Friday, May 30, 2014

Many Moral Attitudes Have Changed, But Infidelity Remains Very Unacceptible

Gallup has a nice graphic out today and story about rates of acceptance of various things having to do with moral positions people hold, entitled New Record Highs in Moral Acceptability. As the Gallup piece notes, many things that used to be unacceptable have become more acceptable. But tolerance for a person having sex with someone other than their spouse is not one of them. Here is their graphic.

One of the oddities of how things have changed and not changed is that while romantic and sexual relationships are more ambiguous than ever, with increasingly diffuse boundaries sexually and otherwise, people, married or not, still remain strongly negative about the idea of a person having sex with someone other than their partner if they are in a relationship. For example, people in dating and cohabiting relationships also tend to expect fidelity outside of marriage. But having similar expectations about unmarried relationships does not mean the behavior is the same. People's behavior tilts strongly toward increased faithfulness in marriage while cohabitation is not actually associated with higher levels of fidelity. Many people believe that it is or should be but, in fact, cohabiters have levels of faithfulness similar to daters.

To read more about unmarrieds and extradyadic sex, I have a couple of posts from last year that might interest you (based on research in our lab).  Just click here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Immigration Success: Among the Best Things I've Read This Year

This weekend, there appeared in the New York Times an opinion called The Immigrant Advantage by Anand Giridharadas. This captivating piece has a personal story to anchor it and marvelous insights about what it takes to succeed in the U.S. It raises the provocative question "Are you better off being born in some of the poorest parts of the world and moving here than being raised in the poorer parts of the United States?"

As Giridharadas notes:

Statistics show that if you are born elsewhere and later acquire American citizenship, you will, on average, earn more than us native-borns, study further, marry at higher rates and divorce at lower rates, fall out of the work force less frequently and more easily dodge poverty.

What Giridharadas argues for most clearly is that success--when you are pulling yourself up from little--takes a combination of personal motivation and help from and connection to others. He goes on to say:

In those places where mobility’s engine is groaning and the social fabric is fraying, many immigrants may have an added edge because of their ability to straddle the seemingly contradictory values of their birthplaces and their adopted land, to balance individualism with community-mindedness and self-reliance with usage of the system.

A person on twitter sent me the perfect summary of the piece: "I think the key statement was the blend of personal initiative and institutional support. Best of both worlds in a sense." I do not personally know Shane Spencer (@OvercomerNation) but he nailed it with that line.

 Giridharadas' article is excellent. If you are at all interested in these themes, it will make you think.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sophisticated New Analyses on the Impact of Divorce on Children

Paul Amato and Christopher Anthony recently published a paper on the impact of divorce on children. They find consistent, average, negative impacts for divorce on children. Specifically, more children changed in negative directions than positive directions but a sizeable number changed in positive directions, and most did not show significant changes. These results are consistent with other reports. For example, across a number of studies, Paul Amato, his colleagues, and other social scientists have demonstrated that there are negative impacts of divorce on children across a host of dimensions. However, it is also true that most children do not show negative effects, at least on dimensions commonly measured. While their study does not assess mechanisms that cause the effects, it makes sense that some children would be less negatively impacted from divorce, or even benefit on some dimensions, because of the ways children can be caught or kept in the middle between the parents.

Amato and Anthony also showed that the negative effects on children were strongest for couples who already had higher risk for divorce, particularly those with higher risk of divorce due to socio-economic and demographic factors. That is, disadvantaged families were more prone to divorce and children from such families suffered, on average, the most from divorce. This is not surprising given that children in families with more means and advantages are more likely to be buffered from some of the ways divorce negatively impacts children.

To read or access the journal article by Amato and Anthony, click here. To read a great summary of the study by Harry Benson at Institute for Family Studies, click here.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why (some) Men Resist Marriage

I posted a new piece based on my long-time working paper on men and commitment over at the Institute for Family Studies Blog. You can check it out here: Why Men Resist Marriage Even Though They Benefit the Most from It.

The piece contains some of the major points from my working paper on men and commitment, which I update every now and then, which is available here. It's one of the more theoretical and fun things I've ever written. However, my wife thinks I have a narrow definition of fun. (She's correct, I have to admit. Don't let her know I said so.)


Sunday, May 11, 2014

In Honor of Mother's Day--A link to my favorite post from the past related to parenting

Parenting can be hard and challenging. Being new parents can lead to declines in marital connection. Many couples do not experience this decline as they have children but a significant percentage does. In this piece from years ago, I argue that parenting can lead a couple to a deeper, wider sense of satisfaction that comes from building something great together. Parenting also can provide a kind of weird joy as you get through stuff together. I like to think this story is an example of that (click here).

Parenting: Enduring is admirable. Enjoying is wonderful.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Know Your Bottom Line (especially your X axis)

One of the most important ways you can increase your success in marriage is to choose your partner wisely. While many people slide in and through important, potentially life altering relationship transitions, it’s smarter to make decisions when they really count. If the transition in question could affect the rest of your life, you want to be making a decision, and, hopefully, a good decision.

One of the most important decisions you can make is to know your bottom line and then act on it. When it comes to commitment in love, know what is most important for you, what you seek, what you need, what you cannot accept—and let that guide your actions in who you are with and who you are willing to end up with in life.  

I discovered the following comic strip from the recommendation of one of my sons (who are very into science and technology and math). I love this one. It represents the important truth I just mentioned.

Linkage (to xkcd comics)

Know your bottom line and all the other lines that matter to you.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Pew Chart of the Week (from New York Times)

This is an amazing chart.  (Click here for Pew Piece!)

Check out the contrast in how costs are soaring for things like education, childcare, vehicle maintenance, and food while crashing for electronic toys. You likely sort of knew this, but the chart (produced by the New York Times) is dramatic and clear.

Quoting from comments in the Pew piece:

The differences, though, show up in services — particularly the sort of services (education, health care, child care) that enable people to find and keep better-paying jobs and, over time, move themselves and their families up the socioeconomic ladder.

“Without a doubt, the poor are far better off than they were at the dawn of the War on Poverty,” James Ziliak, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Poverty Research, said in the Times story. But relative to middle- and upper-income Americans, he added, “they have also drifted further away.”