of what they actually said revealed a very different
picture. The women had generally entered marriage seeing it as a relationship and seeking a ‘common
life’ involving everyday companionship and an exchange of intimacy which would make them feel valued
as individuals. Men, on the other hand, saw marriage as a ‘life in common house/apartment’, so their
focus is place-based rather than relationship-based: ‘somewhere and someone to get out from and return
to’ (Mansfield and Collard 1988:179). They did not generally feel a need for self-disclosure. After
only three months of marriage, the authors found women to be seriously disappointed and feeling ignored.
Talking about the problem, moreover, proved extremely difficult, since men were simply baffled and saw
their wives as ‘rabbitting on’ and being ‘a pain in the neck’ (ibid.: 173-174). The study highlights
a sharp distinction between the promise of emotional fulfillment that is the ideal of modern
love, and a wide gender gap of expectation in its practice: ‘[t]here is, it seems, “his” marriage and
“her” marriage existing apart from “their” marriage’ (ibid.: 179). The authors conclude that ‘[i]t is
a life founded upon notions of coupleness, togetherness and equality. Yet at each point in the story
it becomes clear that the worlds of husband and wife are separate and asymmetrical’ (ibid.: 194).
Very similar patterns have been found in a more recent study of the relationship between the economic
and emotional lives of sixty mature married or cohabiting couples. Jean Duncombe and Dennis Marsden
(1993) did not set out to investigate asymmetry of emotional response, but this emerged during the research
process as the dominant pattern described by their female interviewees. The women sought validation
from, and wanted to feel emotionally ‘special’ to, their male partners. They were disappointed however
by the men’s lack of spontaneity and ‘emotional participation’ in the relationship. Thus Duncombe and
Marsden suggest that an increase in conflict and unhappiness within relationships may be occurring;
gender differences in emotionality may be highlighted and intensified by the shift from marriage as
an ‘institution’ to the ideal of fulfillment within personal relationships.
These empirical studies find, then, that there is a major, and possibly increasing, tension between
the contemporary ideal of love and its practice. While the ideal of an intimate relationship offers
salvation and solace to the notional ‘individual’, actual men and women appear to have quite different
relationships to that ideal. For example, while Beck and Beck-Gernsheim’s abstract partners undertake
endless ‘relationship work’, Duncombe and Marsden found that only real women and not real men were doing
what they call ‘emotion work’. While abstract lovers negotiate the content of the ‘love package’, real
women, it seems, have considerable difficulty in persuading real men even to sit at the negotiating
table. And while abstract relationships last only as long as they are emotionally satisfying for both
parties, real relationships seem to continue anyway, despite the fact that women, in particular, say
that they find them most unsatisfying. This gendered concretization of ‘emotional satisfaction’ thus
suggests three things: first, women and men do not appear to agree either about how important it is,
or indeed what it is. Second, whatever it is, women seem to think they are getting less of it than men.
And third, there is little evidence of couples utilizing democratic practices to sort these differences
out. What, then, might this tell us about the relationship between love and power?
We can view 'emotional ‘remoteness’ of husbands is a form of power. We also can note that women have
at least the theoratical possibility of exercising emotional power over men by deliberately withholding
emotional ‘services’ which men want.
Some writers have addressed the question of gender differences in love at a theoretical level, but have
concluded that these are evidence of ‘complimentarity’ rather than power differentials. Francesca Cancian,
for example, echoes earlier functionalist models of coupledom which contrast the ‘instrumental’ role
of the male breadwinner with the ‘expressive’ role of his wife (see Parsons and Bales 1956). She claims
that ‘women and men prefer different styles of love that are consistent with their gender role. Women
prefer emotional closeness and verbal expression; men prefer giving instrumental help and sex’ (Cancian
1985:253). Current difficulties result, according to Cancian, from a failure to understand and respect
this difference. A ‘feminization of love’ over the last century means that ‘only women’s style of love
is recognized, and women are assumed to be more skilled at love’ (ibid.). This has led to misguided
pressure being put on men to show their feelings and a denial of the ‘legitimacy’ of men’s claims that
sex is their expression of love. Cancian considers that the existence of male domination in love relationships
has been exaggerated. Indeed, she concludes that ‘men’s power over women in intimate relationships is
severely limited by the social organization of love’
Since every marriage has its tensions, the key is learn to deal with them.Resolving
conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to existing differences. Opposites
attract and that probably true for many marriages. Usually a task-oriented individual marries someone
who is more people-oriented. People who move through life at breakneck speed seem to end up with spouses
who are slower-paced. It’s strange, but that’s part of the reason why you married Your spouse added
a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before.
But after being married for a while (sometimes a short while), the those differences might became
irritants. People start arguing over small things, Ad to this problems with handling finances and
raising children. It’s important to understand these differences, and to a reasonable extent try to
accept and adjust to them. Like in
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Confronting your spouse with grace and tactfulness requires wisdom, patience, and humility. Here
are a few other tips we’ve found useful:
Check your motivation. Will your words help or hurt? Will bringing this up cause healing,
wholeness, and oneness, or further isolation?
Check your attitude. Loving confrontation says, “I care about you. I respect you and I
want you to respect me. I want to know how you feel.” Don’t hop on your bulldozer and run your spouse
down. Approach your spouse lovingly.
Check the circumstances. This includes timing, location, and setting. Don’t confront
your spouse, for example, when he is tired from a hard day’s work, or in the middle of settling a
squabble between the children. Also, never criticize, make fun of, or argue with your spouse
Check to see what other pressures may be present. Be sensitive to where your spouse is
coming from. What’s the context of your spouse’s life right now?
Listen to your spouse. Seek to understand his or her view, and ask questions to clarify
Be sure you are ready to take it as well as dish it out. You may start to give your spouse
some “friendly advice” and soon learn that what you are saying is not really his problem, but yours!
During the discussion, stick to one issue at a time. Don’t bring up several. Don’t save
up a series of complaints and let your spouse have them all at once.
Focus on the problem, rather than the person. For example, you need a budget and your
spouse is something of a spendthrift. Work through the plans for finances and make the lack of budget
the enemy, not your spouse.
Focus on behavior rather than character. This is the “you” message versus the “I” message
again. You can assassinate your spouse’s character and stab him right to the heart with “you” messages
like, “You’re always late—you don’t care about me at all; you don’t care about anyone but yourself.”
The “I” message would say, “I feel frustrated when you don’t let me know you’ll be late. I would
appreciate if you would call so we can make other plans.”
Focus on the facts rather than judging motives. If your spouse forgets to make an important
call, deal with the consequences of what you both have to do next rather than say, “You’re so careless;
you just do things to irritate me.”
Above all, focus on understanding your spouse rather than on who is winning or losing.
When your spouse confronts you, listen carefully to what is said and what isn’t said. For example,
it may be that he is upset about something that happened at work and you’re getting nothing more
than the brunt of that pressure.
No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will fail. With failure comes
hurt. And the only ultimate relief for hurt is the soothing salve of forgiveness.
Forgiving means giving up resentment and the desire to punish. By an act of your will, you let the
other person off the hook. And as a Christian you do not do this under duress, scratching and screaming
in protest. Husbands and wives can become extremely proficient at trading insults—about the way he looks,
the way she cooks, or the way he drives and the way she cleans house. Many couples don’t seem to know
any other way to relate to each other.
Feminists in the nineteenth century, for example, argued that the blind, passionate, seductive and
conflicted nature of romantic love undermined women’s interests. They envisioned a more equal model
of ‘rational love’, based on knowledge rather than fantasy or passion. Which proved to be a fantasy.
One destabilizing factor in marriage is involvement of one of the spouses in so called career rat
race. A career rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless attempt to climb the ladder
up. It conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the "cheese" much like neoliberal
society is brainwashing people into racing to climb up and get ahead financially, even if their current
financial position allow comfortable and secure living.
If a brilliant comedy
Woman of the Year this
problem was depicted in grotesque but still educational form;. here are some quote from Amazon reviews
that highlight this value:
...Woman of the year is a light hearted romantic comedy, which examines the lives of professional
couples and how it affects their private lives. As you can guess there is certain amount of drama
in the midst of a love story. The beautiful, brilliant and independent journalist Tess Harding (Katharine
Hepburn) and the macho sportswriter Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) clash over whether athletic events
should be suspended for the duration of the war. She insists that sports column be abolished during
war, but Sam believes that it is essential for morale. The editor brings them together to make peace
but the pair when they see each other for the first time, they fall in love! When they start
dating, things don't go easy on them. When Sam takes her to a ball game, Tess like the game, but
when Tess introduces Sam to her international friends, he is not too thrilled. Nonetheless, they
marry, but he quickly discovers she is so busy with her profession and that she has no time for him.
When she adopts a war orphan without discussing with him, he realizes a drastic step must be taken,
because she has no idea of being a wife and mother.
There are some very funny scenes in the movie; one of my favorite is when Tess drives back to Sam's
apartment while he is sleeping; she decides to prove herself as a wife and a good cook. Using a recipe
book she prepares his breakfast, which awakens Sam, and he silently watches as everything goes wrong
for Tess, she breakdown when coffeepot and waffle iron both overflow, and the kitchen get messy.
Sam then embraces her and says he doesn't want to change her; he merely wants their marriage
to come first. The ending is somewhat discomforting for modern day feminists as it sounds too anti-family
to be an independent professional woman. After all, this movie was made for audience of the
year 1942, and they wouldn't have a liked it any other way than a woman learns a lesson, finally,
that she has to be a caring wife, and not just a professional journalist and a political activist.
...Script aside, the plot is interesting, and certainly quite radical for its time. However, the
ending (a hilarious set-piece of comedy though it might be) leaves things largely unresolved. We
have a wonderful, strong female character in Tess Harding--this is clear enough in the first half
of the film. But her strength, her forceful personality and go-getting attitude, become her weakness
in the second half, so much so that she becomes almost a caricature of the original Tess Harding.
Some of the things she does (her 'humanitarian' wholesale adoption of Chris, for example; her rudeness
and blithe ignorance of Sam's worth) are truly reprehensible, and the point the writers are making
is clear--a female who tries too hard to be a male loses her feminity, and cannot ever really
be fulfilled. In this sense, the gender politics, as other commenters have pointed out, is 'deplorable'.
And yet there is a grain of truth in it; if one *can* be brought to believe that Tess could really
treat Chris and Sam in the way she does, one can't help but applaud Sam's decision to leave. The
role reversal is almost complete--Sam himself comments on the fact that she 'makes love' to him to
smooth over their quarrels. She charges on her own merry way without asking him about his life,
his opinion, or anything that remotely matters to him. Their union was neither perfect, nor a marriage,
as he justifiably charges.
The uneasy tension between the admirable and the deplorable Tess Hardings comes at the end: you
most certainly get the impression that the film itself didn't quite know whether or not to affirm
the Tess character. In fact, by all accounts (even Hepburn's own), the film originally ended with
an unqualified affirmation of Tess's character--promising to be more involved in her husband's life,
Tess is depicted at a baseball game, cheering alongside Sam, getting louder and louder and rising
higher in her seat above him. It was both an affirmation of Tess the character, and a lingering question
mark about the Harding-Craig reunion.
Test audiences didn't like it. (Apparently, it was the *women* who felt threatened by the character
Hepburn portrayed on screen. She was too strong, too beautiful, too *everything* all at once.)
What transpired in the end, then, was a re-shot ending that muddied the moral of the film in suggesting
that women could not really be fulfilled without their men. Sam wants her to be Tess Harding Craig;
she wants to be Mrs. Craig; she wants to change; he thinks (and probably knows) she can't. The
logical ending would have seen Tess, cast as she had been in the traditional masculine role, wooing
Sam back, only to cast doubt over whether her atypical (for the time) strength as a female would
unequivocally threaten the typical male figure as embodied in Tracy's character. The original
ending would have better borne out the logic of the film--a valuable DVD extra if ever there was
one. You can perhaps applaud the spirit of the film, without accepting the fact that it seems to
let that spirit fade away in the end.
So what is there of worth in WOMAN OF THE YEAR, with its original ending gone, and its revolutionary
potential muted by a slapstick scene in a kitchen with exploding waffles, too much coffee, and a
woman who just can't seem to figure out how to separate eggs? Well, the answer is simple, and it's
already been given. This is a movie to watch, and to watch *again*, because it is the first cinematic
pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. For a couple of hours, you're allowed to watch these
two great, mythical actors playing two people in love... while falling in love themselves. That is
most certainly a rare privilege, if ever there was one.
...The basic premise of the movie is that you have a romantic comedy dealing with role reversal--the
woman, Hepburn, is the successful one who's worried about her career, and the man, Spencer Tracy,
is the second banana with the unimportant job. Both of them are reporters working for the same paper,
but this movie doesn't have any of the snappy dialog you might see in a movie like "His Girl Friday."
...this plotline addresses the issue of the fate of the career professional woman which then was
something of a novel and exceptional circumstance for stay-at-home-Mom America (although very shortly
women would be “drafted” into the workforce in droves once the men are off to World War II but then
they pushed back homeward again when the men came home for the “golden age” 1950s). That novel and
exceptional idea of a woman trying to make a career in a man’s world in the 1940s and being very
good at it rather than staying at home is today’s norm with women remaining single longer, or forever,
forgoing marriage, foregoing children (or having them as a conscious single parent) and having a
fruitful and socially useful life. In fact the whole plotline of this film today would have to revised,
or be subject to some wicked humorous antics to get any notice.
Here is how things looked the 1940s though. Two professional writers, Tess the social commentator
(played by Hepburn) and Sam the regular guy sportswriter (played by Tracy), work for a New York City
newspaper (where else?) and by fair means or foul having had a dispute about the virtues of baseball,
well, fell in love, yeah, got all misty-eyed over each other. Go figure, opposites attract, okay.
And that is all well and good but deep down Sam is an old-fashioned guy who wants a wife who will
cater to his needs, and bring forth children. Tess however is in the center of a whirlwind of important
1940s social and political events for which she will eventually receive an award as “woman of the
year” and thus not inclined to pursue his dream for her.
So you can see the problem, love and all, since their schedules don’t coincide, their day to
day concerns don’t coincide and Tess lets the secret out -- Sam’s work as a topnotch sportswriter
is not important, not in the great scheme of things. Sam is put upon, is made to feel like a second-class
citizen, is made to feel, well, like a woman then, and probably more than we want to admit now as
well. Sam can’t take it anymore after a while and leaves. Of course in 1940s melodramatic time
the resolution here revolves around Tess trying to be a good wife, a good housewife if you can believe
that (and mercifully failing as even Sam can see). Yeah, today that story ending would certainly
have to be updated. Oh, by the way, this film also shows in passing how two actors who are involved
with each other off-stage (the beginning of the big Hepburn-Tracy affair) can go the extra mile in
a performance to get that right dramatic effect like I noticed as well with Bacall and Bogart in
To Have Or Have Not.
...Oh, no! Oh, no! My husband has been a grouch ever since we got married because I have gone
on with my internationally-important work! I have not expressed much interest in his job reporting
on men's ball games. Oh, gosh, I am not womanly because I do not give up my job and friends, or my
concerns about a friend escaping from fascist Spain, to wrap my whole life around his. I am excluding
him from my life because I speak French, German, Italian, Russian, Greek, and Chinese, as well as
English, and he doesn't. I have been given a huge award as Woman of the Year, but ironically, I am
not womanly at all, and therefore it is a hollow honor, and he doesn't come to the award ceremony
because I don't really deserve it, or him. And he is leaving me because I don't pay enough attention
to him. Because no matter what my gifts and abilities, the only thing really important about my life
is whether or not I can get married, and hold on to my man, by making him the most important thing
in the world. Even more important than me, or the world. Oh no, I've been wrong, I've been wrong!
I'm crying now, I've been made to be womanly in my suffering, because of my shame. I must run to
him now, and apologize to him for not being a womanly wife to him, and for making him unhappy. Oh,
thank goodness, my step-mother has given me a book on the womanly arts, because it is really, really
important that I learn to make coffee for my husband, because obviously my only function on earth
is to make him the center of my life! Oh, gosh, I am so funny and silly when I try to cook, and I
do everything wrong because despite being world famous, I am an inept person when it comes to the
things that really matter. Sigh. If I were truly womanly, I would believe all this crap.
..."Woman of the Year" happily manages to avoid many of the pitfalls inherent in stories focused
on sexual politics. While Tess' career is not endorsed as inherently fulfilling, typical gender roles
aren't offered as the solution (however much Tess would like to believe they are). Indeed, the film
asks for compromise and balance from its characters - in fact, no clear solution is reached by the
film's end. It's up to the viewer to hope that they'll find one.
..."Woman of the Year" could have been a screwball comedy about the battle of the sexes. The themes
are definitely there. Does a woman have to give up her professional life when married? Does she have
to play the submissive role of "housewife" and "stand by her man"? Or can she be independent and
have both, a carrear and family? And think they have Katherine Hepburn playing the role! One of Hollywood's
leading feminist along with Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Mary Pickford (who showed amazing business
"Woman of the Year" starts off as Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) and Tess Harding (Katherine Hepburn)
get into a debate about of all things; baseball. The two work for the same paper and Tess, in Sam's
eyes, is one of those snobbish know-it-all's. Soon the two start an exchange of words in their colums.
And it's here the movie plays as a screwball comedy and works best. I love a scene where Sam takes
Tess to her first baseball game and has some difficulty explaining the game to her. There is also
a scene where Tess invites Sam to her room and the movie's last scene are my favorites. But, all
of these scenes play up the comedy.
Newspaper columnist Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) is drawn into a good natured war of words
with a co-worker over comments she made during a radio show. Although entertaining to readers, the
printed jabs hurled between her and sportswriter Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) comes to an abrupt end
when their boss makes it clear he wants his newspaper writers to maintain a united front to the public.
During this announcement, the two writers meet for the first time and become smitten with one another.
Although Tess and Sam seemingly have nothing in common, they grow closer and eventually marry.
However, problems begin almost immediately as Tess is unable to comprehend the importance of
being married and Sam becomes frustrated with her inability to keep her work life and home life separate.
Tess, however, soon gains some valuable insight into her situation when she attends her father's
wedding and soon Tess and Sam are reunited with a much better understanding of their relationship.
While the domesticity scene concluding the film seems out of place (the story goes that MGM
added it to make Tracy the 'winner' of the 'battle of the sexes', to a much more chauvinistic 40s
audience), so many scenes ring true that the film goes beyond simple comedy/drama to a timeless statement
about commitment, priorities, and accountability for one's actions. And despite the serious
issues raised, it makes you laugh, too! Hepburn's reactions at the ball game, and Tracy, trying to
be inconspicuous at the women's club meeting, are among the comic highlights. The star duo are so
natural together that it's hard to believe this was their first teaming, and the chemistry carried
over into their private lives as well, beginning a romance that lasted 25 years.
In recent years, individuals have begun to recognize how much of a “safety net” other people provide.
Recently divorced men and women joke how “I'm building up my support network” as they go about the process
of restoring ties and friendship with old friends they neglected, making new friends and rebuilding
their lives. People can receive all sorts of support from others—emotional, informational, and practical.
If you are ill with the flu, a friend can drop by to cheer you up, bring you some orange juice and a
hot meal, and telephone your office to say you won't be able to come in to work. Those who have no one
to help may find themselves walking shakily to the store on icy sidewalks or trying to negotiate with
some frustrating bureaucrat when they have a fever of 103 degrees.
When social support networks are weak, even mild stressors begin to take a toll; severe stressors
may prove to be overwhelming. In old age, as family members and friends die, colleagues forget to call,
and social support systems are lost, the elderly become more vulnerable. Dame is true during the period
of long unemployment.
Of course, the same family and friends that provide social support for us expect us to return the
favor, if necessary. Some researchers point out that a reasonably small, intimate group of family and
friends is actually likely to be most supportive. If one has too many family obligations or if one's
friends are less emotionally stable, affluent, competent, or healthy than oneself, a support network
may actually drain one's coping resources.
Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can help to avoid a host of stressors. Without
money, everything becomes a maddening trial. Every decision, large or small, can end up as a fight:
“We can't afford to do that!”
Money can be used to buy housekeeping and gardening services (saving time, energy, and avoiding frustration
for dual-career families), to secure the best medical treatment, to hire legal assistance, to have fun,
to foster romance, and to modify the physical environment in a wide range of stress-reducing ways. Money
may be used to buy a house in the safest neighborhood, near the best schools, and allow one to avoid
the stress of overcrowded conditions, crime, and helplessness.
One even that can hit a family like brick is when breadwinning husband loses his job. That create
acute conflict which is more pronounced if the couple does not have savings that allow them to go "job
free" for a couple of years. 401K is of cause an important resource in such cases, but it is better
to have "stash" fund for such emergencies that became more and more common in neoliberal society as
they try to puch everybody into terms. Especially important if the spouse is over 50. In this case it
is a must. see
All these strategies may come to naught in trying to save a foundering relationship. When nothing
works, when couples are unable either to reconcile themselves to the status quo or to solve their problems,
they have one more problem solving option: they can decide to end the relationship.
American pop psychology would have us believe that “thinking makes it so.” True devotees of "positive
thinking" vastly exaggerate the possibilities of feelings promoting a fallacy that what you want to
feel, being whatever you want to be. Best-sellers include such self-help paperbacks as Getting Control,
Taking, Charge of Your Emotional Life, Do It!, or Love Power in a World Without Limits. They all emphasize
the power of positive thinking, believing, or visualization in securing an emotionally controlled (and
hence “better”) life.
Realistic constraints in relationship which actually determine the health and life/death of the relationship
are waved away with a dismissive gesture. In some measure, then, the innocent American tradition of
believing in “mind over matter” combined with good old American optimism has created a pretty powerful
Still what is called cognitive therapies directed at change of our attitudes might be moderately
effective. The concept of defense mechanisms, and the fact that people employ a variety of unconscious
strategies to shield themselves from pain and anxiety can be moderately useful in coping with marital
conflict. The role of anticipations in influencing feelings and action might be higher that is
generally recognized. A given culture or family may teach children rules, which they internalize (something
like “Never hurt anyone” and “Stand up for yourself”)
When such rules are discordant with reality or are applied excessively or arbitrarily, they are likely
to produce psychological or interpersonal problems. The meanings that people assign to the events determine
how they will respond emotionally.
Once people have assessed the situation, they have to decide what to do about it. Lazarus (1991)
argued that people may use two very different strategies in coping with problems. First, they can focus
on controlling their own emotions. (They resolve to worry about problems “tomorrow,” convince themselves
that things will change “somehow,” or shrug off their troubles: “There's no use crying over spilt milk.”)
Or, second, they can try to deal with the problem itself.
If people decide to focus on emotional control rather than direct problem solving, again they have two
choices. They can try to manage their emotions in two different ways. They can try to avoid painful
confrontations with reality. Such defensive techniques can help people survive. Sometimes, however,
the rigid use of palliative techniques can be dangerous. Individuals who repress their emotions or toughen
themselves to feeling may lose a sense of their own humanity. They may come to disdain those who have
chosen to deal with reality in a more clear-eyed way. They may fail to take the precautions they need
to stay alive. It can be like the frog that is placed in a beaker of water that is gradually heated.
Instead of jumping out, it will adapt to the new conditions and continue on and on to adapt to the uncomfortable
heat. Finally, it can adapt no longer; it is dead. Some people seem to behave like that.
People can also try to modify their physiological reactions to emotional events. They may meditate,
jog, drink, or take drugs. Abuse of antidepressants became a real social problem in the USA.
It is very difficult to maintain a relationship based solely on mistrust.
Infidelity if the problem that is leading cause of divorces in the USA. This is a breach of
trust, that is very difficult to amend.
Many people assume that it is “normal” to have a happy marriage. Almost 90% of Americans choose to
marry at least once. When spouses are first asked whether they are satisfied with their marriages, most
(84%) say yes. However, when pollsters press on, underlying problems begin to emerge. Forty percent
admit that they have considered leaving their partners. Today, almost 50% of marriages will end in divorce.
Although about half of first marriages fail, about 75% of men and women will later remarry. Approximately
half of those remarriages will also fail. Margaret Mead once contended that our society is moving toward
How married couples interpret one another's behavior depends on how happy they are. Happy couple
make relationship-enhancing attributions. If their husbands ask them out to dinner, happily
married wives give the husbands full credit for their generosity. They explain away their husbands'
Distressed couples exaggerate their partner's flaws. They can find an unflattering explanation for
almost anything. They make distress-maintaining attributions. If their husbands do something
wonderful for them, unhappily married wives explain it away, attributing a good behavior to external,
unstable, and specific causes. The carefully chosen bouquet of woodland flowers is scorned; he just
picked it up on the highway to buy a little peace; it's a poor excuse for a present. (They attribute
them to internal, stable, and global causes.) If his wife leaves her soggy towel on the bed, he assumes
the moral high ground. That is just one more bit of damning evidence; she is selfish, unconcerned with
anyone else's feelings, and she'll never change.
Happy and distressed couples don't just differ in the way they think about events; they differ in
the way they feel about them as well.
While previously mainly men phenomenon, now infidelity became more common for married women too.
Affairs can occur in happy marriages as well as in troubled ones, but they dramatically more frequent
in troubled one. Although the involved spouse may not be getting enough from the marriage, often the
"disgrunted" spouse is not giving enough. It take two for tango.
Among other typical reasons is attempt to raise low self-esteem, relationship deficits (e.g., lack
of affection), or a social context in which infidelity is condoned. It also may indicate an addiction
to sex or romance. People addicted to romantic relationships are driven by the excitement and emotion
which a new relationship temporary brings to them.
In most people affairs cause feelings of shame and worthlessness. that's not true for sex addicts
and philanderers. The latter perceive extramarital sex as an entitlement and status symbol (the more,
the higher status is). Infidelity is essentially a breach of trust, so it can be any action that
violates an implicit or explicit agreement between two married people.
I just can't stand cheating in any form. You better give up the relationship then cheat all
you want. I quit on my marriage because my husband lied to me. I just can't accept deceit cause
i've been honest since day one.
Dishonesty is certainly always a part of an infidelity.
Seeking sex outside of the relationship can also be compared to seeking alcohol, drugs, shopping,
gambling; virtually any substance or behavior that provides a “quick fix,” a distraction from everyday
life, something that makes you feel anticipation, intoxication, even fear of being caught doing something
“bad”. It can also be difficult for some people who have sex with someone they have deep intimacy
and connection with. The idea of “dirty” or playful sex with the same person you share so much of
your life with can be a hard concept to reconcile. For some, built into their belief system of “hot”
sex is the idea that the person you are having sex with doesn’t truly know you nor do you know them,
allowing a certain freedom and separation from your real life.
Crossing the line from platonic friendships into romantic relationships is helped by modern communications,
especially Internet, as well as high demand of time of a modern workplace.
Internet bring a new class of affairs called emotional affairs. The latter differ from platonic friendships
greater emotional intimacy than in the marital relationship,
secrecy and deception from the spouse,
absence of physical contact.
Certain life cycle changes (midlife crisis in men, etc) also stimulates infidelity. Some associate
infidelity with selfishness. Some dissatisfied spouses begin an extramarital relationship as a way of
exiting from an unhappy marriage. More frequently, however, the marital history is re-written to justify
an ongoing affair. It is unreasonable to compare a brief splash of intensity of feelings in an affair
which is still at the stage of romantic idealization with the routine familiarity of spouses in a long-term
Causes of Marital Infidelity LIVESTRONG.COM)
The actual chances of infidelity might not be as high as many sources claim. In fact, Dr. John
Grohol, founder and CEO of PsychCentral.com, suggests these chances could be less than six percent
in a given year in his article, "How Common is Cheating and Infidelity Really?" However, he warns
that this number could increase to about 25 percent, depending on how long the relationship runs.
In either case, if you’re worried about infidelity in your relationship, learning the common causes
of cheating can ease your fears or help you address potential problems.
Physical Desires. Sexual discontentment and desires often contribute to incidents of
cheating, suggests Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychology, in her PsychologyToday.com article,
"The Eight Reasons that People Cheat on Their Partners." Some people expect that a new partner
can serve their sexual needs better than his current spouse. This can especially true if the frequency
or physical passion has diminished over the years. In other cases, a person might believe that
in addition to sex with the spouse that she deserves more encounters.
Emotional Desires. Emotional needs contribute to incidents of cheating, as well. For
example, feeling an emotional disconnect from a spouse might lead someone to pursue an affair,
suggests Whitbourne. While this infidelity might initially be restricted to an emotional level,
it could grow into a physical affair. In other cases, a partner might feel underappreciated by
a spouse but praised by a third person, leading to cheating. Sometimes a spouse will feel completely
satisfied with their partner, but an emotional desire to simply pursue new experiences could also
lead to affairs.
Vengeful Desires. Affairs based on revenge are rare, despite over exaggerations in
movies, notes Whitbourne. However, a husband and wife routinely face domestic disputes, it is
possible that one member of the marriage might cheat out of spite. In cases like this, the cheater
might make the affair known to cause his spouse emotional pain. On the other hand, the cheating
spouse might still keep the affair a secret, as the satisfaction of secret payback could be rewarding
Platonic Relationship or Affair? Platonic friendships have the potential to evolve
into emotional affairs, warns the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. However,
the line between these two types of relationships can run thin. A platonic friendship becomes
an affair when three conditions are met, suggests the AAMFT. The first is that an emotional affair
will have more emotional intimacy than the marriage itself. The second is that the affair will
involve some level of secrecy. For example, perhaps a husband intentionally does not tell his
wife that he has daily video chats with another woman online. The third trait of an affair is
Most divorces are sought by women. This trend was typically linked to the new level of women’s involvement
in the workplace, as well as the modernization of women’s roles in general. The realities of living
together that create major strains are ignored in modern cultures and especially by Hollywood. Women
once married, are often exposed to expectations that are ingrained in the cultural concept of marriage,
which are quite different from expectation throughout the engagement period and are not visible during
this period. Many woman resent that their situation in marriage inherently involves inequalities, putting
substantially more stress on a woman shoulders including not only an unequal distribution of domestic
labor, but also an unequal fulfillment of other emotional or physical needs within the relationship.
Marriage tends to increase a woman’s workload – both physically and emotionally, especially upon
the birth of children. Heavy involvement of woman in their careers and new roles in workforce also represent
a significant reason for the dissolution of many marriages. Such women also less dependent on the marriage
for financial stability. Divorce perhaps becomes more common when the couple has less to exchange.
A marriage is a social group, so the psychology of small groups is applicable to marriage (with some
limitations). And that means that conflict in marriage coused by infidelity is a form of small group
conflict. The most typical signs are similar:
Attitudes are negative
Frequent unresolved misunderstandings and arguments occur
Morale is low
Spouses do not like working to/spending time together
Spouses do not feel they are making a contribution
Spouses feel they are not respected or valued
Spouses feel unsafe
Spouse are talking about other behind his/her back
Another factor in the instability of marriage is that its traditional aspects contradict neoliberal
ideology and can't be not properly adjusted to neoliberal society.
Neoliberalism affect marriages in multiple ways. Neoliberal society with its cult of
individualism and individual egoistic pleasure (sometime deceptively called "self--fulfillment") is
one. It deprives women of basic social rights making raising children and maintaining healthy
divide between family and work much more challenging, pushing a lot of single mothers into object
poverty and damaging women health. If we compare the USA to France in this respect, the USA really looks
like a banana republic (the tendency that started during Reagan presidency):
Maternal leaves with pay begin 6 weeks before birth and continue for 10 weeks after delivery.
Business leaders in France support this policy. “By contrast,” wrote Fred Hechinger, education
editor of The New York Times, “American business interests lobbied so successfully
against legislation that would have provided 10 weeks of unpaid maternity leaves that
President Bush vetoed it” (Hechinger, 1990, p. B8).
French parents may take off two years without pay after a child's birth, knowing that their
jobs remain protected. In contrast to the 6 weeks that a mother in the United States is lucky
to get (without pay), mothers in Norway, Austria, Portugal, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark,
the United Kingdom, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Israel, Greece, and Canada receive
leaves of 12 to 24 weeks with full or partial pay. Unpaid leaves for longer periods can be taken
with a guarantee that mothers can return to their jobs (Lande, Scarr, & Gunzenhauser, 1989).
Prenatal and postnatal health care, immunization, and high-quality lowcost day care for
children under 3 are anchored in French national policy.
Preschool for 3- to 5-year-olds is free, and 98% of the children attend it, “more than three
times the American percentage” (p. B8).
French preschool teachers possess the equivalent of the Master's degree in early childhood
and elementary education. Pediatric nurses direct child-care centers, while staff members have
taken four years of courses related directly to child care and education.
France offers free college tuition plus a stipend to students of preschool education if the
student pledges to work five years after graduation in the field.
Hechinger (1990, p. B8) concluded:
A look at child care in industrial societies suggests that under regulated capitalism,
as in France, or in social democracies, as in Scandinavia, children's welfare is protected because
it is viewed as crucial to the children's and the nations' futures.
By contrast, leaving child care exposed to the uncertainties of a largely un-regulated
free market, as in the United States and Britain, has created conditions that [are] crazy.
The practice leaves many children with inadequate care and permanently-damaged, a costly liability
The American fetish for female thinness is another particularly vivid instance of cultural lunacy,
illustrates painfully how a weird social norm can wreak havoc on the confidence, sense of priorities,
and happiness of an entire gender. Janet Maslin's review of the film The Famine Within,
a “documentary about American women's collective obsession with body weight” makes some telling points.
In 1954, the average Miss America contestant was 5 foot 8 inches and weighed 132 pounds; (2) by
1980, the height of the beauties remained the same, but the average weight had dropped to 117 pounds;
(3) the average North American woman is about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 144 pounds, dramatizing
how “radically different” is the physical ideal celebrated by the national media from the national
reality; and (4) “Eighty percent of fourth-grade girls have already been on their first diets” (Maslin,
1991, p. B3).The larger world weighs heavily on the way we think, feel, and behave about sex, love,
life, and ourselves as persons. Usually the weight is a burden that mightily limits freedom, confidence,
joy, and choices. But culture can also enrich choices, support family life, and improve the chances
for healthy relationships. In this vein we wish briefly to mention some of the policies consciously
developed in France to nurture their children and improve the chances for marriages to work. These
policies have echoes in many other European societies but have failed thus far to make a dent in
the United States.
Among the most typical issues that cause such a conflict we can list the following:
Neoliberal culture of "wolf-eat-wolf" individualism and narsissism.
Excessive, infused by Hollywood and Novels unrealistic expectations. A very idealized and
romanticized view of love. Is not romantic love a flavor of masochism ?
Infidelity: That's explain probably 20-30% of all
divorces. Not everybody can forgive infidelity.
Unemployment. The cultural role of a man
as breadwinner is still ingrained in society. And often this corresponds to reality: man still typically
bring home higher salary them woman. That means that unemployment often severely stresses marriage
and ruins all the plans. Often a couple needs to sell their house and lower their standard of living.
If the husband is unemployed and the wife is employed, he still only does about forty percent of
the work in the domestic sphere (Thompson and Walker). Domestic tasks themselves continue to be divided
along gender lines.
Domestic Violence: Spouses can resort to psychical violence to assume or prove dominant
position in marriage.
Insults: Words can hurt as much or more as physical pain.
Control and Dominance issues. Sometimes overcontrolling behaviors is the key issue that
leads to divorce. Controlling and wanting to "get your way" is not a gender specific marital problem.
It is definitely one that can kill a marriage. That's very typical for authoritarians.
Disagreement over finances. Opposites attract. A wife who is a saver might marry a spender
and vise versa. Shopaholics have high level of divorce as they typically endanger family finances.
Gamblers have even more problems.
Substance abuse. Alcoholics are a huge problem in family and few spouses can tolerated
this addition for long. Narco-addicts are even bigger problem, but they are more rare problem.
People have different approaches to parenting. Authoritarians typically want to be too
strict with the children. And they typically see the other spouse being to lenient and too
overprotective toward children.
The grass looks greener on the other side, but it does not necessarily holds to be
Midlife crisis. very real if you are 40 something.
Like any interpersonal and workplace conflict, marital conflicts typically can be framed along
the following lines:
Interest-Based Framing Interest-based framing describes conflicts in terms of
interests, rather than positions. Often, interests are compatible, even when positions are not. Thus
interest-based framing enables the parties to identify win-win solutions to problems that might not
have been evident when
Fairness-Based Framing In fairness-based framing, the parties approach the conflict
as an effort to obtain what is rightfully theirs. In doing this, they base their arguments on principles
of fairness which are accepted by the larger society, including their more reasonable opponents.
Framing This approach frames a conflict as a collective effort to fulfill the fundamental
human needs of all parties. By eliminating the tensions that arise when these needs go unmet, the
approach can sharply reduce the level of conflict.
"... High-earning older couples also may have more complicated financial situations than younger couples, with both partners sometimes owning multiple 401(k)s, pensions and IRAs, making it hard to split everything equitably. And increasingly, divorcing clients own annuities, which are challenging to divide, says Jeff Kostis, president of JK Financial Planning, in Chicago, and a divorce financial planner. Every annuity contract can be different, and in some cases, couples may need to trade off other assets to avoid cashing out an annuity and losing much of its value. ..."
"... Some couples are tempted to simply split plans themselves. Or at the end of a long mediation session, with retirement plans last on the list, a couple may simply agree to a 50-50 split. But it's not that clear cut. ..."
For older couples who decide to split up, divorce can look very different than it might have in their younger years. Children
often are grown and out of the house, so child support and custody aren't an issue. And breakups after long marriages can sometimes
seem amicable rather than contentious; partners simply grow apart and decide to go their separate ways.
But with gray divorce on the rise -- the divorce rate for adults over 50 has doubled since the 1990s, according to the Pew Research
Center -- both partners need to understand how to correctly split up retirement plans and other assets. One partner may offer to
be generous, but that's not necessarily helpful. You need to follow specific rules for dividing 401(k) plans and IRAs, or one partner
could take an unnecessary financial hit or face an unexpected tax bill. And the closer you are to retirement, the more crucial it
is to get it right. "You can't afford to make mistakes," says Diane Pappas, a divorce financial analyst and owner of Solutions for
Divorce, in Boston.
High-earning older couples also may have more complicated financial situations than younger couples, with both partners sometimes
owning multiple 401(k)s, pensions and IRAs, making it hard to split everything equitably. And increasingly, divorcing clients own
annuities, which are challenging to divide, says Jeff Kostis, president of JK Financial Planning, in Chicago, and a divorce financial
planner. Every annuity contract can be different, and in some cases, couples may need to trade off other assets to avoid cashing
out an annuity and losing much of its value.
If you're facing a gray divorce, start by accepting that regardless of what agreement gets hammered out with your estranged spouse,
your finances are going to take a hit, Pappas says. Be realistic: You had one household, with a set amount of income. You're splitting
that into two households, on the same amount of income. "Something has to give," she says.
You'll also need to accept that retirement plans are among the assets you'll need to divide. Partners who hold retirement plans
don't always understand this, says Peggy Tracy, owner of Priority Planning, a tax preparation and financial services practice, in
Wheaton, Ill. "They're shocked they have to share it," she says. "They feel they are entitled to all the money." She has to explain
that yearly contributions to a 401(k), for example, came from a couple's mutual income, and a partner is entitled to a share.
Divide a Plan
Some couples are tempted to simply split plans themselves. Or at the end of a long mediation session, with retirement plans last
on the list, a couple may simply agree to a 50-50 split. But it's not that clear cut.
For both 401(k) plans and pensions,
you'll need a qualified domestic relations order, which is a judicial decree recognizing a divorcing spouse's right to receive all
or a portion of the account owner's qualified plan, says Colleen Carcone, a director of wealth planning strategies at TIAA, in Boston.
The QDRO is submitted to the plan administrator. A portion of the plan can then be transferred to the divorcing spouse's name.
When you split a 401(k) plan with a QDRO, you get a one-time divorce-related break. If you take some of the cash out, perhaps
for a down payment on a house, you will owe taxes on the distribution but not the 10% penalty for taking an early withdrawal under
age 59½. If you roll the money immediately into your own newly established IRA, you won't owe taxes or a penalty.
Before splitting a 401(k), be sure to check a partner's paystub to ensure he or she doesn't have an outstanding loan that's being
repaid through paycheck deductions, Tracy says. And change your beneficiaries, if you don't want your ex-spouse named for your plan.
For employer pensions, be aware that each employer has different rules on how or whether the pension can be split, Tracy says.
Plus, you'll need a professional to determine its value before you can divide it, a process that can take two or three months. Until
you have that information, don't set terms for splitting the pension, she says.
QDROs don't apply to IRAs . Division
of IRAs should be detailed in a divorce decree or separation agreement. The agreement then has to be submitted to the IRA custodian.
"You just can't sign a napkin over drinks," says Dave Stolz, a certified public accountant and financial planner, in Tacoma, Wash.
Understand the tax rules for splitting an IRA to avoid unexpected penalties. You can't take a one-time penalty-free distribution
from an IRA because of a divorce, Pappas says. Take some cash out and you will owe taxes on the distribution, plus the 10% early-withdrawal
penalty if you're under 59½. But if the money is rolled directly to an IRA, there is no penalty or tax.
All retirement plans aren't equal. A partner receiving traditional 401(k) assets will owe taxes on any distributions, so it's
not equivalent to getting the same dollar amount of Roth IRA assets. Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax contributions. Planners
usually separate Roth IRAs from other retirement assets and split them in half, says Tracy.
If your finances are especially complicated, you might consider a collaborative divorce. Each partner typically hires his or her
own attorney, but they jointly use a financial planner and coach. The goal is to divide the finances to best meet each partner's
goals, Kostis says. Sometimes that may mean unequal divisions of individual assets such as 401(k) accounts or cash accounts, so one
person has a more secure retirement and the other has cash to purchase a house.
For example, Social Security
benefits can't be included as a marital asset, by law, and the actual benefit can't be divided. A higher-earning spouse will have
a bigger benefit than a spouse who may have worked part-time to care for children. The higher earner might agree to provide monthly
support payments for a certain period of time to make up the difference, Kostis says. Or the couple might choose to trade off other
assets, perhaps from an investment account. "You set your own rules," Kostis says.
But how about using an Android phone as a GPS tracker? It may not be the most reliable option, and it does comes with some not-so-insignificant
drawbacks, but it can get the job done if you're desperate. Here's how to turn your Android phone into a GPS tracker.
Note: These instructions are based on a Samsung Galaxy S8 running Android 8.0 Oreo, but the steps should be relatively similar
for most Android devices.
Tracking With Native Android Features
Most Android devices released in 2014 or later have a built-in feature called Find My Device (formerly called Find My Android).
This service constantly pings your device's location back to Google's servers so that
Google knows where
your device is . You can then use Google's web interface to see where your device is at any given time. You'll need a Google
account to use this feature.
How to Enable Find My Device on Android
Navigate to your device's Settings .
Tap on Lock screen and security .
Tap on Other security settings . (This step may be unnecessary depending on your particular device and Android version.)
Tap on Device admin apps . (This step may be called Device Administrators depending on your particular device and Android
Tap Find My Device .
Tap Activate .
Note: In order to activate this service, you'll need to allow four permissions: 1) the ability to erase all data, 2) the ability
to change your screen unlock password, 3) the ability to lock the screen, and 4) the ability to turn off functions on the lock screen.
The nice thing about Find My Device is that it's not just a tracker -- it lets you control the device from afar in the above-mentioned
ways. Learn more in our
overview of Find My Device .
How to Use Find My Device on Android
Once enabled, all you have to do is launch a web browser, navigate to the
Find My Device dashboard , and sign into your Google account
(the same one associated with your device).
Once you're logged in, select the device you want to locate, click the Locate button for said device, and it'll show its last
known location and how long ago it was last spotted. It's fairly accurate in my experience, but I live in an urban environment; it
can be off by up to 20 meters in areas with poor GPS visibility.
Tracking With Third-Party Android Apps
If you don't like Find My Device for whatever reason, you can always resort to one of the many third-party alternatives available
on the Google Play Store. These apps are easy to install and you don't really have to do anything beyond creating an account to use
There are two that we recommend:
1. Lookout : Lookout is an all-in-one
security solution where device tracking is just one of its many features. As such, it might be too bloated if device tracking is
the only feature you're interested in. But if your device currently lacks a good antivirus app, you might as well use this one and
kill two birds with one stone.
2. Prey : In practical usage, Prey is very
similar to Find My Device. Its one big advantage is availability across multiple other platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux,
and iPhone, so you can track ALL of your devices from anywhere.
Once your device is set up as trackable, whether using Find My Device or a third-party app, there's only thing left to do: attach
the device to the person or object that you want
to track . Obviously, this is much easier said than done.
Want to know how to track a car with a cell phone?
The easiest and most effective option is to use a magnetic car mount . Most two-piece kits come with a magnetic insert (that you
place inside your device case) and a magnetic base (that you attach to whatever you want to mount). With a good model, the magnetic
force should be strong enough for your phone to "snap" onto the base and stay there securely.
Jobs is another significant stress on modern marriage...
"... This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 297 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page , which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we're doing this fundraiser, what we've accomplished in the last year and our current goal, more meetups and travel . ..."
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... The "young woman with crusty old rich guy" is so common it's a cliché. ..."
"... The tactic is only going to sway a portion of the cultural warriors, because a lot of them are arguing in bad faith. ..."
Yves here. Bill Black's article is well timed as well as important. Tonight, the Wall Street
Journal was flogging "Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage," adapted from a new book, which
argues that young men aren't getting married because it's so easy for them to get laid. Black
takes on this effort to try to present good old fashioned moralism as the remedy for deeper
economic problems in his next column in this series, so let me have a mini-go at its first.
It does not appear to occur to author Mark Regnerus that young women might be the ones who
aren't so keen to get married, due among other things to the widely reported immaturity of
young men. Moreover, there are now more women than men graduating from college and law schools
than men. Women are acculturated to marrying up or at worst sideways, income-wise. Might
another problem be a shortage of sufficiently-desirable partners?
The book's findings are also at odds with trends that have been widely reported: more young
people, particularly young men, being less keen about having casual sex; the number of sex
partners among young people falling and the age when young people on average start having sex
rising. Admittedly, some of this change has been attributed to smart phones degrading social
skills to the point that it apparently makes young people less adept at flirting and
To give an idea of the caliber of this alleged research, this was the only argument
presented to counter the notion that young people aren't getting married because many aren't
making enough to set up households:
A May 2017 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, focusing on regions
enriched by the fracking boom, found that increased wages in those places did nothing to
boost marriage rates.
Help me. What do you think mining boom towns are like? Answer: they bring in a lot of men,
from engineers (yes, petroleum engineers skew male) and oil industry workers like derrickhands.
They do risky physical work and are paid well. But most of the men are transients, and aren't
looking to stay and marry local women. Moreover, the influx of men skews the gender ratio,
putting the men who are interested in getting married at a disadvantage from a dating
perspective (if you think men who want to get laid can't fake romantic interest, I have a
bridge I'd like to sell you).
Even though the book claims to be based on exhaustive work, all you need to do is have a
gander through the underlying study to see it screams bias. As we've regularly reminded
readers, survey instruments are very sensitive to the order and phrasing of questions.
The first section is about religion. Not exactly subtle about what the researchers think
matters. And while generalizing from one's social circle falls into the "data is not the plural
of anecdote" fallacy, I consider my peer group to be stodgy, yet this study say the number of
sex partners I know many of my friends (male and female) have had puts them at the far end of
the spectrum of this study.
Put it another way: in the 1950s, before birth control, Kinsey found that the average man
reported having had six sex partners and the average woman, three. This would seem to be
impossible unless you have gay men having sex way way out of proportion to the general
population (which as far as I can tell, they do, but even so, not enough to fully account for
this difference), and/or men overstating and women understating their histories, and/or men and
women having different ideas of what constitutes having had sex with someone else.
So what has this study found about our modern era where people are supposedly having way too
much casual sex? On p. 23:
The median heterosexual man or woman (age 18 to 60) reports somewhere between four and six
opposite sex partners in their lifetime.
This is in line with what Kinsey found in the stone ages before The Pill. So exactly where
is all this casual sex that is leading to the handwringing? Either it's not happening despite
birth control (doubtful) or the sample for this study, despite its size, is crap.
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate
professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of
Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New
The University of Missouri – Kansas City recently hosted the first conference on
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and a closely associated idea, a federally-backed job guarantee
for everyone willing and able to work. On September 25, 2017, the New York Times
published an article exemplifying one of the applications of the job guarantee that would
provide a win-win that should unite anyone interested in strengthening the family. The
title is "How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?" Claire Cain Miller authored the
column, and her key takeaway are in these two passages.
Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to
socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among
people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher
Americans across the income spectrum still highly value marriage, sociologists have found.
But while it used to be a marker of adulthood, now it is something more wait to do until the
other pieces of adulthood are in place -- especially
financial stability . For people with less education and lower earnings, that might never
These facts establish an obvious policy that could unite the public. The combination of MMT
full employment policies and the job guarantee is the best way to strengthen family financial
stability. The United States, which has a sovereign currency, can do that. The European Union
nations that lack a sovereign currency will frequently be unable to do so. Jobs, not simply
income, are essential to many humans' happiness and sense of self-worth. Unemployed American
men, for example, do less housework than do employed American men. Businesses are deeply
reluctant to hire the unemployed, particularly if they have been unemployed for any significant
time. The cliché of males responding to unemployment through depression has considerable
Miller's article notes that there is an unproductive split between conservatives and
progressives about how to strengthen families. Conservatives tend to claim that the problem is
cultural. Progressives generally agree that culture is important but note that the surest and
quickest way to make productive changes in culture is frequently economic. Progressives oppose
conservatives' punitive and authoritarian policies that purport to change culture and note that
they have failed. Miller correctly notes that the economics and culture are closely
Conservatives deeply resent safety net programs in which the recipients are able to work but
decline to do so. The complementary steps to run a consistent full-employment program are to
follow MMT principles with an employer-of-last-resort job guarantee program. The job guarantee
does not merely guarantee that anyone willing and able to work in the government or non-profit
sectors can do so; it finesses the disinclination of private sector employers to hire the
unemployed. We can provide a full employment economy with rates of inflation so low that even
(very conservative) central bankers consider desirable , not simply acceptable.
The job guarantee program would also allow us to close one the great perception gulfs
between progressives and Trump's supporters. Trumps supporters believe that disfavored
minorities prefer not to work and live on the dole. Progressives believe the opposite. The jobs
guarantee would provide the definitive test that could end any debate and replace perceptions
with an easily observable reality. The job guarantee test has the potential to do what female
employment in World War II did – destroy prejudiced myths that 'everyone' knew were true.
It turned out that women could do a massive array of jobs and that they were interested in
The Themes of this Series of Columns
This column is the first of three related columns on the general topic of the conservatives'
culture wars in which the family is ground zero. I develop several themes. First, that their
culture war is rests on false premises. There are win-wins available, particularly through the
job guarantee and MMT that allow great progress in strengthening the family. Progressives would
be delighted to work with conservatives to implement these winning strategies.
Second, the policies that the conservative culture warriors are pushing rest on bogus
claims. They also fail.
Third, the policies that the conservative culture warriors are pushing are nasty. They
represent authoritarian, dogmatic, and bigoted pathologies that have long disgraced
Fourth, the conservative culture warriors do not address most of the critical problems
Americans and others face. They religiously ignore the cultural/ethical problems of
conservative elites and the Republican Party and the harm that these cultural/ethical problems
inflict on Americans and the peoples and creatures of the world. The culture warriors
overwhelmingly support and assist Republicans implementing pathological policies arising from
these cultural/ethical problems. Those pathological policies channel the most disgraceful
Fifth, the conservative culture warriors religiously refuse to join progressives and others
in embracing cultural values the conservatives purport to treasure even though there is an
obvious potential for broad consensus on a broad range of cultural and ethical views and
policies that represent the very best of American traditions. The conservative culture warriors
are hypocrites who want a culture war that energizes the worst elements of their base even
though they know that the result will be to degrade American values and practices and cause
immense harm to the "other."
Other Win-Wins We Can Implement to Strengthen Families
We could build on these win-wins by getting rid of federal subsidies to places that are not
real colleges – the scores of fraudulent for-profit schools. Fraudulent for-profit
schools do not provide the benefits to employment and marriage that real public and non-profit
community colleges, colleges, and universities provide. This reform would also greatly reduce
eventual losses due to student loan defaults.
Conservative culture warriors that run the Education Department are racing to prevent
sanctions against these fraudulent schools. Other conservative culture warriors applaud this
We could create another win-win by providing real sex education (rather than the sham of
"just say no") and provide ready access to contraceptives including the morning after pill to
poorer women. All of these reforms reduce considerably births outside of wedlock. Conservative
culture warriors in the Trump administration are trying to eliminate these successful programs
– and the conservative culture warriors outside the administration are cheerleaders for
A win-win policy that has been shown to be exceptionally effective is the provision for home
visits by specially trained nurses to new moms who are most at risk of being overwhelmed. The
nurses explain and demonstrate, for example, the importance of moms talking pervasively to
their infants. The Trump administration's culture warriors targeted the program for elimination
because it is successful. Conservative culture warriors know the program works, but refuse to
oppose their fellow warriors.
Even When the Culture Warriors Talk Economics They Get it Wrong
"Financial stability" is the key concept, one that "pro-marriage" cultural warriors and weak
economists have repeatedly failed to comprehend. Their typical "analysis" goes like this
– if poor women would only marry their boyfriends, they would have materially larger
income and only modestly larger living household expenses. (Their analysis almost invariably
purports to describe the marriage decisions of poorer, heterosexual women, so I address that
context.) The simplistic idea is that adding the male's income to that of the poor woman means
that she and her children must be better off. The only slightly less simplistic version of this
claim is that married couples tend to have stronger economic results than do the unmarried.
Both arguments ignore the most important and fundamental applicable principle of finance
– risk. Fortunately, poor women apply a more sophisticated analysis to the question of
marriage than do these economists.
Risk, as most poor women understand, is the key. It is not sufficient that the male, on the
average day, would be a source of financial strength, particularly if the mother has children.
If the male does not have stable income, creates a material risk of increased expenses, or both
he is a threat to financial stability that can put the mom and her child at grave risk. One car
accident while impaired or even tripping on the stairs while impaired and breaking a leg can
put the household in a financial crisis. The typical working class household has under $400 in
savings. Even if they have auto and medical insurance, the deductible plus the loss of work due
to the injury or wrecking the auto can instantly hurl the household's financial stability into
a desperate crisis. If the male's job is unstable with material periods of unemployment or
underemployment the household is made more unstable. If the male becomes depressed when these
episodes occur the financial and family instability increase greatly.
If the male has expensive tastes for non-essential goods or if he has a substance abuse
problem, he makes the household more unstable financially and in terms of safety for mom and
her kids. If the male is violent or hostile towards mom or her kids, or indifferent or
unreliable in providing childcare he makes the household more dangerous and unstable.
It is impossible to "hold constant" for these factors in an empirical test. Heterosexual
moms are in the best position to judge the strengths and frailties of potential male mates. If
the man is interested in marrying her, and seems to the primitive economist to add to the
household's total wealth, and she does not want to marry him the logical inference is that she
has a reason for her unwillingness. The types of risks I have explained are realistic examples
of those reasons. In statistical jargon, they represent "unobserved differences" –
unobserved by the researcher who cannot "hold constant" for them, but observed by the
heterosexual women making the decisions whether to marry a particular man.
The job guarantee does not eliminate many of the risks I have described. It would improve
job and income stability, particularly for working class males. That would be unambiguously
good for men, women, the economy, and our culture. The ability to run a real world test that
demonstrated that disfavored minorities do want to work could reduce bigotry and our cultural
and political divisions.
In my second column in this series, I criticize Mark Regnerus' false assertion that working
class male employment stability is unrelated to women's decisions whether to marry. Miller's
column provides a useful corrective.
In a working paper
published in July, three economists studied how the decline in manufacturing jobs from 1990
to 2014, across industries and regions, "contributed to the rapid, simultaneous decline of
traditional household structures."
Labor market changes made men less marriageable, they concluded. There were fewer
available men, because unemployment was associated with a rise in incarceration or mortality
from drugs and alcohol. The men who were left were less desirable, because they lacked income
and were more likely to drink to excess or use drugs.
Researchers found a corresponding increase in births to unmarried mothers. The decline in
marriage was not offset by more couples living together.
Never-married adults cite financial instability as a major reason for being single,
especially those who are low-income or under 30, according to a new
Pew Research Center survey . Most men feel it's important for a husband to be a financial
provider, especially men without college degrees, according to another new
Pne ew survey .
Women, meanwhile, have learned from watching a generation of divorce that they need to be
able to support themselves. And many working-class women aren't interested in taking
responsibility for a man without a job.
"They say, 'If he's not offering money or assets, why make it legal?' " said June Carbone,
a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the author with Naomi Cahn of "Marriage
Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family."
(June Carbone is the inaugural holder of the Robina Chair in Law, Science and Technology at
the University of Minnesota's Law School. She is also my spouse.)
Carbone notes that marriages in which both couples have at least college degrees have vastly
lower divorce rates. If you are in college and contemplating marriage after graduation do not
assume that you are doomed to a high risk of divorce.
What Yves states in the foreword and Black states in the article is so obvious as to be
head slapping as to why other "experts" don't see it. How can an economist or scholar argue
that marriage would always be a virtue and not take into account decisions at the
relationship level that Black nicely outlines here? Are these not the same so called
"experts" touting a philosophy of markets being rational because of a series of individual
choices within them? Obviously the decision to forgo marriage is a rational one.
Perhaps I'm the one who is too naive and "experts" must double down on blaming the victim
of policy so that they can continue dumping on victims with increasingly bad policy.
Ideologues always reach the same conclusion. You can have them make an argument, show them
that the facts they had were wrong and showed the opposite, and their response is to
reformulate the argument to reach the original conclusion.
Another related issue is that a lot of these men have atrociously bad credit. I know at
least one person who hasn't married her baby-daddy because his credit is off-the-wall bad (he
mostly uses prepaid debit cards to avoid taxes and back child support).
The child support system is a strong disinsentive against men to even have relatonsips.
There are cases where men have been ordered to pay child support, even if its not their
child, or having as much as 90% of their wages garnished. I know a man where his two boys
have moved out of their mom's and are now living on their own. One even being in he US Marine
core – and he STILL has to pay child support.
The current system is to easy to abuse. Incresng risk for men. There only real option
these days is to no longer play the game.
This is exactly the point I am making below. The article and comment by Yves is written as
if there is risk on only ONE side that needs to be "managed" when there is actually risk on
If it is "ok" now to think of these matters in purely economic terms, why should men
accept any risk either? Instead of "hiring" what amounts to a full time "sex/support"
employee, why not simply contract for the services you need on an a la carte basis?
Need someone to pretend to care about your problems? Go talk to a therapist at
Krugman had a nice turn of phrase a while back, something like, why do conservatives not
consider that social breakdown isn't causing unemployment, but that unemployment is causing
I think we should consider the case for moving from a full employment economy with a
welfare state to "free markets" would lead to greater "responsibility" to be falsified. Ppl
can't take up responsibilities without an income.
"Women are acculturated to marrying up or at worst sideways, income-wise. Might another
problem be a shortage of sufficiently-desirable partners?"
"They say, 'If he's not offering money or assets, why make it legal?' "
So this is ok? Women are acculturated to be gold diggers and that's that? Doesn't this
flirt with blaming the victim? Might this also not be a problem the in same way men are
acculturated to prefer young, bone thin models?
Perhaps there are a number of men who have seen this dynamic at work and are choosing to
stay single since the only factor that seems to actually matter is our income level.
Put another way, why would I want to marry someone who is most likely going to leave for
greener pastures the moment my career takes a turn for the worse?
Rare? C'mon rojo. The "young woman with crusty old rich guy" is so common it's a
cliché. See one Hefner, Hugh. You really think if he had been a local schoolteacher
that those women would agree to put up with his nonsense?
The "young woman with crusty old rich guy" is so common it's a
Lessee, other cliches -- 'woman driver' oh, that one doesn't work anymore. Maybe 'ditzy
girl'. No, not that one. How about 'dumb blonde'? OK, not that either. I forget, what were
you trying to prove by citing 'cliche'? And I'm still keeping this family-bloggable.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! If offspring are contemplated (by either party), then it is usual for
the female to spend at least some time with the new little creature, and it may be medically
necessary -- childbirth is still not a piece of cake. As well, the current thought is that
parent-child bonding or whatever socializes the little critters so they don't become
psychopaths -- seems like a good idea to me.
Now, in my country, Canada, we are guaranteed 17 weeks of maternal leave, plus 17 weeks of
parental leave (both parents can take it) and adoptions are included (slightly less time,
IIRC), so around 35+17 = 52 weeks off to care for your child. That's not all paid, very
little is, but you get your old job back, guaranteed. However, you're still gonna need bucks,
so it's nice if there is one income coming in while the other parent, um, parents.
US-ians, benighted country that you live in, do not have any such thing and any woman
contemplating having children would be a poor mother indeed to not provide for her child This
is not gold-digging, it's just rational acting.
In my family, my mother's college-educated farmer father, had a mantra regarding women and
professions. He said, every woman should have a profession so she'll never have to marry to
live. His daughters went to college to become teachers. His granddaughters went to college,
his granddaughters, great grands, 2Gs on track.
Any woman with children knows she may become the primary or sole breadwinner in her
household. Unless she is a complete fool or exceedingly wealthy.
Tribes affiliated with conservative religious practice should require their church to
provide support for abandoned or abuse wives & children in their Churches. Let Graham,
Osteen, et al pony up Support money, health insurance, etc for female adherents in poverty
owing to following their advice regarding birth control & selection criteria for
The tactic is only going to sway a portion of the cultural warriors, because a lot of them
are arguing in bad faith. Ignoring even the ethno-nationalist cultural warriors who aren't
interested in traditional religious values, many of the traditional values CW's, especially
those in positions of power, are just using that argument as apologetics for the economic
failings of the system. Blame loose morals, homosexuality, and lack of religiousity for
stagnant wages, opioid abuse, un- and under-employment, as to create a cover for the free
market, shareholder value, wealth hoarding, etc. So it's not enough to just make appeals to
the true believers, but enlighten them to the fact that many of their so-called peers are
wolves in sheeps' clothing.
The University of Missouri – Kansas City recently hosted the first conference on
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and a closely associated idea, a federally-backed job
guarantee for everyone willing and able to work.
I'm going to flog this point one more time. It is a logical fallacy and, more to the
point, a potential distraction to link MMT and progressive issues.
Aside from the purely academic discussion, we most often see MMT raised to answer
questions such as:
How can we fund job guarantees, universal health care, better public education, etc.?
Let me point out that MMT can also answer the question:
How can we fund greater military adventurism, a more effective and intrusive surveillance
state, pork projects and tax cuts for the politically favored?
Progressive policy issues will not be advanced by a change in the accounting rules.
Progressive policy issues will ultimately only be advanced by promoting and electing people
who support progressive policy issues.
MMT is both a fiscal model and a budgeting/planning tool. Like any tool, it can be used
for good or for ill depending on who wields it
Steve Randy Waldman had this article from a few years ago on this subject: "Marriage
promotion is a destructive cargo cult". Title maybe a bit OTT but IMHO definitely worth a
read even if he goes the UBI route rather than the JG one.
Maybe policy ought to consider universal healthcare at an affordable rate to the economy
(ie less than 12% of GDP). Extending universal education to 16 years seems reasonable, too.
BTW everyone ought to have basic training in real home economics and health even within a
college prep program. Plumbing, electrical, construction, gardening, child rearing, cooking,
etc. are real skills that contribute to health and well being.
The UMKC scholars who have advocated the dissemination of information about the Chartalist
aspects of the dollar system since the abandonment of Bretton Woods have done so from a
position of principled progressivisim, they advocate the work they have done for progressive
I agree entirely on the moral neutrality of tools, what can be used for good can be used
for bad. The essential issue at play here is the Chartailist reality now described by these
scholars to define the policy space available for progressive causes has been well understood
by the MIC and FIRE sectors of the economy since 1971. They have profited grotesquely while
pauperizing the nation under a deliberately propagandized attack on "government debt" for any
purpose other than their own enrichment.
Progressives won't have material successes until progressive efforts are funded. The
recognition that the US Govt can purchase whatever is for sale within the dollar denominated
world system at no cost to itself simply by paying for it must be applied again to public
goods rather than war mongering and financial speculation. This won't happen until people
understand what money is to a sovereign issuer.
Yes, also any bastard who takes hold of the system, like our last half dozen presidents,
can use it for Forever War and to guarantee rentier income. But the policy space for
progressivism must be staked out according to the terms of the actual, existing, function
monetary system through which policy will be deployed and through which, once understood, the
incredible waste of the last 4 decades can be exposed.
"Put it another way: in the 1950s, before birth control, Kinsey found that the average man
reported having had six sex partners and the average woman, three. This would seem to be
impossible unless you have gay men having sex way way out of proportion to the general
population (which as far as I can tell, they do, but even so, not enough to fully account for
this difference), and/or men overstating and women understating their histories, and/or men
and women having different ideas of what constitutes having had sex with someone else."
Could this also be due to prostitution? I mean if more than a few of the men have one or
two pro's in the their totals, but you don't include prostitutes in your sampling (and how
many of them are going to answer a survey), they you'd get a skew.
In these modern times where one or both members of a couple may have experienced one or
more divorce among their parents marriage may not be seen in quite as rosy a light as it once
was. Most people are aware that "happily ever after" is not a sure thing so why be in a rush
to enter the matrimonial state?
As an anecdatum I'll offer that my wife and I (both of us with divorced parents,
university grads, career Federal civil service, no children nor desire for them) have been
together just under 40 years but only married for the last 10. We were fine with our
unmarried status, what prompted the change was when we started doing planning for our modest
estate. The attorney we were seeing pointed out that the process would be greatly simplified
if we just got married, and since we had no significant objections either way we did
There was no big change in our lives other than having another anniversary to celebrate,
mainly just some legal/financial benefits.
So while there may be some correlation that can be drawn between marital status and
economic status, I'm not sure how much causality can be established.
According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in
US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the
U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) were on probation
or on parole. In total, 6,899,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole,
jail, or prison) in 2013 – about 2.8% of adults (1 in 35) in the U.S. resident population.
 Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013 (NCJ 248479). Published December 2014
by U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
... and those who survive, survive in the belly of the beast.
"... Will you get dinner and pick up the kids? Could you call the plumber about the kitchen sink?" ..."
"... everything - ..."
"... "I'll be in bed in a little bit" ..."
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"If you and your spouse spend a lot of time in the same room but they never do things with you,
they've likely disengaged from the relationship," he told us. "Nobody wants to spend the two hours
after work browsing social media."
Try planning new, exciting things to do together so hopefully "your partner will want
to shut down the computer and turn off their phone to be with you," Anderson said.
2. They never include you in their weekend or after-work plans.
Spending time apart (pursing your hobbies or seeing friends) is essential in a healthy marriage.
It keeps the mystery alive. But spend too much time apart and you're well on your way to
living separate lives, said Becky Whetstone, a
marriage and family therapist who works in Little Rock, Arkansas.
"If your S.O feels disillusioned with the marriage, they might cope by distracting themselves
with things they enjoy that that don't involve you," she said.
To figure out why they're disengaging, broach the conversation in a calm manner, at a time that
works for the two of you, Whetstone said.
"Therapists call this 'coming toward your partner,'" she said. "Watch the tone of your voice and
your body language and find the right time - not in the middle of something hectic. Ask, 'Hey, what's
up? I've noticed you pulling away lately.'"
Most importantly, don't lash out if their answer upsets you. "Make it safe for them to reply or
they're not likely to open up again after that," Whetstone said.
3. They never ask, "How was your day?"
If your conversations are limited to household logistics (" Will you get dinner and pick up
the kids? Could you call the plumber about the kitchen sink?" ) and your S.O. seems disinterested
in how you're doing, your marriage may be in trouble, Anderson said.
"When someone checks out of a relationship, they stop caring about their partner as much," he
said. "They don't ask you how work is going, how your family is doing or even if you got that promotion
To show that your marriage is still very much a priority - and that you, at least, care about
them - make it a point to vocalize that.
"Just because they've checked out doesn't mean you have to," Anderson said, "And after they see
how much you care, they might just start caring more, too."
4. They aren't interested in sex.
The thrill is gone - and your S.O. seems entirely OK with that. Why might that be the case? Oftentimes,
partners avoid physical intimacy after they've been hurt emotionally, said Ingram.
"In the beginning, couples in love are so intoxicated with each other that they share everything
- they allow themselves to be fully vulnerable," said Ingram.
But that same vulnerability also opens you up to hurt from your partner.
"If you're emotionally hurt, intimacy doesn't feel safe - it's just too vulnerable,"
Ingram said. "Couples need to become conscious of this and be willing to talk about why they avoid
closeness, perhaps in the office of a qualified marriage therapist."
5. They're hyper-critical of your friends and family.
Your partner may not be as forgiving of your parents as you are, but they shouldn't take the liberty
to rag on them any chance they get, Whetstone said.
"It shows disinterest but it's also unacceptable behavior," she said. "Set a boundary and say
something like, 'Please, why so much venom? It hurts me when you throw so much negativity on to me
and my friends and family. What's going on? Obviously you're unhappy about something. Please, let's
talk about it.'"
6. They go to bed at different times.
"I'll be in bed in a little bit" is not as innocent a phrase as you might think, Ingram
"Commonly, couples fall prey to what I call 'functional exits," she said. "These are behaviors
that are part of everyday life, but serve the dual purpose of avoiding intimacy. For example, work,
hobbies, or when you regularly say or hear, 'You go on to bed; I'll be along later.'"
The good news? Mismatched bedtimes and similar problems are easily fixed if you and your partner
are willing to make the effort.
"Exits like these are not necessarily a sign the relationship needs to end, but rather, an indication
that it's time for some work," she reassured.
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You may have thought that living with your troubled spouse was hard. But now that you've reached
the point of divorce, you probably already know that this can be ever harder. Narcissistic behavior
can be labeled as borderline, sociopathic, narcissistic, or just intolerable, but it all derives
from one fundamental driving force: narcissists can't tolerate criticism, especially public criticism.
And divorcing them is about them most direct and public criticism you can make. You'll know you're
there when your soon-to-be ex spouse begins a campaign of destruction against you. And if you don't
know how to resond and deal with it, it can take a terrible toll.
Surviving the Storm offers practical strategies that can help you reach a settlement with
your soon-to-be ex, in spite of his or her seeming determination to scorch the earth. The key is
understanding that narcissists fear, above all, critical judgment by others. Your decision to divorce
sets these fears in motion. To counter them, you need to know how to split the battlefield, offering
on the one hand a safe alternative in which you get what you need, and on the other a continuing
stream of criticism, judgment, and shame heaped on your soon-to-be ex. In essence, you trade the
safety of silence for the things you need in the settlement.
Surviving the Storm also offers practical boundaries on what you can and can't expect to
do. It explains the impact of divorcing a narcissist on your children, and offers strategies and
tactics to help achieve a custody arrangement that is best for your kids. It explains what parental
alienation is and where to get more help with it. It offers some reflection on the moral issues we
face in divorce, including the Catholic Church's surprising position holding that marriage to a narcissist
is a moral impossibility. Finally, it offers a perspective on healing and the need for new experiences
to move on.
Most political sex scandals follow a predictable narrative: An illicit sexual encounter is
followed by exposé, and then the inevitable apology and atonement.
From what we know about Anthony Weiner's transgressions, the mayoral candidate deviated from
these stages in one key way: With copious use of the web, he appears to have satisfied his urges
without actually having sex. The X-rated photos and explicit messages he exchanged with young
women online don't appear to be a means to an end - no prelude to trysts in seedy hotel rooms or
parked cars (offers of apartments aside) - but rather, they were the end.
Thanks to technology, it's a sex scandal without any sex.
His online dalliances underscore a new age of sanitized sex, where sexual relationships have
been reduced to their most abstract elements and all necessity for physical contact has been
eliminated. In contrast to an earlier generation that experimented with spouse-swapping, group
sex and free-love communes in the 1960s and '70s, today's online generation is embracing sex with
no one. Flirtation, foreplay and consummation can be tidily reduced to a few typed sentences and
graphic photos, or perhaps even a phone call, if a couple really wants to go the extra mile. To
satisfy their desires, a growing number of people, like Weiner, don't need intercourse -
they just need the Internet.
Andrew Sullivan observed in 2011, when Weiner's racy pictures first surfaced, "The online
world creates an outlet for the feelings that sexual adultery or sexual adventure create - but
without actual sex, without actual intimacy, without our actual full selves."
seems to have sent at least one illicit photo to a woman without any encouragement
whatsoever, seems to have a thing for exhibitionism. Some might see in his behavior the online
equivalent to donning a raincoat in an alleyway and flashing women who walk by, but others
suggest he represents something else: A man whose deviance could only exist in the online world,
which makes spontaneous flashing possible without the effort involved in the more traditional
variety. "I'd bet my whole Ph.D. that he wouldn't be standing on a corner doing that," notes
Barry McCarthy, a sex and marital therapist, and professor of psychology at American University.
Instead, Weiner, like so many others online, has become accustomed to on-demand sexuality,
where relationships with another person are convenient, controllable and entirely on his terms.
We're adopting an Amazon.com or Seamless Web approach to our sex lives, expecting that sexual
fulfillment can be ordered up over the Internet like sneakers or pad thai. And Carlos Danger's
dalliances with people like Sydney Leathers suggest that, increasingly, they can be.
"He was never going to take this into the real world, but he wanted to express himself as a
sexual being, and technology gave him the ability to do that," said Cindy Gallop, founder of
MakeLoveNotPorn, a platform for "real-world" sex videos, and author of Make Love Not
Porn: Technology's Hardcore Impact on Human Behavior. "[Sex] is like anything else on the
Internet: It's very easy to get a quick hit everywhere."
It's especially easy to get a quick hit on one's own terms. Weiner minimized the risk of
rejection by relying on social media to serve up the women to him - he generally approached women
who'd followed or praised him on Twitter and Facebook. The web allowed him to form relationships
with real women who were mostly fantasy, responsive avatars that wouldn't spoil the illusion with
annoying habits, physical imperfections or emotional demands. The online nature of the affairs
also allowed him to indulge these fantasies on his schedule, anywhere and anytime he pleased. And
he operated in an atmosphere of unreal reality, just virtual enough to seem innocent and unreal,
and just real enough to make the fantasy a fulfilling one.
These virtual affairs aren't only more convenient, but the crescendo of a sexual relationship
- eliciting desire, stoking connection and eventually reaching orgasm - requires less
participation from the people involved than ever before. There are no rendezvous in
out-of-the-way motel rooms and no heavy petting. Only typing.
What we have seen of Weiner's trysts has revolved around a kind of "sex" that was clean, cold,
practical and utterly efficient. The leaked transcripts of Weiner's chats with Leathers don't
read like the torrid, passionate correspondence of star-crossed lovers separated by circumstance.
They're transactional and to the point. Weiner seemed to indulge a fantasy, then quickly get back
to planning his political comeback.
Though these online relationships may seem as two-dimensional as the sites on which they play
out, their effortlessness and simplicity raise a key question: Will they make offline
relationships seem more appealing, or less? Is the absence of a warm body a downside or more of a
perk? A John Edwards type might have had to soothe his lover's feelings or explain why he had to
leave in the middle of the night. When Weiner had had enough, he could just shut down his
Except, of course, Weiner's disgrace delivers yet another reminder of another aspect of the
online realm. Just as it beckons as a place full of seemingly unlimited encounters achievable at
any moment, it also functions as the ultimate archive, a repository of every embarrassing
exchange, accessible to anyone connected.
The medium that enabled sexless sex scandals will also preserve them forever.
"... Seen from a French point of view, I must say that this whole Weiner story illustrates to perfection what we can call the "American hypocrisy." On the one hand, you are offended by a man sending a few sextos (which is not a devious behavior!) and promoting virtue whenever you can but on the other hand, you're doing nothing to limit the influence of Hollywood-made erotic and pornographic production, you're watching Jerry Springer trash-talk on TV on a a daily basis and you're delighted to see what teenage icons such as Selena Gomez and Miley Cirus became (they went from being stupid and delicious products to being the latest, outrageous Madonnas with no talent...). ..."
It surely is this summer's major headline! Former U.S. representative and NYC Mayor candidate
Anthony Weiner has been caught sexting with young girls again and again despite the fact he his married
to a caring and supporting woman. So what? Is this really a big deal? Does it really need to be the
most commented subject across America at a time where Detroit is falling down and leaker Snowden
is reminding us of some scary Cold War nightmares?
Seen from a French point of view, I must say that this whole Weiner story illustrates to perfection
what we can call the "American hypocrisy." On the one hand, you are offended by a man sending a few
sextos (which is not a devious behavior!) and promoting virtue whenever you can but on the other
hand, you're doing nothing to limit the influence of Hollywood-made erotic and pornographic production,
you're watching Jerry Springer trash-talk on TV on a a daily basis and you're delighted to see what
teenage icons such as Selena Gomez and Miley Cirus became (they went from being stupid and delicious
products to being the latest, outrageous Madonnas with no talent...).
This is pure nonsense!
There is something America must understand: you can cheat on your wife and still be a good politician.
Remember JFK and Bill Clinton? They both had affairs while at the White House but in the meantime,
they are unanimously considered as top of the notch U.S. presidents. Weiner, Clinton, JFK. These
men illustrate the fact that politics is dirty and so is sex! (And so is 1 in 5 readers of this op-ed
since 1 American out of 5 is said to sext on a regular basis!)
I originally bought this book in May of 2011. I can't remember exactly why it spoke to me,
but I know I was looking for self esteem boosting books. I think maybe the title resonated because
I realized I was having some trouble with perfectionism. Accepting mistakes, compassion for myself,
forgiving myself, but also pushing forward to being a better person, a better worker, friend,
girlfriend, etc. It resonates today because I see how much of a perfectionist I can be, and how
much trouble I am having forgiving myself for past mistakes, and trying not to label myself because
of them. I am having trouble sufficiently feeling the guilt enough to change, letting that feeling
in, but then forgiving myself, and not letting those behaviors define who I am as a person.
How did the book address this?
-I think these quotes from the book really get to the heart of the message: "Perfectionism is,
at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.... Healthy striving is self-focused--How
can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused--What will they think?... Perfectionism is addictive
because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it's because
we weren't perfect enough. So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become
even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right." Brown, Brene (2010-09-20).
The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 56-57). Hazelden. Kindle Edition.
-What I got from this is that perfectionism tricks us into thinking we have it all: we can feel
connected and invulnerable and in control. BUT, it is ultimately unsatisfying because it #1) it
is a lie. We aren't in control or invulnerable, or perfect. And #2) it requires us to change who
we are -- and the connection we most desire is a connection based on being truly known by another
person. So in order to feel connected AND known, we have to accept the reality that we are imperfect,
and we are vulnerable, and we are not in control.
-And while connection is obviously a huge source of joy, Brene also talks about the other kinds
of joy that perfectionism halts in its tracks: meaningful work, enjoyable hobbies, creative endeavors,
etc. Again, because perfectionism tries to give us a sense of control, and thereby tries to prevent
the possibility of loss, we often don't even try to have joyful things, or we deny the level of
joy something is giving us in order to feel less hurt when it leaves.
-And the book has a lot of great suggestions as to ways get past the feelings of inadequacy perfectionism
is rooted in, and also ways to lean into the vulnerability of imperfection. Another great topic
the book covered (and that it alerted me to) was the importance of shame as a barrier to self
acceptance and love and joy. (But as you will see below, I really recommend its sister book for
more on this piece). And I love Brene's emphasis on authenticity as a goal. It is fascinating
Where I still don't feel resolution:
-One of the things she mentions to get when you are feeling shame is getting connected, sharing
your story. But I have a few concerns about that:
-She doesn't explain in detail WHO has earned the right to hear your story and HOW to cultivate
those friendships. If you are reading the book is stands to reason that you may very well not
have those friendships. If you are cultivating your authenticity and dealing with feelings of
inadequacy, you may have surrounded yourself with inauthentic and judgmental people because of
your need for approval from these types.
-Even if you are at some stage where you have a few compassionate and caring friends (which I
do feel lucky enough to have), it requires them to always be open to your shame at the moment
you need them without regard to the "stuff" they bring to the day. If you are feeling shame about
X today, and so are they, your attempt at connection may trigger their shame even deeper and they
will "imperfectly" push you away. I wanted her to talk more about those situations. It is great
when you can have an empathetic ear to listen, and it feels amazing, but even with the world's
best friends, you cannot always expect that will be available to you whenever you need it.
-And then even if you catch your friends on a day where they are feeling great, or can be present
to your needs and your shame, what if you are a "gusher," and you are at the beginning stages
of dealing with your inadequacy issues, and you feel shame "a lot"? You can become an emotional
drain to them, and push them away. I wanted some more information about self-soothing in shame
situations, or how to manage connecting with friends in those moments.
I am still not sure how I am going to be able integrate this intellectual understanding into a
daily practice. When I do something "wrong", especially something I have done wrong a hundred
times before, will I be able to lean into the guilt, instead of the shame? Will I be able to lean
into the vulnerability? Will I be able to be present to the vulnerability around me?
I know a big part of this is simply practice. And finding strategies that resonate. But the first
step for me is an intellectual understanding, and this is certainly worth reading if that is something
that is important to you.
There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved, 'Of Human Bondage', 1915
(compare with Oscar Wilde)
There is no cruelty greater than a woman's to a man who loves her and whom she does not
love; she has no kindness then, no tolerance even, she has only an insane irritation.
-- The Moon and Sixpence
The important thing was to love rather than to be loved, 'Of Human Bondage', 1915
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if
we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.
A man marries to have a home, but also because he doesn't want to be bothered with sex and
all that sort of thing.
Women are often under the impression that men are much more madly in love with them than they
really are, The Painted Veil, 1925
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to
find in their butlers, The Razor's Edge, 1943
Love is what happens to men and women who don't know each other.
Women are often under the impression that men are much more madly in love with them than they
really are, The Painted Veil, 1925
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely
we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.
One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to
spend the rest of one's life with her, The Painted Veil, 1925
Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.
One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to spend the rest of one's life
with her, The Painted Veil, 1925
My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would
not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.
As if a woman ever loved a man for his virtue, The Painted Veil, 1925
A woman can forgive a man for
the harm he does her...but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account, The Moon and Sixpence
When you're eighteen your emotions are violent, but they're not durable. The Razor's Edge,
For men, as a rule, love is but an episode which takes place among the other affairs of the
day, and the emphasis laid on it in novels gives it an importance which is untrue to life. There
are few men to whom it is the most important thing in the world, and they are not the very
interesting ones; even women, with whom the subject is of paramount interest, have a contempt for
them. -- The Moon and Sixpence
Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it's a mistake to make a habit out of it.
"Oh, it's always the same,' she sighed, 'if you want men to behave well to you, you must be
beastly to them; if you treat them decently they make you suffer for it. -- Of Human Bondage
As lovers, the difference between men and women is that women can love all day long, but
men only at times. -- The Moon and Sixpence
When a woman loves you she's not satisfied until she possesses your soul. Because she's
weak, she has a rage for domination, and nothing less will satisfy her. -- The Moon and Sixpence
Tao. Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in
love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither, The Painted Veil, 1925
'I had no illusions about you,' he said. 'I knew you were silly and frivolous and
empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But
I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It's comic when I think how hard
I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I
wasn't ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of
intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the
men you knew. I knew that you'd only married me for convenience. I loved you so much,
I didn't care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they're in love with someone and the love
isn't returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn't like that. I
never expected you to love me, I didn't see any reason that you should. I never thought myself
very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I
thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored
affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn't afford to do that and I
was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most
husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor. -- The Painted Veil
How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my
whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode. -- The Painted Veil
If a man hasn't what's necessary to make a woman love him, it's his fault,
not hers. -- The Painted Veil
Women are constantly trying to commit suicide for love, but generally they
take care not to succeed." -- The Moon and Sixpence
If you're fighting about money in your marriage, what do you wish you had known about your spouse
before you exchanged vows?
Would you have gotten out of the relationship had you known your partner was an unrepentant spendthrift
and that his or her attitude would cause you great stress in your marriage?
Had you discovered your other half was hiding a great amount of debt, would you still have gotten
Those of us who give financial advice often urge couples to take a premarital class to address any
potential issues prior to tying the knot.
But for many couples, a premarital class is too late. The engagement ring has been given, the wedding
dress ordered and the nonrefundable deposit made on the reception hall. Some couples are already
living with each other, perhaps in a home they've bought together.
It's often because of these financial entanglements that people aren't willing to split up even when
there's late-breaking evidence that their partner might not be the right person for them. They needed
I've long been a fan of a 10-week course at my church for couples who are contemplating marriage.
The couples must finish this class before they can even take premarital classes.
It's a smart concept developed by Skip and Beverly Little, the directors of the couples' ministry
at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Md. To complement the course, the Littles have written "So
You Think You Want to Get Married?" ($11.99, Xulon Press). The book is my pick for this month's Color
of Money Book Club. You can buy it at Xulonpress.com, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
"So You Think You Want to Get Married?" is a biblically based premarital class prequel. It's very
conservative in its views. And while it might not appeal to you if you aren't religious, I nonetheless
wanted to highlight the work the Littles do because of their unique concept.
When you are considering getting married, you need to rely on facts, not just feelings, the Littles
"Many troubled marriages began with false expectations and a misunderstanding of marital roles,"
they write. "Imagine being on a job without clearly defined roles and responsibilities. You would
constantly show poor performance, which is what happens in marriage."
Numerous surveys indicate that fights about money top the list of concerns for couples. But
it's not the money that's the root of the arguments. It is the fundamental issues that the couples
failed to address or even notice before their wedding.
A study released earlier this year found that 88 percent of adults 25 to 34 who are married or
living with a partner said that financial decisions are a constant source of tension in their relationship.
And yet, many couples in the survey - which was conducted by the American Institute of CPAs and the
Ad Council - said they had never discussed their financial goals or habits.
The focus of "So You Think You Want to Get Married?" is broader than finances, but discovering
who your potential mate is financially is vital to a successful marriage.
Throughout the book, the Littles share stories about couples who have gone through their program,
such as "Jimmy" and "Susie." They, like other participants, had to share their credit reports and
credit scores with each other.
Turns out, Susie was an excessive spender with a poor credit history. Although Jimmy was aware
of her spending habits, he didn't know she had been criminally prosecuted for writing bad checks.
"Jimmy could not believe he had come so close to getting married without taking a closer look
at the implications of Susie's extreme spending habits," the Littles write.
Through various exercises and questions, the Littles get people to "explore and evaluate their
decision to love for a lifetime." The Littles also advise couples to get parental guidance in their
decision to marry. Don't think your family dynamics won't impact your marriage, they write.
Spiritual or secular, we should be encouraging serious couples to really delve deep while they are
courting. "In relationships, 'wearing masks' causes people to marry individuals they do not really
The underlying theme in "So You Think You Want to Get Married?" is: As you gain insight about your
partner, when you find serious issues, you can and should walk away from the relationship if the
problems are insurmountable or you are unwilling to live with what you discover. It will save you
a lot of heartache and money.
I'll be hosting a chat about this month's selection at noon Eastern on July 6 at washingtonpost.com/discussions.
The Littles will be my guests and will answer any questions about their book. For more information
about their program, check out skipandbeverly.com.
netbranchologist, 6/11/2016 5:25 PM EDT
Even for people of modest means, one way or another, a prenuptial agreement will solve
90% of these problems. Prenups require full financial disclosure of assets, liabilities, past
and prospective earnings. Each party can specify who's responsible for what and which assets are
to be individually held. All this reduces the likelihood of being blindsided.
Combine this with a credit report, the pre-marital course mentioned above and a criminal background
search and you'll have a very good idea of what you're entering into. It can all be handled diplomatically
well before the wedding dress is bought.
There's no better tool to sober a couple up to the realities of their joint future or, regrettably
derail a marriage that shouldn't take place.
CalypsoSummer, 6/11/2016 7:28 PM EDT
Yes, there's nothing like preparing for the divorce before the wedding ceremony even takes
place, to ensure a happy life together.
"Oh, darling, I love you, I'll love you forever, and when we split up, you'll only get 20% of
the marital property, here, sign this right now."
noaxe397, 6/11/2016 5:03 PM EDT
Wouldn't it be obvious to two people dating for a while what each one's spending habits were?
If she has 300 pairs of shoes and is always bedecked like Cleopatra in jewelry and he is always
driving the latest 6-figure vehicle and renting out the Boom-Boom Room for his buddies, well?
Also, ANY couple that needs PRE marriage counseling to work out problems is sort of missing the
whole concept, wouldn't you agree?
CalypsoSummer, 6/11/2016 7:30 PM EDT
Actually, no. The PRE marriage counseling covers things like the participants' expectations
on their prospective roles in the marriage, on children and child-rearing, on finances, on career
goals -- all sorts of things that starry-eyed people in love don't usually think to cover, but
which cause the devil of a lot of heartache and problems in the marriage itself. Love is wonderful,
but love is not enough.
ejr1953, 6/11/2016 5:03 PM EDT
Over 30 years ago a young lady at my work was dating a former co-worker, a very nice guy, but
one who just would not manage his money. When he & I worked together he made more than double
what my wife and I earned, we had a modest house, two modest cars...and he was a renter, modest
car, nothing extravagant but he was always broke.
When she started dating my former co-worker, I let her know about his money habits, but as time
progressed they were smitten with each other and got married.
Just a few years later, one night I got a phone call from the lady, she and my former coworker
were getting divorced. She said she should have taken my comments about his money management to
heart, as she came into the relationship with several investments, all evaporated during their
I, on the other hand, chose my mate very wisely. We've been married over 35 years and have
a lot of "balance" in our life choices. We have no debt and will be enjoying our golden years
Epaminondas Vindictor, 6/11/2016 4:53 PM EDT
Donald Trump's solution was the pre-nup.
CalypsoSummer, 6/11/2016 7:31 PM EDT
Ivana broke the first one because of his philandering with Maples and got a lot more money
than Drumpf wanted to give her.
roblimo, 6/11/2016 4:05 PM EDT [Edited]
When I met my wife she was deep in debt. I worked hard, made a bunch of money, and paid it
all off. We thought we were sitting pretty until I went through two years of no work and WHOOPS!
$100,000+ in medical bills. Bankruptcy time. But we came out okay, with a decent house trailer
on a deeded lot in a nice Florida park free and clear, and due to the heart problems that caused
the medical bills, I get disability -- which is enough for us to get by on since we're basically
pretty frugal. Do I regret our marriage? Not a bit! Aside from love, my darling wife has saved
my life twice when I had heart failure(s). Can't beat that. And she smartened up about spending
along the way, too. Darn right I'll keep her -- and it looks like she wants to keep me, too.
CalypsoSummer, 6/11/2016 7:33 PM EDT
People will talk about sex but they find it really uncomfortable to talk about money. It's
DANGULP, 6/11/2016 2:58 PM EDT
Money issues are salient ones because of they are often ones that have to be dealt with on
a daily basis. So, resolving money issues ahead of time (in whatever way), will help.
But at a more general level I believe there is a perhaps more important question to ask oneself
about a potential marital partner. That question is:
"Do I want this person's past to be my future?"
Sadly, although we think people change, personality is pretty stable from about age 15 on. And
people can and do change, but often only after serious effort and only if they attribute the problems
they had to themselves.
But by and large, people are pretty stable over the course of their lives. If you wait around
long enough, you will find that most people treat everybody about the same, for example. Politeness
and lack of constant contact can disguise that reality.
Look at history. Not at statements and talk. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
Do not write off history in any important dimension: money, religion, leisure activities, food
choices, children, friends, family, etc.
It doesn't take all that long to find this out. A long courtship or engagement isn't needed, because
you aren't taking data just from your time with that person. It is pretty straightforward to detect
patterns in a person's life, if your focus is on looking for them. In fact, how people are during
courtship may not be a very good predictor. Look for the patterns before your courtship.
Do you want your future to be like your partner's past?
Travis Bickle, 6/11/2016 4:13 PM EDT
I stopped drinking 10+ years ago and what a huge change! My finances are excellent and relationships
with friends and family are great...happily married too and grateful
Bsmiths, 6/11/2016 4:38 PM EDT
Except adolescents and young adults often go through a period where they are trying out a number
of identities. People do mature a lot by the time they are past their early twenties.
DANGULP, 6/11/2016 4:56 PM EDT
I am not sure that is actually the case. Having taught at the college level for 30 years I
could see that a huge number of freshmen were far past that kind of stuff.
It is true that there is a different level of maturity at age 25 than at 18, but it is still the
case that the BEST predictor is past behavior, unless someone undergoes a radical self-transformation
where they assume complete responsibility for all that they are (like Travis Bickle above). And
like travis Bickle (above), that is now his history, a history to be able to confidently predict
one's own future from (e.g., I can count on Travis Bickle to do the tough thing if needed because
he has already done it).
We have to be careful about writing off too much to immaturity. When you do that you are kind
of hoping to draw an inside straight. It might work out, but it's better to stick with your pair
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.
One person loves, the other person lets themselves be loved... Find somebody
over 28 who understands and likes being the receiving end of that equation. Somebody who doesn't
have to use anger and put-down and covert manipulation to justify 'allowing themselves to be loved'.
Someone who can just sit back and enjoy it. Then maybe, just maybe, I will too.The
Unauthorized Letters of Oscar Wilde - C. Robert Holloway - Google Books
Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.
Loveless marriages are horrible. But there is one thing worse than an absolutely loveless
marriage. A marriage in which there is love, but on one side only; faith, but on one side only; devotion,
but on one side only.
The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives. -- Oscar
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan,
1892, Act III
No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.
Life is never fair...And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they
forgive them. -- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
When a woman marries again, it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries
again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs. Oscar
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph
of hope over experience.
Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance.
When one is in love one begins by deceiving oneself. And one ends by deceiving others. That is
what the world calls a romance.
The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation. Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905
Kay from DivorcedMoms.com
Could you be
dating a narcissist and not even know it? After starting to
date again after divorce , I often found myself drawn toward highly successful
professional men who are competitive in business and strongly determined to
continue to build their own financial empire. Their determined, confident attitudes
and visible business successes appealed to my strong desires for security and
stability. A recent first date I went on was with this type of guy. My date
with a dentist turned into a three-hour marathon of misery for me when he insisted
that we sit in a back booth that he had reserved in advance with the hostess
by visiting the restaurant the night before and then he told our server that
he would leave an extra generous tip if she served our meals at a very leisurely
pace. Right away he launched into a one-sided brag fest about how he got elected
president of his college fraternity and why he easily scored highest in his
graduating class on the dental board exam. He then dropped names of all the
famous people he knows who live in our city and then went on to reveal the names
of all the famous people his dad knows too. By the time the pasta finally arrived,
I wanted to collapse into my plate from sheer boredom and exhaustion. After
that mind-numbing experience, I ran to my car and swore off dating for several
months. Unfortunately this was just one more very disillusioning
date with a narcissistic man . I had already experienced many others. Several
times I dated a man exclusively for three to six months, expecting things to
become more serious over time, only to have them abruptly break things off with
very little explanation or distance themselves with vague excuses about why
they couldn't continue to spend time with me. After spending many frustrating
weeks trying to figure out how to get each of these men I had dated exclusively
to connect with me on an emotional level so that our relationship could continue
to grow, I finally discovered that there was a big disconnect between the type
of relationship I was expecting to unfold and what these narcissistic men were
able to contribute in terms of intimacy, emotional connection and respectful
two-way communications. I discovered that I was living on crumbs and pretending
it was a whole nutritious meal. Are you dating a narcissist? Here
are six warning signs: 1. He is pre-occupied with how
things around him appear and how he is perceived by others. He aggressively
pursues financial success and is not content with what he already has acquired
or achieved. He has a strong craving for admiration, praise and his home, car,
clothes and high status are a direct measurement of how successful he appears
to others. 2. He exploits or takes advantage of others to get what he
wants. Narcissists are highly skilled at using others' talents; taking
advantage of their desire to avoid conflicts and their good natured helpfulness
as a means to an end to achieve their own goals. 3. He does not appreciate
or even see your unique abilities and natural gifts. Highly self-absorbed,
narcissists are so driven by how they can use others to benefit themselves that
your own individual strengths, abilities and achievements are often ignored
or dismissed as inconsequential. 4. He resents authority and despises
correction or being told what to do. He is reluctant to accept any
blame or criticism and strongly prefers to be in control of things and those
around him at all times. Having his faults pointed out to him or even having
to admit that he made a mistake can set him off into a fit of rage.
5. Petty arguments often erupt into power struggles. The narcissistic
man thrives on being right so disputes are rarely resolved. Mediation and counseling
rarely helps to improve communications with a narcissist because this type of
person sees themselves as under attack and can't stand for their actions to
be subject to the opinions of others and held up to the light. 6. He
disregards your healthy needs for attention and affection. Since narcissistic
men often lack empathy and the self-examination necessary to create an intimate
relationship, you'll often find yourself running on empty. Attempts to get more
affection from him often leads to him creating a secret life to run to and evading
your questions about what is really happening or not happening in your relationship.
If you recognize these signs in a man that you are dating, it is helpful to
remember that narcissists have very rigid expectations (especially for themselves)
and so this type of man rarely changes his ways. Understanding or experiencing
intimacy and love within the context of a balanced and healthy relationship
is not on the agenda of a narcissist. Unfortunately, many times we keep trying
to change a narcissistic man into who we'd like them to become or the reverse
- trying to twist ourselves like pretzels into a perfect version of what he
wants instead of cutting our losses. Recognizing the traits of a narcissistic
man and realizing how deeply rooted they are is critical so that we can begin
taking back control of our own life and start to move forward in a healthier
< Have you ever had a situation that goes something like this?: You meet
someone and it feels like the stars align. This person is so into you and
lavishes you with attention, romance and gifts. The relationship moves very
quickly and it feels like you have met "the one." Months down the road when
things have settled in comfortably, things start to change. The person who
used to adore and worship you now fluctuates between needing you desperately
and devaluing you. Perhaps as time goes on, the person who you thought cared
so much becomes more emotionally unavailable, distant and cruel. The "Jekyll"
part of the personality starts to overtake the "Hyde." How did this person
who used to be so wonderful and made such an effort to be with you all of
the sudden turn out to be so opposite than what you thought? This can leave
someone confused, hurt, angry and depressed. If this situation sounds similar
to something you have experienced, you may be or may have dated someone
with narcissistic tendencies. Here are some of the warning signs:
1. They are madly in love with you right off the bat and the
relationship moves very quickly: People with narcissistic tendencies
use fantasy like projections when picking a mate. Usually it takes a certain
amount of time to fall in love with someone. Sure, you can feel chemistry
and a connection with someone but to fall in love with who a person truly
is (flaws and all) takes some time. A person with narcissistic tendencies
loves the intense feelings and the attention. Sadly, their intense interest
in you is more so about them and their needs than it is about you.
2. They fluctuate between adoring you and devaluing you:
People with narcissistic tendencies are very hot and cold. They
can be mean and critical one second and then sweet and loving the next.
This becomes very confusing because you are still seeing glimpses of the
wonderful person you first fell in love with but you are also getting to
see another side that makes you feel bad about yourself.
have little ability to empathize and everything is on their terms:
Someone with narcissistic tendencies doesn't really see things
from your world or from your point of view. Everything is about them and
what they want. They ignore your needs in the relationship and only focus
on getting what they want or what works best for them. They will always
be their number one priority and everyone else will always come after that.
4. They cheat, lie or manipulate and don't feel remorse:
Narcissists don't really empathize so when they do something to
hurt you, they don't really feel remorseful. This can actually be the most
hurtful part because it may make you feel like they never cared about you
at all. Moving on can be very hard because a lot of people feel that they
need closure or apologies that they will never get from narcissistic people.
5. When it's all over, it's like you never mattered: A
classic case narcissist mostly uses people for their own gain and has very
little emotional connection to those that are in their lives. Because of
this, they discard people in their lives very easily. I recently watched
an episode of the new HBO show Girls and in this particular episode, one
of the characters who had broken up with her serious long-term boyfriend
2 weeks prior now finds he already has a new girlfriend. Shocked that he
could move on so quickly from something so serious she exclaims. "you're
a sociopath!!" and walks away. Even though she was the one who broke up
with him, she is shocked that it feels like their relationship meant nothing
to him at the end of the day and that she was easily replaceable. People
recovering from narcissistic relationships are often in shock that someone
who once claimed to love them so much has moved on so quickly and without
any sense of remorse.
How to spot a narcissist:
I always tell my clients to take the time to really get to know the people
they are dating before getting too emotionally invested or putting all their
eggs in one basket. There are definitely fairy tale stories out there of
two people falling madly in love with each other right at the get go and
spending their lives happily ever after, but that is generally not the norm.
Keep your guard up the more intensely the person is into you and the earlier
on it occurs. Past relationship patterns are also very important to look
at. As mentioned above, people who are narcissistic are intense very quickly
and end up leaving a trail of shattered relationships and people who are
left to pick up the pieces (and often need quite a bit of therapy after
being in the destructive path of a narcissist). If you get an idea of the
dating history of someone and it follows a certain pattern, pay attention
to that. Yes, people can change, but past relationship patterns can raise
a lot of red flags. The reason people have a hard time of extricating themselves
from a narcissistic relationship is because it is hard to get past the fact
that someone who used to be so wonderful and loving can turn so cold, hateful
and lacking in remorse. These people hang on because of the glimpses they
get of the good side and hold out the hope that if they were only "good
enough" or "better", or unconditionally accepted and loved this person then
they could get the nice and kind person back.
It turns into a vicious cycle
and the more you get into a relationship, the harder it is to get out of.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist will make you feel crazy and most
narcissists actually don't actively leave relationships; they wait to be
left first. It can be really hard to get out of a relationship like this
and if you have never been in one, it's hard to know how. If someone makes
you feel worthless or crazy and you know they are not treating you with
respect, or empathizing with you, that might be hard to change. Learning
to spot negative patterns early and having the strength to know what you
deserve in a relationship is one of the best things to do if you find yourself
involved with one of these people.
Recovery after a narcissistic
Recovery after a narcissistic relationship can be very difficult. Many
people are driven to therapy because they have been left completely shattered
and fragile after a relationship with a narcissist. The most important thing
to remember is that it's not about YOU. This has everything to do with the
flaws of the narcissist and their inability to make real, meaningful connections
with others. What they have done to you is what they have done and will
continue to do in all their relationships unless they recognize this within
themselves and get help. The problem is, most narcissistic people never
recognize that they need to change. Remember that you deserve a relationship
that builds you up, that makes you feel safe, and that brings you happiness
and warmth. A person who is narcissistic cannot give this to you, simply
because they are not capable of it.
"... "You're the prettiest. The sexiest. The skinniest. The best mom. The funniest." ..."
"... "You have such a sexy voice. Not too high, nor too low; it's just perfect. My friend Courtney's voice is super high-pitched and she has this weird way of talking through her teeth. Annoying." ..."
"... "You have a great body. I guess I'm used to having more to hug with my ex!" ..."
What do you get when you cross a sociopath with a narcissist? The least funny
joke and the worst kind of hybrid: a narcissistic sociopath, narcopath for short.
Both a narcissist and sociopath have an inflated sense of how important they
are, as well as a constant need for praise and admiration. One commonality between
the two is their ability to fool others in order to get what they want, without
remorse. But what sets them apart is that a narcopath is unable to handle criticism
or be viewed in a negative light, whereas a sociopath couldn't care less who
thinks what or how they're perceived. When you hear the word narcopath you may
picture a deranged, knife-wielding lunatic - at least that's what I pictured
before I met my own. Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Narcopaths are boogie men in disguise and wolves in sheep's clothing. Their
abuse is sometimes so subtle that you don't see it until the curtain closes
and your world is torn apart. Still unsure if you're in a relationship with
a narcopath? Here are ten telltale signs that you might be.
Things move from zero to one hundred in seconds.
From the beginning, nothing is normal with a narcopath. Things progress at
warp speed, hop-scotching over the usual stages of a relationship. Instead of
slowly getting to know one another, you go from the first date to planning your
future together within weeks of meeting. And when your gut warns you things
are moving too fast, you tell it to shut up because you've finally found your
2. They're a broken record of compliments.
A narcopath will sweep you off your feet, place you on a pedestal, then worship
you from down below. They'll tell you the things you've always wanted to hear,
saying them over and over and over again. But listen closely and you'll notice
there's not much variation in these love monologues, and their sweet-nothings
sound more like a script than anything from the heart. "You're the prettiest.
The sexiest. The skinniest. The best mom. The funniest." If everything
feels staged and too good to be true, it probably is.
3. They flatter you with comparisons.
There's no period at the end of a compliment. Instead, a narcopath compliments
you by comparing you to someone else in their life. In my case, he'd say things
like, "You have such a sexy voice. Not too high, nor too low; it's just
perfect. My friend Courtney's voice is super high-pitched and she has this weird
way of talking through her teeth. Annoying." Or, "You have a great
body. I guess I'm used to having more to hug with my ex!" Praising you
by putting down others is a huge red flag, not to mention incredibly distasteful.
And while it's no doubt flattering to hear these praises, keep in mind that
one day they'll be offering them to someone else and using your name to fill
the second blank.
4. Your chemistry between the sheets is off the charts.
You've never felt this much passion with anyone else. Pushing all the right
buttons in just the right ways, it's like they're reading your mind and its
desires. The reason sex is so mind-blowing, at least in the beginning, isn't
because they know what to do with their hands; they know what to do with your
mind . They'll make you feel like you're the only one who's ever existed
to them. Yes, narcopaths are indeed that great - at acting, that is. By mirroring
your every emotion they're able to make their own emotions seem genuine and
fool you into thinking yours are real.
5. Their eyes are windows to nothingness.
My Narc-in-a-Box would stare at me with such intensity I'd become nervous,
fidget, and quickly turn away. Speaking directly into my eyes with a deadpan
and unwavering stare, I don't think he blinked once during our four months together.
At times his gaze was so piercing that his pupils practically vanished. But
sadly, behind all that intensity lied a vast amount of dark nothingness. I turned
away from that stare because it made me feel uneasy in all the wrong ways.
6. They always lead the conversation back to themselves.
On the surface, a narcopath seems hyper-focused on you and genuinely interested
in learning all there is to know. Yet the moment you begin divulging this information,
they quickly interrupt with a story of their own. It's like a revolving door:
They ask you a question to gain the opportunity to talk about themselves. They're
quick to interject with their thoughts and opinions, and always have a similar
experience to share with you. Experiences that, once dissected, are nothing
more than sweetly camouflaged one-uppers and indirect ways to let you know that
they know better.
7. They have a checkered relationship history.
I've never met anyone with such an odd and storied relationship history.
He traveled to Texas after meeting a girl online, then met his ex-wife online,
and later flew in another girl he met online (through a quiz website!) all the
way from Europe, before finally meeting me online. Narcopaths often leave long
trails of broken relationships behind them, but of course they were never the
ones responsible for breaking them. And no matter how long ago it ended, they'll
claim all their former flames still burn strongly for them from afar.
8. They use big words that have little substance.
Have you ever read something that initially seems incredibly deep and profound,
until you reach the end and realize it's nothing but a nonsensical jumble of
fancy words? A narcopath craves superiority and thrives on being smarter than
everyone in the room. The only the problem is that often times they're not,
forcing them to fake it and pray no one catches on. On the surface, a narcopath
seems highly intelligent and cultured, but dig deeper and you'll discover it's
nothing but fluff.
9. They give because it makes them look better.
Give and you shall receive. Or, in the narcopath's case, give and tell everyone
within a thousand mile radius who you gave to and exactly how much. A narcopath
doesn't give because it makes them feel good on the inside; rather, they give
because it makes them look good from the outside. No kind deed goes unnoticed,
because they'd never allow it. Whether it's helping an old lady cross the street,
giving a homeless person a buck, or donating to their children's PTA, they'll
make sure someone knows about their generosity.
10. They're no stranger to the silent treatment.
Narcopaths love to dish it out. You may see glimpses of this passive-aggressive
form of punishment early on in the relationship, or it might come on suddenly
out of left field. Either way, the silent treatment is without a doubt the most
vile and abusive trait that narcopaths possess. Like a child, anytime they can't
get their way or feel threatened, they stomp away with their arms crossed and
punish you with a deafening silence. The harder you reach out, the more you
cry, and the angrier you become, the better they feel. It's normal for your
partner to get angry, sulk, or brood sometimes. What isn't normal is using silence
as a weapon to punish and control you, then sitting back and gaining pleasure
from your pain.
Late last year, I wrote a
piece where I shared a perspective, based on
growing research , that
narcissism isn't simply a stubborn trait, but a style of coping. The seeds
of that idea turned into a
scheduled for release in spring next year. Since I promised a follow up, I'm
taking a brief break from the larger project to deliver on my promise. Here's
a glimpse at what's to come. If you think your partner's a
narcissist , you might want to try these seven strategies. Check For
Abuse : None of what I'm about to suggest is likely to help if the person
you love is physically or emotionally abusive. Not all narcissists, even those
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) , resort to abuse. But some do -
and if you're on the receiving end, your first step should be to explore
what makes it hard for you to leave . If you're facing abuse, it doesn't
matter whether it's driven by your partner's narcissism, chronic pain, or drug
addiction - the problem is the abuse, plain and simple. And the abuser is 100
percent responsible for his or her choice. Until that changes, you probably
won't feel safe enough - nor should you - to take the kinds of risks I'm recommending
here. Check for Denial: Most people recognize denial when they see it.
It's easily the most famous of all the defense mechanisms. The alcoholic who
protests, "I just enjoy the taste of fine wine!"; the terminally ill patient
who assures everyone, "It's just a cough"; and the narcissist who, despite having
alienated all her friends and lost her job, proclaims, "I'm just fine" - all
are exhibiting denial. The more denial a narcissist displays, the less hopeful
you should feel about change. How bad is denial? In
adolescents , it
predicts some of the most ruthless, demanding forms of narcissism - adults
who happily admit "I find it easy to manipulate people." Make sure your partner
can admit something's wrong, even if it's as simple as saying, "my life isn't
where I hoped it would be." Contrary to what you might think,
some narcissists do seek therapy . Which kinds? The "vulnerable" ones, riddled
with shame and fear; they freely admit they have problems instead of
burying them beneath near-delusional denial. In fact, they're also
more likely to stick with treatment once they start. Beware the Manipulator
Across studies , narcissists who score high on measures of entitlement and
exploitation (or, EE, as researchers call it) have the highest levels of aggression,
a strong impulse to cheat, and even, when angered, a penchant for stealing or
sabotaging property at work. In fact, EE
accounts for most of the worst behaviors a narcissist can display. Manipulative
narcissists are also
more likely to score higher on measures of Psychopathy and Machiavellianism.
The former is a cold callous personality linked to criminal behaviors, while
the latter, as you can guess from the name, describes a cutthroat, "do whatever
it takes" personality. Along with narcissism, these two traits comprise personality's
dark triad . Not all narcissists are cold and manipulative. But the ones
who are pose the greatest threat because they're so practiced at play-acting
and deceit you'll have a hard time separating fact from fiction. Check Their
Willingness to Change: This one might seem obvious, but it's crucial enough
that it bears mentioning. The easiest way to test a partner's capacity to change
is to seek help from a couples therapist - or any therapist for that matter.
Even people who aren't narcissists can be leery of therapy, so this one shouldn't
be considered a litmus test. If your partner's willing to work with you, though,
your odds at improving the relationship have probably jumped by an order of
magnitude. Check Your Anger: "You've always been the paranoid, jealous
type," sneers your partner after you openly wonder about the amount of time
he's spending with his attractive coworker. Our natural tendency, when faced
with such shocking indifference to our fear of losing love or needing more closeness
and comfort, is to protect ourselves. For many people, this means donning battle
armor and launching an attack. "You're the most selfish person I know! I don't
know why I'm with you!" As understandable as the protective measures are, they
cut us off from crucial information: Can our partners hear our sadness and fear
and feel moved? If there's any way at all to reach through the detachment, it's
by sharing our feelings at a more vulnerable level. Try this: "You mean so much
to me; I hear you talking to her and I'm scared I'm not enough for you." Or,
"Your opinion means the world to me; when I hear you talk to me that way I feel
so small and worthless in your eyes." Most partners, if they can feel anything
at all, will melt when they hear comments like this. They don't just convey
your pain with greater clarity; they remind your partner why the behavior
hurts - because it comes from the one person who matters most. How effective
is this kind of communication? Across decades of studies,
of couples who learned to share the sadness and fear beneath the anger,
healed their broken bond and enjoyed happy, closer relationships. Likewise,
recent studies , narcissists who focused on caring and closeness ("communal
behavior") actually scored lower over time on several measures of narcissism;
those who saw their partners as communal (compared to those who didn't)
said they'd be less likely to cheat . Check Your Silence: Say you
come home from a hard day at work, and your boyfriend, grumbling about the weekend
plans being up in the air, starts lecturing you about how indecisive you are.
"You sure take a long time to make decisions, don't you?" Condescending remarks
like this don't always enrage us. When our self-esteem is already crumbling,
they often shut us down completely; we crawl away, crestfallen, or slip into
hours of silence. But we have to find a voice again if we want things to get
better. Research suggests
that silent withdrawal is just another way of coping with feeling sad or
fearful about our connection with people we love; your best bet, as with anger,
is to go beneath the impulse to shut down and share the upset. "I'm feeling
so put down right now I'm afraid you've stopped caring about me altogether."
Why is this so important? Though they appear to be universal ways of coping
with fears about the people we love, anger and withdrawal also
up our partners' insecurities . The result? Our loved ones fall back on
their usual way of protecting themselves - like criticism or indifference -
instead of hearing our pain. If they're narcissists, that means they resort
to their favorite MO - narcissism. Be Honest with Yourself: If you've
tried a more loving approach to sharing what hurts in your relationship, and
the narcissist in your life still won't soften, you truly have done everything
you can. This might be the only hope for change. Those of you who wrote
in to say you already tried this and it didn't work have made a valiant effort;
you may have exhausted your supply of empathy from working so hard. If so, my
heart goes out to you. But staying in an unhappy relationship comes at a steep
including your self-esteem. Ask yourself, honestly - are you staying because
your partner's doing his best to change - or because it feels too hard to leave?
Even if the people we love want to change, none of us should be expected
to endure the same hurts over and over. Narcissistic arrogance and hostility
elicit our worst behaviors ; they get beneath our skin, working away like
a thousand needles. The natural response is to pull away or lash back; but if
you do your best to share the pain openly, letting your loved ones see your
softer feelings, you're giving them their best - and only shot - at hearing
you. If they can't understand your pain then, perhaps they never will. As sad
and difficult as it feels, you might need to take care of yourself by leaving.
Because regardless of which habit steals their attention away from genuine love
and intimacy, if our loved ones can't risk change, their problems are here to
stay. Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the
National Domestic Violence
Hotline . If you like my posts, let me know! Let's connect on
and twitter. And be sure to
sign up for my newsletter, for more tips and advice, as well as information
on my forthcoming
book , about understanding and coping with narcissism in all its forms,
in our friends, lovers, colleagues-and even ourselves. HARPERWAVE AND HARPER
UK, SPRING 2015
The overall pattern of narcissistic behavior is emotional instability and aggressive behavior caused
by insecurity and weakness rather than any real feelings of confidence or self-esteem. One very interesting
and revealing feature of a narcissist (as well as several other types of psychopaths) is emotion-phobia
"... Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it's often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they've reached the boiling point - even when they're in the midst of the most terrifying tirade. ..."
Emotion-phobia: Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have
lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence
of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even
the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way.
It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can
be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings
come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it's often like pulling teeth
to get them to admit that they've reached the boiling point - even when they're in the midst of the
most terrifying tirade.
"... In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. ..."
"... Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships. The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority. ..."
"... In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign. ..."
"... During the relationship, the abuser/controller may share information about their past - how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. ..."
"... Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!" ..."
"... Keep in mind: once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.) you because my Mom hated me!" ..."
"... In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on eggshells" - fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller. ..."
"... Controlling partners have increased the financial obligations/debt in the relationship to the point that neither partner can financially survive on their own. ..."
"... The legal ending of a relationship, especially a marital relationship, often creates significant problems. ..."
"... The Controller often uses extreme threats including threatening to take the children out of state, threatening to quit their job/business rather than pay alimony/support, threatening public exposure of the victim's personal issues, or assuring the victim they will never have a peaceful life due to nonstop harassment. ..."
While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due
to the publicity, the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had
been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive
situations such as:
Prisoners of War
Criminal Hostage Situations
Concentration Camp Prisoners
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival
for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse
situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as
unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for
survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm
Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement
personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail
their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they
arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.
Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships.
The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role
in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority.
It's important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and
controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it's easier to understand why victims
support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers.
Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors, and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut
list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these
features will be present:
Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support
them or win their release
Support of the abuser's reasons and behaviors
Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment
Stockholm Syndrome doesn't occur in every hostage or abusive situation. In another bank robbery
involving hostages, after terrorizing patrons and employees for many hours, a police sharpshooter
shot and wounded the terrorizing bank robber. After he hit the floor, two women picked him up and
physically held him up to the window for another shot. As you can see, the length of time one is
exposed to abuse/control and other factors are certainly involved.
It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for
the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse,
and abusive relationships:
The presence of a perceived threat to one's physical or psychological survival and the belief
that the abuser would carry out the threat.
The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
The perceived inability to escape the situation
By considering each situation we can understand how Stockholm Syndrome develops in romantic relationships
as well as criminal/hostage situations. Looking at each situation:
Perceived Threat to One's Physical/Psychological Survival
The perception of threat can be formed by direct, indirect, or witnessed methods. Criminal or
antisocial partners can directly threaten your life or the life of friends and family. Their history
of violence leads us to believe that the captor/controller will carry out the threat in a direct
manner if we fail to comply with their demands. The abuser assures us that only our cooperation keeps
our loved ones safe.
Indirectly, the abuser/controller offers subtle threats that you will never leave them or have
another partner, reminding you that people in the past have paid dearly for not following their wishes.
Hints are often offered such as "I know people who can make others disappear". Indirect threats also
come from the stories told by the abuser or controller - how they obtained revenge on those who have
crossed them in the past. These stories of revenge are told to remind the victim that revenge is
possible if they leave.
Witnessing violence or aggression is also a perceived threat. Witnessing a violent temper directed
at a television set, others on the highway, or a third party clearly sends us the message that we
could be the next target for violence. Witnessing the thoughts and attitudes of the abuser/controller
is threatening and intimidating, knowing that we will be the target of those thoughts in the future.
The "Small Kindness" Perception
In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope - a small sign that the situation
may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to
the abuser's benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the
captor. In criminal/war hostage situations, letting the victim live is often enough. Small behaviors,
such as allowing a bathroom visit or providing food/water, are enough to strengthen the Stockholm
Syndrome in criminal hostage events.
In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse),
or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all
bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive
credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal
or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating
or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After
seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small
kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign.
Similar to the small kindness perception is the perception of a "soft side". During the relationship,
the abuser/controller may share information about their past - how they were mistreated, abused,
neglected, or wronged. The victim begins to feel the abuser/controller may be capable of fixing their
behavior or worse yet, that they (abuser) may also be a "victim". Sympathy may develop toward the
abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he
fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!"
Losers and abusers may admit
they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed; however, it's almost always
after they have already abused or intimidated the victim. The admission is a way of denying responsibility
for the abuse. In truth, personality disorders and criminals have learned over the years that personal
responsibility for their violent/abusive behaviors can be minimized and even denied by blaming their
bad upbringing, abuse as a child, and now even video games. One murderer blamed his crime on eating
too much junk food - now known as the "Twinkie Defense". While it may be true that the abuser/controller
had a difficult upbringing, showing sympathy for his/her history produces no change in their behavior
and in fact, prolongs the length of time you will be abused. While "sad stories" are always included
in their apologies - after the abusive/controlling event - their behavior never changes! Keep in
mind: once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know
of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.)
you because my Mom hated me!"
Isolation from Perspectives Other than those of the Captor
In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on
eggshells" - fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst.
For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix
things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects
of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of
our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority
of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied
with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller.
Taking the abuser's perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim
actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful
toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations
to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community
is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts. Victims then turn on their family - fearing
family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse
their parents and friends, tell them not to call and to stop interfering, and break off communication
with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as "causing trouble"
and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they
continue to "interfere" or try to help the victim in their situation. On the surface it would appear
that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact with
situations that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual
phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations - the victim
quickly realizes it's safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn't work,
for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand
that she stop calling.
In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving
the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault. In law enforcement situations,
the victim may actually feel the arrest of their partner for physical abuse or battering is their
fault. Some women will allow their children to be removed by child protective agencies rather than
give up the relationship with their abuser. As they take the perspective of the abuser, the children
are at fault - they complained about the situation, they brought the attention of authorities to
the home, and they put the adult relationship at risk. Sadly, the children have now become a danger
to the victim's safety. For those with Stockholm Syndrome, allowing the children to be removed from
the home decreases their victim stress while providing an emotionally and physically safer environment
for the children.
Perceived Inability to Escape
As a hostage in a bank robbery, threatened by criminals with guns, it's easy to understand the
perceived inability to escape. In romantic relationships, the belief that one can't escape is also
very common. Many abusive/controlling relationships feel like till-death-do-us-part relationships
- locked together by mutual financial issues/assets, mutual intimate knowledge, or legal situations.
Here are some common situations:
Controlling partners have increased the financial obligations/debt in the relationship to
the point that neither partner can financially survive on their own. Controllers who sense their
partner may be leaving will often purchase a new automobile, later claiming they can't pay alimony
or child support due to their large car payments.
The legal ending of a relationship, especially a marital relationship, often creates significant
problems. A Controller who has an income that is "under the table" or maintained through legally
questionable situations runs the risk of those sources of income being investigated or made public
by the divorce/separation. The Controller then becomes more agitated about the possible public
exposure of their business arrangements than the loss of the relationship.
The Controller often uses extreme threats including threatening to take the children out of
state, threatening to quit their job/business rather than pay alimony/support, threatening public
exposure of the victim's personal issues, or assuring the victim they will never have a peaceful
life due to nonstop harassment. In severe cases, the Controller may threaten an action that will
undercut the victim's support such as "I'll see that you lose your job" or "I'll have your automobile
Controllers often keep the victim locked into the relationship with severe guilt - threatening
suicide if the victim leaves. The victim hears "I'll kill myself in front of the children", "I'll
set myself on fire in the front yard", or "Our children won't have a father/mother if you leave
In relationships with an abuser or controller, the victim has also experienced a loss of self-esteem,
self-confidence, and psychological energy. The victim may feel "burned out" and too depressed
to leave. Additionally, abusers and controllers often create a type of dependency by controlling
the finances, placing automobiles/homes in their name, and eliminating any assets or resources
the victim may use to leave. In clinical practice I've heard "I'd leave but I can't even get money
out of the savings account! I don't know the PIN number."
In teens and young adults, victims may be attracted to a controlling individual when they
feel inexperienced, insecure, and overwhelmed by a change in their life situation. When parents
are going through a divorce, a teen may attach to a controlling individual, feeling the controller
may stabilize their life. Freshmen in college may be attracted to controlling individuals who
promise to help them survive living away from home on a college campus.
In unhealthy relationships and definitely in Stockholm Syndrome there is a daily preoccupation
with "trouble". Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal
that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, "trouble"
is to be avoided at all costs. The victim must control situations that produce trouble. That may
include avoiding family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who may create "trouble" in the abusive
relationship. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding "trouble"! The
victim also cleans the house, calms the children, scans the mail, avoids certain topics, and anticipates
every issue of the controller or abuse in an effort to avoid "trouble". In this situation, children
who are noisy become "trouble". Loved ones and friends are sources of "trouble" for the victim who
is attempting to avoid verbal or physical aggression.
Stockholm Syndrome in relationships is not uncommon. Law enforcement professionals are painfully
aware of the situation - making a domestic dispute one of the high-risk calls during work hours.
Called by neighbors during a spousal abuse incident, the abuser is passive upon arrival of the police,
only to find the abused spouse upset and threatening the officers if their abusive partner is arrested
for domestic violence. In truth, the victim knows the abuser/controller will retaliate against him/her
if 1) they encourage an arrest, 2) they offer statements about the abuse/fight that are deemed disloyal
by the abuser, 3) they don't bail them out of jail as quickly as possible, and 4) they don't personally
apologize for the situation - as though it was their fault.
Stockholm Syndrome produces an unhealthy bond with the controller and abuser. It is the reason
many victims continue to support an abuser after the relationship is over. It's also the reason they
continue to see "the good side" of an abusive individual and appear sympathetic to someone who has
mentally and sometimes physically abused them.
Is There Something Else Involved?
In a short response - Yes! Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating
in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. In talking to these active and willing participants
in bad and bizarre situations, it is clear they have developed feelings and attitudes that support
their participation. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as "cognitive dissonance".
As you can tell, psychologists have large words and phrases for just about everything.
"Cognitive Dissonance" explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support
situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks
to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions
(knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes
emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation
- few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance - the fact that our cognitions
don't match, agree, or make sense when combined. "Cognitive Dissonance" can be reduced by adding
new cognitions - adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:
Heavy smokers know smoking causes lung cancer and multiple health risks. To continue smoking,
the smoker changes his cognitions (thoughts/feelings) such as 1) "I'm smoking less than ten years
ago", 2) "I'm smoking low-tar cigarettes", 3) "Those statistics are made up by the cancer industry
conspiracy", or 4) "Something's got to get you anyway!" These new cognitions/attitudes allow them
to keep smoking and actually begin blaming restaurants for being unfair.
You purchase a $40,000.00 Sport Utility Vehicle that gets 8 miles a gallon. You justify the
expense and related issues with 1) "It's great on trips" (you take one trip per year), 2) "I can
use it to haul stuff" (one coffee table in 12 months), and 3) "You can carry a lot of people in
it" (95% of your trips are driver-only).
Your husband/boyfriend becomes abusive and assaultive. You can't leave due to the finances,
children, or other factors. Through cognitive dissonance, you begin telling yourself "He only
hits me open-handed" and "He's had a lot of stress at work."
Leon Festinger first coined the term "Cognitive Dissonance". He had observed a cult (1956) in
which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in
messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members
and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As
they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world
came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that
personal and emotional investment - they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from
the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral: the
more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position.
If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with "I'll get them next time". If you invest
everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and
justify that investment.
Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable,
and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate
school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience.
Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist
takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction.
Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding - even if the bonding is unhealthy.
No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling
to survive on a deserted island - you bet!
Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many
cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship.
Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the
National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:
We've invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see
the relationship through to the finish.
We've got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we
remain in the relationship.
If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded
by the status and needs of the children.
In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation.
Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop
that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this
situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction
of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner
may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy
is often found in these situations.
In many cases, it's not simply our feelings for an individual that keep us in an unhealthy relationship
- it's often the amount of investment. Relationships are complex and we often only see the tip of
the iceberg in public. For this reason, the most common phrase offered by the victim in defense of
their unhealthy relationship is "You just don't understand!"
Combining Two Unhealthy Conditions
The combination of "Stockholm Syndrome" and "cognitive dissonance" produces a victim who firmly
believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival.
The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships,
the victims have invested everything and placed "all their eggs in one basket". The relationship
now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.
For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship
and eventually to their personal health and existence. The more family/friends protest the controlling
and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes
defensive. At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual.
Importantly, both Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance develop on an involuntary basis.
The victim does not purposely invent this attitude. Both develop as an attempt to exist and survive
in a threatening and controlling environment and relationship. Despite what we might think, our loved
one is not in the unhealthy relationship to irritate us, embarrass us, or drive us to drink. What
might have begun as a normal relationship has turned into a controlling and abusive situation. They
are trying to survive. Their personality is developing the feelings and thoughts needed to survive
the situation and lower their emotional and physical risks. All of us have developed attitudes and
feelings that help us accept and survive situations. We have these attitudes/feelings about our jobs,
our community, and other aspects of our life. As we have found throughout history, the more dysfunctional
the situation, the more dysfunctional our adaptation and thoughts to survive. The victim is engaged
in an attempt to survive and make a relationship work. Once they decide it doesn't work and can't
be fixed, they will need our support as we patiently await their decision to return to a healthy
and positive lifestyle.
Your loved one, the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, has probably been given a choice - the relationship
or the family. This choice is made more difficult by the control and intimidation often present
in abusive/controlling relationships. Knowing that choosing the family will result in severe personal
and social consequences, the family always comes in second. Keep in mind that the victim knows
in their heart the family will always love them and accept their return - whenever the return
Remember, the more you pressure the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, the more you prove their
point. Your loved one is being told the family is trying to ruin their wonderful relationship.
Pressure in the form of contacts, comments, and communications will be used as evidence against
you. An invitation to a Tupperware party is met with "You see! They just want to get you by yourself
so they can tell you bad things about me!" Increasing your contacts is viewed as "putting pressure"
on their relationship - not being lovingly concerned.
Your contacts with your loved one, no matter how routine and loving, may be met with anger
and resentment. This is because each contact may prompt the Loser/Abuser to attack them verbally
or emotionally. Imagine getting a four-hour lecture every time your Aunt Gladys calls. In a short
time, you become angry each time she calls, knowing what the contact will produce in your home.
The longer Aunt Gladys talks - the longer your lecture becomes! Thus, when Aunt Gladys calls,
you want to get her off the phone as quickly as possible.
The 1980's song, "Hold on Loosely", may be the key to a good family and friend approach. Holding
on too tightly produces more pressure. When the victim is out of the home, it's often best to
establish predictable, scheduled contacts. Calling every Wednesday evening, just for a status
report or to go over current events, is less threatening than random calls during the week. Random
calls are always viewed as "checking up on us" calls. While you may encounter an answering machine,
leave a polite and loving message. Importantly, don't discuss the relationship (the controller
may be listening!) unless the victim brings it up. The goal of these scheduled calls is to maintain
contact, remind your loved one that you are always there to help, and to quietly remind the controller
that family and loved ones are nearby and haven't disappeared.
Try to maintain traditional and special contacts with your loved one - holidays, special occasions,
etc. Keep your contacts short and brief, with no comments that can be used as evidence. Contacts
made at "traditional" times - holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. - are not as threatening
to a controller/abuser. Contacts that provide information, but not questions, are also not as
threatening. An example might be a simple card reading "Just a note to let you know that your
brother landed a new job this week. You might see him on a Wal-Mart commercial any day now. Love,
Mom and Dad". This approach allows the victim to recognize that the family is there - waiting
in the wings if needed. It also lessens the lectures/tantrums provided by the Loser as the contacts
are on a traditional and expected basis. It's also hard to be angry about brother's new job without
looking ridiculous. Also, don't invent holidays or send a reminder that it's Sigmund Freud's birthday.
That's suspicious…even in my family.
Remember that there are many channels of communication. It's important that we keep a channel
open if at all possible. Communication channels might include phone calls, letters, cards, and
e-mail. Scheduled monthly shopping trips or outings are helpful if possible. The goal is to maintain
contact while your loved one is involved in the controlling/abusive relationship. Remember, the
goal is contact, not pressure.
Don't feel the victim's behavior is against the family or friends. It may be a form of survival
or a way of lowering stress. Victims may be very resistive, angry, and even hostile due to the
complexity of their relationship with the controller/abuser. They may even curse, threaten, and
accuse loved ones and friends. This hostile defensiveness is actually self-protection in the relationship
- an attempt to avoid "trouble".
The victim needs to know and feel they are not rejected because of their behavior. Keep in
mind, they are painfully aware of their situation. They know they are being treated badly and/or
controlled by their partner. Frequent reminders of this will only make them want less contact.
We naturally avoid people who remind us of things or situations that are emotionally painful.
Victims may slightly open the door and provide information about their relationship or hint
they may be considering leaving. When the door opens, don't jump through with the Marines behind
you! Listen and simply offer support such as "You know your family is behind any decision you
need to make and at any time you make it." They may be exploring what support is available but
may not be ready to call in the troops just yet. Many victims use an "exit plan" that may take
months or even years to complete. They may be gathering information at this point, not yet ready
for an exit.
We can get messages to people in two ways - the pipeline and the grapevine. The pipeline is
face-to-face, telling the person directly. This seldom happens in Loser situations as controllers
and abusers monitor and control contacts with others. However, the grapevine is still open. When
we use the grapevine, we send a message to our loved one through another person. Victims of controlling
and abusive individuals are often allowed to maintain a relationship with a few people, perhaps
a sibling or best friend. We can send our loved one a message through that contact person, a message
that voices our understanding and support. We don't send insults ("Bill is such a jerk!) or put-downs
("If he doesn't get out of this relationship he'll end up crazy!) - we send messages of love and
support. We send "I hope she/he (victim) knows the family is concerned and that we love and support
them." Comments sent on the grapevine are phrased with the understanding that our loved one will
hear them in that manner. Don't talk with a grapevine contact to express anger and threaten to
hire a hit man, and then try to send a message of loving support. Be careful what and how the
message is provided. The grapevine contact can often get messages to the victim when we can't.
It's another way of letting them know we're supporting them, just waiting to help if and when
Each situation is different. The family may need to seek counseling support in the community.
A family consultation with a mental health professional or attorney may be helpful if the situation
becomes legally complex or there is a significant danger of harm.
As relatives or friends of a victim involved with a controller or abuser, our normal reaction
is to consider dramatic action. We become angry, resentful, and aggressive at times. Our mind
fills with a variety of plans that often range from rescue and kidnapping to ambushing the controller/abuser
with a ball bat. A rule of thumb is that any aggression toward the controller/abuser will result
in additional difficulties for your loved one. Try to remain calm and await an opportunity to
show your love and support when your loved one needs it.
In some cases, as in teenagers and young adults, the family may still provide some financial,
insurance, or other support. When we receive angry responses to our phone calls, our anger and
resentment tells us to cut off their support. I've heard "If she's going to date that jerk, it's
not going to be in a car I'm paying for!" and "If he's choosing that woman over his family, he
can drop out of college and flip hamburgers!" Withdrawing financial support only makes your loved
one more dependent upon the controller/abuser. Remember, if we're aggressive by threatening, withdrawing
support, or pressuring - we become the threatening force, not the controller/abuser. It actually
moves the victim into the support of the controller. Sadly, the more of an "ordeal" they experience,
the more bonding takes place, as noted with both Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance.
As you might imagine, the combination of Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance may also
be active when our loved one is involved in cults, unusual religions, and other groups. In some
situations, the abuser and controller is actually a group or organization. Victims are punished
if they are viewed as disloyal to the group. While this article deals with individual relationships,
the family guidelines may also be helpful in controlling-group situations.
You may be the victim of a controlling and abusive partner, seeking an understanding of your feelings
and attitudes. You may have a son, daughter, or friend currently involved with a controlling and
abusive partner, looking for ways to understand and help.
If a loved one is involved with a Loser, a controlling and abusing partner, the long-term outcome
is difficult to determine due to the many factors involved. If their relationship is in the "dating"
phase, they may end the relationship on their own. If the relationship has continued for over a year,
they may require support and an exit plan before ending the relationship. Marriage and children further
complicate their ability to leave the situation. When the victim decides to end the unhappy relationship,
it's important that they view loved ones as supportive, loving, and understanding - not as a source
of pressure, guilt, or aggression.
This article is an attempt to understand the complex feelings and attitudes that are as puzzling
to the victim as they are to family and friends. Separately, I've outlined recommendations for detaching
from a Loser or controlling/abusive individual, but clearly, there are more victims in this situation.
(See " Are You
Dating a Loser? Identifying Losers, Controllers and Abusers ".) It is hoped this article is helpful
to family and friends who worry, cry, and have difficulty understanding the situation of their loved
one. It has been said that knowledge is power. Hopefully this knowledge will prove helpful and powerful
to victims and their loved ones.
Please consider this article as a general guideline. Some recommendations may be appropriate and
helpful while some may not apply to a specific situation. In many cases, we may need additional professional
help of a mental health or legal nature.
The problem is there really doesn't seem to be any chemistry between the married couple, even
when, in flashback, we watch when he proposes. So the whole premise of this little indie - that one must work on one's relationship if one has made the commitment - doesn't hold
up that well. The depressed brother who can't stop crying can't quite hold that somber affect
throughout, either. I caught him lightening up a few times when he wasn't supposed to. In the
end, I'm not sure I bought what the script was selling, but it is a sweet little film that is
worth watching, with its nice indie soundtrack.
Gone Girl is best watched for two of its two and a half hours.
"... The dialogue is snappy and razor-sharp. The acting is awesome, from the main characters all the way down to minor roles. ..."
"... A movie about passion, lies, obsession, the death of love, and living with sociopaths, this is a remarkable movie. It also reinforces my belief that I never ever want to get married ..."
"... Ben Affleck, a capable actor and a fine director, knows what is to be caught in the media's unforgiving line of fire and has earned poor reviews in the past for exuding a certain bordering-on-self-parody, macho-man overconfidence and self-satisfaction, so he is an ideal choice to play the husband, an individual who is either a decent man in over his head or a chiseled sociopath who can barely hide his smile in front of the cameras. ..."
"... My favorite films of his are still Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but this plants its flag close to the top. ..."
"... Tyler Perry plays a jovial, smirky Johnny Cochran-type lawyer, who makes huge amounts of money defending men accused of killing their wives ..."
"... The Gone Girl screenplay had plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. In fairness, it was well acted and it started off well enough, shining a light on the deterioration of a marriage, how the media picks and chooses its heroes and villains for ratings, and just how easy it is to manipulate a public that thinks appearing on The Bachelor will lead to true romance. The send up of Nancy Grace and her ilk alone is worth sitting through. ..."
"... More than that, I perceive it as a condemnation of marriage, romantic relationships, and the (alleged) fakery of them. ..."
"... It is also a blatant commentary on sensational media and public hysteria/groupthink (I.e., "sheeple" and witch hunts). There is also a strange comment on parenting, if you compare nick's mother to his father and Amy's parents. ..."
"... There's another part of the movie, much smaller than what was advertised, which was why I wanted to see the movie in the first place. The role the media plays in these kind of situations. I was led to believe that it was an examination of the subject. It's not. ..."
"... Ben Affleck does a fantastic job playing Nick Dunne, a somewhat employed writer married to the no-so-right-in-the-head Amy (Rosalund Pike). The one thing Amy can do well is mess with your life. She messes with Nick's to the point the world believes Nick has killed her and he has to hire high profile attorney Tanner Bolt, played extremely well by Tyler Perry. ..."
"... Gone Girl is best watched for two of its two and a half hours. ..."
"... Great for 1.5 hours and the rest was trash. ..."
"... Gone Girl is brilliant, for 3/4 of the movie. The rest, of the story falls off the tracks and then struggles to reach the end...struggles, because it pushes the boundaries of weakness of Nick(Affleck). ..."
"... It sparks questions in you as you watch, as to just how well do you know your spouse? How well do they know you? ..."
"... It's a cast of talent with Ben Affleck Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coone, Rosamun Pike, Tyler Perry and others that highlights every angle of this demented story. ..."
"... There were parts that dragged on somewhat. The movie has a longer running time than most. ..."
"... Gone Girl is directed by the same man who brought you Fight Club, Social Network (the Facebook movie), and Se7en. ..."
"... In many instances, the film was making a statement (an unbiased one at that) on everything wrong with modern-day media, law enforcement, marriages, and the image of gender roles in society. Tough stuff! The only complaint I can make about the film is how it is not really all that cinematic and the film's uncertain ending. But then again, the ending can be seen both ways either as a metaphor about reality's way of saying no one is either good or bad or an attack on the senses with a strange turnaround for a particular character. ..."
A twisty and twisted new classic Nine Things About the Movie "Gone
Girl" (USA, 2014)
1. One of the best movies of 2014, this multi-layered, wickedly brilliant
film is a great adaptation of the 2012 novel.
2. It was directed by David Fincher. He collaborated with Trent Reznor
and Atticus Ross again for the smoothly foreboding soundtrack. Fincher has
developed a unique cinematic style, and this movie is a showcase of it.
3. The heart of the movie is a mystery - a wife disappears from her home
on the morning of her anniversary. But not only do we not know who did it,
we don't even really know what happened.
4. The movie flips back and forth between the husband's perspective and
the wife's, slowly unfolding its secrets like a black, poisonous flower.
5. Besides the core mystery, the movie is also a commentary on media
hype, along with trial by popularity. Nancy Grace probably wishes she could
sue somebody for this movie.
6. Perhaps more chilling than the mystery is the depiction of what has
to be the most dysfunctional marriage in cinematic history.
7. The movie is almost 3 hours long, but it doesn't feel like it. The
plot is tight - no scene is wasted. The dialogue is snappy and razor-sharp.
The acting is awesome, from the main characters all the way down to minor
8. Part of the reason the movie works so well is that the author of the
book, Gillian Flynn, also wrote the screenplay. It's set in Missouri and
feels pretty authentic, probably because the author is from Kansas City.
9. A movie about passion, lies, obsession, the death of love, and
living with sociopaths, this is a remarkable movie. It also reinforces my
belief that I never ever want to get married.
Gone Girl is the Complete Package. Gone Girl took the world by storm.
And I'm not just talking about the film. The book (I highly recommend this
read) by Gillian Flynn quickly became one of the bestselling novels of 2012.
Through word of mouth, people left and right were finding out about this
tale of a dark and twisted marriage. It was seen almost everywhere, so I
was no surprise that the rights would be snatched up (by Reese Witherspoon,
nonetheless). And the stage was quickly set for David Fincher to work his
dark directing magic.
The story tells of a married couple, Nick and Amy Dunne, on their fifth
wedding anniversary. That morning, Amy mysteriously vanishes, leaving behind
a rather suspicious trail of evidence.The authorities and the media quickly
swoop down on Nick, who seems nice enough, but is oddly evasive and may
not be telling the whole truth. As events unfold, you will be left wondering
how well you truly know the person you love.
With jaw-dropping performances from Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler
Perry, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Patrick Fugit, you will be
in for a treat. These actors portray their respective roles with such power
and perfection, and I was pleasantly surprised. I think you will be as well.
I expect to see award nominations for these players within the coming weeks.
If not, I will riot.
Not only is the acting fantastic, but the score paints a beautiful picture
as well. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who scored Fincher's last two films--The
Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) have returned to deliver
an astounding and haunting score that perfectly suits the story. Equally
peaceful and disturbing, it mirrors the characters' behaviours as their
secrets are unveiled.
Gone Girl is the complete package. Creepy, witty, breathtaking, you will
finish this movie with your jaw open. I guarantee it. Truly beautiful, Fincher
has outdone himself. I recommend purchasing this at your earliest opportunity.
I have not read the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl. Not out of any particular
aversion. I just never found my way around to it. So I entered this film
adaptation by premiere stylist and suspense conjurer David Fincher quote-unquote
blind beyond a general knowledge of the story involving a suburban Missouri
man who becomes a suspect in his wife's mysterious vanishing. And beat by
beat, scene by scene, twist by twist, the film blew me away. It is an airtight
and atmospheric blend of the hilarious, the macabre, and the romantic. It
satisfies first as a crime mystery. With a perverse, yet playful hand, it
transforms the essential and inevitable questions of the genre (who is who?
who is where? who has done what? who is alive? who is dead?) into delightful
webs of opaque morality and disturbing brutality. There are other concerns
and components, too, and this joins such films as Sweet Smell of Success
and To Die For among the best indictments of media sensationalism and the
way it can bastardize humanity. It achieves this via acidic and vivid (and
therefore highly enjoyable) illustration of its points rather than didactic
The film is buoyed by spot-on casting decisions. In a strange way which
pays enormous dividends, many of the stars seem to be chosen based on their
undesirable traits. Ben Affleck, a capable actor and a fine director,
knows what is to be caught in the media's unforgiving line of fire and has
earned poor reviews in the past for exuding a certain bordering-on-self-parody,
macho-man overconfidence and self-satisfaction, so he is an ideal choice
to play the husband, an individual who is either a decent man in over his
head or a chiseled sociopath who can barely hide his smile in front of the
And the beautiful Rosamund Pike can seem distant on screen, a type of
icy English rose to be admired and never touched, and she is therefore ideal
as a so-picture-perfect-as-to-be-unknowable wife pushed to unusual and dangerous
places. Hers is a particularly alarming and inspired turn (the actress'
best since the undervalued Barney's Version), and it would be a shame if
she were not recognized by the Academy with her first nomination early next
This line of casting thought extends to other plays in the substantial
ensemble. Why not, for example, hire Tyler Perry, who has turned himself
in a household name with outsize charisma and a self-forged aura of spiritual
authority, to play a showboating A-list lawyer? Throughout Gone Girl, the
roles fit so very snugly.
And behind the camera, Fincher is in as fine a form as ever. My favorite
films of his are still Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but this
plants its flag close to the top. His antiseptic, meticulous, and perfectionist
shot compositions turn the banal suburban environments into under-lit and
malevolence-infused spaces, and every scene (whether overtly suspenseful
and violent or of a quieter domestic variety) has an incisive and taut quality.
This is a long film at 148 minutes, but never an overweight or ponderous
one. It holds viewers' heads and hearts with vice-grip intensity from frame
one onward and leaves us (or me, at least) at once amused, energized, and
The plot of David Fincher's film GONE GIRL (2014) is one more variation
of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's old Sherlock Holmes story "The Problem of Thor
Bridge." One among many ... and perhaps the nastiest.
As all the blurbs reveal, Ben Affleck plays a husband named Nick Dunne,
who is suspected of killing his wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, when
she mysteriously disappears under highly suspicious circumstances.
Although the cast is uniformly talented, nearly all of the characters
are unlikeable ... and several of them are downright repulsive. Tyler
Perry plays a jovial, smirky Johnny Cochran-type lawyer, who makes huge
amounts of money defending men accused of killing their wives
... the shark-like, frenzied TV scandal-mongers are totally disgusting
... and the couple who are the parents of Amy (the missing wife) are blood-sucking
horrors who have used their daughter for their own financial benefit for
Only two of the main characters are "normal" and basically "neutral"
in their presentation: Margo Dunne, the sister of Ben Affleck's character,
played by Carrie Coon, and Rhonda Boney (!?), the female detective who is
in charge of the investigation, played by Kim Dickens. The only wholly likeable
character is the little orange cat of Nick and Amy, which only has about
5 minutes of on-screen time.
The solution to Amy Dunne's disappearance gradually comes to light over
the next TWO AND A HALF HOURS, and without giving any spoilers here, I will
assert that it is a repulsive conclusion to the film.
I viewed the film with a small group of adults (approximately 55 people),
and especially during the final 45 minutes some parts of the film caused
nearly the whole audience to laugh at the preposterous events and new revelations.
The scenes with Neil Patrick Harris seemed to get the highest number of
In my judgment, this film is quite smarmy and a huge waste of one's time.
Not even the sweetness of the little orange cat can compensate for the general
nastiness of the characters and their actions.
The Gone Girl screenplay had plot holes big enough to drive a truck
through. In fairness, it was well acted and it started off well enough,
shining a light on the deterioration of a marriage, how the media picks
and chooses its heroes and villains for ratings, and just how easy it is
to manipulate a public that thinks appearing on The Bachelor will lead to
true romance. The send up of Nancy Grace and her ilk alone is worth sitting
But then it all falls apart. I won't spoil it for those who haven't yet
seen it, but the complete unraveling of film after the "twist" actually
became laughable with such huge gaps in common sense, implausible occurrences,
security camera footage that not a single cop decided to look at, and just
plain linear storytelling of getting from A to B that it's actually boggling.
It wasn't the twist itself, that was actually pretty clever, it was all
the lapses that came after.
Even in a work of fiction there logic rules that need to be followed,
and therein lies my issue with Gone Girl. It's difficult to elaborate on
everything that's wrong with the last third without revealing what happens
after the so-called big twist. (Just google Gone Girl plot holes and you'll
find plenty of examples). But the film ends with an eye roll instead of
a bang. There's suspending disbelief, which I'm happy to do if there is
other convincing evidence, and then there's beating disbelief to death with
a tire iron--which is what Gone Girl gives you in the end.
I understand that Gillian Flynn translated her book to screen and reworked
the whole last third, which is exactly where it all falls apart. Perhaps
being a staff writer at Entertainment Weekly for 20 years -- where the emphasis
is clearly on get it out fast rather than get it out right -- dulled her
logic and skills! Either way, while some Oscar snubs are occasionally puzzling,
I'm not in the least surprised that there were none for this screenplay.
At the end of this movie, I found myself very confused. Not about the
mystery but whether I liked the movie. It wasn't because the characters
were so complex or multi-layered that they pushed my perceptions of "good"
and "evil." In fact, I found Amy and Nick strangely two-dimensional.
I was so mystified by my mystification that I did a first: I read a bunch
of professional reviews to see if that would help me put my finger on it.
I was further surprised to see a common theme among them: is this movie
misogynist, misandrist, or misanthropic? If it is any of these, I think
it is the latter.
More than that, I perceive it as a condemnation of marriage, romantic
relationships, and the (alleged) fakery of them. In that vein, I found
it spiteful rather than satiric. It is also a blatant commentary on
sensational media and public hysteria/groupthink (I.e., "sheeple" and witch
hunts). There is also a strange comment on parenting, if you compare nick's
mother to his father and Amy's parents. That one was a bit lost on
me, and perphaps it is clearer in the book where there is more detail on
that (note: I haven't read the book).
At this point, I'm still baffled by my reaction to this movie, and the
best way I can rationalize it is that I think this is a solid suspense/murder
mystery but I didn't buy the "psychological" part of this psychological
That part seemed forced to the point that it detracted from the good
things. I admit that I liked Basic Instinct more (maybe I'm just getting
old and need to rewatch that one).
Some positives: I thought the casting was superb and the directing was
also very strong. I thought the actress who played the twin sister was particularly
good. On a final note, I found the end rather abrupt. Don't know if this
will help people who haven't watched it yet, but maybe this will help validate
other viewers who wish they could have "cracked open" their own skulls at
the end of this movie.
This movie isn't anything you'd expect. I think that's why my review
is mixed. I liked that it was not what you expected, I guess. I think I
was irritated at the female character. All of them really, but the wife
really annoyed me. It was kind of sick and really twisted. I kept saying
to myself, "okay well lets appreciate it for what it is and keep an open
mind." That was really difficult. This isn't an easy movie for me to pin
down for you. Especially because I don't want to give anything away and
to really give you a mental picture, I almost have to give stuff away. I'm
going to try to stretch my creative muscle here, though, and give you some
kind of perspective.
One half of the picture is the hero and he screws up bad, but the punishment
is horrific compared to the crime. I'm not crazy about those type of movies.
The kind of movie where the hero just keeps getting hit with new bad stuff.
Too much like my life, I guess.
The other half of the movie is a revenge thriller. You want to get behind
it, because you kind of think, "well, they deserve it.' But it's not that
cut and dry. You want to get behind it but it's hard because the way the
revenge is executed is so sick and twisted and over-the-top. It comes so
close to the edge of being completely unbelievable and so sick that the
sympathy you once held is lost completely. But a part of you still wants
the revenge taker to succeed and wants to be on their side, moreover, there
are a lot of folks out there that didn't lose their sympathy at all, which
says a lot about society in general and ones friends in particular.
There's another part of the movie, much smaller than what was advertised,
which was why I wanted to see the movie in the first place. The role the
media plays in these kind of situations. I was led to believe that it was
an examination of the subject. It's not.
So look, I don't know that I would recommend renting it 100%. I am very
much on the fence about this movie. I'm sorry. I would suggest watching
it with a bunch of your friends. It's one of those movies that you go to
with those friends who like to talk about movies. You'll have so much to
talk about so you don't want to see it all alone.
Wanna watch a great movie? Quit this one 2/3rds of the way through. Wanna
watch something turn from very good to stupid? Watch this all the way.
Ben Affleck does a fantastic job playing Nick Dunne, a somewhat employed
writer married to the no-so-right-in-the-head Amy (Rosalund Pike). The one
thing Amy can do well is mess with your life. She messes with Nick's to
the point the world believes Nick has killed her and he has to hire high
profile attorney Tanner Bolt, played extremely well by Tyler Perry.
The acting is quite good, with the exception of Neil Patrick Harris,
who just seemed miscast as Amy's high school friend Desi Collins to whom
she turns for "help". Here's the part where everything turns weird. Shortly
after her time with Desi is the best time to stop the movie and enjoy what
had been made. Any further, and I'm not spoiling anything here, the movie
hits a wall.
Gone Girl is best watched for two of its two and a half hours.
I really like David Fincher movies. They always have a lot of action,
a little suspense, and a sense of humor. And this one is no different. I
was confused by some parts of the movie, and displease with other parts,
mainly the ending. It was a book before it was a movie, so that's no ones
fault who were involved in the production of the movie. But I can see how
in a novel the ending would've been handled in a better way. In a novel
there's more character development, so you get to see the motivation behind
each decision that a character makes. Any movie you only really see what
the director wants you to see, and what the actors are capable of portraying.
Ben Affleck was out of his league with that powerhouse of a actress Rosamund
Pike. If she doesn't get at least a nomination, the whole system is flawed.
Had the movie been handled with a bit more care, it probably would have
been one of the greatest movies I've ever seen... that's saying a lot because
I really don't like Ben Affleck and he's on screen 80% of the movie. He
does add a snarky lightness that's needed in such a heavy movie. It's a
solid 3.5 stars. Definitely must see for originality.
Ok you want an honest review. Here goes. Well acted, excellent plot...up
to a point, then it falls apart. The twists no longer are logical, they
are just dark and twisted, taking you on a journey that has lost its way,
but determined to land you at the end, an end already prepared. So it gets
there, but by the time you get there, you wonder, what happened? That's
because you are waiting for it to take a right, on to the road of plausibility.
Gone Girl is brilliant, for 3/4 of the movie. The rest, of the story
falls off the tracks and then struggles to reach the end...struggles, because
it pushes the boundaries of weakness of Nick(Affleck).
So my rating is 3 stars. I walk away feeling like I wasted the last 45
mins on junk. Prior to that, it was fascinating. The high rating is what's
wrong with people today...everyone runs in packs and no one, no one dares
to be honest, less they are an outcast. Go see it for yourself and then
dare to put an honest review here.
As someone who has read the book prior to seeing this film, I may have
a slightly different take on the movie then others. I found it difficult
to decide how many stars it deserved. The first act and most of the second
act are well edited from the book. The changes that are made make sense
in order to condense a complicated story into a film. But somewhere in 2nd
and totally the 3rd act the motivations for the characters gets muddled.
The book spends a lot of time letting you read what Nick and Amy are thinking.
The movie. though it tries at first, seems to give up on that element. But
it is a crucial element in understanding the ending at the very least. Nick
is self-centered and deeply flawed in the book. Amy is, a sociopath. The
depth of her manipulation, cruelty and insane notion of punishment and justice
is not explored near enough in the film. Her crazy and expert manipulation
is intense in the book. Nick never really worries what happened to her when
she vanishes and hates her. I wish the movie was able to flesh out more
of these massive personality flaws. Without this the movie in the end falls
flat. However, I don't have a good idea as to how the movie might have done
this given the time restrictions.
My husband and I heard so much about this movie. I am very fond of true
crime and we both like drama movies. We gave it a go.
It is dark. It is twisted.
A marriage of hope, happiness and on the fifth wedding anniversary it
all vanishes. Hope, sorrow, and mystery. Amy Dunne is missing the trail
of evidence leads to suspicions of her husband Nick Dunne.
It sparks questions in you as you watch, as to just how well do you
know your spouse? How well do they know you?
It's a cast of talent with Ben Affleck Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie
Coone, Rosamun Pike, Tyler Perry and others that highlights every angle
of this demented story.
There were parts that dragged on somewhat. The movie has a longer
running time than most. My husband wasn't impressed--until the ending.
I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time saying, "you've got
to be kidding!"....it was intense. it was well executed. It was dark. It
"Did he or not kill his wife? Is this all a set-up? More questions can
be unraveled in one of the most surprisingly complex yet straightforward
mystery-thrillers of the year. Bear in mind, I was never anticipating to
see this film just by chance after some friends brought me.
Gone Girl is directed by the same man who brought you Fight Club,
Social Network (the Facebook movie), and Se7en. A purveyor for dark,
brooding films, Gone Girl is no stranger to this with a knack for complexity
and disturbing emotions channeling through the central performances by Ben
Affleck (whose career escalated to much more respectable degrees after State
of Play and Argo) and Rosamund Pike (an up-and-coming British actress) playing
two conflicted souls frustrated over their relationship only to then, days
on end, leave a field of investigation and suspicion into the lives of Affleck's
character whether he or not had any part into the disappearance of his wife?
While the premise sounds absurdly ordinary and entirely like something
from Lifetime but unlike some of Lifetime's corny products, this film feels
more uncertain and depressing in tone and is more graphic in content. However,
any comparisons to Lifetime can be set aside with the film's surprisingly
self-aware nature and persistent dark humour, which albeit odd for a film
of this calibre, works in some ways to break the tension and melodrama.
Using Neil Patrick Harris from "How I Met Your Mother", the model from
the Robin Thicke "Blurred Lines" music video, and Tyler Perry from the "Madea"
films maybe the most bizarre choices for a high-stakes drama but it works
in a surreal way.
In many instances, the film was making a statement (an unbiased one
at that) on everything wrong with modern-day media, law enforcement, marriages,
and the image of gender roles in society. Tough stuff! The only complaint
I can make about the film is how it is not really all that cinematic and
the film's uncertain ending. But then again, the ending can be seen both
ways either as a metaphor about reality's way of saying no one is either
good or bad or an attack on the senses with a strange turnaround for a particular
Without giving much away, Gone Girl is aimed at the more ambitious viewer
and for anyone who likes their Lifetime or Investigation Discovery TV shows
with a bit more class, acting skill, and raw spirit. It sure knows how to
be pessimistic and insightful without remorse. And the message is relevant
and important too with a nice look into how marriage and relationships just
aren't a realistic goal in today's society which I wholeheartedly promote."
Good Film Noir. Patrick Bergin Makes This to Work.
6/12: Suspicious Minds is an enjoyable low-key film noir. I think the whole thing was well
done, heightened by the fine performance of Patrick Bergin who is familiar to the audience as
the evil guy in Sleeping with the Enemy. In this film Suspicious Minds, he is the good guy,
and the mustache of his is what makes it film noir. I like the mystery aspect of it, and the
plot is done with intelligence. It's sensible, it works, and it passes for a good thriller. I
know that you see Gary Busey on the cover, but really...he is nominal in this one. It's better
if he is left off of the cast; his presence serves no purpose.
It's strictly a Patrick Bergin vehicle.
On the other hand, Jayne Heitmeyer does a fabulous job as the femme fatale and creates
enough suspense for the, as odd as it was, ending. All in all, Suspicious Minds will do
for a 90 minute entertainment of a modern film noir with twists and turns that will keep you
guessing to the end. Then, you will be surprised.
I'm a woman, which means I've read lots of books
on relationships. Of all of them, this is the best one for guys. It is written in a straight forward
manner that most men would appreciate and the information is truly helpful. It tells you what
to DO. Not a touchy-feely book, but it still addresses emotions, because what is a relationship
without emotions. But this is not about drowning in emotions, it's about what to do, or not do,
to have a happy and contented relationship with little negative drama.
The "program" is straightforward and easy to follow. It has great insight into what causes
problems and how to resolve them. It's a nuts & bolts type of book, offering what you need to
know, without fluff. Solid.
Much of the book is concerned with the fact that men, especially, tend to enter ANS (autonomic
nervous system) arousal when in conflict, and this makes it difficult for them to relate to the
other person at that time. This is key, and points the way toward successfully handling conflict.
The info on couple types is great -- traditional, separates, independent, or mixed. The coverage
of "old scars" is another key to understanding reactions and how to get past the difficulties
they cause. One of the keys to solving problems is partial identification, otherwise known as
seeing things from the other person's point of view. This is a major stumbling block for many
people, and the tactics in this book for getting past this are super. This is especially important
because most women want to be understood. Turndorf's coverage of overt fight content vs. the core
of the issue offers useful insight.
Toward the end of the book, Turndorf gives a good summary of the book when she says, "Before
you bring your problem to your mate, you will need to complete some Self-Work tasks that include
identifying the Old Scars that the conflict rekindles; recognizing the Fight Traps you feel like
using; draining off the emotional venom; digging up love; preparing your Icebreaker (which announces
that a problem exists), your Lead-In (which is a supportive statement), and your Problem Statement;
determining whether or not you're dealing with a negotiable issue; and preparing for a full-scale
negotiation, if this applies." All of this is covered in the book.
Chapter contents (subheadings):
CH 1 - Understanding the Chemistry of Fighting
CH 2 - The Relationship Battleground: Identifying and Rating Your Conflicts on the Fighting
Richter Scale -- Conflict Causes (Affection, Where's the Beef?, Intimacy, Leisure, Jealousy,
Household-Chores, Lack-of-Follow-Through, Lack-of-Initiative, Parenting, In-Laws, Friendships,
Values, Selfishness or Lack-of-Cooperation, Control, Money, Power-Struggle, You're Shutting
Me Out, You Never Listen to Me), Conflict Vs. Fighting, Fight Habituation, Fighting Richter
Scale (Stage 1 - The Broken Record, Stage 2 - Withdrawal, Stage 3 - The Bitter End)
CH 3 - The No-Fly (Off the Handle) Zone: Eliminating Fight Traps and Faulty Conflict-Resolution
Tactics -- Fight Traps: Counterblaming, Verbal Attacking, Scorekeeping, Winners/Losers, I'm
Right You're Wrong, Character Assassination, Globalizing, Kitchen Sinking, Throwing Oil on
the Fire, Fighting Dirty, Ancient History, Exploding, Power Plays, One-Upmanship, Recruiting
Allies, Guilt Trip, Silent Treatment, Withholding, Silent Sabotage, I Told You So, Sarcasm,
Ambusher, Indirect Digs, Nagging Whining & Complaining; Obstacles: Old Scars, Seesaw Effect,
Refusal to Negotiate, Manipulation, Problems Due to Couple Types, Yielding, Ostrich Policy,
Contending, Lack of Cooperation, Controlling, Competition, Only Wimps Give In, No Team Players,
Lack of Creativity
CH 4 - The Battle of the Bulge: Sex Wars -- Anger & Insecurity: The Best Forms of Birth
Control, Men as Emotional Providers, Security Vs. Variety, Different Sexual Tastes, Sex War
Games, Sec As the Battleground for Nonsexual Issues
CH 5 - Battle Scars: How Childhood Wounds Cause Chronic Relationship Conflict and How to
Heal Them -- Repetition (the first clue), Intensity (the second clue), Old Scars Test, Stripping
Away the Fight Content, Drawing a Fight Map (1 - Chart the Emotional Course of the Fight, 2
- Recognize the Feelings that You Experienced in Childhood, 3 - Recall a Specific Childhood
Memory, 4 - Identify the Type(s) of Treatment You Yearned for from Your Parent(s)), Achieve
Your Happy Ending (1 - Know Your Mate's Old Scars, 2 - Discuss Your Old Scars, Types of Old
Scars (1 - Please Pay Attention to Me, 2 - Get Off My Back, 3 - Why Can't I Just Play?, 4 -
You Don't Care What I Do, 5 - Stop Yelling At / Hitting Me, 6 - Please Stop Yelling At Each
Other, 7 - Stop Hitting Each Other, 8 - Stop Touching Me That Way, 9- You Like My Brother /
CH 6 - How Your Head Can be Your Own Worst Enemy: Training Your Mind to Fight For (Not
Against) You -- Steps: 1 - Hold Your Horses, 2 - Take a Step Back in Time, 3 - Take a Hard
Look at Reality, 4 - Check Out Your Suspicion, 5 - Smooth and Ruffled Feathers, Excessive Personalization
CH 7 - The Battle-Ax: How Women can Use Climate Control Techniques to End Relationship
Fighting -- Relationship Essential Nutrients for a Man, Relationship Essential Nutrients for
a Woman, Eight Basic Cool-down Principles, General Cool-down Techniques, Seeing the World From
Your Mate's Point of View
CH 8 - Listening to the Battle Cry: How to Use Your Ears to Resolve Conflicts -- Why is
Listening So Necessary?, Listening Blunders, What Causes Listening Blunders?, Listening Blocks:
Discomfort Over One's Own Feelings, Listening Skills
CH 9 - On Furlough: Knowing When Not to Negotiate -- Violations of Relationship Laws, Emotional
States, Value Conflicts, Beware the Tendency to Negotiate on the Overt Fight Content, Your
CH 10 - The Peace Treaty: How to Negotiate a Contract -- Getting Started, The Problem Statement,
Presentation of Your Issue, Switching Battle Gear: Becoming the Discussion Overseer, If All
Else Fails Abort Mission, How to Create a Winning Contract.
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