Summertime is heating up — and I’m getting lots of press these days shattering myths and spreading good news for SWANS®.
Just up today on MSNBC.com is a piece by Brian Alexander, author of the popular Sexploration column who argues that marriage thrives despite our evolving sex lives. “Most women tie the knot by 40, statistics show — so why all the fretting?” He quotes me several times and offers lots of good news for SWANS®! Check it out on MSNBC.com.
And Monday, Laura Sessions Stepp quoted me on her great new website SexReally.com as she challenged that often-quoted statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Check it out — and take a gander at the Sex. Really site in general.
What do women want? The answer changes constantly, says Men’s Health.
And here with expert opinion, is Dr. Christine B. Whelan.
(Apparently I’m an expert on the “quiet genius” types. Sounds good to me.) For more, check out p. 100 of the June issue online here.
And stay tuned for more expert quotes from me in the autumn issues… and in some major women’s glossies, too.
I’ve posted the lead commentary in The New York Times Room for Debate op-ed blog on reality TV this morning. As I said in the piece, we watch reality television because we like to take the rich and famous down a peg, but also because we experience that sense of relief that, as bad as our lives are, at least we’re not THAT bad.
I called it the “Can you imagine?” factor — and reality shows are full of those awkward moments viewers love to hate.
From The Bachelor and it’s many, many spin-offs, to family dramas like Little People and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, there’s something for everyone to complain about. Perhaps reality TV can be best divided into the shows that encourage competition – Top Chef, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway and the like – and shows that encourage B-list celebrity voyeurism – including The Hills, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. But is this leading us astray? Do viewers watch reality shows and say, well, hey, if they are doing, so can I?
No: Reality television neither encourages poor behavior nor serves as a cautionary tale because viewers are watching for entertainment, not as a model for “real” life. Since MTV first aired The Real World in 1992, hundreds of shows have freeze-framed on life’s tense moments as producers cut and craft for maximum effect, and viewers know it.
Perhaps what’s most tragic of all is that when the cameras stop rolling, it actually IS someone’s real life – a life that must go on and deal with the damage wrought by the quest for 15-minutes (or 100+ episodes) of fame. Not to be clichéd here, but what’s going to happen to the eight Gosselin children? The impact of their parents divorce—not to mention the odd childhood with cameras rolling 24/7—may have significant emotional and spiritual consequences.
Still, it’s entertainment – and we, the viewers, egg it all on. One of my colleagues at The University of Iowa said she watches reality television because, after that feeling of embarrassment for the “stars,” she doesn’t feel so bad about her own life “when real-person peers are making bigger farts of themselves—and on the national stage. I’m willing to grant these folks fame by tuning into their shows, but in return I get to judge them mercilessly and watch them humiliate themselves, or be humiliated by the show and editors.”
For more analysis, check out The New York Times blog.
Wednesday’s USA Today religion blog carried a great mention — with lots of links –
to The Princess, The Priest & The War for the Perfect Wedding.
Want some summer wedding advice? Check it out, and send in your questions!
Today’s Irish Independent quotes me and my research — as I congratulate President Obama on making time for his marriage, despite the demands of oh, say, leading the free world.
And for those of you who are in need of some more practical love and marriage advice, check out the latest episodes of The Princess, The Priest and The War for the Perfect Wedding.
In Jan Hoffman’s piece in tomorrow’s New York Times on the Obama’s date night rituals, I’m quoted to put it into sociological context. And as a native New Yorker who reads the Style Section first when the paper arrives, this kind of exciting.
Here are a few more thoughts, from the email I sent in reply to Jan Hoffman’s original query:
This is a prime example of what sociologists call “individualized marriage” — where personal fulfillment, romance and novelty are the mark of a successful relationship, not just duty to family and social roles. When “love and mutual attraction” are the #1 things we look for in a spouse, you’ve got to find a way to keep that magic alive, or the relationship ends.
The importance of “date night” for long-married couples is increasingly touted as important by relationship experts, and I think it’s terrific that the Obamas are making time for each other. If the First Family is held up as a model of how all American families should act, then the Obamas are playing this perfectly from a relationship-health perspective.
Interestingly, as well: We didn’t really know this much about the relationships of previous presidential couples. We knew about the duty and social roles aspects of the family — Jackie holding hands with her children, JFK with Bobby on his knee — but we didn’t get a lot of glimpses of them out on the town, a deux, and that’s because family was the more central aspect of a successful marriage back then, not the individual couple’s relationship. When the Kennedy’s where in the White House, the mate preference rankings still listed “dependable character” and “emotional stability” as more important than “love and mutual attraction.” Now times have changed.
The Obama’s public date night is indicative of how “open” we all are about our love lives — and how important it is to be seen as still “in love after all these years.” A successful marriage used to be one that produced well-adjusted children and didn’t end in a nasty divorce. Now, a successful marriage has to be both those things, plus still sexually fulfilling, exciting and heart-poundingly romantic 15 or 20 years in. That’s a tall order, and perhaps one that put unrealistic expectations on our fragile bonds, because now, if we DON’T have those extra romantic bells and whistles in our relationships, we’re more likely than ever to wonder if the relationship isn’t working, if he’s not my soulmate, and to end the union to search for that thrill with someone else.
But I think we need to have a balance: Date nights are great. Married couples need alone time and romance. And yes, if the nation might has some romance envy about our glam First Couple, we should all do something about it. Put your heels on, grab a sport coat and go out on the town. Or have a picnic in the park (it doesn’t have to cost a fortune). But don’t assume just because your spouse doesn’t fly you in a private jet to New York City that the romance is gone.
Why can’t Catholic brides and grooms boogie down the aisle to The Beatles?
The latest episode of The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding is up. Check it out here.
This weekend we went to Iowa’s farm country of Cherokee — and in an adorable book store and wine shop called The Book Vine, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women was front and center. Fun stuff! Happy Memorial Day.
Relationship tip of the week: Check out my new venture on BustedHalo.com
This week’s episode: What if you just want to get married in a short, simple ceremony? Do you need the big white dress and the long Mass? Watch me and Fr. Eric Andrews answer this question and more. And check out the whole series here.
Up next week: Can we play Beatles music in our Catholic Ceremony? And stay tuned for us to join forces with a rabbi to discuss interfaith weddings as June wedding season heats up.
Today is the launch of DoubleX, a new Slate online magazine for women, edited by Hanna Rosin and others. From the launch email:
DoubleX, launches today. Check it out at www.doublex.com. This is a new kind of women’s magazine launched by the Slate group, that offers irreverent and sophisticated analysis of politics, culture, family, fashion and many other topics. It’s written mostly by women, but not just for them. So gentlemen, come too!
Look for me there in the future — indeed, I already have my own “node” – This seems like a perfect place for my latest research and findings.
- Mission: Adulthood ... a new book worth checking out 01/03/2013Looking for a good book to give your parents, boss or mentor to get them to understand that your generation isn't a bunch of slackers, but has some real strengths? Check out Mission: Adulthood, a new book by Hannah Seligson. Here's my blog about it here for more: http://acculturated.com/2013/01/02/through-the-eyes-of-a-twenty-something/ […]
- Reader Q&A 09/05/2012Today a great question came in off the Ask Christine link on this website: “How can you say that your book is not like other self-help books when you keep referring to the work of other writers?” Here’s the quick answer: The exercises in Generation WTF -- as they appear... […]
- Stephen Covey's Legacy for Generation WTF 07/17/2012Yesterday, self-help author and business leader Stephen Covey died at 79. Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (and many other bestsellers), Covey will be remembered as an inspirational teacher and leader. Tonight I appeared on WSJ.com LIVE to discuss his legacy. Stephen Covey, a business management... […]
- Why Most Self-Help Sucks (and WTF is different about me) 07/11/2012This morning I received a comment via this website asking for the links to the bonus chapter that I promised in Generation WTF -- about why most self-help books suck, and why this research is different. Our contact software is developed to protect your privacy. I don't require an email... […]
- Generation WTF on a Mission 05/25/2012The Class of 2012 graduated with an unprecedented amount of student debt (more than $20,000 per graduate, $1 trillion nationally) into an economy with the highest level of unemployed/underemployed recent college graduates in over 11 years (53%). From whatever angle you approach it, this is not an easy time to... […]
- Worst Majors for Getting a Job? 04/30/2012On Friday, I attended our Sociology graduation reception at the University of Pittsburgh. I celebrated with some of my favorite students and head about the exciting things they were hoping to do. One was headed to Israel to teach English. Another was headed to law school. Several had ideas about... […]
- How to Schedule Like a Pro 04/26/2012On Tuesday I got back from a wedding and mini vacation with my family. It was wonderful. Then we returned to the chaos of “coming home” and “real life.” Yesterday was a day of laundry and unpacking and feeling stressed about why I wasn’t getting more work done. Today, though... […]
- Who Do You Call? 04/25/2012Ever wonder why your Mom calls so often? According to a fascinating new study, men tend to call the women in their life – throughout their lives – while women, as they age, tend to shift their phone calls away from men and toward their adult daughters. The Los Angeles... […]
- Use Technology. Don't Let It Use You 04/18/2012Generation WTFers say they spend too much time using the Internet (59%), their cell phones or smartphones (58%), and social media sites such as Facebook (48%), according to a new Gallup poll that I blogged about Monday. And those with a college degree or more spend the most time online... […]
- Turn Your Phone Off! 04/18/2012I love my iPhone as much as the next gal. I have it with me all day. It’s the first thing I check in the morning and last thing I check before I go to sleep. But I am a firm believer in putting my phone on silent and tucking... […]