By Joanne Latimer - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Braly and his wife (he calls her Jane in the book) run through 13 marriage counsellors before deciding to separate. The journey, as told by Braly, is hilarious and raw, full of self-excoriating stories and internal monologue. Readers who miss the late Spalding Gray will cheer on Braly, wondering if his relationship with Jane is anything like Gray’s complex entanglement with Renée Shafransky and his last wife, Katie Russo. Not so much. Braly’s marriage is a unique mess, and the description of its undoing has much to say about monogamy, celibacy and parenting.
When Braly first met Jane in a university café, she took it upon herself to edit a poem he was writing and criticize his handwriting. He was hooked. Struggling to impress Jane—an older, worldly masters of divinity student—he had to find his place among her seminary friends. “Salving the hurt feelings of a waiter, or a spurned bisexual predator—that’s my strength,” he deadpans. The next 15 years were a power struggle. In places, the book reads like a rollicking monogamy farce, intercut with fights about breastfeeding, organic food and burying placentas. “Sometimes my facts are no substitute for Jane’s feelings,” he finally realized.
It takes a move to upstate New York to actually trigger the separation. He mocks their new neighbours, Jane’s friends, for being “pussy-whipped beta farmers who’ve been ground into the soil of the organic Luddite psycho-matriarchy.” Even so, Braly never takes any cheap shots directly at Jane. That’s an endearing quality in a marriage memoir. If anything, the book contains one too many loving tributes to her force of personality. This is the book he felt he could write. I’d also like to read the first draft—the book he knew he couldn’t.
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By Manisha Krishnan - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
Qataris are holding back on weddings for savings
Expensive weddings are a headache for plenty of grooms, but in the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, it’s the reason many are forgoing marriage altogether.
Fewer people are tying the knot in the tiny nation, where one in four women of marriageable age is unable to find a partner, according to recent statistics. A report by the Population and Social Statistics Department says the “high cost of marriage” is partially to blame.
Wedding ceremonies in Qatar are separate for men and women, with men generally footing the bill for both. The price of renting a banquet hall ranges from $19,000 to $42,000, and that is typically topped off with a dowry and all the usual entertaining expenses. One soon-to-be-divorced man told Al Jazeera he saved up for nine years for his $125,000 celebration.
Small weddings are less of an option in the tight-knit region; couples send out mass invitations to avoid excluding acquaintances. To tackle the problem, an organization called Qatar Charity has rolled out a program through which it gives newlyweds financial assistance and the use of complimentary wedding tents. Four months ago, Crown Prince Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ordered the construction of ﬁve wedding halls, also to be available free of charge.
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
The mysterious process by which we ignore betrayal
One night, Julie Stone (a pseudonym) arranged for a babysitter and surprised her husband by waiting for him at his favourite bar. “As my husband came inside, a woman jumped up and went over to him and they kissed. When they stopped kissing, he looked up, and our eyes met. I’m kind of watching this and he walked over and said, ‘I don’t know who that woman was.’ I believed him. I thought, ‘That was weird’ . . . and whoosh! That was it. I spent the rest of the evening with him dancing. I never questioned him again about that woman.”
“Whoosh?” ask Jennifer Freyd, a research psychologist at the University of Oregon, and Pamela Birrell, a clinical psychologist, who cite Stone’s case in a new book. “What exactly is this mental process? You could say we study ‘whoosh.’ We have come to call this ‘whooshing’ away of important details ‘blindness betrayal.’ It means you do not, or cannot, see what is there in front of you.”
Stone’s case is one of many Freyd and Birrrell looked at when studying what they call “betrayal blindness”: the mind denying the overwhelming and obvious evidence that one is being betrayed. The phenomenon isn’t limited to the issue of fidelity. A child can be blind to a parent’s betrayal or an employee can turn a blind eye to mistreatment at work. How and why it occurs is the topic of their book, Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled.
By Katie Engelhart - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
And An Economist’s Other Surprising Theories About Quirks Of The Heart
“Have you ever wondered if national well-being is higher in countries in which men have larger penises that in those in which men are less well-endowed?” That question opens economist Marina Adshade’s upcoming book, Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love. (The answer: As average penis size increases, national income increases—but only for a while, at which point the reverse holds true. Adshade dubs this relationship the “boner curve.”) Comparing the “global penile length distribution map” to GDP is a bit of a gimmick, but Adshade’s broader point is “that almost every aspect of sex and love is better understood by thinking within an economic framework.”
Take this tidbit: shorter men have younger wives. Why? Adshade explains that women tend to value height in a potential mate—even when controlling for income. As a result, short men in their 30s are “significantly less likely to be either married or in a serious relationship.” Short men, then, are more likely to be single when they are older, by which point: a) they have proven their abilities as financial earners and b) their more alpine colleagues are already hitched. At that golden moment, they can take advantage of “a later-in-life marriage market that is populated with younger women who are less concerned with their husband’s physical appearance and more interested in his ability to provide a stable income.”
Here’s another: lesbians earn six to 13 per cent more than heterosexual women. Adshade says that’s because gender wage gaps don’t exist in homosexual unions, as they tend to in heterosexual unions. Lesbians might not expect to marry a higher-earner in the way that heterosexual women might. One study she cites shows that this encourages lesbians to invest more in skills that will give them a labour-market advantage. In the long run, this early investment pays off. The same effect is observed among obese women, who “recognize that they are less likely to marry, and if they do, they are likely to be married to men who have lower incomes.” They invest more in their “human capital,” one economist argues, than thinner women do.
By Katie Engelhart - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The soulmate search will soon be mobile, transparent and constant
In 2003, a young Mark Zuckerberg sat in front of his computer and instant-messaged a friend. Back then, “the facebook thing” was still a rough idea, and 18-year-old Zuckerberg was trying to finesse the concept.
Already, he knew what he didn’t want. “I don’t think people would sign up for the facebook thing if they knew it was for dating,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I think people are skeptical about joining dating things.”
A decade later, a somewhat savvier Zuckerberg has had a change of heart. Last week, Facebook unveiled “Graph Search,” a new search engine that will allow users to comb through data from their existing online networks. At a press launch, Facebook reps showed off the new product, explaining that it could be used to search for restaurants, or for job recruiting. At one point, a Facebook employee stood to demonstrate a search for “friends of my friends who are single and living in San Francisco.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Another way of looking at the week
In sickness and in citizenship
Ottawa is cracking down on the use of fake marriages as a means of gaining Canadian citizenship. New rules require newlyweds with no children to stay in a relationship for two years before foreign spouses get permanent resident status. If they fail to “cohabit in a conjugal relationship” for the 24-month period, they will face deportation. It’s a sensible measure that doesn’t put any undue hardship on legitimate applicants. Fraudsters, however, will now be less inclined to seduce Canadians into sham relationships—faking a happy marriage for two years is no easy feat.
Never too late
A major study of more than one million U.K. women shows that quitting smoking early enough in life can erase most of the fatal side effects. Writing in the journal The Lancet, researchers report that kicking the habit before the age of 40 avoids more than 90 per cent of the excess mortality from smoking and stopping before 30 avoids more than 97 per cent. That’s no reason, of course, for young people to keep smoking: death rates for all smokers are still higher overall. Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
Couples should fight more and not compromise
Dana Adam Shapiro would like to meet his true love, his muse, his collaborator. Shapiro is the Oscar-nominated director of the documentary Murderball and author of the acclaimed novel The Every Boy. He’s 39, handsome, single, and has never been married, though he’s been in love with plenty of women and had five three-year relationships.
He wonders if there is something wrong with him. Is he too cynical about marriage to make a long-term commitment? A buddy once told him that “getting married is like breaking into prison to serve a life sentence.”
For answers, Shapiro began interviewing divorced men and women until he’d spoken to 300 people. “I set out to vicariously live through the tragedies of others, hoping to glean some wisdom from the wreckage and to ultimately become so fluent in such failure that I would be able to avoid it in my own love life,” he explains in his new book, You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married.
The more unconventional the lessons he heard, the more impressed he was. “Somebody said to me, ‘Don’t paint the red flags white,’ and that’s something I’ll keep in mind a lot now,” he said on the phone from Berkeley, Calif. Shapiro believes most couples tend to avoid conflict. “But I think the idea of positive conflict, and how to fight fairly, is the key to a good relationship. Don’t surrender. Don’t pick fights but don’t avoid them. Admit if something bothers you.”
He cites the case of a 40-year-old divorced woman who regrets bottling up her jealousy. Her post-divorce behaviour is akin to having “truth Tourette’s,” she told Shapiro. “Now, when I feel jealous, I just say it right away. I’ll just announce it to the person I’m with. I’m through with being a ‘cool’ girl. I’m going to show it all, and I want to be with someone who’s going to be that real with me.”
“Accelerating the inevitable” is Shapiro’s term for it. “So much of the dating process is, let’s face it, faking it, because you really are putting your best foot forward. You want so badly to be liked. You might feign interest in something you’re not interested in. Why don’t we be ourselves as quickly as possible and then we can really see if we have the stuff to make a life together?”
One divorced 30-year-old whose ex-husband was violent suggests that couples seek out “uncomfortable experiences” before their wedding day. She told Shapiro, “Go camping. It might rain and you might get grumpy. Or, you’re on a plane and there’s a baby next to you screaming the entire time. How’s that guy going to handle it? Is he going to be like, ‘Shut that f–king baby up?’ If so, there you go. That’s not the guy you want to marry.”
Stating your needs at the beginning of the next relationship is another good idea, says Shapiro. “I think that people feel that having a need is synonymous with being needy, so they really hold that back.”
In the book, a 42-year-old divorced mom tells Shapiro about arguing with friends over the difference between a need and a want. “My closest girlfriend was there and she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever known, and she said, ‘I’m not ashamed to say that I need my husband. And I will call him and say, ‘I need you now.’ And I know that he’s gonna come and sit there like a nodding dog and listen to me.’ And all the men around the table went pale at the word ‘need.’ We said, ‘What’s wrong with need?’ And they said, ‘We don’t like the word need.’ We like the word want.’ ”
Shapiro says he plans to inform his next girlfriend that he needs to travel a lot and needs to talk about work at home.
He also believes too much compromise is dangerous. “A lot of people said they’d compromised themselves into oblivion. They became a shadow of who they really were. This isn’t the most traditional advice,” he laughs. “ ‘You should fight more, don’t compromise.’ But those are some of the take-aways for me.”
If he does get married, he won’t pledge his love forever. “It’s a silly promise to say, ‘I will love you forever.’ No one can say that. It’s just not true. I don’t care. No one can say it and no one should be loved unconditionally.”
By Brian Bethune - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
Hanna Rosin in conversation with Brian Bethune
Hanna Rosin, an award-winning American journalist, began investigating the developed world’s new socio-economic order in 2009, after the Great Recession hit the U.S. and the year female employment began to outstrip that of men. Rosin gathered the various strands of profound change—women dominating higher education and the fastest-growing economic sectors, the destruction of traditional middle-class marriage, and even women’s increasing aggression and violence—into her new book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women.
Q: More than one commentator has pointed out the apparently doom-laden symbolism of a woman chronicling the decline of men; “Like a man writing The Feminine Mystique,” noted one. What do you think?
A: Despite the title, the book is really more about the rise of women than the end of men. And maybe men don’t do that endless self-reflection and temperature-taking that women do. And they don’t do gender social movements all that enthusiastically either.
Q: It’s not news that the old physical economy with its traditionally male jobs is passing or that women are flourishing in the new one. What is news is the mounting evidence of the effects of those changes.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
If you supervise your husband like one of your kids, you’ve got problems
Most unhappy marriages are unhappy for the same reason. The wife is angry and complains that she has to do everything for her lazy husband. The husband accuses his wife of nagging and bossing him around. Nothing he does is good enough for her, and she’s not affectionate the way she used to be. If this sounds familiar, help is here in the form of an in-depth guidebook called How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother: The Answers to Becoming Partners Again.
The book, written by Sara Dimerman, a couples counsellor from Thornhill, Ont., and J.M. Kearns, the Ontario-born bestselling author of Why Mr. Right Can’t Find You, helps couples identify the signs and symptoms of “mother syndrome.” One of the signs? “Absurdly, you have to break up fights between him and the ‘other’ kids,” they write. Symptoms include loss of sex drive. “There may be plenty of sexual sap running through your branches . . . but it isn’t going to be directed at him. The slacker who doesn’t come through as a partner and needs to be supervised like a kid—that isn’t the person who’s going to light your fire.”
When a wife no longer wants sex, she often sends anti-erotic signals to her husband to turn him off. In a conference call last week, Dimerman confessed that the turnoffs listed in the book spring from her own experiences as a married mother of two kids. “Yes, I do have to admit it,” she laughs. The signals include sitting on the toilet with the door open, picking your nose, and agreeing to take a bath with your man and then pushing your hair into a plastic shower cap just before climbing in.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM - 0 Comments
In court, the Harper government is apparently arguing against the legality of some same-sex marriages conducted in this country. Asked about the Globe story detailing this situation, the Prime Minister stuck to his previous public stance.
But speaking in Halifax Thursday, the Prime Minister said the issue was not on the agenda for his majority Conservatives. “We have no intention of further re-opening or opening this issue,” Stephen Harper told reporters when asked about The Globe and Mail’s report…
“In terms of the specifics of the story this morning, I will admit to you that I am not aware of the details,” Mr. Harper said. “This I gather is a case before the courts where Canadian lawyers have taken a particular position based on the law and I will be asking them to provide more details”
Bob Rae is unimpressed.
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
A terminally ill husband can anger, even infuriate, his loving wife
Anger and annoyance are often dirty little secrets for women whose husbands are terminally ill. Sometimes the wife is furious at her husband for smoking and causing his own cancer. At other times she is riled when she has to clean up after him because he won’t wear adult diapers, viewing them as “babyish and feminine.”
In The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, author and widow Diana Denholm urges wives to write down everything that upsets them as the first step in the process toward fewer fights and more peace.
“Nothing that affects you is off-limits to your list. Whether it is a toilet seat that stays up, disrespectful behaviour, or crumbs in the bed: if it bothers you, it should be on your list.” Denholm, whose partner was diagnosed with colon cancer a month after he proposed to her, illustrates with examples from the women she interviewed. “Cathy” wrote: “What I hate most is when I’m trying to fix him a meal, he gets in my way. Then something falls or spills and he has a fit and he threatens to pack a bag and move out. Sometimes, I wish he would move out!” Later, the same woman writes, “Gee, what am I supposed to do about the smell? His bedroom has such a smell—it makes me sick to go in to help him. Yes, he’s got a colostomy bag, but he has the strength to get up and take care of himself.” On her list, “Fran” wrote: “I pray his death will be peaceful. But I really need to know when he’ll die. Yes, I feel guilty about wanting this to be over. But how much more can I take?”
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Flash-in-the-pan marriages are for celebs; the norm is fewer divorces and more serious commitments
Wedding season can be demanding, no matter how great the parties or how happy the couples. For Malik, a 26-year-old from Oshawa, Ont., who attended three weddings this summer, it was especially tough because he was keeping a secret from his friends. At an age when many of them are settling down, he’s in the process of separating from his wife. Soon, he’ll be divorced. “It is really isolating. I still haven’t told everybody,” says Malik, who asked that his real name not be used so friends wouldn’t learn of the split in Maclean’s. “I’m going to a wedding at the end of November for one of my closest friends. I don’t have the heart to tell him, ‘I’m going through a divorce, but congratulations.’ ”
A glut of books, movies and magazine stories suggests Malik’s situation isn’t unique: consider the recent, impossible-to-avoid breakups of stars Zooey Deschanel and Kim Kardashian after two years and 72 days of marriage, respectively. (Kardashian’s divorce attracted nearly as much attention as her over-the-top wedding, minus the televised special.)
But even if the celebrity cycle and the Eat Pray Love juggernaut would suggest that marriages are fizzing out in record numbers, that’s actually far from true. Four in 10 of the Canadian couples who married in 2008 will be divorced by 2035, according to a report from the Vanier Institute of the Family, an Ottawa-based think tank, and the rate has been relatively stable for more than a decade. That year, there were 70,229 divorces across the country, a four per cent drop from the year before—and a full 27 per cent lower than in 1987, the year after amendments to the Divorce Act made breaking up easier, legally speaking.
By the editors - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 1 Comment
Marriage may not matter as much as it once did to young couples. But it matters a lot to society at large.
Marriage may not matter as much as it once did to young couples. But it matters a lot to society at large.
Married couples are a foundation of the economy. They earn, save and spend more than their unmarried counterparts. They are happier. And a mountain of evidence shows stable two-parent families are good for kids. Children who grow up in a married family are far more likely to succeed in school, find employment and avoid problems later in life than those raised in other situations, however loving.
But despite all this, the future of marriage as a continuing social institution often looks quite grim. This week saw the release of a sobering international report detailing the decline in significance and prevalence of marriage, and the impact this is having on fertility rates, social cohesion and economic growth worldwide.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 19 Comments
Your man can’t make you happy, but there’s a new theory on how a lengthy union can help get you there
Cynthia is a 68-year-old woman in a 45-year “committed marriage” who has figured out how to keep it that way. Every other month or so she goes out to lunch with her college boyfriend Thomas, who is also married and has no intention of leaving his wife. Usually their outings end in a hot and heavy “petting session” in his Mercedes. Sometimes, he rubs Jean Naté lotion, the scent Cynthia wore in college, onto her legs and compliments her beautiful feet. They’ve never consummated their relationship, nor do they intend to. Being with Thomas is “like a balloon liftoff,” Cynthia reports, one that eases some of the tensions between her and her 74-year-old physics professor husband. “I’m a nicer, more tolerant person because of this affair,” she says.
Cynthia’s story is one of more than 60 confessionals from long-time wives that punctuate Iris Krasnow’s new book The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. And what their stories reveal is that marital longevity requires wives to establish strong, separate identities from their husbands through creative coping mechanisms, some of them covert. Krasnow spoke with more than 200 women, married between 15 and 70 years, who report taking separate holidays, embarking on new careers, establishing a tight circle of female friends, dabbling in Same Time, Next Year-style liaisons and adulterous affairs, and having “boyfriends with boundaries.” Yoga and white wine also feature predominately.
The 58-year-old Krasnow, an author and journalism professor at American University, writes she was “stunned by the secrets and shenanigans” in her journalistic journey through American marriages. She comes to the subject from the vantage point of her own 23-year marriage to an architect she loves but admits to “loathing” occasionally. She credits summers spent apart, separate hobbies and her close relationships with male buddies for some of their marital stability.
By Kate Lunau - Monday, July 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 3 Comments
That steam engine in your bed is bad for your health, worse for your marriage
We’re often told that celebrities are just like us, and in some respects, that’s true: a great number of them snore in their sleep. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter don’t just have separate bedrooms; they live in separate (but adjoining) London homes, partly because of Burton’s noisy sleeping. “Tim does snore, and that’s an element,” she told the U.K. Radio Times about their arrangement. Judge Judy has a separate room built off the master suite of her Connecticut mansion that’s just for snorers—a “snoratorium,” although she insists that it’s not just for her husband, and that she snores as well. Tom Cruise reportedly has a snoratorium too, where wife Katie Holmes can stow him when he’s keeping her awake.
Special snoring rooms are actually becoming de rigueur in many upscale homes. Jim Toy, principal at False Creek Design Group Ltd. in Vancouver, says his firm has designed a number of homes with adjacent sleeping quarters, or smaller retreat areas built off the main bedroom, that clients request “for, among other things, the snoring issue.” Some even ask that these rooms be lined with acoustic insulation and “literally be soundproofed,” he says. In a 2007 survey from the U.S. National Association of Home Builders, experts predicted that over 60 per cent of new upscale homes would have dual master bedrooms by 2015. Those expectations dipped after the recession, but on the “upper end of the scale,” Toy says, clients are still keen on having an extra snoring room. “It used to be his-and-hers bathrooms, his-and-hers closets, and his-and-hers offices,” designer Tom Scheerer recently told House Beautiful. “Now, everyone wants a snoratorium.”
Snoring is extraordinarily common. It tends to get worse as we age, partly because of weight gain, says Dr. Charles Samuels, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary. Given the fact that our population is getting older—and heavier, too, as obesity rates rise—snoring could soon reach epidemic proportions. In a recent survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 per cent of people said they snored. (Of course, some people don’t realize they do, or will deny it when confronted.) About 858,900 adult Canadians say they’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a more serious problem in which a person’s breathing briefly pauses, disturbing sleep until they start breathing normally again; people with sleep apnea almost always snore. Marketers are clearly aware of these numbers, evidenced by the growing range of products that claim to “cure” snoring—from nasal sprays to chin straps, special pillows and everything in between.
By macleans.ca - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
The RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death face perjury charges, while scientists prove Einstein was right
Some justice at last
It’s been over three years since Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver airport after RCMP used Tasers to subdue him. Now B.C.’s attorney general has laid perjury charges against the four officers involved for allegedly giving misleading testimony during the exhaustive Braidwood inquiry. While some, including Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, are disappointed the charges don’t relate to the tasering itself, Cisowski still applauded the move. The wheels of the law may be slow, but they do keep moving, and in this sad case the charges offer at least some measure of justice.
Harnessing hot air
Energy sources such as wind and solar could provide 80 per cent of the world’s power supply within four decades if governments provide the cash and policies to make it happen. That is the landmark conclusion of a UN panel that says it’s not too late to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a “safe” level. In the meantime, farmers are enjoying the heat. According to separate research, Canadian crops have been largely spared from the scourge of climate change—and our historically hard-luck farmers are profiting from increased demand.
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, it was a blow to China’s human rights record. But the big winner may be Scottish fish farmers. In a fit of pique, China has stopped buying salmon from Norway—its biggest supplier—and signed a deal with Scotland. Perhaps that contributed to the unprecedented majority won by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party in the May 5 elections. Good news for nationalist politicians, not so much for fish.
It’s all relative
A NASA study has confirmed two of the “most profound predictions” about Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: that space and time are both warped and pulled by Earth’s gravity. Astrophysicists say the results, based on data measured by an orbiting space probe, will have implications “beyond our planet.” In other physics news: engineers have developed a golf ball that won’t slice. Now there’s a breakthrough we can relate to.
In the post-Mubarak era, Egypt is transitioning, but to what? Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo, leaving 12 dead and two churches in smoldering ruins, amid signs Islamist hard-liners are asserting their power. At the same time, Syria continued its crackdown against anti-government protesters, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, while in Libya, forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi hammered rebels. Clearly the fight is far from over for the pro-democracy movement across the Middle East.
Tens of thousands more baby boomers will face retirement without a company pension plan, Statistics Canada reported this week. Since the recession, membership in private sector plans has fallen below that of the public sector for the first time ever. Which is why Canadians should be cheering the Canada Pension Plan’s tripling of its 2009 investment in Internet-calling-company Skype, recently purchased by Microsoft for US$8.5 billion. Unless you work for the civil service or at a university, the CPP may be all the help you will get.
Lord Triesman, the chair of England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup of soccer, is alleging at least four FIFA members demanded bribes for their votes, including a knighthood for Paraguay’s representative. Trinidad’s football head wanted $2.5 million cash for an “educational centre.” London’s Sunday Times reports two West African delegates were paid $1.5 million to support Qatar’s winning bid. And in France, the national team is embroiled in scandal after it emerged officials considered quotas to limit the number of African and Arab-born players on their development squads. The ugly side to the beautiful game.
A good marriage isn’t necessarily built on love or even physical attraction, suggests new research in the Journal of Politics. Among the strongest shared traits between U.S. spouses is their political attitudes, the study found. The political bond forms early in marriages, but it’s not always enough to keep them together. Just ask political power-couple Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who separated this week.
By Josh Dehaas - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM - 36 Comments
A growing number of men are taking up quilting, many of them retired engineers
Al Heslop spent his life travelling to far-away places taking measurements from oil wells and then analyzing the data using the computer programs he wrote. As he watched the violence in Libya unfold on television, the retired petro-physicist from Airdrie, Alta., was able to spot a few of “his old stomping grounds.” It was an adventurous career.
That’s why it seems strange that the 76-year-old’s new avocation involves carefully matching his fabrics to his threads and then meticulously piecing them together with needles and a Singer. Al Heslop is a proud quilter. And no, it was not his wife’s idea.
It was the other way around. Heslop dragged his spouse to the quilt shop to pick out their very first patterns, one day about five years ago. When he got home and opened up that first set of instructions he realized he’d chosen an advanced quilt by mistake. But the pattern that might have taken an advanced hobbyist months to finish was ready to hang two weeks later—just in time for him to enter it at the county fair where his daughter lives, in Kennewick, Wash.
By Julia Belluz and Erica Alini - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 10:13 AM - 10 Comments
What happens when the trend of globalized romance runs into the reality of immigration crackdowns, red tape and tough job markets
Gemma and Brent Charlton remember the moment they agreed that, against borders and distance, they were going to stay together. It was October 2006, and they were holding hands on a busy Hong Kong street. “There were buses going by, people everywhere,” Brent, 24, remembers. “But we decided it would be just us. We would see what happens.”
The pair was on a study abroad program—she from outside Manchester, U.K., he from Springfield, Ont. They had spent six months exploring Hong Kong, travelling in China. That night, they promised their relationship wouldn’t end with the university exchange. They didn’t realize, though, how much of their life together would hinge on unromantic things like the demands of the labour market, immigration policy—and sheer luck.
For nearly two years, Gemma and Brent kept in touch, mostly over Skype or “the occasional text,” says Gemma, who is 25. “I would have to wait up until 11, 12 at night, for Brent to come home from work so we could talk.” Phone calls were rushed, sometimes exhausting. Brent jokes, “It definitely was not the honeymoon stage.” They saw each other three times before Gemma decided, in 2008, to move to Canada.
By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 2:53 PM - 4 Comments
Economic theories applied to housework can save a marriage
What happens when you apply cold economic principles to heated marital problems? According to the authors of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes, you get logical solutions that work for everything from resolving quarrels in the kitchen to a lack of activity in the bedroom. “Spousonomics doesn’t require you to keep an anger log, a courage journal, or a feelings calendar,” write the authors, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, who have covered financial meltdowns and interviewed economic heavyweights like Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Spousonomics, they say, is about using time-tested theories like Adam Smith’s idea that businesses thrive when employees have specialized tasks, and then applying that to fight-prone areas of marriage such as housekeeping and tending to the kids. But how should a couple decide who is best suited to the tasks of laundry and vacuuming? For answers on that, the authors turned to British economist David Ricardo’s theory of “comparative advantage,” which, as the authors explain it, suggests “it’s not efficient for you to take on every single task you’re good at, only those tasks you’re relatively better at compared to other tasks.”
To show how it works at home, the authors present Eric and Nancy, “a case study in how a bad division of labour can harm an otherwise well-matched couple.” It used to be that Eric and Nancy split household chores strictly 50-50, and not according to who did which job best. If Eric cooked dinner one night, Nancy cooked the next night. The trouble was, “everything was a debate,” says Nancy. If Eric was chopping onions for the lamb tajine, for instance, he’d boil over at seeing Nancy sitting watching Law & Order. “Wait a minute,” he’d think, “why am I spending all this time on a fancy meal when all she ever makes is mac and cheese?”
By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:15 PM - 35 Comments
Sociologist Mark Regenerus on hooking up, marrying down, and the effect of women’s success on our sex lives
When it comes to having a career and education, women have more opportunity than ever. But their chances of finding a stable, long-term relationship have actually declined, argues Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin. In his new book, Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (co-authored with Jeremy Uecker), he says that the “price of sex” is at an all-time low.
Q: What do you mean by the “price of sex”?
A: Sex is, at bottom, an exchange between a man and a woman. One can use this exchange in [homosexual] relationships, but I didn’t go there; it would double the size of the book. It’s not a simple pleasure-for-pleasure exchange: men and women tend to seek different things from the act of sex. They often mean different things by it. This isn’t to suggest that women don’t like sex or that they don’t gain pleasure from it. We know that they do, but there’s more to it than that. Women tend to prefer sex that comes with commitment, attention, conversation, love and, sometimes, material gifts. As the price of sex diminishes, that commitment becomes harder to get.
Q: What’s driving down the price of sex?
A: Part of the story is women’s success: they make up the majority of college students today. When you look at the college campus, 57 per cent of American college students are women. In Canada, it’s comparable. And that’s a big imbalance.
Q: You argue that when women outnumber men on campus, it gives men more power to dictate the terms of sex. Your book notes that virginity, for example, is more common on campuses where men outnumber women.
A: Isn’t that interesting? When men outnumber women, women tend to get more commitment in exchange for sex. And women tend to like to marry someone of a comparable education status. But I don’t know how that’s going to happen 10 or 15 years from now. If the college imbalance remains stable, there will be a large oversupply of college-educated women interested in marriage, and there won’t be enough college-educated men. So they’ll have to marry down, and I know some who have. It’s not that it can’t work, but it is a little bit different.
By Julia McKinnell - Monday, December 6, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 37 Comments
Straight women with kind, loving husbands explain why they became lesbians
In a new collection of true stories about straight women turning lesbian, all of the women are, and were, married to extraordinarily kind, supportive husbands. Laura Andre, co-editor of Dear John, I Love Jane, points out that these women are “living proof that sexuality can change over time, often against our will. The women in this book didn’t set out to dismantle their marriages and relationships; the last thing they wanted was to hurt their husbands or boyfriends.”
One woman writes that her husband thought it was “cool” at first that she was attracted to women. “I wasn’t the jealous type so it never bothered me if my husband said another woman was sexy or beautiful. In fact, sometimes I would agree, and I spoke freely about different women I found attractive. He thought he had the coolest wife ever,” writes Crystal Hooper. “We always said that nothing and no one could ever come between us. Then along came Zoe.”
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, November 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 307 Comments
COYNE: We don’t need to ban polygamy to ban rape: it’s banned already.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m against polygamy. I think it’s wrong, and harmful, for all the usual reasons: that it devalues women, impairs the trust on which marriage and family life depends, upsets the sexual balance in society at large, and is broadly incompatible with the egalitarian, individual-based political values of Western civilization.
So when it came to opening statements in the landmark British Columbia Supreme Court reference on the issue, the government lawyer had all the best arguments, in my view. And yet I found myself agreeing with the conclusions of the amicus curiae, the lawyer hired by the court to represent the other side of the case.
The specific question the court is being asked to answer is whether the Criminal Code ban on polygamy is in violation of the Charter of Rights. But at bottom the issue is the role of the criminal law in regulating conduct. If the reference helps to clarify our thinking on that, it will have served a much broader purpose.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 3:20 PM - 1 Comment
It’s not just Kate Middleton’s big day. It’s her biggest fashion test.
For Kate Middleton, the big fashion test comes when she walks down the aisle. The wedding is the true coming out party for every royal bride. In the past, Middleton’s taste has meant clean, simple flowing gowns, all very form fitting while not revealing too much skin. So although she’s got Diana’s engagement ring on her left hand, she’s unlikely to mimic the late princess of Wales’s crumpled meringue of wedding dress.
In her choice of a designer and a dress, Middleton could draw inspiration from the dresses of previous royal weddings both in Britain and in Europe. The simplicity of Princess Alexandra of Kent’s dress from 1963 is a standout, with its one long unbroken line. Mette-Marit of Norway’s stark white gown (2001) and that of Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (1994), are masterpieces of soft draping, something Middleton favours. On the other hand, if the bride wants a gown with more structure, then the silk examples of Victoria of Sweden and Letizia of Spain are standouts.
By Stephanie Findlay - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 1 Comment
Princess Di chose the stone that her son’s new fiancée wears with pride
On Friday, Feb. 6, 1981, on the grounds of Windsor Castle, Prince Charles proposed to Diana—sans ring. It came two weeks later on Feb. 22, when he and Diana were having an intimate evening with the Queen. Diana described being presented with a choice of potential gems in Andrew Morton’s 1992 book Diana: Her True Story. “A briefcase comes along on the pretext that Andrew is getting a signet ring for his 21st birthday and along come these sapphires. I mean nuggets! I suppose I chose it, we all chipped in. The Queen paid for it.”
The ring in question was a large oval sapphire surrounded by 14 round diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold, worth $67,000 and made by jeweller Garrard & Co., the official crown jewellers at the time.
Just two days later, on Feb. 24, following a private lunch with the Queen, Lady Diana Spencer and Charles officially announced their engagement. On the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the future princess of Wales posed for photographers awkwardly, placing her hand across her body assuming an uncomfortable, defensive position. Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, wrote that her department-store outﬁt, picked days before off a rack at Harrods, was “air-stewardess blue with a matronly print blouse tied by a large pussycat bow that made her look like a zaftig Sloane on the frontispiece of Country Life.”
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 1 Comment
Prince William isn’t unusual in wedding a commoner—royals just don’t marry royals anymore
She’s tall and graceful, with glossy dark hair and a beaming smile. She’s known for her taste in fashion, including the posh hats that British high society prefers. But despite her elegant bearing and movie star looks, the most remarkable thing about Kate Middleton—Prince William’s bride-to-be—might be how very normal she seems. She’s from a small village outside London. Her solidly middle-class parents (neither royal nor aristocratic) run a party-supply business. She’s known for her self-deprecating sense of humour. And now, the prototypical girl next door—and the first commoner in modern times to marry a future British king—is engaged to the most eligible bachelor alive.
It might sound like a fairy tale, but Prince William isn’t the only royal settling down with a so-called commoner. The fact is that royals just don’t marry royals anymore. In Europe, eight monarchies remain (10 if the statelets of Monaco and Liechtenstein are included), but the continent hasn’t seen an heir or king marry a princess since the 1960s, when Greek King Constantine II married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, and Spain’s Prince Juan Carlos married Princess Sophia of Greece. These days, the royals often don’t even marry into the upper classes—instead, increasingly, they marry for love. While some argue it degrades the monarchy, others believe it makes out-of-touch royal families more accessible. And besides, what child doesn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a princess, or a prince?