Boulder/12 Days of Christmas/ E-Dating Bubble Leaking - 12/04
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Mon Dec 13 18:00:40 EST 2004
- WORKING TO MAKE MARRIAGES WORK
- CHRISTMASTIME CONSUMERISM
- E-DATING BUBBLE SPRINGS A LEAK
- WORKING TO MAKE MARRIAGES WORK
Couple brings non-denominational classes to Longmont
By Aimee Heckel, Camera Staff Writer
December 13, 2004
(Wish you'd all get an article in your local paper about YOUR marriage
education classes. Bill Kroeger, a businessman, attended the 2002 and 2003
Smart Marriages conferences - and look what he's done! He says the passion
keeps him alive. Well, it's reading articles like this that keep us all
passionate - and determined. - diane)
> Last year he created the Marriage Ministries Alliance of Boulder County, a
> band of churches that trains other churches, shares resources and provides
> counseling. It recently received a statewide grant for scholarships for
> couples who can't afford the $150 class.
LONGMONT While growing up, Bill Kroeger endured his mom's three painful
divorces. Kroeger's main father figure, his stepfather, was married seven
Kroeger's wife, Deanna Kroeger, watched her mother re-marry three times.
The Longmont couple met in high school, sharing comfort in each other's
shattered families. The odds were against their relationship lasting; they
had no role models on how to do it, said Bill Kroeger, 54.
Yet today, the Kroegers have been married 33 years, and they've helped at
least 180 other marriages. They hope to decrease Boulder County's divorce
rate by double digits someday. First, they're starting at LifeBridge, a
3,000-attendance Christian church in north Longmont.
Bill Kroeger remembers the insecurity he felt as a child after his dad
cheated on his mom. The cycle repeated with the other men she married, he
As an adult, Bill Kroeger ran Boulder County's 350-person Lexmark
He later worked as the company's "director of worldwide manufacturing and
supply chain" for laser printers. But 2 1/2 years ago, he decided to give up
his high-paying job to start a marriage and family ministry at LifeBridge,
"Out of pain comes passion," he said Friday from the church's library. "You
can be angry and bitter and resentful or use pain to drive your passion."
In hopes of never going through a divorce like their parents did, the
Kroegers learned all they could about maintaining a healthy relationship.
Bill Kroeger attended a national "Smart Marriages" conference, organized by
a non-denominational coalition.
He said he picked what he considered the most effective classes and brought
them to Longmont. His classes refer to Christian stories and principles but
they're open to anyone, he said. The classes are tough and time-consuming,
but they can lead to "dramatic improvements," he said.
He tells stories of couples on the verge of divorce who just needed to
communicate better and "soften their hearts."
Longmont's Morgan Thompson, 43, took classes with his wife two years ago. He
said he learned how to express his feelings and understand his wife. He's
now requiring his daughter and her fianc to go through the premarital class
before their wedding next year.
"It strengthened us very much. I know others it's saved," Thompson said.
About half of all marriages end in divorce, and a third of first marriages
do, Bill Kroeger said. He referred to the back of his business card, which
contains a list of "love-busters," such as angry outbursts, annoying
behaviors and dishonesty.
"It's easy to get a divorce these days," he said. "Society doesn't pull you
Bill Kroeger has shared his classes with Longmont's Rocky Mountain Christian
Church, Lafayette's Flatirons Community Church and Boulder's First
Last year he created the Marriage Ministries Alliance of Boulder County, a
band of churches that trains other churches, shares resources and provides
counseling. It recently received a statewide grant for scholarships for
couples who can't afford the $150 class.
"I had to do this first for my own marriage, and now I just want to share
it," Bill Kroeger said. "The passion keeps me alive."
- CHRISTMASTIME CONSUMERISM
The Color of Money Column
The Washington Post
By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, December 12, 2004
(This is just excerpt of this long article from today's Washington Post that
I thought might be especially helpful at this time of year. Love the
"letter idea" at the end. And, while we're on the topic, I'm thrilled that
Frank Pittman is going to introduce his latest work at the Dallas Smart
Marriages Conference on "Love and Money" and Bill Bailey and Syble Solomon
are going to introduce a new money tool - the "Money Habitude" cards. These
cards bring instant money insights to couples. Given that money is the
number one point of conflict in marriage, we need all the help - all the
tools - we can muster. - diane)
. . . . . And, if you actually bought all the gifts, from the partridge in
a pear tree to the services of the 12 drummers, it would cost you about
$17,200, according to PNC Advisors, which annually tabulates the cost of all
of the items in the famous carol.
While consumers will be spending considerably less than that for their loved
ones (on average about $800, depending on which survey you use), many
Christmas budgets will still get busted, and debt will still be massively
So how about a twist on "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that won't break the
bank and may actually help someone you love put some money in the bank?
Here's my version:
"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me software to track
my finances." I know this isn't an overly romantic gift, but let me tell
you, not fighting about money can really lift your libido.
"On the second day of Christmas, my true love told me this: 'Honey,
two-for-one deals don't save you money.' " You may be inclined to think your
sweetheart is nuts to say such a thing. How is it that you don't save if you
get two items for the price of one? But think about it. You never save when
you spend. And you certainly never save when you buy two of something you
need only one of -- or none at all.
"On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three hours of a
financial planner's time." Spending time with a specialist to better your
finances is well worth the money, don't you think?
"On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four I Bonds and
not a fondue set." Really, how much hot cheese do people eat?
Inflation-adjusted savings bonds, or I Bonds, are currently paying 3.67
percent. I Bonds are low-risk, liquid-savings products. While you own them,
they earn interest and protect you from inflation. You can buy I Bonds
directly from the government, at most financial institutions or through
payroll deduction. Go to www.savingsbonds.gov for more information.
"On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me f-i-v-e
g-o-l-d-e-n r-u-l-e-s for simplifying the holidays." They are: The best
present is your presence; it really is the thought that counts; it's the
quality, not quantity, of the gifts; presents are forgotten, debt isn't; and
finally, nobody sees a therapist as an adult because she didn't get a
life-sized Barbie or Xbox as a child.
"On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love reminded me that six months
of living expenses set aside will help me weather a sudden financial storm."
"On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love reminded me that if I fell
behind on my bills, negative information could stay on my credit report for
seven long years." For more information about how credit reports work, go to
"On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 'The Power in
Your Money Personality: 8 Ways to Balance Your Urge to Splurge With Your
Craving for Saving' by Susan Zimmerman." In this book, Zimmerman discusses
the psychological issues that affect how we handle our money. By the eighth
day of Christmas, it may be too late to address your bad money habits, but
at least you have a year to work it all out and not overspend by the time
the holidays roll around again.
"On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me this Web address,
info.insure.com/auto/autosave.html, where I found a list of nine ways to
save on my auto insurance."
"On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me this Web address
(www.bankrate.com/brm/calc/MinPayment.asp), where I could compute how long
it would take me to pay off the average Christmas shopping bill of $800 at
an interest rate of 13 percent if I made just the minimum payment required."
And the answer was -- 10 years!
"On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me an 11-month
Christmas savings plan so I won't overspend next year." Here's a link where
you can find an online saving calculator (www.asec.org/ycalcs.htm) to figure
out how to reach your savings goal.
"On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love drummed into me an
overall budget plan for the next 12 months." You will never get a grip on
your holiday shopping or your overall finances without a plan. For
easy-to-use, free budget forms, go to Budget Stretchers
And if that gift list seems too lackluster, try this. Think about how each
person on your list has touched your life during the year and let him or her
know in writing.
Truly the best gift I ever received from my husband was a multi-page letter.
At the top of each page, he listed various roles I played. For example, on
one page he wrote the word "Sister." He then listed all the things I had
done for my siblings that year and how each act reminded him of why he loved
I've long since forgotten many of the things my husband has given me over
more than 20 holidays together, but I hold on to that letter.
To read the full column,
- E-DATING BUBBLE SPRINGS A LEAK
The New York Times
By ALEX WILLIAMS
December 12, 2004
(Remember we'll have lots at the conference to help individuals with
courtship, dating and mate selection including an opening night session by
Steven Stosny for singles only and several sessions by John Van Epp on "How
to Avoid Marrying a Jerk - or Jerkette". - diane)
ONLINE dating once seemed the perfect option for Allison Gold, a stock
trader in Manhattan. It was a vast, exhilarating marketplace, humming along
with the efficiency and unlimited opportunity of the financial markets of
Wall Street, where she makes her living.
Ms. Gold lithe, outgoing, athletic, blond seemed to have plenty to sell.
And judging by the profiles of men on Match.com, the buy side had no
shortages either. If she wanted a guy with green eyes and she sort of did
she could type that requirement right into the search field alongside the
desired height, income and ZIP code.
"At first, you're like a kid in a candy store," said Ms. Gold, who is 46.
Hundreds of men answered her ad, and they all seemed great. "They're
perfect," she said, referring to the way men portrayed themselves in their
profiles. "They're all like the guys from `Ocean's Eleven.' "
Then she got a closer look. On dates, more than a few of the handsome,
rugged, athletic types she thought she had been corresponding with looked
more like George Costanza than George Clooney. Some of those "single" guys
turned out to have wives.
Feeling weary and, she said, "jerked around," Ms. Gold let her paid
subscription to Match.com expire, and she has turned to real-life singles
mixers for professionals. "I think I just burned out," she said. "It's kind
of like communism. On paper, it's a perfect system."
Apparently, many others have also found that the god of online dating has
"It's clear that it's plateauing," said Peter M. Zollman, the founder of
Classified Intelligence, a consulting company that focuses on online
advertising. "A lot of people feel like, `I've been there, done that. I've
met everybody there is to meet. I'll take a break.' "
Evidence is appearing that after years of rocketing growth, the online
dating industry is drifting to earth. In 2002 the industry's revenues rose
73 percent over the previous year's, according to industry reports, and in
2003 they grew again by 77 percent. This year the growth has cooled,
relatively speaking, to 19 percent, and tepid increases are forecast for
"The slowing has begun," said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Jupiter Research
in New York.
Many early adopters those quick to explore innovations are moving on to
the next big thing, which looks a lot like the last things on the dating
front: bars, real-life matchmaking services, setups arranged by friends.
Consumer spending on online personals dipped during the first two quarters
of this year, to less than $114 million a quarter from about $117 million in
the final quarter of 2003, as measured by comScore Networks, a research
company in Reston, Va. "Virtually any new industry goes through a period of
rapid growth and expansion, followed by some adjustment," explained Daniel
E. Hess, a vice president of the firm.
This industry, apparently, is adjusting busily. In September Match.com laid
off 10 percent of its work force and replaced its chief executive. Its
third-quarter sales inched up 3 percent over the same period the previous
year, and profits dropped 37 percent, a decrease that one executive at the
company attributed to a rise in marketing costs.
An online service called True, which started up in Irving, Tex., in January,
has already slashed 60 percent of its 162 original employees, though it says
it is now rehiring. Spring Street Networks, which operates the dating
networks for Nerve and The Village Voice, has recently made significant
staff cuts. In August MatchNet, a company in Beverly Hills that operates
JDate.com and AmericanSingles.com, backed off from plans to go public.
All of this is not to say that Internet dating as a business is on the
ropes. Niche sites catering to elderly singles, lesbian singles, obese
singles continue to spring up. More than 800 online dating sites now
exist, according to Hitwise, a company that tracks Web industries.
But as a heady pop-cultural revolution otherwise known as a fad the Net
no longer seems to have the capacity to reinvent the world's mating rituals.
A moment has passed.
"There's a burnout factor that's almost inevitable in the online dating
world," said Mr. Zollman of Classified Intelligence. In other words, either
you find lasting love or you grow sick of surfing for it. At Match.com,
which says it has 50 million profiles in its database, subscribers stay for
only about five months on average, said Joe Cohen, the chief operating
officer. (Subscriptions start at $24.95 a month.) He emphasized that about
40 percent of those who leave eventually return.
"We've tried a number of things to keep them around longer," he said. "But
you know what? We don't really want them to stick around longer. We want
them to find partners."
The clearest measure of a nascent weariness with online dating may be the
expansion of defiantly offline dating services, some of them set up to cater
to frustrated refugees from the Web.
"People think online dating has hurt our business when in fact it's made it
grow," said Sherri Murphy, who operates a matchmaking service called Elite
Connections in the Los Angeles area. She charges singles $795 to $5,000 to
help them find mates among clients she says are carefully screened. "Online
dating is a job in itself," Ms. Murphy said. "People come to us to relieve
As Renée Piane sees it, "Online, there's no connectedness." Ms. Piane is the
president of Rapid Dating in Santa Monica, Calif., one of several companies
around the country that now manage "speed dating" parties where singles
cycle through a rapid-fire series of five-minute minidates (a bit like
musical chairs for grown-ups), so they can get a sense of whom they might
want to date. "You can't tell if there's any chemistry" online, Ms. Piane
said. "With speed dating, you know in the first five minutes."
Ms. Piane canceled her own subscription to Match.com in May 2002, around the
time she ran across, in person, an old high school acquaintance she soon
fell in love with. She complained that her profile is still available on
Match.com, giving false hope to hundreds of men, and said she has deleted
more than 200 e-mail messages from eager bachelors in the last few weeks
Perhaps no one has been quite so literal in trying to build a business
around online burnout as Ilana Eberson. Ms. Eberson, who worked at
Jcupid.com, a former online dating site for Jewish singles, started a
company called Real Live People Party four months ago.
"The whole concept is, `Disconnect from the Internet, reconnect with real
life,' because we all agree that the bloom is off the rose with online
dating," Ms. Eberson said.
It's not that Ms. Eberson's offline alternatives are revolutionary. So far,
her company has held several singles mixers at New York bars, and she is
planning to put on a scavenger hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as
well as a singles cruise. But she maintains that her timing is just right.
After a few euphoric years mouse in hand, people are jaded about online
dating, she said.
On her company's Web site, www.reallivepeopleparty.com (yes, even offline
dating services have Web sites), she started a contest in which the best
tale of an "online date from hell" will earn free entry to a party.
Dr. Marty Klein, a marriage and family counselor and sex therapist in Palo
Alto, Calif., said: "What always happens with new technologies, whether it's
computers or cellphones, is that at first there are early adopters. Then it
gets out into the commercial realm. Your grandma gets one. It's always
over-hyped in the beginning, then turns out not to be the answer to
everything, so some people with unrealistic expectations blame the
technology. Like everything else, there's a predictable cultural curve to
Jill M. Horn, a real estate manager who lives in Manhattan, said that after
divorcing in 2001 she joined about five paid dating sites. E-mail begat more
e-mail. There were personality tests and phone calls.
"It's a lot of effort, and it's really no different from the people you meet
in the offline world," she said. "I'm becoming disenchanted. I've got people
contacting me from North Carolina and New Mexico, and that's not going to
"The argument is that technology is supposed to make your life easier, but
that's not necessarily the case," she added.
Rosie Koul is an information technology specialist for the automobile
industry who lives in a suburb of Detroit. Now 34, she divorced three years
ago and immediately turned to online options like Kiss.com, as many of her
single friends had done.
An expert in marketing data, Ms. Koul kept meticulous records of her online
activities. Last year, in one nine-week period, her profile was browsed
4,212 times, mostly during the first four weeks after it was posted. At one
point, she said she did fall in love with a man online, or at least his
profile. In print, he was clever and engaging. She laughed out loud as his
witty e-mail. Finally, they agreed to speak on the phone.
"I don't know what happened in the exchange, but he was boring," she said
glumly. "I even went back to the e-mails to make sure I was talking to the
"Having been a marketer, there's a point of diminishing returns," Ms. Koul
added. "Do I want to spend all these hours at my PC or out having fun and
Lately, she has turned to a service based in nearby Royal Oak, Mich., called
Table for Eight, which organizes intimate dinners of four women and four
men, about 70 percent of whom have had their flings with online services,
said Regina Stocco, the company's president.
While most women interviewed complained that too many men just "window shop"
online and are unwilling to consider any but the prettiest faces, Zev
Guttman, 28, a mortgage banker in Monsey, N.Y., said it was men who are at a
disadvantage online: it is still typically the man who has to make the first
move, and it is still the woman who gets to pick and choose.
As a result, he said, he either had to lie about, say, the fact that he is
divorced or face an empty mailbox every day. "If I write that I'm
divorced, I don't have a chance of hooking up," he said. "If I write that
I'm single, they're not interested because they think I lied to them" once
they discover the truth.
"I'm just going to go back to matchmaking, or friends," he said.
For every Zev Guttman who lets his screen go dark, another lovelorn hopeful
will undoubtedly rise in his place. Bill Tancer, a researcher at the Redwood
City, Calif., office of Hitwise, said a lot of the industry's growth will
come from groups arriving late to the online singles scene, like the
And technology being technology, online dating continues to morph. Stuck in
line at the post office? You can now pass the time hunting for a life
partner, or at least a quick hookup, on your cellphone, using Match.com's
mobile service. The True online service screens for both felons and cads
through a partnership with Rapsheets, which reviews public records to verify
that people claiming to be single in their profiles actually are. Yahoo
Personals offers the opportunity to include a 30-second video clip in
profiles as an opening line.
Hey, it's almost like meeting someone.
In a sense, the fate of online dating is probably a bit like that of singles
bars. There are still singles, and there are still singles in bars. But the
"singles bar" that caused such a frisson became a relic of the "Looking for
Mr. Goodbar" 1970's. It became ordinary.
That is probably one reason that online dating seems to have lost its buzz
among its own Generation 1.0. "In the last five years, it's become so
mainstream," said Sherrie Schneider, an author of "The Rules for Online
Dating" (Pocket Books, 2002), who remains a great champion of the practice.
"It's your boss. It's your co-worker. Every single woman in my neighborhood
is on Match.com. It's like brushing your teeth."
And sometimes it's just as exciting.
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