FAQS/Replies /Abstinence/Apologies - 11/04

smartmarriages at lists101.his.com smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Thu Nov 18 23:28:23 EST 2004


- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- THURBER PRIZE
- JOINT CUSTODY AND ALIENATION
- ABSTINENCE EDUCATION
- RED AND BLUE STATES: REVISITED
- MALTA AND PHILIPPINES THE ONLY REMAINING COUNTRIES WITHOUT DIVORCE
- AMERICANS HATE TO APOLOGIZE? WHO CAN BLAME US?

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- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
First the answers to some of your frequently asked questions.  Assuming if
several of you ask, more are wondering....

1) The work-exchange VOLUNTEER positions are reserved for students.  Spouses
of students can also volunteer even if they are not students (this
conference is, after all, about marriage).  Email: diane at smartmarriages.com
to request an application.

2) There is NO need to reserve a spot now in the pre and post conference
training institutes.  If you register by April 15, I GUARNATEE you will get
into the institute of your choice.  The registration materials will be
mailed in FEB.  

3) I still have plenty of the red postcards that announce the conference.
I'm told these are easy to carry in your purse to hand out as you make your
rounds.  One guy says he keeps a stack on his desk and gives out at least
one a day.  Email and tell me how many you could use. Take them with you if
you're going to seminars, Sunday school, etc.

4) Ditto for bumper stickers. Take the challenge!  No bickering allowed in a
'Smart Marriages car'.  This is a great way to help advertise the conference
- and we can't change the world unless we reach it!

5) We're still accepting Poster Session applications (on web on Conference
page.) But we are full to overflowing with workshop applications and cannot
take any more. 

6) We don't have discounts on Southwest airline this year.  They no longer
give conference discounts.  We DO have conference discounts on American
Airlines - see http://www.smartmarriages.com/travel.html for info. The
discounts are deeper the earlier you reserve.  We also have Avis Rental Car
discounts. 

7) We don't know where the conference will be in 2006.

8) The Adams Mark hotel is again (this year) only $79 single and $89
double!! - and, yes, they are accepting reservations for the June Smart
Marriages Conference.  We have the same number of rooms reserved and expect
an even larger crowd, so it wouldn't hurt to reserve in advance.  There is
no cancellation penalty if you cancel 72 hrs in advance of your scheduled
arrival date.  Kids under 18 stay free in room.
http://www.smartmarriages.com/hotel.reservations.html

##############################

- THURBER PRIZE

> I really dislike the partisan bias that frequently crops up in these missives.
> ...  an ad hominem attack on a couple that, against all odds, stayed together.
> ... circulating attacks on particular individuals

I did read the book, and loved it. I think if it had included any
unjustified and speculative insults to the Clinton's marriage I would still
remember them, because those really tick me off. It did not mention the
Clintons by name, and I don't think the characters were supposed to be
exactly like the Clintons, either.

And actually, maybe it's not such a bad thing that for once the public is
interested in the workings of a marriage that obviously has tensions and
yet stays together and achieves great things.

-John Crouch 
########################
- JOINT CUSTODY AND ALIENATION
  In the UK last week, an MP stated that Parliament will NEVER pass a law
mandating that custody be equally shared between both parents, because it
nullifies the presumption of the "best interests of the child" requirement.
Mens groups in Britain have been creatively and publicly active in recent
years to draw attention to their plight, and British men do seem to be
treated more unfairly in divorce court than American men.   But the MP added
that the government would look to other avenues to address their claims of
injustice.

   It also should be noted that in North  Carolina, which is a state with an
"alienation of affections" statute, a couple of [attorney] legislators two
summers ago attempted to pass a bill that would rescind that law.  It was
resoundingly defeated.  It seems that the people in their wisdom will
retain, if asked, a law that recognizes what Katherine Spaht has called at a
Smart Marriages conference, "objective fault".   In North Carolina a
doctor/husband won a sizeable amount for the seduction of his wife, and in
their other noteworthy case,  the wife admitted that she and her husband had
had very infrequent sexual relations, but the jury said that was
understandable to them as husband was "getting it" from his paramour, and so
the fault involved was properly judged.

Phyllis H. Witcher
phyllaw at comcast.net
##########################
- ABSTINENCE EDUCATION

McManus - Ethics & Religion
Nov. 17, 2004 Column #1,212 Advance for Nov. 20, 2004 Abstinence Can Be
Taught To Teenagers by Michael J. McManus
                   
CHARLESTON, S.C.   For 15 years I've written columns about how teenagers can
be taught to abstain from sexual activity, but I have never seen a program
as effective as what Heritage Community Services offers to 25,000 students a
year in South Carolina and elsewhere.

Dr. Stan Weed, President of the Institute for Research and Evaluation,
studied the sex initiation rates for a large sample of 8,346 S.C. students
in Grades 7-9 from 1999-2001.  He found that on average, 15.6 percent began
sexual activity over a year's period.

However, if the students were exposed to 450 minutes of the Heritage Keepers
Abstinence Program, or ten 45 minute classes in the 7th grade, only 9.1%
initiated sexual activity, a remarkable 42 percent reduction.  And if the
students attended another 450 minutes in the 8th grade, only 4.3 percent
became sexually active.

That is a stunning 72 percent reduction in the initiation of sexual
activity.

"Abstinence education, when thoughtfully designed, carefully developed and
rigorously implemented, changes the sexual behavior of adolescents," Weed
asserted in a recent speech.

"The process by which these changes occur is becoming better understood. We
know some of the key factors which affect that behavior, many of which are
amenable to influence, and that programmatic intervention can effectively
address them," he added.

What are those factors?  There are five:

1. Self Efficacy, "the degree to which you can do what you have set out to
do," says Anne Badgley, Heritage President. It is more than self-worth - a
self confidence about their ability to accomplish something important, such
as remaining chaste.

2. Future Orientation is "the degree to which they see their future so
clearly that it influences what they do today."  Most adolescents have only
a present orientation, doing what gives them immediate satisfaction.
Heritage helps them "to get a vision for the long-term, by developing an
expectation that if they can delay gratification, the rewards are deeper and
longer lasting," asserted Mrs. Badgley.

Most of the kids in South Carolina public schools have never seen or had
explained what a healthy marriage is.  It is more than a genital
relationship.  "We say that sex is like fire, which means it is important to
have it surrounded by the stones of a fireplace that make it safe. The
building blocks of marriage are emotional, familial, social and intellectual
‹ plus the cement that makes it safe, a lifelong relationship, commitment.
These kids are built for that vision that all people long for, they are
worth that kind of lifelong love," she explained.

3.  Sexual Values affirm the value of abstinence and reject permissiveness.

4. Peer Independence is the degree to which a student can resist pressure
from peers that would put him or her at risk.  Like the other qualities,
"refusal skills" are measured with a series of five to seven questions that
are predictors of the degree to which they can take a stand with their
peers: "Even when my friends want to do something I believe is wrong, I can
stand up to them even if they get mad with me."

5. Behavior Intentions is one of the strongest predictors of whether they
will remain chaste.  Those who intend to abstain are more likely to abstain
than those who are not sure what they want to do.

These five important predictors of future sexual activity were first
identified by Dr. Stan Weed more than a decade ago.  What Mrs. Badgley and
her associates have done is to construct a course that builds upon them,
creating a life skills program that incorporates a future orientation and
peer independence into lessons that young people can understand.

After the core curriculum is delivered in Grades 6 and 7, there is a
Heritage Keepers Life Skills Education offered at five levels, a dozen 90
minute lessons for Grades 8, 9, 10,11 and 12 that helps students maintain
their commitment as they get older, and the temptations grow.

Finally, Heritage developed courses for churches and even parents on how to
help their children achieve the benefits of sexual abstinence and avoid
consequences of sex outside of marriage, which many of them know all too
well.  Parents love the course and are grateful.

"When you think that the children are bombarded with sexual messages, just
two interventions can make a huge difference," Mrs. Badgley concluded.
"Every child should have the opportunity to hear this message, delivered by
people who really believe in them and the message."

###############################
- RED AND BLUE STATES: REVISITED

Diane, 
I've enjoyed reading the articles you've been posting on divorce rate
differences in Red and Blue States.  These stories brought to mind an
article that I wrote about 10 years ago (which appeared, with variations, in
the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, and several other places).  I thought
you might enjoy seeing one variation of this article (below) which cites a
number of the leading lights in the marriage movement - and suggests that
the best way to divide up states might not be by Red and Blue, but by
whether one is above or below "the tan line."  ;)
Bill Mattox  

- DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
The Curious Link Between Baseball and Lifelong Marriage
By William R. Mattox, Jr.

As every ball player preparing for Opening Day knows, the game of baseball
revolves around home.  Pitchers try to throw the ball over home plate.
Batters try to hit home runs.  Runners try to make it home safely.  And fans
root, root, root for the home team.

Apparently, baseball's preoccupation with home is no accident.  A research
study by Denver University psychologist Howard Markman shows that the
average divorce rate in cities that have a major league baseball team is 28
percent lower than in cities that lack a major league franchise.

While Markman insists this finding is just a coincidence, his research does
raise a rather intriguing question:  What geographic differences do exist in
divorce rates?     

Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is to think not of baseball,
but of another warm weather pastime - bathing suits.  Strangely enough, the
divorce rate of any place in the continental United States can be reliably
predicted by knowing the number of days out of the year that women there can
wear swim suits.  Generally, the more warm weather days suitable for bathing
attire, the higher the divorce rate; the more cold weather days unsuitable
for swimwear, the lower the divorce rate.

To illustrate, draw a line across the midsection of the continental United
States (along the northern border of North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas,
Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, and continuing through southern Nevada
and central California).  More than 60 percent of the total U.S. population
lives above what might be called "the tan line."  Yet less than half of all
divorces occur here, and all of the ten states with the lowest divorce rates
are above the tan line.

In fact, believe it or not, Teddy Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts is
number one in marital stability.  Donald Trump's New York follows close
behind.  Conversely, almost all of the states with the highest divorce rates
are found below the tan line.  And four of these states - Alabama, Arkansas,
Oklahoma, and Tennessee - are located right in the heart of the Bible belt.

The irony here, of course, is that the Bible is hardly neutral on the
subject of divorce.  The Old Testament prophet Malachi reports that God
"hates divorce."  And in the New Testament, Jesus condemns divorce "for any
reason except sexual immorality" (Matthew 5:32)

In truth, the National Institute for Healthcare Research says weekly
churchgoers throughout the U.S. are less apt to divorce than people who
claim "no religion" and those who attend religious services less than once a
week.  Devout Catholics have especially low divorce rates - apparently
because Catholic parishes often take the responsibility of marriage
preparation and enrichment more seriously than Protestant churches do.

Thus, one of the reasons for the relatively low divorce rates in the
Northeast and Midwest is because these regions tend to have a higher
concentration of Catholics than do other geographic areas.

University of Texas sociologist Norval Glenn says another factor affecting
regional differences in divorce is "social rootedness."  His research shows
that people who live in stable communities are less apt to divorce because
they are more likely to be enmeshed in an inter-generational social network
that helps them evaluate potential mates, offers them marital advice and
support, and expects them to work through any domestic problems that may
arise.  Thus, the Sun Belt's higher divorce rates are due, in part, to the
fact that this region has more social instability than less-transient areas
in the Northeast and Midwest.

In many ways, it is too bad that America's divorce problem isn't
attributable to the absence of professional baseball.  Because it would be
far easier to expand the number of professional baseball teams than to make
the kind of changes needed to dramatically reduce the number of divorces in
America.  

But if we are serious about strengthening marriages in this country - and we
should be - then we should be encouraging churches to make marriage
preparation, enrichment, and restoration a high priority.  We should be
imploring businesses to reduce the volume of forced geographic transfers and
job-related travel.  And we should be helping couples to see that divorce
rarely solves problems - it usually just exchanges one set of problems for
another.

Obviously, changing cultural attitudes about divorce will not be easy.  But
a nation that still honors the heroic perseverance of Lou Gehrig - and still
cherishes historic ballparks like Chicago's Wrigley Field - ought to be able
to regain its commitment to the time-honored ideal of lifelong marriage.  We
ought to be able to renew our appreciation for the idea that "diamonds are
forever."  We ought to be able to find our way home.
 
William R. Mattox Jr. is a member of the board of contributors at USA TODAY.
########################
- MALTA AND PHILIPPINES THE ONLY REMAINING COUNTRIES WITHOUT DIVORCE
by Charlotte Bonavia, di-ve news

VALLETTA, Malta (di-ve news)--November 17, 2004 --Chile has become the third
last country to adopt divorce laws, thus Malta and the Philippines are the
only two countries in the world that are still rejecting divorce.

Like Malta, Chile is predominantly catholic as 89 per cent of citizens are
Roman Catholics, 11 per cent are Protestants and only a trace are Jewish.
This introduction in this country with a population of almost 16 million,
came amidst an issue that divides the people.

Although many describe themselves as catholic, they do not agree with the
Church perceptions. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who believe
that once there is a way out, married couples will not do their utmost to
save their marriage and opt for divorce instead.

It is believed that the courts might find it difficult to cope with the
floods of applications for divorce in the first few months.

###########################

- AMERICANS HATE TO APOLOGIZE? WHO CAN BLAME US?
Philadelphia Inquirer
Nov. 17, 2004
By Alfred Lubrano
Staff Writer

> The best apology, the pros say, includes conveying a sense of remorse; a
> sense of responsibility and acceptance of blame; and a willingness to never
> repeat the action that caused the hurt.
> 
> Ultimately, apologies keep relationships healthy, despite what Ali MacGraw
> tells Ryan O'Neal in Love Story.

 
Yeah, you blew it.

You forgot the 2 p.m. meeting, you snapped at your honey, you ate the last
doughnut.

So now it's time to say you're sorry.

Apologies are tricky things, though, and not everyone can dance the mea
culpa. In a culture better at blame than contrition, sorry is, as Sir Elton
John informs us, the hardest word.

"A general rule," says Denver psychologist and apology expert Susan Heitler,
"is that the more mature somebody is, the more likely they are to say
they're sorry."

Odd as it sounds, men may apologize to their spouses more often than women
do, according to a recent survey by the Princeton-based Opinion Research
Corp. The study is part of a publicity campaign to mark the 70th anniversary
of the Parker Brothers game Sorry!

According to the survey, when asked whom they say sorry to most often, 56
percent of men said their wives. Just 41 percent of wives, on the other
hand, said they apologize most to their husbands.

What are they sorry about? Well, fairly innocuous things, really: leaving a
mess, forgetting to take out the trash, missing dinner and drinking from the
milk carton. (If guys want to be forgiven for, say, stepping out with their
secretaries, they haven't shared it with surveyors.)

Can it be that men, socialized to hunt and eat the tiger on the savannah,
are superior apologizers to women, who are culturally programmed to
accommodate and appease?

"This survey does not jibe with what I know about men at all," says Beverly
Engel, a California marriage-family therapist and author of The Power of
Apology: Healing Steps to Transform All Your Relationships (2001, John Wiley
& Sons).

"Men have a very difficult time apologizing. They're supposed to be tough
and are encouraged not to admit mistakes. And women tend to over-apologize,"
Engel says.

Yes, indeed, reports Cathy Knittweis, a 63-year-old retired nurse from
Collings Lakes, in Atlantic County, N.J.

"I always apologize more than my husband," she says. "I don't really always
mean it, but I'd rather apologize than have that feeling of us not talking
to each other for a day or so."

In the frosty aftermath of an argument, only an apology can thaw the mood
and warm the house.

"Apologies are powerful because they humble us before the other person,"
Engel says. "In a relationship, an apology makes the person being apologized
to feel vindicated, and heard. And the couple will feel closer, and safer
with each other."

Unfortunately, that same kind of vulnerability can be trouble in the
corporate world, where apologies can be seen as weakness by hungry
colleagues eyeing your corner office.

"Business is so cutthroat," Engel continues, "humbling yourself before a
colleague is not a good idea."

The same is true in politics. Reporters practically did backflips trying to
get President Bush to say whether he made any mistakes during his first
term. The President just smiled and said he couldn't think of a thing to
apologize for. Apparently, he was just being a typical American.

Obfuscation and non-acknowledgment of responsibility are simply part of our
way of life, thanks to our legal system, psychologist Heitler says. "If you
acknowledge a mistake, you're more likely to be punished," she adds.

Jonathan Cohen, a law professor at the University of Florida, agrees: "Our
first instinct is to cover up." That's a sharp contrast to Asian nations, in
which admitting mistakes is seen as a paramount virtue.

For decades, Cohen says, lawyers have advised their clients to shut up and
never apologize, no matter how obvious their culpability was. Dollars were
on the line.

That way of thinking appears to be changing, however. Within the last year,
for example, five states (Pennsylvania and New Jersey not among them) have
enacted laws that say that if a doctor makes a mistake and says he's sorry
to a patient or his family, the apology cannot be used against him in court.

Similarly, more attorneys for corporations and universities are advising
apologies after big mistakes are made, says Jennifer Robbennolt, a
legal-apology expert at the University of Missouri.

Are lawyers suddenly growing hearts and sprouting consciences? Not
necessarily. Apologies can stem lawsuits, or encourage settlements for
smaller amounts, Robbennolt says.

In criminal cases, the trend is for prosecutors and defense attorneys to
seek so-called restorative justice, in which perpetrators apologize to their
victims, says Stephanos Bibas, a University of Iowa scholar of apology in
criminal law.

Apparently, people want to hear that someone is sorry for their pain or
loss. Of course, a good apology has to be sincere. Mumbling weak regrets
just won't cut it.

The best apology, the pros say, includes conveying a sense of remorse; a
sense of responsibility and acceptance of blame; and a willingness to never
repeat the action that caused the hurt.

Ultimately, apologies keep relationships healthy, despite what Ali MacGraw
tells Ryan O'Neal in Love Story.

We apologize for reminding you of the most famous - and the lamest -
statement about apologies: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

Sorry.


**************************
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