On July 16th, 2009

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 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

And Monday, Laura Sessions Stepp quoted me on her great new website 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.

Quoted in the June issue of Men's Health

On July 1st, 2009 1 Comment

ewan-mcgregor-mens-health-june-2009What 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.

Why Jon & Kate Won't Go Away

On June 26th, 2009

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.

USA Today loves the Princess & Priest!

On June 18th, 2009

princesspriest_400pxWednesday’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!

Apparently, I'm now the expert on the Obama marriage

On June 13th, 2009

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.

Check it out here.

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.

Quoted in the NYT Sunday Style Section

On June 6th, 2009

07romance_190In 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.

No, I can't sing…but if you're getting married, check it out

On May 28th, 2009

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.

Everywhere you go, there I am

On May 25th, 2009 1 Comment

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.


The Princess, The Priest & The War for the Perfect Wedding

On May 20th, 2009

Relationship tip of the week: Check out my new venture on

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.

DoubleX — Slate's New Women's Online Magazine

On May 12th, 2009

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 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.

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