Newsletter: January 2003

Building Relationship Skills NewsletterJanuary 2003•Happy New Year!•New Resources -Why Marriage MattersMarriage: Just a Piece of Paper?When Relationships Break•Discontinued – You Can Marry For Keeps•High Priced Emancipation•Research on Family Strengths•National Marriage Project: High School Ed Needs to Include Marriage Roles, Not Just Work Roles•Songs about DivorceDear Friends,Welcome to the New Year! It looks like it will be a good one for youth relationships and marriage education.The Dibble Institute will be exhibiting youth relationship skills curricula and resources at over 40 Family and Consumer Science teacher conferences in the next year. We will also be attending conferences in health education, character development, and fatherhood. If you know of a conference where people like yourself would like information about these resources, please let us know about it. We are here to spread the word!All the best to you and yours!Kay ReedPresidentThe Dibble Institute

We are introducing three new resources to help you understand and teach relationship skills. All of these can now be found on our website.•Why Marriage MattersWith every order, you will receive one FREE copy of Why Marriage Matters, a recent report from the Institute for American Values. This 27-page pamphlet reports 21 findings on which liberals and conservatives both agree. Based on thirty years of social science research, Why Marriage Matters reports the myriad of ways men, women, children and society all benefit from marriage. A great resource for you. Extra copies for sale at $4.00 each.•Marriage: Just a Piece of Paper?This 55-minute videocassette explores marriage within its four realms: social, civil, religious and familial. It questions numerous people, including single mothers and pregnant couples, on their views of marriage while also touching on important issues such as cohabitation, divorce, fatherhood and the significance of marriage on children. This video also offers a brief history of how marriage became what it is today. Religion, Culture, Family Project, University of Chicago, 2001. Boyer Productions. $29.95•When Relationships BreakChar Kamper, the developer of CONNECTIONS, found this video for us and asked us to make it available to you. Reassuring and comforting, this video/print package aids teens in handling the normal but often disruptive issues of faltering romantic relationships. Program highlights real teens describing their feelings about breaking up. 30-minute video, teacher’s resource book and student handouts.Human Relations Media. $139.95

The video You Can Marry for Keeps is being discontinued by its publisher, Sunburst Communications. We have a few copies left in our warehouse but once we are sold out, it’s gone. We will continue to lend the copies we keep in our library to you at no charge.

Below are some articles I thought would be of interest to us in the field of youth marriage education. I get them primarily from Diane Sollee at Her website is wonderful and the newsletter she publishes is incredibly comprehensive. The annual Smart Marriage Conference will be held this year in Reno, Nevada from June 26-29. Many youth relationship skills programs will be there. Char Kamper will be presenting workshops on the CONNECTIONS program and Dr. Scott Gardner will be telling us about his most recent research on the teens who do and don’t take CONNECTIONS. It promises to be a fabulous time. Conference details and registration can be found at

HIGH-PRICED EMANCIPATION:The Wall Street JournalJanuary 3, 2003By MEGHAN COX GURDONAnyone who has ever struggled to find a house to buy should intuitively understand the difficulties faced by the legions of accomplished, educated, 30ish women currently roaming society in search of a husband. They are the stuff of mass entertainment now, these handsome, quick-witted graduates of higher education. On TV, they’re the saucy females of “Sex and the City” and “Will & Grace.” They surface in fiction as lovelorn Bridget Jones and the hapless heroines of Pam Houston’s best-selling short stories.In real life, we all know them, for they are sisters, friends and daughters: smart girls who went to college, knocked themselves out launching impressive careers, took apartments in edgy urban areas and now, somehow, closing on 30 — or seeing it in the rear-view mirror — can’t seem to get hitched. Some of us (ahem) barely escaped being one of these ever-questing achievers, who abound to a degree never before seen in history. Their abundance is a boon to men in search of delicious company, but it is no fun for the seekers themselves.You are wondering why I mentioned buying a house. It’s because, I have realized, an enthusiastic homebuyer and a hopeful spinster are in almost exactly analogous positions. preparing for domesticity is at first breezy and exciting: The streets are filled with all sorts of terrific houses (and men), and the choices seem limitless. It’s only when you get to the point of purchase that real estate (or romance) reveals its heart-breaking propensities.For, in fact, you can’t choose from among all houses, only those that happen to be, for whatever strange or unsavory reason, on the market. It’s hard to find the mix of qualities you think you deserve. The nicest ones either cost too much or get whipped from under your nose by a more nimble purchaser. Houses with “potential” mean years of wearisome renovation. And that place with the fabulous view? It has been on the market too long; there must be something wrong with it.Of course, most homebuyers do eventually settle on a property, and these days by age 40 most women (72%) have been married at least briefly. But the process of finding a mate is, for many educated brides, more bruising and lengthy than they ever had cause to expect. Cultural historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, who teaches at Rutgers University, can tell them the reason. In ” Why There Are No Good Men Left” (Broadway, 210 pages, $22.05), Ms. Whitehead outlines, with impressive ideological neutrality, the massive social changes that she believes have produced, since the 1970s, these successive crops of marriageable, yet unmarried, women.Not least among them is the Girl Project, as she calls it, the 1960s-onward effort to prepare girls for future adult lives as independent, salaried individuals whose happiness is not dependent on marriage or traditional female work. Enthusiasm for raising such daughters was heightened by the rapid spread of divorce, with its impoverishing effects on noncareer women. The Girl Project has resulted in a magnificent social promotion of young women, who now, among their other accomplishments, outnumber men at most colleges and universities. Further, it “has changed the consensus on what are socially desirable attributes and virtues of young womanhood,” Ms. Whitehead writes, making sharp talk, sharp elbows and a thrusting sense of destiny commonplace among co-eds.Crucially, the Girl Project also created a radically altered timetable for an educated woman’s early adult years. Instead of college, marriage, children and, perhaps, career, the new single woman roars out of academia with no desire for romantic entanglement or expectation of it. She establishes herself in a career, takes multiple sexual partners, perhaps moves in with a boyfriend or two, and then — well, we all know what happens. As 30 hovers into view, she begins to desire a warm home life along with the fruits of her education and work. But her upbringing, as Ms. Whitehead explains, has not prepared her for this eventuality.In interviews with young women over the course of three years, Ms. Whitehead found that today’s sophisticates have “little awareness of the social realities that influence the timing and choice of a marriage partner. They know a lot about the realities of other high-stakes selection processes — how to choose a college or career path, for example — but they aren’t as well versed in how to go about finding the person they will spend their lives with … . Some [have] an expectation that they [will] find their soulmate serendipitously, the way people do in the movies.”And here’s where these girls get hit with the double-whammy: They’ve come of age at a time of what Ms. Whitehead coolly calls an “upheaval in the mating system.” Dating has all but vanished from college campuses, where educated men and women used to find spouses in their own cohort. It’s harder to find a mate in the fluorescent-lit office buildings and neon-lit bars of postcollege life. And traditional courtship — stages of increasing, public, romantic seriousness, culminating in marriage — has been substantially replaced by a cyclical “relationships” system.What Ms. Whitehead calls the “signature union” of this system is cohabitation. Here, as in so many apparently gender-neutral arrangements, one party (in this case, the woman) is at a severe, almost punitive, disadvantage. “Living together is a great deal for a guy who wants to keep his options open as long as possible,” Ms. Whitehead writes, explaining that he can enjoy many of the pleasures and advantages of marriage without committing himself. “He does not have to meet, much less, pass muster with parents, family members or friends.And he doesn’t even have to make a proposal to live together: All he has to do is spend a lot of time at her place, let his clothes, sports gear and toiletries accumulate and then wonder out loud whether it makes sense to pay two rents. And of course, when it’s over, he can leave it to her to pack up his stuff. Indeed, the benefits of cohabitation for men help to explain why there is no courtship crisis for high achieving young men.” Those italics are mine, and frankly they ought to be underlined, too.Lately I’ve been distributing copies of “Why There Are No Good Men Left” to the pretty college students who occasionally baby-sit for my children. Better they encounter the great social forces at work in their lives now than in five years’ time. And on the strength of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s powerful arguments, I’ve also found myself, in idle moments, rehearsing what I’ll say to my small daughters when they hit puberty. Dating is not, I will tell them, to “experience life” but a process of finding a life-companion. And the answer to the seductive question, “Shall we live together?” should always, always be “NO.”Mrs. Gurdon is a writer in Washington.To order the book on for $16.07, click here:

USA TODAYDecember 19, 2002Families provide antidote to unhappiness Marilyn EliasMarriage mostly makes people happier, and a close family “inoculates” many kids against despair, according to long-term research.U.S. adults born in the 1920s were happier during the Depression if their partners had a strong marriage. Compared with equally deprived peers growing up in unhappy homes, “they were happier not only in childhood but adulthood, too” says University of North Carolina sociologist Glen Elder.A newer study of Iowa farm families with adolescents during the 1990s confirms that a good home can buffer youngsters against economic hardship. “These people were doing more poorly the longer they stayed in farming,” says Elder, the study leader. But multi-generatinal closeness prevailed. “Grandparents would drive long distances just to see the kids in plays or at sporting events.”The teens who grew up in hard times remain, overall, very happy as young adults, Elder says. “It’s clear these strong relationships are a source of resilience for kids if there’s not much money.”Marriage per se, even if it’s not such a great marriage, tends to improve well-being, says University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite. In large surveys, 40% of the married say they’re very happy, compared with 22% of the never married and 18% of previously married.Among those who live with a romantic partner, 24% are very happy; engaged couples are the only live-in partners as happy as married people, Waite says.There’s some evidence that those who marry are happier to begin with, “but there’s much stronger research showing that once adults marry, their well-being improves,” she adds.She’s analyzed large federal surveys that followed thousands of married people over five years. About 90% who say they’re happily married have spouses who also are pleased with the marriage. The happily wed who ended up divorced five years later became much less happy. That’s perhaps not surprising, Waite says.But the stunner is that about two-thirds who were unhappily married at the outset said they were happy five years later. Meanwhile, the unhappily married who had divorced five years later where no happier than those who stayed with their original spouse.The bottom line: “There’s a certain plasticity in marriage, an up-and-down. A lot of problems resolve over time, and married people tend to get happier,” Waite says.”It’s a message some people disbelieve,” she concedes, “but they have unrealistic ideas about marriage.”

National Marriage Project:High School Ed Needs to Include Marriage Roles, Not Just Work RolesDr. David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project, who wrote the foreword to a new book called Seven Secrets to a Happy Marriage – Wisdom from the Annals of “Can This Marriage Be Saved” (Workman, $13.95).Here are some of Dr. Popenoe’s comments: “We ought to be teaching much more about relationships in high school than we are. Everything in the education system is pretty much focused on work roles, yet our marriage roles are every bit as important.””A lot of communication and conflict-resolution tools can be taught, especially to guys,” he said.The attitude a couple takes into a marriage is crucial, he said. “The main thing that can save marriages is you really have to have a commitment to the institution to make it work. You have to believe this is a good way to live and important to society and our own future and the future of our children to try to have an intact marriage. There are too many reasons why if you don’t have that view, you’re going to break up.”Every marriage goes through crises, communication breakdowns. The people who stay married are those who are committed to the institution of keeping it going through thick and thin. That’s the kind of mental and spiritual state that’s probably not easy to teach but people ought to be aware that’s what’s required if we’re to rebuild a marriage culture.”from

– SONGS ABOUT DIVORCE>From Breakpoint Online: to SorrowBreakPoint with Charles ColsonDecember 27, 2002Songs about DivorceWhen rocker Aaron Lewis of the band called Staind was thirteen years old, his parents divorced. In a song called “For You,” Lewis sings: “To my mother, to my father/It’s your son or it’s your daughter/Are my screams loud enough for you to hear me?/Should I turn it up for you?”Chad Kroeger, singer/songwriter for the band Nickelback, describes the pain of his father’s abandonment with lyrics like these: “You left without saying goodbye/Although I’m sure you tried/You call and ask from time to time/To make sure we’re still alive/But you weren’t there right when I’m needing you most.”Whenever he sings that song, Kroeger told the Washington Times, fans begin to cry, telling the rocker they’ve been through the same heartbreak themselves.And then there’s a song called “Broken Home” by Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. Shaddix describes how he felt when his father walked out when he was only seven years old: “My wounds are not healing/I’m stuck in between my parents/I wish I had someone to talk to/Someone to confide in.”These musical laments are a far cry from what the so-called experts tell divorcing parents to expect. As Maggie Gallagher writes in her book The Abolition of Marriage, one of the driving ideas of the postmarital culture “is that the happiness of adults is so crucial to their success as parents that divorce will make them even better parents.” The notion that “divorce is better for kids than staying in a troubled marriage is now the conventional wisdom,” writes Gallagher.But are most kids really better off when their parents divorce? Does divorce actually lead to less hostility between parents?According to Gallagher, all too often, parents fight even more after divorcing than they did while married. In fact, she notes, “Children whose parents were divorced, separated, or remarried [are] twice as likely to need psychological help as children whose parents [stay] in marriage with minor or moderate conflicts.” And that’s not counting all the other problems that afflict children of divorced parents in higher numbers: teen pregnancy, criminal behavior, drug use, and poor health. Children who do worst of all, Gallagher says, are those from “high-conflict divorced families.”Now, of course, divorce can sometimes benefit kids long-term, high-level of hostility or violence, and most marriages don’t fall into that category.As the songs of modern rockers indicate, children continue to feel pain from their parents’ divorce even many years later. This is one of the reasons God condemns divorce so strongly. That’s something to think about in a culture that says if parents are happy, then children will be happy, too. More often than not, it just isn’t true.Just ask the real experts on divorce: the kids who have gone through it and who are now writing rock and-roll symphonies to sorrow.Tom DeLonge of the group Blink 182 wrote this about his parents’ divorce in a song titled “Stay Together for the Kids”: “Rather than fix the problems, they never solve them/it makes no sense at all/I see them every day/We get along, so why can’t they?” Good question.

The Dibble Institute for Marriage Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young people learn skills which enable successful relationships and marriages. We serve as a nationwide advocate and resource for youth marriage education and publish materials which help teach relationship skills.If you are interested in viewing sample CONNECTIONS lessons, current research, links to relevant websites and a variety relationship skills educational resources, please visit our website at Dibble Institute is non-religious and non-political. Our activities are funded through sales of educational materials and services and through support from foundations, corporations and individuals. If you are interested in making a donation, please call us at (800) 695-7975.This is a moderated list. Replies are read by Becky Brooks, Assistant Director of The Dibble Institute. If we believe your reply may be helpful to the recipients of this e-newsletter, we may paste (& edit for space) your reply and send it. Therefore, please indicate if your response is NOT to be shared with the list.This e-newsletter shares information on youth relationships and educational approaches. The Dibble Institute does not necessarily share the opinions expressed; they are shared for knowledge of happenings within the field.The Dibble Institute for Marriage EducationKay Reed, PresidentP.O. Box 7881Berkeley, Ca. 94707-0881(800) 695-7975(510) 528-1956