Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

The Job of the Working Mom

In Child Development, Choice, Education, Families, Feminism, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Schools, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Values, working mothers on October 2, 2015 at 6:00 am

Mom and baby with bookby Mekelle Tenney

I recently became an official stay at home mom. My husband and I had our first child three months ago. About three weeks before our daughter was born I clocked out for my last day of work…well my last day of work at the office. I had decided well before I ever started school that when I got married and we started our family I was going to be home with the kids. Yes I went to school and I graduated with a bachelors in political science. On the day of graduation as we were waiting for the ceremony to start, we all began to update each other on our post-graduation plans. The majority of my fellow classmates had already been accepted to law school, a few had positions lined up working on some political campaigns, and others were set to work with some non-profit organizations. When I told them that me and my husband were having a baby and that I would be staying home with her they looked surprised and confused. “Well that’ a surprise” one of them said, “considering the kind of student you are”. And then the conversation moved on to another student with a “more exciting” future plan.

At that point in my schooling I was used to the snide remarks and the “oh your one of those” nods from people who heard about my plans. It was assumed that someone with my plans would be in another major or that I would drop out of school entirely. After all you don’t need a degree to change diapers. I have never been one to care about what other people think. However, in a dinner with the president of the university I had the opportunity to bring the subject up. He had opened up the discussion to questions. I raised my hand, explained what my major was, what my plans where, the kind of response that I was getting, and what he thought about it. The President, a man who prior to his position at this school had served as the dean of the Harvard school of business, turned to his wife and said she was more qualified to answer that question. She looked at me and with a very stern and determined voice said “every child deserves to have an educated mother.”

Often in movies the stay at home mom is portrayed as someone who feels unfulfilled, she needs to “find herself”, she is board with diapers, wrestles with her everyday tasks, and longs for the adventure awaiting her in the big wide corporate world. On TV the mom is usually the overstressed, overwhelmed, very grumpy character. Unfortunately those images that we are flashing to the world fail to show the true job of the stay at home, or more accurately, the working mom.

The work that the mom does within the home is essential. Children need nurturing, they need attention, affection, and they need someone to teach them what is right and what is wrong. If those needs are not met at home they will be met elsewhere. The public schools will try to fulfill these needs by offering children encouragement, trying to build their self-esteem, teaching them manners, how to behave in society, what is and isn’t acceptable, and everything else that a child might possibly need in order to survive in life. But those attempts at fulfilling those needs will always fall short. There is nothing this world can offer to a child that will compensate for what he or she should be getting from their mother.

Why does the work of the mother matter? The family is broken in America. Morality is no longer seen as a constant but rather an idea that is subject to social construct. Society no longer sees things as right and wrong there is just his point of view and yours. There are several reasons why we are where we are as a nation. I believe that one of the biggest reasons is because the mother has left her post. The success of our government is dependent on the morality of our society. The character of our society comes from the strength of the home. And the mother is the heart of the home. There are of course circumstances and situations that make it impossible for the mother to be home or perhaps the mother is absent from the home. But those situations do not change the need for the mom.

Do I consider myself a working mom? Yes I do. I am working at teaching my daughter what is right and what is wrong. Working at teaching her what love is. How we should treat other people. I am working at teaching her to stand for what’s right. That means I also have to teach her to be brave because she will most likely be standing alone. I am working at helping her to know her self-worth. I am working at making our home a place where a family can learn from and strengthen one another. Does that require me to be educated? Yes it does. That education does not have to come from a university. But it should be important to moms that they are learning. We working moms have a lot to teach therefor we have a lot to learn. The core of everything that our children will learn and the person that they ultimately will become is dependent on us. That is why every child deserves to have an educated mother.


“Because I Was Raised That Way”

In Child Development, Choice, Domestic Violence, Families, father, Gender Identity, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Values, Violence on October 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

happy-family-By Deborah Wene

Have you ever looked at a couple and wanted to be them because they seem to have the perfect marriage? Many teens experience this. Growing up, I had this perfect marriage in mind and hoped that I would someday find the right person to live the dream with.

What exactly makes a perfect marriage? To me, a marriage is perfect when couples share equal partnership in all they do. Equal partnership in marriage affects every other aspects of that marriage including children.

First, let’s look at some facts about the effect of equal partnership in marriage:

  • 81% of equalitarian (egalitarian) couples were happily married, while 82% of couples where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional (hierarchical) were mainly unhappy
  • In relation to intimacy 98% of happy couples feel very close to each other, while only 27% of unhappy couples felt the same.
  • The inability to share leadership equally (couple inflexibility) was the top stumbling block to a happy marriage.
  • In traditional marriages, wives had been beaten at “a rate of more than 300 percent higher than for egalitarian marriages.
  • Violence is more likely to occur in homes where the husband has all the power and makes all the decisions than in home where spouses share decision making.Children who grew up in a traditional (hierarchical) marriage are most likely to grow up and ended up like their parents.
  • Children who grew up in a traditional (hierarchical) marriage are more likely to grow up and expect marriages like their parents.

My goal is to focus on the last bullet point on how marriage affects children. I grew up in a home and culture where the father would make all the decisions and the mother would go with whatever the father thought was good for the family. Rarely have I ever see my mom trying to discuss an idea or share her thoughts on something with my dad.  I started to accept their example as what marriage should be like. When people told me otherwise, I tried to defend my belief on marriage by saying, “because I was raised that way.”…because that’s how I saw my father treating my mother”… “because that’s how it is in my culture.”

But is that the right way to have a perfect marriage? Should husbands be the decision makers while the wives just go with the flow? How are boys affected when they see their fathers making the choices, beating, and abusing their mother because he’s in control? Won’t they emulate such characteristics from their fathers? How about girls, sitting there and watching their mother being vulnerable and pretending to be happy and getting beaten by their fathers, will they ever trust in a happy marriage?

Marriage is and should be a happy union between two people who love and respect each other so much they share everything, equally. Marriage does play a big role on not only the couple but also their children. Children mirror how their parents love each other and they are more likely to use the same techniques they see their parents use. If you love your children, treat your spouse in a way that will positively affect your children. They and generations to follow will bless you for your example.

Deborah Wene

Deborah Wene, an intern from BYUI shares life experiences that have impacted her attitudes and beliefs.  She is dedicated to learning how families develop loving and devoted relationships.

Cohabitation and Children’s Well-Being

In Child Abuse, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Domestic Violence, Families, Health Care, Marriage, Parenting, Pedophilia, Sexual Freedom, Single Mothers, Values, Violence, working mothers on September 29, 2015 at 1:25 pm

holding hands almostBy: Deborah Wene

Families and cultures around the world have different views on cohabitation and there are some who do not see anything wrong with it. A couple of years ago, my older sister decided to cohabitate with her then boyfriend of 2 years. Prior to her decision of cohabitation, she had a 5-year-old daughter with her previous boyfriend whom she met in college. Because she was well off financially, her boyfriend decided to let her move in with her child.  Before she knew it, her boyfriend was living on her income because they signed an agreement to share everything equally. Her boyfriend quit his job and spent most of his time at home, “taking care” of my niece while my sister went to work. Little by little, her boyfriend started to abuse her daughter emotionally, physically and sexually. Even though marriage was their long-term goal, my sister also faced abuse from her boyfriend. Their relationship was not equal and her boyfriend was very domineering  and controlled everything including her money. Despite all the trials and the downsides of cohabitation, my sister loves him and believes that it will get better,and that he would never really hurt her daughter.

Even though my sister may not see any harm with cohabitation, there are many downsides and negative impacts of cohabitation. Cohabitation,  defined as “two adults of the opposite sex living together in an intimate, non-marital relationship” [1], can be very harmful. There are so many reasons why cohabitation can be a threat to family. One of those reasons, the reason I really want to focus on, is the impact cohabitation has on children physically, emotionally, socially and even financially. My sister’s daughter went through hard times because of her mother’s decision to live with her boyfriend. Family is very important to me and the respect that I have for families is beyond comprehension, but I am more convinced children suffer more than adults or parents when it comes to cohabitation.

Researchers Thomas DeLeire and Ariel Kalil Harris (2005) did studies on how cohabiting couples with children spend their money. The result showed that “children have poorer developmental outcomes than do those growing up in married-parent families or even single-parent families. According to research cohabitating couples spend a substantially larger share of their total expenditure on alcohol and tobacco than do either married-parent families or single parents. Cohabiting couples with children also spend less on health care and less on education than do married parents” [2] This study shows the negative impact that cohabitation has on children.  This research was evident in my niece’s life. She has so many health problems and has a delay in learning development quite possibly due to the fact that my sister and her boyfriend would spend most of their money going to bars and wasting their money on meaningless things.

Children in a cohabitation relationship are more likely to suffer from abuse, and long-term scarring often result.  Most of the time, children are afraid to report or mention to someone about their abusive parent because they are afraid to get hurt even more and sometimes, they are regarded as liars or get punished if they talk to their biological parents about what is going on. Even though my niece was not able to do anything about what her mother’s boyfriend was doing to her, she seemed to fake happiness to cover the pain written all over her face. When her mother came home from work, she would pretend like nothing was wrong and needless to say, her mother never questioned her.

DeLeire and Harris were not the only researchers to study the subject of negative impacts that cohabitation has on children. Kammi K. Schmeer (2011) also did  research on the subject, but he focused more  on the child’s health disadvantages during parental cohabitation. The study shows that, “Children born to cohabiting parents are likely to have less healthy household environments than those born to married parents. Children with cohabiting parents may experience more parental stress, more maternal depression, less social and economic support from fathers or other extended family members and more parental conflict than those with married parents.” [3] This research shows that children who live with cohabiting parents deal with so many more problems than those  with married parents. Even though the focus of this paper is mainly on the impact cohabitation has on children, there are so many other negative impacts that cohabitation has on the couple, the family as a whole, and even  society.

A report in 2010 on child abuse by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that “Children living with two married biological parents had the lowest rates of harm, 6.8 per 1,000 children. While children living with one parent who had an unmarried partner in the house had the highest incidence, at 57.2 per 1,000 children.”[4]   This goes on to show that children living in cohabiting households are 8 times more likely to be harmed than children living with married biological parents. Children are suffering because of their parents’ choices mostly because they are not capable of doing anything about their situation. This is something that needs to be dealt with– not just talk, but action. Those who see nothing wrong with cohabitation are ill-informed as to the consequences children are experiencing and suffering.


Work Cited:

DeLeire , T. and Kalil, A. (2005), How do cohabiting couples with children spend their money?.             Journal of Marriage and Family, 67: 286–295.

HHS Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, (2010) Abuse,             Neglect, Adoption and Foster             Care Research, National Incidence Study of             Child Abuse and Neglect, NIS-4, 2004-             2009”

Schmeer, K. K. (2011), The Child Health Disadvantage of Parental Cohabitation. Journal of             Marriage and Family,             73: 181–193.

Stokes, C and Raley, R. K (2000), Civic Engagement, Adulthood: Cohabitation.             http://www.utexas.edu/cola/_files/kraley/StokesRaley.pdf


Deborah Wene is an intern at BYUI.  Her story of parents choosing to give her life rather than aborting her is shared with UFI readers in an earlier blog post.  She grew up in Africa and has a remarkable story of love of life, devotion to God, and respect for the family unit.

Deborah Wene

One Simple Way to “Be One” with Your Spouse

In Choice, Families, Marriage, Values on September 28, 2015 at 6:00 am

couple climbing togetherby Erin Weist

I read some wonderful advice a few weeks ago regarding marriage relationships.  (I wish I could find the reference but you know how fast information moves online…a few weeks ago might as well be decades, so good luck finding the link.)  But regardless of where it came from it was sound advice.  Essentially it was that couples who use “we” terminology when discussing problems are better able to resolve conflict and are happier in their relationships.

After reading that I thought about the last argument I had with my husband.  We don’t argue as much as we did in our early marriage because we’ve learned to communicate more effectively, but there was an argument a few months ago that got out of control and left us both angry and hurt.  I tried to remember where our communication broke down but it was so long ago I couldn’t remember the details.  What I do remember, though, is that by the end of it our argument was accusatory and full of “you” statements.  

“You always” or “you never”…it seems obvious now how self-defeating those statements are.  Firstly, those statements are untrue.  We react differently on different days: sometimes one of us is cross or grumpy and the other is helpful and patient, sometimes we switch those roles and take our turn being either grumpy or patient.  So “always” and “never” are misleading at best.  Second, whether true or not, they are completely unhelpful to our goal of being united.  Having someone throw accusatory statements about how you act is never very likely to get you on board to change.  It is likely, however, to make you feel defensive and start throwing out your own accusatory statements.

Imagine instead that your spouse spoke about your combined actions, using statements like “we aren’t always very good at…” or “it’s taking us a while to learn this…” and even “look at us getting better at…” and not in an ironic or sarcastic sense, but in absolute sincerity at working on something together.  Imagine how that would bolster your attitude, knowing that you had a partner working on difficult issues WITH you instead of what amounts to a disappointed roommate.

So I remembered these things this weekend when an issue came up that usually tends to put us on opposite sides of the mat.  I tried to use “we” statements that, instead of accusations, were intended to show us as a team, working through this problem hand in hand.  Was it a great conversation?  Not necessarily, it was still pretty bumpy.  But did it end better?  You bet.  How grateful I was for good advice that prompted my husband and I to listen to each other (rather than talk over each other) and work on something as partners rather than opponents.

At the end of our conversation my husband pointed out that he was grateful I was his “co-captain” and I thought that was perfectly appropriate.  My mission in life isn’t to point out all of his faults or make him be a better person, any more than that is his mission in life with me.  Instead, we work to be one in purpose and lift each other up the rocky parts that ultimately will mold us to become the best we can be.  But we can’t do it by shouting down unhelpful suggestions about what the other person is doing wrong to climb the path of life.  We are better when we hold hands and navigate as partners.  As Aristotle wisely said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

This Most Important Election, Character Matters

In Abortion, Choice, Constitution, Courts, Democracy, Education, Families, Free Speech, Freedom, Government, Grassroots, Health Care, Human Rights, Marriage, Media, Parenting, Planned Parenthood, Same-Sex Marriage, Sanctity of Life, Sovereignty, Supreme Court, The Family, Values on September 24, 2015 at 10:41 am

voteby Rebecca Mallory

We hear it every four years. “This is the most important election of our lifetime!” I contend that that somewhat trite statement will never prove more true than in 2016. Never before has the very fabric of America been shredded and torn apart as we have seen in the last 10-20 years. The very fiber of goodness that has made this country so successful, maybe even the envy of the world, is being threatened on a daily basis by a handful of elected and appointed officials. That’s what makes this election so crucial, so different.

Few other countries are run this way. Most have a king, dictator or at least an all powerful government that tells citizens what they can and can’t do. In a republic such as ours, elected officials are to serve us, we do not serve them. Feel a disconnect? Does it seem that way to you? Thankfully, we still have the power to choose through voting – which should be treated as a sacred and great privilege. I will not try to sway you, but rather encourage you to think and pray about what is as stake with each of our votes. Look at the candidate’s past. Ask about your favorites: what  is their voting record? How have they lived their lives to this point? Character matters people. Their personal lives matter. Sorry. If you’re a lying, cheating creep in your personal life, why would I trust you as my president?

The mere fact that you subscribe to and read these posts on UFI leads me to assume that you care about certain things: the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the human family, the dangers of a handful of people in black robes legislating the sanctity of marriage from the bench, etc. Assuming this premise, it is my personal opinion that you, and people like you, will save this nation from further depravity and decay. Please pay close attention to town halls, debates and other venues to hear and understand what candidates for the most powerful position in the free world are saying. Now granted, we all know that politicians and those running for office often say grandiose things and make promises that sound great. But as soon as they get in office, many are soon forgotten and traded for the pandering to the special interest and donors who got them there. Doing whatever it takes to get elected is rampant in both parties. The game is played by almost everyone. Shameful.

As an educated constituent, you may already have decided who “your guy” is. I thought I had decided until the latest debate. Now I have several “guys”. I will not tout the qualities of any of them but just ask you to consider some things as you make your decision. An interesting opening line to that debate was, and I paraphrase, “No one on this stage is under federal indictment. No one on this stage is under investigation for any scandal.” That hit me like a lead balloon! What? Is that too much to ask from our president? One candidate made me so proud though. The subject was Planned Parenthood. This candidate basically challenged our current administration and those who support these vile acts to actually watch these horrific videos that discuss live babies lying on a table with hearts beating, waiting to be murdered and have their intact brains harvested for sale. How depraved and cold have we become to even allow that thought into the fabric of our nation? Does your “guy” support Planned Parenthood? Is it really a woman’s choice to kill her unborn baby? It is sickening and beyond the pale. You decide.

When deciding to support a candidate or not, you must first take stock of your own principles and values. What are your feelings about foreign policy? What are the impacts of the current Iranian nuke deal? How do you feel about the guest list invited to the White House to greet Pope Francis? Do you even know who was on that list? If you’re a devout Catholic, you may want to do a little research on that. What is your stance on gay marriage?  Any idea what our government is really costing the average American? Any idea what the national debt is right now? It will be higher by the time you finish this blog post. Who’s paying for that besides your kids and grandkids? Do you have any idea what America’s current strategies on foreign policy are? One of government’s FEW responsibilities, according to the constitution, is to keep us safe from foreign and domestic threats. How are we doing? Just a few short days ago, it was discovered that numbers were being inflated and “artificially sweetened” to make it look like we were doing better in the fight against Isis and other terrorist organizations. Who can we trust?

These are trying and serious times for our country. It can seem overwhelming and easy to feel small and insignificant with such vast and serious issues. I contend that you are making a difference however. Be powerful and significant by casting an educated vote. Much more important than being the first woman, black, Hispanic, etc. president, is their convictions and beliefs; what is best for the majority of the country, not their thirst for power. Is it really that big of a deal? Yes, it’s that big of a deal. Not taking action is taking action. Do your part. You owe it to your children and grandchildren. Let’s leave them a better country just as our parents and grandparents did for us. Make character matter in this and all elections.


Parenting is Love and Love is Service

In Child Development, Choice, Families, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, The Family, Values on September 21, 2015 at 6:00 am

mother daughter time


by Erin Weist

Parenting is hard.  Anyone who disagrees has probably never been a parent.  But it is beautiful and worthwhile and honorable and gut-wrenchingly fulfilling at the same time.  Let me explain with an example.  This has been a tough week in our house, parenting-wise.  I have found myself repeatedly at odds with one child or another, I have spent an inordinate amount of time intervening in fights, I have sent children to their rooms to cool off again & again & again.  I thought everyone was going crazy, while I was the one going craziest.  

Then, in moments of quiet reflection (usually when everyone was either gone or asleep) I started thinking about my part in the craziness.  I realized that when my goal was oriented toward accomplishing tasks (cleaning rooms, doing laundry, playing referee during fights, finishing schoolwork) something always tended to happen to throw a wrench in things and stall or negate finishing that task.  Someone won’t communicate to solve a problem, someone else won’t help clean, someone else won’t sort laundry, someone else won’t work on their math, someone else takes off their diaper and throws it around the room…kids make choices just like we do and it throws a wrench in trying to accomplish tasks.  But the revelation came to me that ultimately the tasks were not my goal.  People will always be hungry again, the house will just get messy again, clothes will always need cleaning, beds will always need to be made again, life will just keep on going.  

My ultimate goal, really, is to love them.  Love them from the top of my head to the bottom of my soles and back again.  Fill my life, and theirs, with love.  And the final revelation came, how to make that happen: love by serving.  

Christianity has taught me to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and what He did in our recorded scriptures, was to serve.  Every day.  Everywhere He went.  Everyone He interacted with was given something to bless their life.  Sometimes it was a miracle.  Sometimes it was personal forgiveness (which, in itself can be a miracle), sometimes it was a call to repentance.  In other words, His constant focus was on the needs of others.

I tell my kids quite often that the conflicts that arise between them stem from someone putting their own needs first and not considering someone else’s needs.  And once again, that gut-wrenching fulfillment of parenting set in when I realized I had been a hypocrite.  I had put my own needs, my own tasks, first, ahead of the needs of my kids.  But the beautiful part was knowing I could change.  So I spent a few days looking for individual ways to serve my kids instead of looking to just get things done.  This involved priceless one-on-one time with my precious ones: reading, playing games, talking, listening, running backyard races, wiping tears.  I don’t know how it’s so easy to forget to serve them, but they are infinitely more important than to-do lists, so I pray parents around the world can take a few minutes to serve.  

Serve your kids.  Serve your spouse.  Do things that put their needs first.  These are eternal principles with wonderful results.  I want my kids to make choices that will bring them joy– and I’m going to start setting the example with love by service.

Relationship Misconceptions

In Abstinence, Child Abuse, Child Development, Choice, Domestic Violence, Education, Families, Marriage, Sexual Freedom, Values on September 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm
Dr. John Van EppBy Jessica Westfall

Dr. John Van Epp puts an interesting twist on a well beloved and known fairy tale. Ellie was an orphan who was ignored and unloved by her step mother and sisters. She meets and marries a man in a very short time. This man had heaped praise and attention, something she has craved, on her. It is no wonder that Ellie, or Cinder-Ellie as her friends knew her, fell for this man. The prince, probably accustomed to pampering and somewhat spoiled, was looking for the perfect woman. In real life, men like that are usually self-centered, controlling, and verbally abusive, at the very least. Poor Cinderella was determined to find her perfect life but her ideals were so far out of reality (she sang to mice and unfairly worked all day, and sometimes night, without rebelling) that she probably looked over certain warning signals that Prince Charming was only charming when he got his way.

CinderellaI like the story of Cinderella, I do believe that good things will happen to good people, and meanness doesn’t pay well. However, Dr. Epp’s interpretation of this story does bring some interesting questions to light. Why did Cinderella believe happily ever after could happen with a stranger? Why did she think she could trust this man with a commitment of marriage after one date? Why was Prince Charming looking for that one perfect woman? I think it brings to light the most important question of all, why are there so many good people who are duped by jerks?

One easy answer is that good people see and expect good from others. They give the benefit of the doubt and forgive easily. Those are all great qualities for dating relationships and marriages, but only if what is given is reciprocated in kind. Dr. Epp has created a model that demonstrates the need for certain steps in getting to know a person and being smart about who to love, so that these wonderful traits won’t be wasted on less than wonderful partners.

Dr. Epp calls his model the RAM (Relationship Attachment Model). It’s important to note that this model is useful for marriages, but it works best for creating a relationship. In marriage, after the choice and commitment have been made, there is room for some fluctuation, but while getting to know someone it is important to follow this model precisely.

Imagine a light switch pad with dimmer switches, 5 of them in a row. Each of these switches can be raised and lowered independently of the others.  In a safe relationship building practice, each consecutive switch doesn’t move higher than the preceding one.RAM


From: http://byuiscroll.org/2015/06/26/author-advises-how-to-avoid-falling-in-love-with-a-jerk/

Starting with the far left dimmer switch we have the “know” spectrum. When two people first meet this switch is very low, but as time, disclosure (talking), and different situations are experienced together this switch rises. The next switch, the “trust” spectrum, should never rise higher than the “know”. Make sure the trust given to a potential dating partner (or any person for that matter) does not exceed how much is known about them (this “knowing” takes talking, experiences, and time). If “trust” is more than “know” the trust is not grounded in reality, it’s instead based on assumptions. The “rely” switch comes next. Why should a dating partner be relied on more than they are trusted? That leaves a lot of opportunity to be let down. The next switch covers “commitment”. Be careful to commit only after the person is well known, proven to be trustworthy, and has been reliable (again, the amount of time is crucial, Dr. Epp says it takes three months to start noticing bad behaviors). Commitment – like exclusive dating or marriage – is very important, but only after someone has proven themselves.

The last switch is touch, it is not safe to include the strong emotions and connections touch invokes without first knowing, trusting, relying, and committing to that special person. It’s impossible to be sure if a partner is really special, or just perceived as special without this process.  If each switch rises in order and stays balanced correctly, heartache is held at bay. This may seem a little intimidating, who wants to think about all this when falling in love? With this model and a little self control, falling in love with the right person is attainable, forgoing a lot of the heartache. This doesn’t mean dating won’t be fun. It’ll be like going on a road trip to visit the Grand Canyon, who has more fun? The person who has a detailed map of where to go, or the person who is just winging it (and probably lost)?

Hopefully Prince Charming was raised by parents that helped him understand his position afforded him pleasures few others had. Perhaps they taught him that his special position came with responsibilities, namely being a just and kind ruler. Hopefully that bled into his personal life. While we’re at it, hopefully Cinderella was able to magically, instantly get over years of abuse, heartache, and neglect with no lingering symptoms. It is important to remember that this miraculous ending would have been the exception, most fairy tales are, it is not the rule of most real relationship experiences. Thankfully, Dr. Epp has created this easy to understand model to help those looking for love make wise choices while dating so that they can find their happily ever after (disclaimer: there will be a lot of work, self-growth, effort, and forgiveness involved, but it’s worth it!).

From the book by John Van Epp, How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind

Boundaries Between Society and Government

In Choice, Civil Unions, Cohabitation, Constitution, Courts, Democracy, Education, Families, Free Speech, Freedom, Gay rights, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Marriage, Media, Non-Discrimination, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexual Freedom, Sexual Orientation, Supreme Court, Values on September 18, 2015 at 8:22 am

gay marriage debateby Annalise Jarman

The other night I finished reading the book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No” by Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend. The book is about how to stand on your own, how to be separate and know what is your responsibility versus others’ responsibility. It is about owning your actions and feelings within relationships, while letting others own theirs. It was an enlightening book. As I read through, I couldn’t help but think about how everyone in this nation has a huge boundary issue right now. I’m not talking about geographical boundaries; this isn’t about immigration. I’m talking about the relational boundary between the people and the government. That boundary was crossed when the Supreme Court made their ruling on same-sex marriage; the decision whether to redefine marriage should have been left to the people. Many disagree with me on this, so let me explain. If you already agree, maybe this article can help you explain our view to others.

Let’s start by take a look at the relationship of marriage. Misunderstanding this relationship is where our boundary issue begins. We often think of marriage as a relationship between two people, but that’s incorrect. Marriage always includes at least three participants. A religious marriage is a relationship between a man, a woman, and God. A civil marriage is between two consenting adults and society. If the relationship is only between two adults, it is not marriage but rather cohabitation.

In a civil marriage relationship, the two adults each have an equal right to say whether or not they want to enter into marriage. Society’s part is to say whether or not they will actively support the union. In our culture, we as a society support and applaud the committed union of one man and one woman. We do not legally recognize polygamy, and we have not chosen to sanction same-sex marriage. When five supreme court justices ordered the people to recognize same-sex marriage as being the same institution as opposite-sex marriage, they violated each voter’s boundaries. They took away our right to say “No.”

Two unattached adults have their right to engage in homosexual relationships. That choice is well within their realm of responsibility. Two consenting same-sex adults can choose how to conduct their private relationship without violating the rest of our boundaries. When it came to redefining marriage, however, you and I and every other voter out there should have had our say, because we make up society, that third part of the civil marriage relationship. We should have been allowed to say whether or not we would actively approve or legally recognize a same-sex union.

Many people believe the Supreme Court made the right decision based on the Equal Rights clause in the 14th amendment. Most who agree with the ruling do so because there is evidence that homosexuality is biologically based. They believe that because there are biological determinants of  sexual orientation, opposing same-sex marriage is like racism. I agree that there probably is a biological basis for our sexual orientation, and I believe that the feelings of those who are attracted to the same sex should be acknowledged. They should certainly be treated with compassion. At the same time, a biological basis for homosexuality doesn’t mean we have to promote same-sex marriage the same way we support opposite-sex marriage; the case is not comparable to a case of racial inequality.

Sexual orientation differs from race because it is an internal experience. It is a sense of attraction, a behavioral tendency. It is not a skin color. No one on the outside can tell someone they are homosexual. It is not determined predictably by family tree or by any other external measure. A heterosexual might behave like a homosexual, or a homosexual may choose to engage in a heterosexual lifestyle. The only way to really know someone else’s sexual orientation is for them to tell you honestly what it is.

This makes laws that discourage homosexual behavior more comparable to laws that discourage other natural tendencies — such as violence — than to laws based on racism. A person with violent tendencies is never punished for her internal feelings, or for any biological influence her brain or hormones might have on her desire to act violently. She is only treated differently by the law when she lacks self-control. Someone who does not have violent tendencies, but chooses to act out violently anyways, is subject to the very same laws as those with violent urges. The law must assume that there is always choice behind the behavior, or else laws against behavior could always be seen as targeting certain types of people based on the biological roots of behavior. Racist laws, in contrast, don’t target behaviors. They target simply being a certain race, no matter how the person of that race chooses to act.

As people mistakenly compare same-sex marriage with racial issues, they often conclude that the Obergefell V. Hodges case is equivalent to Loving V. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that overturned laws banning interracial marriage. Really, though, these cases aren’t accurately comparable, because the purpose and consequences of the laws examined in each case were quite different. Think of it this way: the two cases would only be really comparable if the laws in Obergefell barred homosexual individuals from marrying heterosexual individuals for the purpose of maintaining genetic purity of sexual-orientation. Laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman don’t do that. They don’t address the two individuals’ sexual orientation at all. They are meant to promote a specific ideal regarding family held by society. They do not inherently condemn any individuals to second-class status.

From another perspective, a law based on race would only be equivalent to the laws in the Obergefell case if it defines marriage as a union between one colored person and one white person, not two people of the same race. And even then we would be comparing race to gender, not to sexual orientation.

If a law requiring interracial marriage existed, or if a law requiring that every marriage involve one homosexual and one heterosexual were in the books, I’m sure many people would object on the basis that adults shouldn’t have to comply with such requirements. They could never argue, however, that these hypothetical statutes treat individuals unequally.

Of course, if the laws in Obergefell clearly promoted an agenda to treat certain individuals as inferior or unequal, based solely on biological traits, I would agree that the Supreme Court should overturn the laws based on the Equal Rights clause. As it stands, however, the ruling was a political move. It was not based on any solid analysis of the Constitution, nor on the principles behind equal rights.

Unfortunately, what is done is done. However, that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. The past is for learning and the future is for improving. With the Supreme Court decision already made, what can we do?

First, I invite everyone to research this issue for themselves. If you rely solely on mainstream media, you get an incredibly biased perspective. I recommend going as close to the actual sources as you possibly can. Read credible studies on sexual orientation as well as gender differences. Read about the Loving V. Virginia case. Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court before the Obergefell ruling. Read the actual court ruling and dissents. I know that Justice Kennedy must be very talented to have made it all the way to the Supreme Court as a judge, but honestly, his explanation of the court decision is not very convincing — especially when compared to Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent.

After you’ve done some research, I recommend applying more of what is taught in Boundaries. The book teaches that we can establish our boundaries with words. We can clearly explain what we will and will not do. We can voice what responsibilities we are willing to take on and those that others need to take on for themselves. A lawyer I know said that overturning a Supreme Court ruling would take time and effort from a lot of people, but it is possible. He said we should write to our government representatives, send letters to our local newspapers, and vote for presidents who will appoint justices who properly honor the boundaries between the government and the people.

I have faith in the people. I believe that despite the ruling of the five judges, we can work to defend our rights in a compassionate but firm way. We can speak up. We can set our boundaries as voters and as concerned citizens. We can do this.

Rethinking the Sexual Revolution

In Abstinence, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Feminism, Freedom, Marriage, Population Control, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values on September 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

couple in love 5by Tashica Jacobson

The term, sexual revolution, can bring about many different positions, feelings, and arguments, but what can readily be agreed upon is that it has drastically changed society. With any dramatic change of norms it is easy for individuals to get swept away in the changing tides rather than being intentional about life choices.

Because of these changes we now view sex and its role vastly different than how our grandparents viewed it. The sexual revolution started in the 1960’s and left the world forever changed. Birth control and the increased focus on individualism were some of the major catalysts. None of these are inherently wrong, but they did have many unforeseen effects on the family. All of these things are still affecting families today, and each of us has the opportunity to be intentional about how we let them affect our decisions and our family life.

The birth control pill was first introduced in the 1960’s and was soon followed by other popular means of contraceptives. While this was beneficial for many and allowed parents to plan their children, it also drastically changed the way that sex is viewed. No longer were sex, marriage, and children viewed as linked together. It separated sexual intimacy from child bearing and families, and as such cohabitation and divorce began to rise.

When the birth control was first made widely public a reader’s digest article read” Everyone knows what The Pill is. It is a small object — yet its potential effect upon our society may be even more devastating than the nuclear bomb”(PBS, 2001). And while dramatic, this statement hits to the point that this small, seemingly helpful pill could have wider effects than what was originally thought.

The rise in individualism also changed the way that families were perceived. In Marriage-Go Round Andrew Cherlin looks at this new idea of an individualized marriage. When describing this concept he states: “It is not incompatible with lifelong marriage, but it requires a new kind of marriage in which spouses are free to grow and change and in which each feels personally fulfilled. Such marriages are harder to keep together, because what matters is not merely the things they jointly produce—well-adjusted children, nice homes—but also each person’s own happiness” (p. 90) This growing individualism also leads spouses to divorce when their own happiness is not being met, leading to more family break ups.

The effects of the sexual revolution have become widespread and well known. Cohabitation, single mothers and fathers, promiscuity, divorce, and sex at younger ages all began to rise. 48% of all first births in the US are now born outside of marriage, and 49% of young adult females (age 20-24) cohabit. (Hymowitz, 2013)

So once again while these things have changed the world we do not blindly need to follow the trends they are setting. Birth control, helpful for fathers and mothers as they plan their families, also has the negative effect of pre-marital relationships and sexual promiscuity. Individual happiness and satisfaction of life while essential, is now taking on a life of its own and leading many to throw away good things. However these new societal trends can be slowed and even reversed as individuals make conscious decisions about what they mean to them and make intentional choices in regards to their families.

Works Cited

Cherlin, A. J., The Marriage-Go Round. 2009.

Hymowitz, K., Carroll, J.S., Wilcox, W. B., Kaye, K., Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America. (2013).

PBS. People & Events: The Pill and the Sexual Revolution. 2001

Make Sure Your Marriage gets the Maintenance it Deserves

In Choice, Divorce, Education, Families, father, Marriage, Values on September 15, 2015 at 6:11 pm

MacGyverBy Jessica Westfall

MacGyver was an 80s tv show that my parents introduced me to my Freshman year of high school. MacGyver was a jack-of-all trades, he could find a solution to any problem and was an all around helpful guy. I was impressed, and sometimes skeptical, of the daring escapes he made with common, and sometimes all-too-convient, everyday items. But one theme held true throughout the show, MacGyver saw use where others didn’t. More importantly, he used that knowledge and got out of sticky situations. Our lives are riddled with helpful metaphorical gum wrappers and paper clips, but it does take some training to recognize their usefulness. While MacGyver was heralded as an man who’s brain just worked differently, we all have the ability to improve our lives with a little guidance.

A huge part of every human life is social interaction, especially families. Anyone in a family will admit there are moments of friction, times when the right solution is not yet apparent. Like the many friends MacGyver met along the way, we have all the same tools at our disposal, but like MacGyver, only some know how to effectively use them. We all have ways of communicating, verbally and nonverbally. We all have choice in how we react and what we say. The MacGyver’s of the family world seem to have it all together, no situation is too sticky or harrowing to be resolved.
Those that seem to have a gift may indeed have a gift, the gift of knowledge. Some can learn this knowledge through personal experience, and many do. But a lot of the time it’s easier and more pleasant to learn from another’s experience. My mother and father attended a marriage seminar a few years ago and Mom remarked after that she knew first hand  what the presenter was teaching because they (my parents) had figured it out through trial and error. She joked that it would have been a lot easier to figure it out if they’d had the class 20 year earlier. What if your 20 years ago is now?

I have incredible respect for those that regularly service their vehicles. Buying a car from someone like that is absolutely wonderful (I’m pretty sure MacGyver kept his vehicle in top condition). Yet many of us, including me, do not take the time to do more than regular oil changes. Why not? Well, it’s hard, it seems like a lot of work for something that might not be needed, life is busy. Yet we all know cars break down, especially when neglected. We don’t regret our neglect until it’s too late and the car is broken down. That’s when the real inconvenience of a big repair happens. But those repairs can be costly, sometimes the vehicle isn’t even salvageable. When that happens the time and energy and cost of keeping up with the car doesn’t seem so steep anymore. Does that sound familiar?  It should, because many people have the same attitudes about marriage and family. There is no need to fix something that isn’t broken, in fact it’s often seen as embarrassing to seek guidance or the sign of a defective relationship. Many great cars stop working because of neglect, and so do many marriage and family relations.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to gain knowledge that improves a marriage. It doesn’t mean that a parent is subpar when they seek parenting guidance. I take it as a sign of great parental wisdom to seek out the best ways to raise children. The same can be said for couples. There is so much information about marriage and families. Other people, like researchers, scientists, therapists, and those like my parents that learned through trial and error, have discovered answers and want to share them. So read a parenting book, attend a  marriage seminar, research healthy communication and boundaries on the internet. It’s all out there and readily accessible for little to no cost. The real tragedy would be to ignore the incredible knowledge out there. MacGyver would not have been as exciting without his extra know-how.


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