February 13, 2002
Dating tips for single parents
A story released today by PRNewswire reports that for single parents dating is an
entirely different and more challenging situation than their experiences prior to having
children. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) wants single parents to know
that support is available. Their website, www.okparent.org offers multiple resources for a
variety of parenting issues, including sound dating advice for single parents.
Another resource for newly single parents is Calm Waters Center for Children and
Families. According to Calm Waters' executive director Judy Mee, LPC, death and divorce
can bring on turbulent and frightening times for young children and teenagers. She
cautions parents to proceed with caution when they begin dating again. Mee recommends the
-- Don't rush into a new relationship. Take a year off and focus on yourself and your
children. Take time to heal and rebuild your lives.
-- Re-establish routine and structure. When consistency and structure are
re-established, children are less likely to feel insecure when someone new enters the mix.
-- Don't forget where your priorities lie. Taking care of the children's emotional and
physical needs should come first.
-- Be slow to introduce new people to your children. Not every relationship has staying
power. Therefore, wait for signs of permanency before introducing new people into
the family. A parade of different people can leave children insecure and confused.
-- Take one step at a time. After introducing someone new to your children, ease them
into your children's lives; don't immediately include them in all family activities.
"You especially don't want someone new suddenly disciplining your children," Mee
Mee also recommends the following dos and don'ts when determining whom to
date and ultimately introduce to your children.
Do look for someone who ...
-- Can be fun and playful with your children.
-- Is responsible, trustworthy and treats you and your children with respect.
-- Is flexible with their schedule and can adapt if plans must change unexpectedly.
-- Is not threatened by your relationship with your children and expects you to put
their needs first with the understanding that they can some times be jealous.
Dont knowingly become involved with someone who ...
-- Has a tendency to scold or lecture you or the children.
-- Finds it difficult to be supportive or nurturing of others.
-- Is jealous of any time spent with the children.
-- Is incapable of apologizing or asking for forgiveness.
Calm Waters provides support groups for children five and up who are members of
families that have experienced divorce or death. Their support groups are offered free of
charge, but a parent must accompany every child. The center also gives seminars for a $25
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Saying "I do" or just
saying "I dont"
A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that in the
demographics of love, it seems that more and more people are holding off on marriage.
In the 2000 Census, the median age at first marriage in the United States was 25.1 for
women and 26.8 for men. For women, that marks a jump of 4.3 years since 1970; for men,
it's a dip of about four months since 1996 - but still 3.6 years later than in 1970.
Thirty-five percent of adults ages 25 to 34 had never been married in 2000: That's 13.3
million people. But by age 44, there was a lot of pairing up, as the ranks of the
never-married dipped by half, leaving only 15 percent of people who'd never said "I
But from 1970 to 2000, the proportion of never-married women ages 30 to 34 more than
tripled, from 6 percent to 22 percent. Men saw a similar shift, with 30 percent never
married as of 2000, compared to just 9 percent 32 years ago.
Single life does not mean locking
yourself at home
A story published today by the Bowling Green Daily News reports that as
Valentines day draws closer, single people are sometimes given a hard time. You hear
other people gush about romantic dates. While some people wonder why youre
"I dont know why, but society has a stigma attached to being single,"
said Laura Harris, the unmarried 30-year-old singles coordinator at Living Hope Baptist
Church in Kentucky.
Thats just one reason why Living Hope is working to help singles through a
variety of programs.
Harris has discovered that the singles activities including spontaneous
nights out, birthday parties and an occasional program called Friday Night Live
provide more than companionship.
"Its a good way of helping others and being with others and also getting
your own needs met," she said. "Its a growing process."
Harris said all ages attend Living Hopes singles groups.
There are college students, divorcees, those who have never married and those
whove lost a spouse to death.
The members of another singles group called Singles Friendship Group meets each Friday
night at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore. The group mainly consists of singles who are in
their mid-30s or older. The oldest member is about 72, according to Pat Henderson, the
Henderson said the groups members have become good friends.
While they meet each Friday at 7 p.m. to listen to speakers, play cards and board games
and have group discussions, they also have other events.
Each Tuesday night, members have dinner together at local restaurants. They often
gather for movies, dancing, golf, bowling, shopping, picnics, day trips and road trips to
places like Branson, Mo. Sometimes they have picnics, soup suppers and ice cream socials.
Its for "adult, single friends of all ages and walks of life with whom we
can meet in a non-threatening environment," 59-year-old Henderson said.
But sometimes those in the group become more than friends.
Henderson said several people have fallen in love after meeting in the group.
The Singles Friendship Group holds its regular meeting each Friday at 7 p.m. in the
Community Room at Barnes & Noble. There is no fee to join, but the group takes up a
collection each week to help pay for paper goods and other items that they use during
Living Hopes Bible studies and fellowship groups for singles also are free. For
more information about the times and dates of activities, many of which are held in the
homes of singles who attend Living Hope, call (270) 746-5982.
New report shows women are having
A story released today by the U.S. Newswire reports that according to the latest
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) birth statistics, women in the United
States are having more children than at any time in almost 30 years. At the same time, HHS
secretary Tommy Thompson said that births to teens continue to decline.
In 2000, the average number of children born to women over a lifetime was 2.1,
according to a new CDC report, "Births: Final Data for 2000." During most of the
1970s and 1980s women gave birth to fewer than two children on average, a rate
insufficient to replace the population (2.1 is considered the population's replacement
"The continued decline in the teen birth rate is very encouraging," said
Secretary Thompson. "Reducing teen pregnancy is an important health goal for our
The birth rate for teens 15-17 was down 5 percent, while the rate for 18-19 year olds
declined 1 percent for 2000. Overall teen birth rates declined for white, black, Hispanic,
and Asian and Pacific Islander teens and were stable for American Indians.
The new report features a number of other significant findings:
-- There were 4,058,814 births in the United States in 2000, a 3 percent increase from
1999, and the third straight increase following nearly a decade of decline from 1990 thru
-- The average number of children born to women over a lifetime was fairly consistent
along racial lines. White, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian women all had total
fertility rates of 2.1, and black women had a total fertility rate of 2.2.
-- For the first year in nearly a decade, the pre-term birth rate declined, from 11.8
percent to 11.6 percent of all births. The pre-term rate has risen fairly steadily over
the past two decades. However, the low birthweight rate (7.6 percent) did not improve in
-- More than one-third (33.2 percent) of all births were to unmarried women, up from 33
percent in 1999. Birth rates increased for unmarried women in all age groups except
teenagers, whose rates continued to decline.
Colorado divorce record bill gets
A story published today by the Rocky Mountain News reports that a plan that would allow
Colorado's courts to seal most divorce proceedings won initial Senate approval Monday.
Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, argued that SB 49 merely would allow divorced couples to
maintain the same rights as those who remain married -- to keep records ranging from
financial holdings to psychological reports private.
Gordon said he introduced the bill at the request of Arapahoe County officials who
believe that the information gleaned from divorce records could be used to steal a
The divorce files include Social Security numbers, investment holdings, credit card
numbers, pension information, children's names and birth dates, as well as psychological
and medical records.
There's a privacy issue on one hand and an open records issue on the other, Gordon
"In this case, I'm asking you all to think -- does this fall into the realm of
privacy or does it fall into public domain," he said.
Sen. Jim Dyer, R-Littleton, supported the bill, saying there was no reason for private
affairs being open records. Under the bill, the names of a couple granted a divorce still
would be public record.
"There is an enormous amount of information which is private," Dyer said.
"Now, suddenly because you get a divorce, this information is public record. There is
no compelling reason for it." Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, opposed the bill as
unnecessary, noting that judges already have the discretion to seal records in divorce
cases. She said those who put their Social Security numbers on drivers' licenses could
have their financial records tracked by private investigators.
Monday, February 11, 2002
Married people by the numbers
A story published today by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports on how the
percentage of Americans who report they are married. The figures are broken down by
several demographic groups. The percentages are based on interviews with 18,826 adult
Americans interviewed in 19 national surveys from 1992 through December 2001 by Scripps
Howard News Service and Ohio University.
The percentages reflects on people who answered "yes" to the question:
"Are you currently married?"
Entire nation ................ 58%
Men ......................... 59% Women ....................... 56 %
18-24 ........................ 17 % 25-34
........................ 57 %
35-44 ........................ 71 % 45-54
........................ 69 %
55-64 ........................ 72 % 65 or older
................ 55 %
Below $25,000 ................. 33 % 25,000 to $40,000
............ 59 %
40,000 to $60,000 ............ 72 % Above $60,000 .................
White ........................ 62 %
African-American ............. 41 %
Hispanic ................... 52 % Asian-American
............... 47 %
Other........................ 48 %
Household make up
Has children ................. 72 % Never had
children ........... 24 %
Lives in major city .......... 50 % Smaller city
.................. 59 %
Suburb ........................... 60 % Rural area
.................... 66 %
Very Conservative ............ 63 % Somewhat
Conservative ........ 63%
Middle of the Road ........... 59 % Somewhat Liberal
................... 51 %
Very Liberal ..................... 45 %
Ed. Note: This is an average taken from surveys over a 10 year period. They do not
accurately reflect the current situation since the percentages of married people have
declined significantly during this 10 year period.
Sunday, February 10, 2002
The realities of marriage and
A story published today by the Chicago Sun Times reports that according to a recently
released figures by the U.S. Census , nearly all American adults will get married at least
once in their lifetime. And about half of them also will be divorced at least once.
Marriage endures, but in what condition?
That is the question scholars at the University of Chicago set out to answer 10 years
ago when they launched the Lilly Project on Religion, Culture and Family.
The answer is complex and the search to find it has produced a dozen scholarly books
and a host of even more provocative questions.
"Marriage has been a public institution, so maybe we should think twice before we
let go of it," said Don Browning, Alexander Campbell Professor of Ethics and Social
Sciences at the University of Chicago Divinity School and director of the Lilly Project.
"It's starting to happen."
A decade of research found that:
- 70 percent of all American weddings take place in a religious setting, yet the
overall divorce rate is nearly 50 percent.
-A third of all births today are to single mothers. In the African-American community
the rate is nearly two-thirds. In 1965, only 5 percent of children were born to unmarried
-The United States has the highest number of single-parent families in the developed
world. But as recently as the late 1970s, 75 percent of all American children were being
raised in traditional, two-parent families.
-Half of all children who do not live with their father have never set foot in their
-The average age of those getting married for the first time has increased nearly five
years in a generation. In 1960, the average age for a man was 20 and 18 for a woman. Now
the average age for a woman is 25.
-More than half of all first marriages today are preceded by a period of cohabitation.
-One-third of children born to married parents and two-thirds of children born to
cohabiting couples will see their parents split before they turn 16.
"What we've seen is a massive change in one generation, a change so great that the
majority of parents of young children today were raised in a different type of family than
they live in today," Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey of the National
Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, says in the report, titled Marriage:
Just a Piece of Paper?
Colorados divorce rate
A story published today by the Oklahoman reports that three years after Colorado Gov.
Frank Keating declared war on the state's No. 2-in-the-nation divorce rate, the enemy
shows little sign of retreating.
Oklahoma's number of failed marriages -- about 20,000 a year -- has remained fairly
steady, state records show.
For every 100 marriage licenses issued in 2001, the state granted 76 divorce petitions.
Nevertheless, Keating and advocates of the $10 million Oklahoma Marriage Initiative
point to progress that they hope will help reduce the state's divorce rate by one-third by
"Divorce is so imbedded in the culture, it's going to be years before we turn it
around," Keating said.
To help with the governors cause, about 750 clergy members statewide have signed
the Oklahoma Marriage Covenant, agreeing to require a four- to six- month preparation
period before presiding over any couple's wedding.
The covenant is important because an estimated 75 percent of first marriages occur in
churches, synagogues or mosques, religious leaders say.
Too often, Oklahoma churches have served not as promoters of lifelong marriages but as
"wedding factories," said the Rev. Kent Choate, the Baptist General Convention
of Oklahoma's family ministry specialist.
About 200 people from state government, the religious community, private counseling
agencies and other sectors have trained to teach the Prevention and Relationship
Enhancement Program, or PREP. An additional 100 to 300 people are expected to be trained
by year's end.
In recent years, various studies have ranked Oklahoma's divorce rate among the highest
nationally. A 1998 Family Research Council report said only Arkansas had a higher divorce
rate, if you discount Nevada, where couples from across the nation flock for
The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative has put the state at the forefront of a developing
national debate over government-sponsored marriage programs.
Now, it appears that President Bush would like other states to follow Oklahoma's lead.
"I think it's quite exciting," administration official Wade Horn said of the
Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. "I think Governor Keating has shown real leadership and
creativity on this issue, and we're looking forward to seeing the results."
After Keating launched the marriage initiative, the state began calculating the incomes
of both individuals in a cohabiting couple when determining welfare eligibility. That
removed a financial incentive for couples to live together outside marriage.
Also, the Legislature passed a bill lowering the price of marriage licenses for couples
submitting to premarital counseling.
But so far, lawmakers have rejected Keating's calls to enact a covenant marriage law
and outlaw no-fault divorce.
Women should look out for their
An article written by Lauren Rudd for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette encourages women to
take control of their finances. The complete article can be viewed by clicking on the link
Divorce and stress hazardous to
A story released today by Reuters reports that a new study conducted by researchers
from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the State University of New
York-Oswego has found that chronic work stress and divorce can be a deadly combination for
Researchers studied data from 12,366 patients who participated in the seven-year
Multiple Risk Factor. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and will
be published in Feb. 11.
Of 10,904 men who were married at the beginning of the trial, the researchers concluded
that those who stayed married were less likely to die from a number of causes than those
Of those who divorced during the trial, 1,332 died from various causes, including some
663 from cardiovascular causes.
Those most adversely affected in the trial were patients experiencing both work stress
and divorce, the study found.
The researchers suggested "remaining married in midlife has protective effects in
the face of adverse experiences at work." They recommended counseling to help
overcome work and marital stress.
Saturday, February 9, 2002
Expectations in married life linked
to more divorces
A story published today by the Detroit Free Press reports that according to data
released Friday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans are marrying later and divorcing more
often. About half of today's first-time marriages end in splits-ville.
That's a reflection of changing attitudes, said David Popenoe, a sociology professor
and codirector of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
For the World War II generation, marriage was a partnership for battling life. Now,
Popenoe said, marriage is almost completely tied to feelings.
"But the problem with feelings is they are notoriously changeable," he said.
Expectations also change. Women still desire to marry someone who earns a decent
income, he said. But now, so do men.
"Many men want a wife who will earn money . . . but they also want this woman to
do the laundry and cooking. The whole area of marriage gender roles is still in a state of
flux and up for negotiation," he said.
The release of the report is timely. Marriage initiatives are cropping up in state
legislatures -- including Michigan's, where a lawmaker wants to establish a Marriage and
Fatherhood Commission -- and in Washington, D.C., where marriage is expected to figure
into the debate as the nation's welfare law comes up for reauthorization this year.
The report shows that among men born between 1925 and 1934, 15 percent were divorced by
age 40. But among men born between 1945 and 1954, 31 percent were divorced by that age.
"Young people I talk to say they wouldn't even imagine getting married without
cohabitating first, so things have really changed," said Pamela Smock, associate
professor of sociology at the University of Michigan.
Henry Baskin, a Birmingham lawyer who has specialized in divorce cases for 30 years,
said he has even heard of parents who encourage their children to live together before
tying the knot. Many end up divorced anyway, he said.
Robert Erard, a psychologist at the Psychological Institutes of Michigan in Franklin,
said money, in-laws and sex are prime culprits in arguments that lead to breakups.
But it's the little things that warn of trouble ahead, he said.
When couples no longer spend time talking to each other, going out alone together,
surprising each other with little things, or being physically intimate, problems can
quickly arise, he said.
When couples see warning signs like going weeks or months without physical intimacy,
not making up after fights or making up without addressing the cause of the fight, or
speaking about the partner in a disparaging way, they should get counseling, Erard said.
Eric Nordquist, a counselor at Perspectives of Troy, said he believes today's
instant-gratification society makes people think their marital problems can be solved in a
"The good news is, people who do seek counseling are oftentimes able to reconcile
. . . it does work," Nordquist said. "But the sooner people seek help, the more
effective counseling is."
Ohio says homeless shelters
eviction of singles breaks agreement
A story published today by the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Haven House
homeless shelter in Ohio, told all unmarried, childless adults to leave three days after
The Haven House says its decision was a compassionate effort to better serve homeless
families, and that the singles could always avail services of other shelters in the
community. But The Cincinnati Enquirer learned that the state has informed the Haven House
that evicting singles violated a 2001-2002 grant agreement, in which the Haven House said
it planned to serve 800 single men, 330 single women and 150 families in a 12-month
In a letter last week, the department's Office of Housing and Community Partnerships
informed the shelter that it had frozen half of a $71,500 grant to Haven House because of
the evictions and financial accountability concerns. The letter also warned that the Haven
House may have to repay up to half of the grant money it already received unless it can
justify how the money was spent.
The Haven House responded that it wouldn't accept the remaining money anyway because it
did not want to follow state-required, nondiscriminatory housing practices such as
taking in singles and gay partners.
But the Rev. Bobby Grove Sr. a former tent evangelist who has run Haven House with his
wife, Fayette, for 20 years , said:"We would never have turned anyone away until we
found out they had a place to go."
He said Haven House wants to focus on housing families rather than keeping husbands
separated from wives while in the shelter, which was segregated by gender.
He also said he was confident that the newly formed Church Hospitality Network could
take in the singles. He said the singles from his shelter "were referred to" the
church network, not summarily kicked out.
Scott Gary, supportive housing manager for the state Office of Housing and Community
Partnerships, said Haven House was one of 86 shelters receiving grant money through his
About 5 percent of the time, the grants are put on hold because of alleged violations
of grant agreements, as in Haven House's case. Most grant recipients opt to correct the
problems so the grant will be restored.
But last month, six days after officials visited the shelter, Haven House replied:
"We will not be requesting or accepting (any more) funds from the State of Ohio. ...
We cannot accept two gay men or two gay women or a woman and her "live-in' boyfriend
as a "family' and allow them to share the same bedroom as we would a man and his wife
who are legally married."
Rev. Grove says his shelter has housed lesbians and gays in the past, but didn't allow
intimate partners to stay there together.
Haven House has a month to prove it properly spent $35,750 of the grant money and
account for the numbers of people served and those turned away. If the explanation is not
adequate, Haven House could be ordered to repay some or all of that money.
The Rev. Grove says he thinks Haven House has handled all the money properly.
Scott Gary said it's not unusual for nonprofit organizations to change their focus, but
the no-singles policy violated the grant agreement.
"We cannot dictate to nonprofits that they have to run their program a certain
way," Gary said, "but we can say that if you want to do that, you're not allowed
to use our money."
Friday, February 8, 2002
Nonfamily households taking over
A story published today by the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 2000 census is
painting a different picture of suburban life, one that just as often could include a
widowed grandmother in a four-bedroom suburban home or a young single person spurning
active city life for the security and jobs of the suburbs.
A Brookings Institution analysis of the census numbers found that in 2000, 29 percent
of the U.S. suburbs were nonfamily households - mostly elderly people living alone and
young singles - while 27 percent were married couples with children.
The remaining households included single-parent families and married couples without
In the suburbs of the nine-county Philadelphia region, the gap is slightly wider, with
29 percent nonfamily and 26 percent married couples with children.
Nonfamily households outnumber married couples with children in four of the region's
suburban counties - Camden, Burlington, Montgomery and Delaware - mirroring what has been
happening for some time in Philadelphia.
"We're moving to suburbs that look like all of America," said demographer
William H. Frey, one of the study's authors. Much of the growth of the suburbs, he said,
is no longer due to traditional families but to single parents and nonfamilies.
"Part of the reason suburbs were formed was because people wanted to live with
people like themselves," Frey said. "Now, more regional planning will be much
more important to satisfy these different groups in the suburbs."
A big part of the decreasing household size is what demographers call "aging in
"You've got older people who are members of a generation that moved to the suburbs
in the '40s and '50s and never lived in the cities, or did at a much younger age,"
said Alan Berube, a senior research analyst at Brookings and the survey's co-author.
"Now . . . they're not moving to cities. They're not moving south. They're staying
where they are."
While senior-citizen services such as medical day-care centers multiply, younger
singles find townhouses springing up near their suburban office-park jobs.
To further reverse traditional notions, the survey also found that cities of high
immigration and overall ethnic diversity - such as New York and Los Angeles - are becoming
more "traditionally suburban," registering strong growth in married couples with
Where is the married, two-parent, suburban family still predominant, nationwide and in
In the growing suburbs - Gloucester, Bucks and Chester Counties, where expansion is
possible - married couples with children still outnumber nonfamilies.
"There's still this incredible urge," Frey said, "of families with
children to want to live in as much space as possible."
Census releases new data on
marriage and divorce in America
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that according to a Census
Bureau report, nine of 10 Americans are expected to say ''I do'' at least once in their
lives.But the report adds that about half of first marriages may end in divorce. The same
report also revealed that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to marry.
And among younger men, having an older wife is becoming more common.
The report, from a 1996 survey, provides ''comprehensive, historically rich data'' on
marriage and divorce, said sociologist Pamela Smock of the University of Michigan. In the
main, she said, ''it confirms things that many American people are aware of.''
Among the long-held trends reinforced in the census report:
While divorce has become more common, so has the tendency for divorced people to
remarry. First marriages that end in divorce typically last about 8 years.
About 50 percent of first marriages for men under age 45 end in divorce, compared with
roughly 47 percent for women in the same age group.
Younger Americans are delaying marriage until later in life.
''People no longer feel they have to rush down the aisle,'' said Marshall Miller,
cofounder of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a group based in Boston that advocates
equal treatment of unmarried and married Americans. ''The earlier people are married, the
more likely they are to get divorced.''
That partly explains why people with more education tend to stay married, Miller said.
His rationale is that more-educated people are more mature when they marry and presumably
have spent more time courting their future spouse.
For example, among never-married women ages 25 to 44 with a college degree, 15 out of
1,000 divorced within a year, compared with 30 out of 1,000 women with just a high school
While still high, it's a change from the 1950s, when everyone was expected to get
married, said Thomas Coleman, executive director of the Los Angeles-based American
Association of Single People.
A study released earlier this week by the Brookings Institution, a think tank in
Washington, also noted that suburban neighborhoods are no longer dominated by
Twenty-nine percent of suburban households were ''nonfamily'' - singles or elderly
people living alone, for instance - while 27 percent were made up of married couples with
''Elected officials and corporate CEOs need to pay more attention to the wants and
needs of unmarried Americans, especially since this constituency keeps growing,'' Coleman
America big on marriages but big on
A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that Americans revere
wedlock. Nearly 9 out of 10 of them will tie the knot sometime in their lives, more than
the citizens of most other countries. But, theres only one problem. Americans seem
more enamored with the institution than with each other.
Although marriage looks likely to remain a predominant fixture, the lack of a practical
or religious underpinning to many relationships threatens to undermine the wedding vows of
today's young couples.
If today's Gen-Xers go through the same experience as their predecessors, then divorce
rates won't drop and could even rise a little to a record 50 percent, according to a
report released today by the US Census Bureau. Such an outcome would prove especially
bitter for Gen-Xers, experts say, because they hold marriage in high regard.
In the view of some experts, America's newest newlyweds, for all their idealism about
finding a soul-mate, often fall short on the glue that makes matchups last.
"There's a certain hollowness," says David Popenoe, a sociologist at Rutgers
University and a founder of the National Marriage Project, a think tank looking into
marriage trends. Young people "want marriage very much, but they're not willing to do
what it requires to have a long-term marriage."
Whether Gen-Xers will do any better than their parents remains to be seen. In 1996 (the
latest Census data available), two-thirds of 25- to 29-year-old women had gotten married
but only 12 percent had been through a divorce. Using a mathematical model and assuming
today's newly-married couples go through the same transitions as their predecessors, the
Census projects half of their marriages could fall apart.
According to today's Census report, grandparents did a better job than parents at
long-term commitment. For example, 92 percent of the men born between 1925 and 1934 had
married and only 15 percent divorced by the time they reached 40. Early male Baby Boomers
(born between 1945 and 1954) nearly equaled the marriage rate (88 percent) but had double
the divorce rate by the time they reached 40.
"We're very, very good at rushing into things," says Marian Salzman,
worldwide director of strategy and planning for Euro RSCG Worldwide, an advertising agency
network based in New York. "We're also very good at rushing out of them."
A story published today by the Indianapolis Star reports that when the Bush
administration proposed to Congress for a $100 million experimental programs aimed at
strengthening and encouraging marriage among the poor, Indiana state welfare officials
approached the proposal with caution.
Indiana welfare officials skeptic on Bushs marriage-aid plan
Meddling with people's love lives isn't a high priority during an economic downturn,
said Cindy Collier, policy and planning director for the Indiana Family and Social
"We don't really have the staff right now to take on new projects not directly
connected to services, so I can't say that would be the first thing on our plate,"
The number of Indiana residents getting welfare checks went up 23 percent in the
second half of last year.
President Bush this week proposed a $2.13 trillion budget for fiscal year 2003, which
starts in October. The proposal includes $100 million that the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services would use to fund local marriage programs targeting welfare recipients.
Local governments would design their own programs and apply to the federal government
The demonstration project grants would not be tied to benefits in any way, stressed
Wade F. Horn, the Health and Human Services Department's assistant secretary for children
If Congress approves the marriage plan, the Health and Human Services Department would
solicit program proposals next year.
Gov. Frank O'Bannon's office isn't sure yet whether the state should submit a proposal,
said Andrew Stoner, executive assistant for human services.
"Some marriages aren't as beneficial as others," he said. "That's where
it gets tricky. Government is not necessarily the best arbiter of which marriages are
That said, families are generally better off when they're together, so Stoner said he
would support the broad outlines of the plan, provided benefits aren't used to bribe or
coerce anyone into marriage.
So far, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has chosen to use the
flexibility that welfare reform gave states mostly for traditional anti-poverty efforts
such as job training and child care.
However, the state does dabble a bit with family stability through training for
"We want fathers to be involved with their children whether they're married or
not," said Michelle Swain, a spokeswoman for the Family and Social Services
Men sporting engagement rings?
A story published today by the USA Today reports that when it comes to getting down on
bended knee, men traditionally have been the bearer of engagement rings.
But in a twist on engagement etiquette, women also are presenting their husbands-to-be
with rings months before tying the knot.
Engagement rings are increasingly encircling men's fingers. Simple or intricate, yellow
or white, diamond-embedded or birthstone-encrusted, the bands are yet another example of
how modern couples are calling the shots as they plan their nuptials.
An engagement-ring swap carries "a lovely sentiment of giving and promise,"
says Bride's editor in chief Millie Martini Bratten.
In fact, men's engagement rings are standard in other countries from socially
liberal Sweden, where sexual equality is paramount, to mostly Muslim Syria, where it's
shameful for a betrothed man to go without for fear he might stray from his beloved.
Jenny Libien's then-boyfriend popped the question a few years ago on Valentine's Day,
when nearly 10% of all proposals occur, according to a recent Bride's survey. Right away,
she wanted to reciprocate. "I'm a feminist and, well, we were getting engaged,"
says Libien, 32, a pathology resident from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. "It wasn't just
So while vacationing in San Francisco a month later, she spied the perfect token of her
affection at a sidewalk vendor's booth a sterling silver band for 10 bucks. "I
called it his training ring," Libien says. Her fiancée, computer scientist Richard
Goodwin, 39, needed a little encouragement before sliding it on his wedding-ring finger.
The band promptly confused his friends and family, who were sure the two had eloped.
A year later, the night before the ceremony, Goodwin pulled off his practice ring. The
process made graduating from silver to platinum "so easy," Libien says.
Other men slip their engagement rings on their left hand and double them up with a
wedding band after saying "I do." Still others adorn their right third finger
with the bands, some symbolically switching them to their left hand during the ceremony.
And what if the couple calls off the engagement? The etiquette is the same as with her
ring. "It depends on who does the breaking up," Bratten says. If he does the
deed, he gives his ring back. But if she gets cold feet, he gets to keep the ring, as a
kind of consolation prize.
Thursday, February 7, 2002
Virginia House pushes through with
bill to outlaw wife rape
A story published today by the Washington Post reports that Virginias House of
Delegates gave preliminary approval today to a bill that would allow Virginia to prosecute
someone for raping a spouse.
Also today, delegates voted in favor of allowing public schools to prominently post the
Ten Commandments and excerpts from secular historical documents, a step that critics say
would violate the Constitution.
Final House votes on both measures are set for Friday. They also would have to win
passage in the Senate before the legislative session ends March 9. Expanding laws against
domestic violence has broad support in the Senate, lawmakers said, but the chamber has
been less receptive to bills such as the Ten Commandments measure that have been
criticized for blurring the separation of church and state in public schools.
Also Friday, the House is to take up other measures favored by social conservatives who
hope to capitalize on the historic, 64-seat majority held by Republicans in the 100-member
chamber. Lawmakers will debate bills to require teenagers seeking abortions to obtain the
consent of parents, and measures to ban certain late-term abortions.
Proponents of changing Virginia's rape laws said the state has a double standard for
married and single women who are raped: A married woman can have her husband charged with
the crime only if the couple is not living together or if she was physically harmed.
"The question is, should a married woman be afforded the same protections under
our laws in regards to rape as an unmarried woman?" asked the bill's sponsor, Del.
Terrie Lynne Suit (R-Virginia Beach).
But some Republicans and Democrats predicted that the proposed change would enable
women fighting divorce or child-custody cases to falsely claim they were raped by a
husband to gain leverage in the dispute.
"People who would otherwise be the salt of the earth are completely nuts" in
divorce cases, said Del. Kenneth R. Melvin (D-Portsmouth), a criminal defense lawyer who
offered an amendment on the House floor to strike the proposed change in rape laws.
"Someone can say, 'I was raped three years ago,' and it has to be
investigated," Melvin said. "I am concerned about this poor soul who is unjustly
accused, who has to go out and find a lawyer."
Melvin's amendment was defeated on a voice vote, and lawmakers approved the domestic
violence package, also by voice -- but not before an angry Suit stood to denounce
opponents of her bill.
"A woman can be videotaped being held at gunpoint and forced to have sex with her
husband, and still she could not bring charges," Suit said. "Under common law,
we were property. Then, 22 years ago, we were raised a little further from that. It is
time to give married women their independence under the law in Virginia."
Virginia is one of 32 states, including Maryland, that exempt spouses accused of rape
from prosecution under certain circumstances. Virginia's law allowing spouses to file rape
charges in cases of physical harm or separation took effect in 1980.
Ethicists tackle issue of sex
A story released today by the Religion New Service reports that sex can be fine
with oneself and, in some circumstances, it can be terrific outside marriage.
Those were some of the sex-positive messages speakers were delivering at the annual
gathering of the Society of Christian Ethics, which brought together more than 350
religious ethicists from across Canada and the United States.
Many at the conference were determined to move away from traditional beliefs that
Judeo-Christianity preaches, such as sex is shameful, sex should be restricted to
procreation, masturbation is wrong, sex outside marriage is always bad and homosexuality
A chapter of one major academic resource book discussed at the conference,
"Sexuality and the Sacred," edited by James Nelson, is The Moral Significance of
Female Orgasm: Toward Sexual Ethics That Celebrate Women's Sexuality. Its author,
Professor Cristina Traina, a practicing Roman Catholic who teaches about ethics and
sexuality at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said female religious scholars
have been among the leaders in the movement toward promoting the sacredness of human
"The physical world, including the body, is one through which we experience the
love of God," Traina said during the Jan. 11-13 conference, which debated scores of
other controversial issues, from the morality of war to the ethics of globalization and
Traina compared sex to food.
Just as sex doesn't always have to be a method simply to make babies, she said, food
doesn't always have to be purely for nutrition. Sometimes, she suggested, it's fine to eat
a chocolate brownie simply for the wonderful sensation.
Sex is generally moral, she said, when it doesn't harm society and has meaning.
Although it's not official Catholic teaching, Traina said, most Catholics use some form
Many of the 1,000 members of the Society of Christian Ethics are staking out a kind of
middle ground on sexual ethics that does not embrace either the mass media's promotion of
promiscuousness or the strict anti-sex admonitions of some religious authorities.
The new breed of Christian sexual ethicists generally believes traditional religions
often have ignored the health and sexual desires of women, restricting them to the role of
As a result, a growing chorus of women has been trying to broaden the definition of
Many Christians, Traina said now believe sex between engaged couples, and even sexual
experimentation among young people, including masturbation, is morally acceptable.
In addition, many papers and speakers at the meeting do not condemn homosexuality,
suggesting a sexual relationship between homosexuals is not much different from sex within
a heterosexual marriage.
When it comes to family planning and women's rights, many of the Christian ethicists
have been joining with noted University of Victoria religion scholar Harold Coward and
working on how Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions could be better
emphasizing the need to limit family size to protect the Earth.
Daniel Maguire, a religious ethicist from Marquette University in Milwaukee, has been
studying different approaches to contraception and abortion in 10 world religions.
As co-author of "What Men Owe to Women," Maguire took part in a panel
discussion at the conference on justice-oriented family planning, which supported
"abortion as a backup when necessary."
The meeting revealed an explosion of interest in the changing shape of morality when it
comes to sexuality, reproduction and spirituality.
White House playing cupid for
single mothers on welfare?
A story published today by the Buffalo News reports that Tanya M. Siragusa, single and
pregnant with her third baby, is turning down a marriage proposal from President Bush.
It's not that she isn't flattered. It's just that, to Siragusa, Bush's
"proposal" - a line in his budget designed to encourage single mothers on
welfare to marry the fathers of their children - seems a bit irrelevant.
Siragusa is exactly the kind of woman Bush would like to see settled down and married:
She's on welfare, she's on her own, and she has children.
That's why the Bush administration included in its 2003 budget proposal, released
Monday, the $100 million item intended to promote "family formation" programs -
including marriage programs for single welfare mothers.
Siragusa said she wants to marry the father of her new baby, a longtime friend, but
added that she's not about to let any federal program hurry her into marriage.
"I wouldn't go for it," she said. "It wouldn't be worth it. Think of the
long run. You'd have to go get a divorce because you're not going to get along - and
you're not going to get along if you're forced into that situation."
Bush's marriage proposal will need approval in Congress before it becomes a reality.
But the Republican administration's position on welfare in the 2003 budget plan is largely
viewed as a moderate one.
On one side, there's the conservative-friendly marriage proposal, as well as increased
funding for programs that teach sexual abstinence to teenagers.
But on the other, the Bush administration is resisting pressure from some conservatives
to cut the overall amount of federal welfare funding now that five years has passed since
the welfare reform act of 1996 - which cut welfare rolls across the nation drastically.
In the Bush administration, officials said the marriage proposal and steady-state
welfare funding are no major break from the goals set forward in the 1996 welfare reform
act - which contained a widely ignored clause calling on states to encourage two-parent
Michael F. Musante, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
said the marriage funding would work in the following way: A $100 million pot of money, if
approved, will be included in the federal budget for Temporary Assistance to Needy
Families - the renamed fund for public assistance, or welfare.
Soon, the Office of Family Assistance in the Department of Health and Human Services
will write guidelines for the use of the money, which will then be available to private
organizations and other groups who want to apply for funding for social programs. The
programs must be geared toward the overall goal of marriage and the building of strong
two-parent families, Musante said.
"All of this goes back to the well-being of children," Musante said. "If
a child grows up in a two-person family, it's better for that child. And if it's better
for the child, it's better for society."
It's women such as Siragusa and Martinez that make Bruce Reed doubt the Bush
administration's marriage funding will have much of an impact.
Bruce Reed, chief domestic policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton, said that
the 1996 act purposely steered away from pushiness in the marriage department, because
it's an area with no certain answers - unlike work programs or welfare time limits, for
"If you spend any time with low-income women and men, there are a lot of reasons
why they're not getting married. It's not because the government has been discouraging
it," said Reed, who is now president of the Democratic Leadership Council in
Reed recalled a push by conservatives in 1996 to include a provision in the reform act
requiring teenagers with children to be married before they could receive welfare
"That failed by a 3-to-1 margin. Even the Republicans realized that life is just a
lot more complicated than that," said Reed.
Reed said that women - much like Siragusa - will not automatically buy into the Bush
administration's marriage funding. Some states and social organizations may not, either,
"Everybody is for marriage, but nobody's willing to require it, and nobody's
certain how to make it happen," Reed said. "The good news is that the
conservatives have run out of truly bad ideas - now they're pushing relatively innocuous
but ineffective ones."
Reconciliation, it turns out, is a growing business
A story published today by the Chicago Tribune reports that in response to a culture
awash in divorce, the last decade saw the blossoming of a veritable industry dedicated to
"It's easier to get help than ever before," said Diane Sollee, director of
the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. "People are getting
it." "The research shows that couples who stay madly in love disagree to the
same degree as couples who divorce," said Sollee, who is herself divorced. "The
difference is, they know how to handle it. This isn't about airing your problems; it's
about learning strategies to stop the behaviors that got you into trouble in the first
There are now plenty of places to learn those strategies. At the front end is
premarital education, designed to teach couples what to expect and keep poor prospects
from ever reaching the altar in the first place.
There are also covenant marriages--currently available in Arkansas, Arizona and
Louisiana--where couples pledge to get counseling if they have difficulties. At the back
end, there's a move to dismantle no-fault divorce laws that have been in effect since the
1970s. Restoring blame, the thinking goes, will make it more difficult for a spouse to
In between, there are dozens of programs--such as Marriage-Savers and
Retrouvaille--that aim to mend, not end, a flawed relationship. The programs teach warring
spouses the right way to keep slights from escalating into disagreements and disagreements
from hardening into bitterness. Despite all these programs, the statistics have budged
The divorce rate hovers around 40 percent, and the dissolution rate for second unions
is even higher. So, say therapists, the solution is not merely shedding your mate because
you bring problems with you. And not everyone applauds the trend.
Much marriage education seems overly trendy, said Ila Chaiken, a therapist at the Lilac
Tree, an Evanston support organization for women going through a divorce. She fears that
the current groundswell will keep women trapped in bad--or even dangerous--unions.
"There's a lot of hype," she said, pointing to one suburban program that
"guarantees" to save foundering marriages.
Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of divorces are due to severe
problems, such as chronic substance abuse or domestic violence. Most marital problems,
therapists say, occur because of problems that are "unequivocally solvable,"
said Michelle Weiner-Davis, a Woodridge therapist and author of "Divorce
"The overriding question should be: How many of the divorces that occur are truly
preventable? Not preventable just in terms of staying together for the sake of the kids,
but preventable in terms of helping them rediscover what they love about each other and
make their lives good again."
Magazine reveals sex trends for men
A story released today by Ananova.com reports that according to a survey conducted by FHM
magazine, half of young single men only have sex a few times year.
The magazine's readers have revealed sex trends such as the fact two-thirds say they
have never cheated on their partners.
Of men with live-in partners 17% say they have sex every day compared with only 4% of
More than two-thirds of the men (69%) said they had had between one and five
one-night-stands, and 7% say they have had more than 20.
Two-thirds say they have never cheated on their partner and of those who had cheated,
only 6% said they found it exciting and would do it again.
Almost half say they would never be unfaithful again, but 3% said they had cheated more
than 10 times.