10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…
Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.
Common law, case law, moves slowly. It basically crowd-sources notions of fairness and justice over time and turns them into rules. Normally this works well. But when the assumptions that informed the common law were faulty, then precedent drags positive change.
We can see this happening in child custody arrangements. The precedents set in the 1970s when the divorce rate rose were informed by Freudian attachment-theory studies in the post-war era on orphans, as they were the most commonly found victims of fractured families. As attachment theory developed, psychologists started studying mothers and young children. It seemed a logical first layer of detail to examine given the expectations that women took care of the children while men worked outside the home.
When the divorce rate rose in the ’70s and courts had to start declaring custody arrangements, the experts recommended primary mother care because they didn’t have data for anything else. From a 1992 “Origins of Attachment Theory” paper in Developmental Psychology:
Although we have made progress in examining mother-child attachment, much work needs to be done with respect to studying attachment in the microsystem of family relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Despite studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) that show fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant attachment figures, we still have much to learn regarding father attachment.
Formal studies of children in broken homes didn’t really start until the ’80s when there were children of divorce to study and a fierce need for relevant data. And the father and child arrangements that the data recommend look little like the modern arrangements formed under the inertia of legal precedent.
A divorce is never funny. Despite that, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the coverage of Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s separation yesterday. CNN, Entertainment Tonight and People magazine quickly added the couple to their picture slideshows of the most “shocking” splits in Hollywood.
The first time I heard of Thicke was when he famously, or should I say infamously, took the stage with Miley Cyrus and added the word “twerk” to our national vocabulary. After watching Thicke perform a semi-pornographic dance with a young woman in front of millions, I assumed he was single. When I heard he was married, I wondered when this announcement regarding a divorce would be coming. Of the twerking, Thicke’s wife Patton unconvincingly said:
The key part of the above statement is “any more” — implying that it did affect Patton at one time. News of Thicke’s wandering eyes and hands (seen above) circulated as well. Patton continued to deny that the behavior of her husband was affecting her marriage, and outlets covering her remarks seemed to actually buy it, given the coverage of their separation.
What about the split is so shocking to the media? Thicke and Patton had been together for about twenty years, having met in their teen years. ET bemoaned in their coverage of the breakup that “few Hollywood couples have been together as long as they have.” Twenty years. That’s apparently record-setting for those writing about the couple in the media.
During the Olympics, NBC News deemed the lifestyle of an American skier ”alternative.” What was so trailblazing about his life choices? He had married “young” and had a child at home, all before the age where most Americans find themselves kicked off of their parent’s insurance plans.
Somehow the media decided that the dissolution of Patton and Thicke’s marriage — punctuated by groping and tweaking — was somehow shocking, while simultaneously deeming a young marriage where children entered the picture earlier rather than later “alternative.” If we held the media, not to mention Hollywood, up to the standards of the rest of the country, we might not see quite as many “shocking” splits like these in the future. Instead, we might see more “alternative” couples marrying young, with the intention of staying together.
Image Via NY Daily News
Second wave feminism, popularized in the 1960′s, is a rich white girl’s game. Just ask Betty Friedan, or better yet, Wendy Davis.
PBS’s 1964 featured commentary on the then-nascent women’s movement that would become known as Second Wave Feminism. The segment contains clips of commercials advertising household products marketed to women to make their lives easier in the home juxtaposed by Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan’s response to these technological innovations: Women were increasingly bored.
Clips from a Friedan interview (what a miserable looking hag) reveal a perspective fueled by stereotypical thinking. Describing “the problem that has no name” she explains, “it’s not being anybody in themselves, really…” detailing that these women lack role models; even the women on TV are nothing more than ”mindless little drudge[s]…whose greatest thrill is to get that kitchen sink pure white…”. Embracing Freudian psychology, Friedan dismissed the roles of wife and mother as useless, even detrimental in light of the now-disputed Alfred Kinsey’s quack theory that “parasitical mother-love” made men gay.
The stereotypes upon which Friedan based her claim revels in the kind of ignorance common among upper middle class white women who could afford to be bored at home. Women composed over 1/3 of the workforce in 1960; contrary to Friedan’s audience, 19 million women were active in the labor force in 1964. When commenting on why black women by and large never read Friedan’s book, Michelle Bernard observed that most black women “…believed that Friedan’s work spoke only to a privileged class of white women who had nothing better to do than whine about how difficult life was as a stay at home mother.”
It becomes obvious reading The Feminine Mystique that Friedan never intended to market to an audience of working women who would’ve appreciated the technological innovations entering the home. Friedan loaded her book with (now disputed) academic citations that would only have been recognizable by her fellow Smith College graduates and their educated, upper-class compatriots. This nomeklatura-style intellectualism comes as no surprise when Friedan’s communist past and Marxist agenda is taken into account:
“…under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of “The Feminist Mystique” launched the modern women’s movement.
…Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America’s suburban family household as “a comfortable concentration camp” in “The Feminine Mystique” therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America than with any of her actual experience as a housewife or mother. (Her husband, Carl, also a leftist, once complained that his wife “was in the world during the whole marriage,” had a full-time maid and “seldom was a wife and a mother”).”
Wow, this was painful. The oldest of the Gosselin twins, Mady and Cara of Jon & Kate Plus 8 fame, publicly humiliated their mother on national television this morning. While I normally would never cheer such behavior, Kate deserved it for clearly dragging her daughters onto TV, where they spent their entire childhoods, to force them to proclaim that they loved being reality TV stars and would happily become ones again.
The New York Post’s headline for the trainwreck, “Kate Gosselin’s Twins Freeze Up on ‘Today’ Show” doesn’t do the moment justice. They clearly didn’t freeze up in a moment of panic; there was genuine and palpable hostility between the daughters and their mother. Growing up in front of cameras may not have been the healthiest of environments, but it certainly acclimated the girls to the spotlight. The 13 year-old twins were asked to lie on national television about the impact of having their childhoods, and later their parents’ very messy divorce, play out in public. To their credit, they refused to bite. The Post lays out just how tense the moment was:
“This is their chance to talk. This is the most wordless I’ve heard them all morning,” red-faced mom Kate Gosselin said.
“I don’t want to speak for them. But Mady go ahead, sort of the things that you said in the magazine – that years later, they’re fine. Go for it Mady.”
Mady responded: “No, you just said it.”
The Gosselin girls spoke to People magazine earlier this month, explaining that their parents’ decision to put them TV wasn’t a damaging experience.
But given the chance to repeat that line, Cara and Mady went virtually silent.
Savannah Gunthrie asked the girls how their family, bruised and battered by divorce, was doing. It was this question the teenagers refused to answer. Later in the segment Mady did speak up, rather unconvincingly, about the damage (or lack thereof) that being reality TV stars did to their upbringing. Given which questions the girls refused to answer, and which they did, it appears that they may not lay the blame for their childhoods at reality TV’s doorstep. Having family vacations televised probably wasn’t quite as damaging as watching, along with the rest of the country, as their parents divorced and then galavanted across tabloid pages with their new flames.
Last week I went through my collection of old 45 records (LMGTFY if you’re under the age of 40) and ended up taking a trip in the Wayback Machine — back to the beloved songs of my childhood in the 1970′s. I wasn’t old enough then to understand the cultural implications of the songs and I was largely sheltered from the tumultuous cultural shifts of that era in my family’s suburban community. Listening to those songs now, knowing the history and the context (and also seeing parallels to today’s cultural conflicts), it’s interesting to see how these battles were both reflected in the music of the time and affected by it.
The year 1972 was a heady time for women’s rights. The first woman was admitted to Dartmouth, the first female FBI agents were hired, Sally Priesand became the first female U.S. rabbi and perhaps most significant, both houses of Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. Opponents of the ERA warned that if it passed, we’d see women in combat, the disappearance of single-sex bathrooms, and women losing custody of their children in divorce cases. (It seems ironic now that all of those warnings have come to fruition, despite the failure of the states to ratify the amendment.)
That same year, the Supreme Court heard Roe v. Wade, which became the law of the land a year later when the Justices of the nation’s high court discovered a previously unknown right to privacy in the Constitution. The ruling effectively invalidated most state and federal laws that placed restrictions on abortion.
Also in 1972, Australian-born singer/songwriter Helen Reddy won the Grammy award for Best Female Performance for her song, “I Am Woman.” In her acceptance speech, Reddy thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.”
Sex has seeped into our culture to such an extent that we can no longer accurately define pornography. It used to be simple: Selling sex for money. Nowadays we Clinton the definition, questioning what is sex versus what is sexy, all the while wondering whether we’re artsy or just plain perverted. As a result, we not only question what constitutes pornography, but we question whether or not individual interaction with pornography is acceptable. For the sake of this discussion the latter is, of course, the more valuable question, simply because to the God who granted us free will, the choices we make are what ultimately matter to our relationship with Him and each other.
So, when it comes to drawing lines regarding porn and porn-related behaviors, the first question anyone needs to ask themselves is: What do you define as pornography and, more importantly, why?
The common definition of pornography involves “obscene writings, drawings, photographs or the like”. ”Obscene” is defined as “offensive to morality or decency; causing uncontrolled sexual desire.” Biblically speaking, there is no direct commandment proclaiming pornography evil. Yet, there are several commandments regarding acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. And, in relation to writings, drawings and photographs, God prohibits us from making graven images to worship.
When approaching any graphic material we must ask ourselves if we are in any way submitting ourselves to that image. In the case of pornography, are we submitting to uncontrollable desire when we confront an obscene image? Conversely, are we ascertaining authority from our relationship to that image? In either case, how will our relinquishing or claiming of control impact the choices we go on to make?
Porn advocates would argue that as long as a porn user remains “in control” of their porn usage, there is no harm being done. In a recent conversation, my editor relayed two stories to me. The first involved an older, fairly observant Jewish man who found Playboy harmless because his own father, a loyal family man, had a lifetime subscription. The second involved an Orthodox man announcing in front of his wife that he’d be going with his buddies to a strip club to celebrate a friend’s bachelor party, to which his wife didn’t bat an eye. Both are examples of the “no harm, no foul” theory at work.
As Powerline blog notes, commenting on this same article, it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish supposedly serious news sites from the Onion.
According to the ever-entertaining and self-aggrandizing Huffington Post, Nadine Schweigert married herself and “opened up about self marriage.”
A 36-year-old North Dakota woman who married herself in a commitment ceremony last March has now spoken about her self-marriage choice in an interview with Anderson Cooper.
The marriage took place among friends and family who were encouraged to “blow kisses to the world” after she exchanged rings with her “inner groom”, My Fox Phoenix reports.
“I feel very empowered, very happy, very joyous … I want to share that with people, and also the people that were in attendance, it’s a form of accountability,” Nadien Schweigert told Anderson Cooper.
Schweigert said the ceremony was a celebration of how far she’d come since her painful divorce six years ago that led to her two children to decide to live with her ex-husband.
“Six years ago I would’ve handled a problem by going out and drinking,” she said. “I smoked, I was 50 pounds overweight … this is just celebrating how far I’ve come in my life.”
Note the delicate construction in that whole passage — six years ago she left her husband, and that’s how she handled “a problem” then — so what problem does she still have? Presumably the fact that she remains alone, since women who have remarried rarely have to “marry themselves.”
And what form of “accountability” is she emphasizing? What exactly is she promising herself? To do the best she can for herself? I thought that was just what we owed ourselves and society?
Or is her “commitment” and accountability to make the best of being alone? And make it sound like a grand adventure?
Marriage by definition is the union of two individuals, who commit to each other. Committing to… yourself?
Oh, honey, in my day we just called that being a spinster.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock,© Frantisek Czanner
Clark, who was once a Democrat presidential hopeful, is blaming “general indignities.” In Arkansas divorce law, “general indignities” is a catch-all for a lot of stuff.
“Rudeness, vulgarity, unmerited reproach, haughtiness, contempt, contumeliousness, studied neglect, intentional incivility, injury, manifest disdain, abusive language, malignant ridicule and every other plain manifestation of settled hate, alienation, and estrangement.”
Legal experts said “general indignities” is the equivalent of the standard, blame-less “irreconcilable differences” used in most states.
The only relevant “irreconcilable difference” at play here is the difference between his longstanding and longsuffering wife versus the 30-year-old fashion entrepreneur he met at — I’m not making this up – a Deepak Chopra symposium.
Irreconcilable difference: The wife he’s dumping can’t magically make herself half her current age.
Democrats, “war on women,” Weiner Spitzer Filner Gore Clinton Clark.
The media won’t make any of those connections.
More: Hm. Look at Item 4 in this list of things you need to know about Clark’s pal, Shauna Mei.
4. Mei Was Raised in China and Feels Chinese
Mei was born in Mongolia and raised in China before moving to the United States after the Tienanmen Square massacre. Her hometown is Beijing according to her Facebook profile. In an interview with a Chinese interviewer last year, Shauna Mei has stated: “I came to America when I was 8 and spent my first grade in China. I still remember a great Chinese role model called Lei Feng.” Lei Fend was a soldier of the People’s Liberation Army who was characterized as a “selfless and modest person who was devoted to the Communist Party” he also become a subject of a nationwide posthumous propaganda campaign.
We live in a small town, Doylestown, Ohio, population 3000, 1.88 sq. miles. Technically, we live outside the “Village” in Chippewa Township which brings the total area of our community to 36 sq. miles and swells the total population to 7000. This weekend we celebrated our annual Rogues’ Hollow Festival, enjoying small town America at its finest. The weekend began with a parade and it seemed that anyone with a church, a civic group, or a tractor joined in — the sidewalk overflowed with senior citizens and young families with children scurrying to grab candy tossed from floats. There was great music, Lion’s BBQ chicken, corn dogs, and of course, funnel cakes. The weekend culminated in a Saturday night fireworks display.
As the fireworks began, my husband and I ducked into an alley between two local businesses to get a better view. Occasional couples or groups of teens passed through as we watched the fireworks, and one unfortunate group walked through at the same time as the Village mayor and a Township trustee. For some odd reason, the mayor barked, “You kids! Get back there!” and pointed them back to the main street of the festival. The kids looked a bit startled, but mumbled their “OK”s and obediently headed back to the street.
I don’t know if the boys — they looked to be around 14-years old — knew that the man was the mayor or that he had no actual authority to order them back to the festival. But they did what they were told without question. The encounter took me back to my childhood, to the neighborhood I grew up in where everyone’s parents sort of did have the authority to discipline everyone else’s children. And if the neighbor’s parents saw you stepping out of line, you could be sure your parents (and all the other neighbors) would hear about it by the time the streetlights came on. Respect for the authority of your elders was unquestioned. My parents preached it and they modeled it as did most other adults in our community. Two-parent families were the norm; the first divorce sent shockwaves down the street. I remember hearing neighbors talking about it in hushed voices — divorce was still so uncommon then that it was scandalous.
It even seems to be factually accurate!
Word that Moore and his wife of 21 years were splitting up generated plenty of news stories last week.
The “documentary” fib-maker doesn’t make as many headlines as he once did, of course.
Remember when Moore’s back-to-back hits Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 made him famous enough to get mocked in other people’s movies?
Remember his sold-out international speaking tour?
His ubiquitous bestselling books?
Today, Michael Moore’s Q Score is probably somewhere between Pokemon and Pogs.
Crime doesn’t pay. That used to be the cliché moral of black-and-white detective stories during the Golden Age of television. Today, a sad variation has emerged. Marriage doesn’t pay.
A Voice for Men published a provocative list last month of “8 reasons straight men don’t want to get married.” A thoughtful consideration may leave married men with the distinct impression that they have been suckered. Less respect, less sex, fewer friends, less space, less freedom, and the threat of losing half your stuff all tilt the scales against tying the knot. Discounting any emotional or spiritual value to matrimony, the practical value seems to have diminished.
While fewer men seek marriage in the United States, more men are likely to end marriages in China after the advent of a new law which may leave their ex-wives homeless. The Telegraph reports:
According to the new law, residential property is no longer to be regarded as jointly owned and divided equally in the event of a divorce.
Instead, whoever paid for the apartment or house is the legal owner and gets to keep it in its entirety.
For a variety of cultural reasons, the legal owner tends to be the man. Chinese marriages typically occur only after the man has secured a home for the new couple. Wives labor under the cultural expectation that they care for both children and elder parents, which mostly precludes any direct financial contribution to the home. For wives, this means that their husbands now have less incentive to remain faithful, because the threat of divorce has lost most of its financial teeth.
Looking at the Chinese marriage crisis, we see yet another example of how the institution has been steadily redefined over decades from a sacred bond fulfilling a spiritual purpose to a legal arrangement teetering on the precipice of personal convenience.
Come August 1st, gay couples within Minnesota will be legally bound in civil matrimony. The state became the twelfth in the nation to legalize gay marriage after being among the first to reject a ballot question which would have affirmed the traditionally understood definition, a union between one man and one woman.
The debate which culminated in this dramatic shift in social policy has been enormously divisive, provoking conflict between friends, among family, and within organizations. Standing up for the traditional definition earned allegations of bigotry. Reasoned discourse proved elusive. Talking points erupted from emotion. Slogans distorted the truth. As the dust now settles in the North Star State, gay marriage manifests from concept to reality.
As a resident and politically active Christian, I have taken some time since the law has changed to deconstruct the battle for marriage in our state. I stand convinced that it was lost long before anyone suggested the notion of same-sex unions.
Advocates of tradition have framed the debate over marriage as an attempt to redefine a sacred institution. What we weren’t prepared to admit is that such redefinition had already occurred. While the extent to which marriage has ever been broadly held sacred remains an open question, it was at least treated as such in times past. There were natural incentives to encourage it. The greatest of those was children. Beneath higher concepts of honor lay the simple facts that sex may result in children and children present responsibility. The proverbial shotgun wedding was a pragmatic affair, because a father properly ought to provide for his offspring and their mother.
Such incentive abated with the advent of birth control, the rejection of gender roles, and the legalization of abortion. In a matter of decades, the pragmatic reasons for entering into matrimony no longer applied. Sure, sex could still lead to children, but not necessarily. Conception could be prevented. Pregnancy could be terminated. And the state stood ready to provide when fathers would not.
Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!
This week, one of my regular commenters asks for advice on his (or her) self-destructive sister. The situation is below:
Dear Bad Advice,
Please allow me to complain about my constantly-complaining sister!
Actually, I try not to buy into her mindset. The constant complainer “wins,” if you continually allow them to get under your skin.
Not only does my sister complain a lot, but she has made some very bad choices in her life: cheating on a good husband, refusing to reconcile with him, not doing anything about finding a decent job, constantly antagonizing friends and family, etc., etc. And despite all of her very bad choices, she always finds someone else to blame for her self-inflicted misery. She even blames our kind, responsible, loving parents, who did not spoil us, but who, according to her bizarre thinking, supposedly ruined her life by not preparing her for every possible situation which might arise due to her own mistakes. And if you get into a conversation with her, she will be sure to let you know this.
People like my sister seem to wallow in their own misery, and have a “grass-is-greener” attitude about other people’s lives, which is, of course, completely unrealistic. And, there are times when I just need to tell my sister what’s what, even though that always creates a firestorm, and there are other times when I need to break off contact for at least a while. My sister needs to take responsibility for herself, and until that happens, she will continue to inflict misery on herself and others.
- Not Into Sister’s Act
This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t treat your sister like she’s crazy for going through some ups and downs.
Ask almost anybody to name the most important things in their life, and chances are family will make its way onto the list. Family — or at least the idea of it — lies at the core of most people’s existence. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God designed the family to be the catalyst for spiritual, physical, and emotional growth. The biblical idea of family is built around mutual respect and well-defined roles. You can find plenty of advice in the Bible on how to live life within the family:
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8
“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Proverbs 15:20
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20
“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Walt Disney lived these values too. He loved his daughters and grandchildren, and his ultimate goal was to provide quality entertainment for families. He designed his theme parks to be fun for parents as well as children, and his films and television series contained elements that the entire family could enjoy.
On the next few pages we’re going to look at the value of family in some of the classics in the Disney canon. The studio released four of these films during Walt’s lifetime, and one came out four decades after his death. Enjoy!
Most people think Marv is crazy, but I don’t believe that. I’m no shrink and I’m not saying I’ve got Marv all figured out or anything, but “crazy” just doesn’t explain him. Not to me. Sometimes I think he’s retarded, a big, brutal kid who never learned the ground rules about how people are supposed to act around each other. But that doesn’t have the right ring to it either. No, it’s more like there’s nothing wrong with Marv, nothing at all — except that he had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He’d have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman Arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him. They’d have tossed him girls like Nancy, back then. — Sin City
Ever watched a classic action flick? Of course you have. Movies like Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lethal Weapon, First Blood, and 300 have become fixtures in the American psyche. All these movies feature either a lone man or a small group fighting in a desperate, violent struggle and yet, somehow, coming out on top. Throughout most of America’s history, the average man could more easily relate to the experiences in those movies the way someone who shoots hoops at the park could relate to watching an NBA game. Sure, they might not have been able to do what they were seeing on the screen, but they were well-acquainted with violence. Either they had inflicted it, suffered it, or seen it up close and personal. We’re a nation that was birthed in a bloody revolution, where feuds and dueling were frequent occurrences, where intermittent battles with Indians occurred until the twenties, where roughly twenty percent of the male population served in WWII, and where fist fights and brawling were relatively common.
The average man may have seen hundreds of thousands of murders on his TV screen and committed tens of thousands more playing video games, but he has also probably never struck another human being in anger in his entire adult lifetime. In other words, he may be captivated by the imagery he sees at the movies, but he goes home knowing that he will never even live out a pale imitation of what he’s just seen.
It’s not a therapeutic book. It’s a sociology book on children of divorce, when they are grown. If you were a child of a divorce, it mostly reads like the horror story of the babysitter with the call coming from “….inside the house!” If you’re married, it’ll give you that, so I’m not alone feeling.
The review from Amazon:
During the last 40 years, our society’s views on how families are created and how they operate has undergone a tremendous shift. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, authors Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee have assembled a variety of stories from people of different ages and life stages. Some are children of divorce, some are from families that stayed unhappily intact, but all of them offer valuable information important to all of us as parents, children, and members of society at large. Separate chapters focus on the different roles children take on in the event of a divorce or unhappy marriage, ranging from positive role model to deeply troubled adolescent. In many cases, the people interviewed continue to define themselves as children of divorce up to 30 years after the occurrence; this is described by one subject as “sort of a permanent identity, like being adopted or something.”
Both encouraging and thought-provoking, the final chapter questions how we maintain the freedom made possible by divorce while, at the same time, minimizing the damage. The authors’ response to this question begins with pragmatic suggestions about strengthening marriage–not bland “family values” rhetoric but practical how-to ideas combined with national policy initiatives that have been making the rounds for years. With fascinating stories and statistics, Wasserstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee have illuminated the improvements within reach while our society experiences these massive changes in it’s most fundamental relationships. –Jill Lightner
Related at PJ Lifestyle on dysfunctional relationships and marriages:
I still lived in Austin, Texas in 1999. That summer, against all odds, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, new husband, father-to-be, won his first Tour de France in an impressive display of athleticism.
He was a hero, an inspiration. When he returned to Austin, the city held a victory rally, in which park I can’t recall as Austin is loaded with large and picturesque gathering spots. A couple of friends and I went to the rally early to grab a patch of ground close enough to see Armstrong and his miracle-pregnant wife. It wasn’t all about Lance. Austinites need only the flimsiest of reasons to gather outside for a couple of beers. But we did love him. We were so proud of him. Even now, when the whole truth has outed, I can still remember the energy and joy at that rally. And the yellow. Everyone wore yellow.
A few months later, his wife gave birth to their son. The following summer he repeated his Tour victory. Soon, he welcomed twin daughters and claimed another Tour de France victory. Our pride in Armstrong overflowed. He could have done anything.
But then Lance Armstrong took off his hero mask. Sometime after his twins arrived, he left his family. I can’t remember if he already had Sheryl Crow waiting for him. It doesn’t matter really. His marriage didn’t have high conflict, at least not on her part. He might have been cheating or she might have left him due to his doping habit. But in hindsight-enhanced scenarios, he was the culpable party.
My shock at the truth about Lance Armstrong came with the split. I have a few girlfriends who spilled tears over the news. The kind of guy who can abruptly walk away from his wife and his children is capable of almost anything in service of self. So current shock at the truth surprises me. We learned that Lance Armstrong lacked honor back in 2003. The doping simply provides more details and removes any pretense for keeping that scar in the heart of Austin.
Recently while dining with my favorite husband at a restaurant with live music, the singer performed Danny’s Song, an old favorite of mine.
Since I had not heard this song in years it touched a raw emotional chord in my memory bank and the song has stayed on my mind ever since.
At the height of the song’s popularity I was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Whenever it played on the radio (which was quite frequently) my girlfriends and I would sing along at the top of our lungs.
But above all I remember the lyrics making a huge psychological impact on me, helping formulate my sweet 16 view of love, relationships and future marriage.
Now looking back at the song from my 57-year-old perspective it was the chorus that imprinted itself on my heart.
And even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey, everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes,
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.
As a teenager that chorus spoke to me saying “whether you are rich or poor, love conquers all.”
I truly embraced the message.
Then of course you grow up and strap yourself in for a ride on the roller coaster of life. When hurricanes strike and the roller coaster gets swept out to sea (like this one in New Jersey recently) with you still on it, but your partner is gone and your wallet is empty, then you wise up and realize that song’s message was just a sweet 16 fairy tale.
As many aging baby boomers experienced their roller coaster ride through life, money issues were often deal breakers in marriages.
My peers may have started out singing “even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey” but then we watched as the record got severely scratched or broken after the roller-coaster took some sharp unexpected turns.
Since I like to think of myself as a one person aging baby boomer focus group… and if I was so heavily impacted by this song’s idyllic message, how many of you were as well?
In the comments section, you are allowed to stomp on your ex who stole your wallet, but just do not use real names!
On the other hand, if you are still in your first baby boomer marriage that is a testament to Danny’s Song, congratulations, and please share your story, but don’t make the rest of us feel too bad.
And get caught up on Myra’s previous Baby Boomer nostalgia adventures in this series’ predecessor, Classic Rock and Cheap Wine:
In 1972 (or what I like to refer to as “prehistoric times” before cell phones, internet or cable) I was a junior at Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
In homeroom, my assigned seat was next to a student named Peter, who my friends had designated “most likely to die of a drug overdose.” But Peter, despite “having issues,” had cultivated a reputation for being on the cutting edge of rock music hip-ness.
So one day during homeroom “quiet time,” I passed Peter a note asking what bands he was currently listening to and he wrote back Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac.
These names fascinated me because I had yet to hear of any of them.
Why do I even remember this note passing incident from 40 years ago?
Two reasons: first, as predicted, not long after high school Peter tragically died of a drug overdose. And second, the music of the bands named in Peter’s note formed a prophetic soundtrack for my life in the years ahead.
Starting in September of 1973, Pink Floyd and I had a monumental first meeting during my freshman year at Ohio State University. The experience resulted in lifelong friendship bonds chronicled here a few months ago.
Then there is Black Sabbath, or rather Ozzy Osbourne. Although I was never a big fan of his, the lyrics, “I am going off the rails of the crazy train” is a favorite phrase that occasionally pops up in my writing, but more often in conversation when I am describing the current state of our nation.
But most prophetic was Fleetwood Mac, a band with whom I had a love affair which lasted years. Later in 1972 a friend introduced me to their new album called Bare Trees. A good album I thought, but not life altering.
But in 1977, during my senior year in college, Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and that was life altering. Songs from Rumours were always playing in the background as I transitioned from college to Washington D.C with first jobs and first marriage.
I will not bore you with all the tawdry details of why I am so emotionally tied to this album, but please do write some comments about yours! For if you are about my age I know you have some, because this album greatly impacted millions of baby boomers.
Especially one 1946 “first crop” baby boomer by the name of Bill Clinton, who in 1992 revived the popularity of Rumours and Fleetwood Mac by choosing Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow as his presidential campaign theme song.
President Clinton even convinced the band to get back together to play at his 1993 inaugural ball.
Back in the late 70’s, due to the popularity of Rumours, I discovered the first and only album by Lindsey Buckingham and Steve Nicks entitled Buckingham Nicks. This spectacular album, largely forgotten and never released on CD, was a foreshadowing of this duo’s future greatness. Here is the entire album if you have never heard it.
So in honor of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey, Stevie and Peter (may he rest in peace) what shall we drink?
Absolutely nothing but spring water! Because this morning I am sitting in Manitou Springs, Colorado elevation 6,412 feet with a pounding headache that started last night after I imbibed three glasses of Pinot Noir with my dinner of wild boar spare ribs and a few bites of my husband’s antelope.
Apparently, since I now live at sea level (literally next to the sea), an elevation of 6,412 feet and wine do not make beautiful music together for this aging baby boomer.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and may I recommend that your family along with ours sing this really classic song before dinner.
And will someone please try that “favorite rock song conversation game” I wrote about recently over the long holiday weekend when gossiping about other family members finally runs dry?
The lovely Chris Niles is a long-time and very dear friend of mine — and an extremely talented colleague as well. Recently, after 21 years of wedded something-or-other, Chris’s husband walked out on her. This, of course, was extremely bad news for Chris, but she’s making it sort of interesting for the rest of us with one of the best written blogs I’ve ever seen. The blog is called WHATSTHATYOUSAYMRSROBINSON and, largely through a series of character sketches, chronicles Chris’s completely unsavory and probably unwise attempts to deal with her heart-wrenching situation. Well, as I say, she’s a friend of mine, so unsavory and unwise come with the territory. Here’s a sample:
The Jamaican. The worst flirt in the Western Hemisphere, hands down. Well over six feet tall, good looking, and with a voice like Barry White overdosed on Valium, the Jamaican is the mayor of my local bar. He likes the corner stool, next to the door, so he can ogle the women and size up the men.
The Jamaican’s sex appeal is weapons’ grade; this point cannot be over-emphasized. But, bless him, he doesn’t sit back and let his considerable physical assets do all the work. Did I mention that he’s the worst flirt in the Western Hemisphere? Hold onto that thought and imagine being steamrollered by charm. You’re so steamrollered you cannot think straight; you can’t even remember your own name. Normally I have the resting heart rate of a coma victim. About three feet from the Jamaican it began doing a fairly solid impersonation of a jackhammer.
There didn’t seem to be any doubt that it went both ways. Perhaps it was the fact that he liked to sit so close to me our thighs touched. Or the time he put his hand to the clasp of my bra and said, grinning. “When I was 22 I could have got that off with one hand.” For a few seconds—I was a little slow on the uptake because I was trying to recall my name—I thought he might actually do it.
If the above horrifies you, you can stay here with me — I couldn’t remove a bra with both hands and a power drill. But if you love good writing, sardonic humor and post-separation insanity, I really recommend this. It’s great stuff.