From: UnTangled <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 6:03 AM
Subject: [New Post] The 5 Empathy Fails in Marriage (And How to Avoid Them)
To: Bill <email@example.com>
Welcome to this week’s UK Marriage News
First of all a big thank you to all those who got in touch last week when we announced that we couldn’t bring you the news for IT reasons. I’m pleased to say that those problems are all now resolved, and this week’s news has all the best bits in from the last two weeks.
· New relationship support offered to expectant parents
· Why some couples remain ‘committed unmarrieds’
· In our darkest hours
Government and Political
· New relationship support offered to expectant parents
Couples expecting a baby are to be given professional coaching on how becoming parents may change their relationship, as a part of a new support pilot. Midwives and health visitors will be given training from charity OnePlusOne on how to include relationship education into their existing antenatal and postnatal care programmes in eight areas of the country.
As part of the new perinatal project, health workers will prepare people for the impact that having a baby will have on their relationship, offer advice on dealing with conflict and tell couples about further specialist support services in their area. The perinatal pilots are part of an £8 million cash injection for the new financial year, benefiting a total of eight separate relationship support projects around the country.
DWP Minister Steve Webb said: “Becoming a parent is unquestionably one of the most rewarding things anyone can do, but it also exposes parents to a unique set of pressures which, unless properly managed, can test the strongest of relationships. By providing this support at an early stage of parenthood, people will understand how and why their relationship has changed, giving them a far better chance of resolving their differences.”
OnePlusOne director Penny Mansfield CBE said: “OnePlusOne has demonstrated the value of training health practitioners to support couple relationships, utilising their expertise and valuable time with new parents during the often challenging period after having a baby through extensive research over the past 20 years. “In this pilot we are delighted to be working together with our partners – IHV, NSPCC, and NCT – to make the most of the opportunities available during antenatal and postnatal contact. With the right knowledge and skills these key frontline practitioners can prepare mothers and fathers for the changes that parenthood brings, offer practical help in managing changes to their relationship and signpost to help at an early stage if that’s what’s needed.”
The new perinatal pilot is being delivered by relationship support charity OnePlusOne and is one of the measures that have come out of the cross government Family Stability Review. This revealed that becoming a parent is one of the most high risk periods for causing stress between couples, which can lead to separation. Research shows that by providing support in both the lead up to the birth of a child and in the weeks that follow, relationships stand a better chance of surviving.
The projects will be held in:
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
Derby Hospitals NHS Trust
Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust
Leicestershire Partnership Trust
Nottingham City Care
South Tyneside Foundation Trust
St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust
Sunderland Royal Hospital
· Link between relationships and health is ignored in the NHS
A new Relate campaign calls for relationships to be put at the heart of the NHS to improve health and wellbeing and reduce pressure on the public purse:
· Only half (51%) of people with a life-limiting health problem or who are disabled and have received professional support say it has taken relationships into account effectively
· A huge majority (91%) say they are not aware that relationship support is available for people with health problems or those who are disabled
· Around 1 in 4 say their life-limiting health problem or disability has impacted negatively on relationships with partners, friends, family or colleagues
· People with a life-limiting health problem or who are disabled are more likely to report a 'bad' relationship with partners
· Relate launches 'The Best Medicine' campaign, calling on central and local government to put relationships at the heart of the NHS
The link between relationships and health is too often ignored in the NHS, finds a new report released today by leading relationships charity, Relate and think tank, New Philanthropy Capital (NPC). The report calls for couple, family and social relationships to be put at the heart of the NHS. Ultimately, claims the report, this will improve health and wellbeing for the 15 million people in the UK* living with long term physical or mental health conditions and reduce pressure on the public purse.
The charity has also released results from two YouGov polls today. Despite clear evidence that good quality relationships can prevent, delay or minimise the effects of health conditions, only half (51%) of those with a life-limiting health problem or who are disabled and have received professional support said it has taken their relationships into account effectively. A further 21% said they feel the support they received hasn't considered their relationships at all.
The results also illustrated how the effects of living with health conditions are impacting the nation's relationships. Around 1 in 4 people with a life-limiting health problem or who are disabled said their condition has impacted negatively on relationships they have or have had with partners (24%), friends (25%), family (23%) or colleagues (33%).** In the second survey, the same group was found to be more likely to report a 'bad' relationship with their partners (5%) than other respondents (2%), and more likely to report having no close friends (13% compared to 7%).
Relate is today launching 'The Best Medicine', a new campaign which calls for a more 'relational' health system. The charity is recommending:
· A Government inquiry into how the true value of relationships can be recognised in the NHS.
· The Health Secretary to become the Health and Wellbeing Secretary, with relationships and quality of life for carers and people with health and care needs explicitly in his team's remit.
· Clinical commissioning groups and local authorities to undertake a 'family test' when considering new local policies.
The campaign is being supported by a host of charities including Mind, The Stroke Association, Alzheimer's Society, Prostate Cancer UK, Breast Cancer Care, the National AIDS Trust, Body and Soul, Headway, The James Whale Trust for Kidney Cancer, The Mental Health Foundation and The British Lung Foundation.
The Best Medicine will raise awareness of the critical link between relationships and the nation's health and wellbeing. For example, 55% of people who have been in a relationship said that it has helped them to better manage their health condition or disability. Yet when we need our relationships most, it's clear that the effects of having a physical or mental health condition can pile on the pressure. Excellent relationship support is out there to help, but too few people get access to it and a staggering 91% of those polled weren't aware of it.
Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, believes the status quo must change. She said: "Relationships are good for our health, and health can impact on our relationships, but this clear link isn't reflected in NHS policy. In a time of huge pressure on public spending, and when health conditions are the main cause of increased demand on the NHS, it makes no sense to leave relationships out of the picture. We need to find new ways to prevent and manage long term conditions. Today's report shows that relationships could hold some of the answers. That's why Relate is calling on national and local government to put relationships at the heart of the NHS. I'm asking everyone to sign our petition today to help make excellent relationship support more accessible at the point of diagnosis and beyond. We've got the opportunity to improve millions of lives here, as well as our society as a whole."
Dan Corry, Chief Executive at NPC said: "I think we all suspect that few things are more important to good health than having good friends and good relationships. But we have not always been clear how strong that link is. Now this report brings together the sound, reliable research into just how important relationships are to the health of the nation. Policy makers and charities need to read it and respond."
· MPs Call for Parenting Support to Increase Social Mobility
Following a cross-party Parliamentary Inquiry into the key issue of parenting and social mobility, focusing on the potential for enhancing parenting support, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Parents, Families and Social Mobility has published its report. Key points include:
· Parenting is a key factor in determining a child’s life chances, with successful parenting support programmes able to contribute strongly to improving social mobility
· Parenting support is fragmented across the UK with little leadership from national government
· The female dominance of the early years workforce has led to engagement with families being designed and implemented that best suit the environmental preferences, language and personal circumstances of women, often causing men to be alienated
· There can be stigma attached to parenting classes, but this can be overcome with the promotion of parenting advice becoming the norm
· Parenting support is all too often focused on parental behaviours and techniques rather than the quality of the parents’ relationship and the impact this has on a child’s life chances
In response to these findings, the Inquiry is now calling on government to:
· Develop and implement a national parenting support campaign, based on locally designed trials, and based on national – local partnerships and for roll out as funding allows
· Create a Minister for Families, to work across government departments on policy areas that impact on families
· Strengthen the ‘Family Test’ to promote strong family relationships and support parenting skills
· Parliamentary group outlines reform agenda for children's centres
MPs and peers are calling on the next government to implement a five-point improvement plan to boost the support children’s centres can offer families reports CYPNow. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sure Start Children’s Centres’ pre-election report says reform is needed as centres continue to face increased demand from families and pressure on their resources. It calls for improvements in information sharing to address the challenge centres face accessing data from across health and social care.
A reluctance among councils to give centres local birth data is a particular concern. The group points to latest data from The Children’s Society that shows half of councils are not sharing live birth data with centres. According to the society, just 15 per cent of councils currently register births at children’s centres.
Centres should also be at “the heart of local service provision”, says the group, which wants to see centres used more as children and family hubs offering support to families of teenagers as well as toddlers and babies, and as recommended by 4Children.
The next government should also launch a national birth registration pilot at centres. If successful, the APPG wants to see this rolled out nationwide. Its report says: “Delivering birth registration services more widely across the network would play an important role in enabling children’s centres to extend their reach and help more families.”
The way centres are assessed also needs to be overhauled, with integrated inspections by both Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission to take into account the breadth of health, family support and education services at centres. Ofsted confirmed last month it is in talks with the Department for Education about revamping the way centres are inspected. It also calls on the next government to make centres more “appealing places for practitioners to build careers”. The APPG wants to see clearer career paths and qualifications for centre workers.
APPG chair Lyn Brown MP said: “Children’s centres are vital to supporting and transforming the life chances of children and families across the country. We are calling on the next government to help centres fulfil their huge potential. “This report is a Sure Start blueprint for the next government, ready and waiting to be implemented. “I am thrilled that we have all-party agreement on the way forward. From sharing live birth data to expanding children’s centres into holistic family hubs, the next government can look at this plan to help make a real difference for families, through a network of centres already at their disposal.”
Helen Berresford, director of public affairs at the charity 4Children, which provides the secretariat for the APPG, said: “This report gives the next government good food for thought on what the future of Sure Start children’s centres could look like. “Any new government should see Sure Start for what it is – one of the best ways we can support children and families, rooted in the heart of their communities.”
Last month, the Labour Party unveiled plans to boost children’s centres’ role in childcare provision. It wants to see 50,000 new childcare places at centres, citing latest estimates from 4Children that more than 1,000 centres have space for more childcare.
· General Election 2015: Lib Dems pledge global same-sex marriage rights
British embassies around the world would be given the power to perform same-sex marriages – even if one partner was not a British citizen, under proposals to be included in the Liberal Democrat manifesto says the Independent.
In an attempt to appeal to LGBT voters who have deserted the party since it joined the Coalition, the Liberal Democrats will attempt to put gay equality at the heart of their election campaign. This will include a policy pledge that, under a Government including the Lib Dems, the Foreign Office would be told to use its diplomatic network to push for decriminalisation of homosexuality in countries where it is illegal.
This would prove controversial, particularly in countries like Uganda, where British pronouncements on gay rights have already been condemned as imperialist. Critics will claim that it could have a detrimental effect on other aspects of UK foreign policy. Offering same-sex marriage and civil partnership ceremonies to British citizens abroad would provide parties protection under UK civil law – rights which would not be recognised in host countries where same-sex unions are not permitted.
In an article for Independent Voices, the party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Tim Farron, and Home Office Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said it was important that LGBT rights were not just “on paper”.
“LGBT rights are human rights: we do something about it,” they wrote. “This commitment is the culmination of the work that so many in our party have already been part of in Government. In the months and years ahead, we must continue to use our influence to end the persecution and extend the freedom of LGBT citizens, both here and abroad.”
The Lib Dems admitted that the policy of using the Foreign Office could have undesirable consequences, but said that could be offset by supporting LGBT-rights movements around the world. “We will use our aid and diplomatic networks to work with and link up local campaigners and global voices... engaging with the private sector and the World Bank to make the case for LGBT equality as a force for economic as well as social good.”
Previous attempts by the Government to link gay rights with diplomacy – and British foreign aid – have led to accusations of interference. In 2011, David Cameron said that those countries receiving British aid should respect gay rights. His remarks – not aimed at any particular country – led the Ugandan Government to accuse Mr Cameron of showing an “ex-colonial mentality”. “Uganda is, if you remember, a sovereign state and we are tired of being given these lectures by people,” said a spokesman.
· Why some couples remain ‘committed unmarrieds’
It’s the opposite of ‘conscious uncoupling’. Welcome to the world of ‘committed unmarrieds': couples who are committed to one another, but not to the institution of marriage says Maybeido. While many people cohabit to ‘try before they buy’, there’s a subset of people who actively resist marriage in the first place. And a study in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Family Issues on committed heterosexual couples who have no intention of marrying attempts to answer why people are actively saying ‘I don’t’.
The study, which included interviews with 45 couples ranging in age from 23 to 70 who had been together for more than a year, found many rejected marriage on political grounds. Their objections ranged from the origins of marriage as a form of property exchange to the notion of a wife being a domestic slave.
This traditional notion of marriage, for one woman, reflected her recent experience rather than a relic from some dim distant past. In her previous marriage she was expected to play the role of a 1950s housewife and, as such, she wasn’t prepared to risk repeating that in her new relationship. “It sort of seemed like, when I got married, I suddenly became a possession with my ex and… I should have been like his mother, working full-time, plus coming home and taking care of the house and everything else, while he got to come home and sit and watch TV and other fun things like that,” she told the researchers.
Unpicking the rituals of engagements and weddings is enough to give any woman the wrong kind of heart palpations. The symbolism of a father walking his daughter down the aisle and then handing her over to another man is quite outrageous. Yes, yes, I can hear people saying that the cultural meaning of the bridal walk has changed. But, when you pare it back to basics, it’s still one man giving a woman to another man.
When Prince William asked Kate Middleton’s father for permission to marry her people thought it was sweet. Not only do these antiquated rituals go unquestioned, we still think it’s romantic to treat grown women like children- or property. If we cling to traditional gender power imbalances in the pre-marriage stage, you can’t blame women for fearing it will rear its ugly head after the ring is on the finger.
Full disclosure, I am happily married and I was pleasantly surprised by the additional sense of security and companionship that came with our public declaration of commitment. But you don’t have to look very hard to see examples of how marriage, if left unexamined, can be a slippery slope of female disempowerment. For example, a male acquaintance recently told my husband- without any apparent irony- that he should buy me a Thermomix because it would mean I’d get his dinner cooked on time.
Other participants in the study likened the decision not to wed to an act of ‘civil disobedience’- a stance against the fact marriage is, in most parts of the world, a heterosexual club. “I wouldn’t sit at a segregated lunch counter. I’m not gonna get married if it’s not legal for everybody”, one respondent said.
For other couples, their politics of marriage was less about the plans of state and more to do with the seating plan. One couple told the researchers their resistance came down to logistics- keeping warring relatives apart- and the fact his mother “refused to attend a nonreligious ceremony”.
For others, modern weddings have become a gauche commercial spectacular that they can do without. And given the average spent on an Australian wedding in 2011 was $36,200 (the average in the United States in 2013 was $29,858), you can’t blame them.
Other couples just couldn’t see the point of marriage, considering it meaningless, and didn’t think it would add anything to their relationship. My friend Carolyn, for example, never got around to marrying her long-term partner and now that they have two school-aged children they see no reason to have a wedding. “If we got married after all these years everyone would suspect that one of us has had an affair,” Carolyn says. “Something really terrible would have to have happened to justify asking all our friends to arrange all that babysitting.”
Just over 10 per cent of Australians are living in de facto relationships. And the research suggests de facto couples are six times more likely to split up than married couples.
But an increased likelihood of staying together is not necessarily a glowing endorsement for the institution of marriage- particularly if it can transform modern women into 1950s housewives with Thermomixes.
· Are humans hardwired to break-up and move on?
A Saint Louis University research review article suggests people are hardwired to fall out of love and move onto new romantic relationships reports Science Daily. "Our review of the literature suggests we have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives," said Brian Boutwell, Ph.D., associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University. "It suggests people will recover; the pain will go away with time. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel."
Boutwell and his colleagues examined the process of falling out of love and breaking up, which they call primary mate ejection, and moving on to develop a new romantic relationship, which they call secondary mate ejection.
Drawing largely upon the field of evolutionary psychology, they say men and women might break up for different reasons. For instance, a man is more likely to end a relationship because a woman has had a sexual relationship with another man. For evolutionary reasons, men should be wired to try and avoid raising children that aren't genetically their own, the authors say. "Men are particularly sensitive to sexual infidelity between their partner and someone else," Boutwell said. "That's not to say women don't get jealous, they certainly do, but it's especially acute for men regarding sexual infidelity."
On the other hand, a woman may be more likely to break up if her partner has been emotionally unfaithful partly because of evolutionary reasons. Over the deep time of evolution, natural selection has designed mate ejection in females to avoid the loss of resources, such as help in raising a child and physical protection, that their mates provide.
Sometimes both men and women end a relationship for the same reason. "For instance, neither gender tends to tolerate or value cruelty on the part of their partner," Boutwell said.
In addition, some people might be more likely than others to fall out of love or have problems moving. The ability to break up and find someone new to love lies along a continuum, influenced by environmental and genetic factors.
Brain imaging studies of men and women who claimed to be deeply in love also provided important clues about dealing with breakups. Functional MRIs showed an increase in neuronal activity in the parts of the brain -- the pleasure areas -- that also become active with cocaine use.
"Helen Fisher's work has revealed that this circuitry in the brain, which is deeply associated with addictive behaviours, also is implicated in the feelings associated with romantic attraction and may help explain the attachment that often follows the initial feelings of physical infatuation with a potential mate. Think of it as that initial feeling of falling in love, when you want to constantly be around the other person, almost in an addictive way," Boutwell said.
Falling out of love, Boutwell contends, might be compared to asking a cocaine addict to break his or her habit. "To sever that bond and move on is a huge ask of a person," he said. "Ultimately, trying to move on from a former mate may be similar in some ways to an attempt at breaking a drug habit."
Building off the drug addiction analogy, Boutwell examined studies about the brains of former cocaine addicts to try to predict how the brains of those who are breaking a relationship habit might look. Images of the brains of those no longer using cocaine showed a larger volume of grey matter in various brain regions, which were markedly different from images of brains of active cocaine users. "We might argue that different regions of the brain act in a way that once that addiction has been severed, then help to facilitate a person moving on and finding a new partner," Boutwell extrapolated. "A person might initially pursue their old mate -- in an attempt to win back their affection. However, if pursuit is indeed fruitless, then the brains of individuals may act to correct certain emotions and behaviours, paving the way for people to become attracted to new mates and form new relationships."
Conducting functional MRI studies that examine the brains of men and women who have rebounded from a relationship and fallen in love again would provide additional evidence to lend credibility to or dismiss the addiction hypothesis, he added.
In an additional attempt to understand what is going on inside the brain when a relationship ends, Boutwell examined research regarding the impact of a group of antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on romantic love. The use of SSRIs can potentially lower levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and testosterone, which might stifle romantic feelings and sexual interest.
"This is not to say that people should cease using their anti-depressants without consulting their doctors. That could be potentially tragic and a very bad decision," Boutwell said. "Rather, like any medication, it is important to fully understand the side effects. In this case, those side effects might impinge on the intimate feelings of one partner towards another."
Boutwell urged more research into lost love to better understand the difficulties that can creep into a romantic relationship. "If we better understand mate ejection, it may offer direct and actionable insight into ways in which couples can save a relationship that might otherwise come to stultifying and abrupt halt," he said.
· Immediate Effect of Couple Relationship Education on Low-Satisfaction Couples: A Randomized Clinical Trial Plus an Uncontrolled Trial Replication
Couple relationship education (RE) usually is conceived of as relationship enhancement for currently satisfied couples, with a goal of helping couples sustain satisfaction says an article from Science Direct. However, RE also might be useful as a brief, accessible intervention for couples with low satisfaction. Two studies were conducted that tested whether couples with low relationship satisfaction show meaningful gains after RE. Study 1 was a three-condition randomized controlled trial in which 182 couples were randomly assigned to RELATE with Couple CARE (RCC), a flexible delivery education program for couples, or one of two control conditions. Couples with initially low satisfaction receiving RCC showed a moderate increase in relationship satisfaction (d = 0.50) relative to the control. In contrast, couples initially high in satisfaction showed little change and there was no difference between RCC and the control conditions. Study 2 was an uncontrolled trial of the Couple Coping Enhancement Training (CCET) administered to 119 couples. Couples receiving CCET that had initially low satisfaction showed a moderate increase in satisfaction (g = .44), whereas initially highly satisfied couples showed no change. Brief relationship education can assist somewhat distressed couples to enhance satisfaction, and has potential as a cost-effective way of enhancing the reach of couple interventions.
· Intimacy and Emotion Work in Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Relationships
Knowledge about how gender shapes intimacy is dominated by a heteronormative focus on relationships involving a man and a woman says an article in Journal of Marriage and Family. In this study, the authors shifted the focus to consider gendered meanings and experiences of intimacy in same-sex and different-sex relationships. They merged the gender-as-relational perspective—that gender is co-constructed and enacted within relationships—with theoretical perspectives on emotion work and intimacy to frame an analysis of in-depth interviews with 15 lesbian, 15 gay, and 20 heterosexual couples. They found that emotion work directed toward minimizing and maintaining boundaries between partners is key to understanding intimacy in long-term relationships. Moreover, these dynamics, including the type and division of emotion work, vary for men and women depending on whether they are in a same-sex or different-sex relationship. These findings push thinking about diversity in long-term relationships beyond a focus on gender difference and toward gendered relational contexts.
· Millions rely on grandmother
More than two million working parents would have to consider giving up their jobs completely if they were not able to rely on their own parents to help with childcare, new research suggests says the Telegraph. Almost one in five parents said they would give up work if they could not turn to the older generation for support, polling by the charity Grandparents Plus found. Meanwhile another one in six would have to cut back their hours if they could not turn to their parents for support, it showed.
The new analysis underlines the scale of Britain’s dependence on grandparents as nursery and child-minder fees rise sharply coupled with a return to the workplace by stay-at-home mothers. It follows research estimating that grandparents save families in the UK £11 billion each year in childcare costs by stepping in to help out on the domestic front.
Last week one travel firm offering breaks in hotels and resorts which ban children reported a spike in bookings from pensioners for the period immediately after the school summer holidays. Warner Leisure Hotels said grandparents increasingly appear to be booking last-minute breaks to recover from the stress of childcare over the summer holidays.
Almost half of over-55s in the UK provide some form of regular childcare support for their own children, even though many are themselves still working. Grandparents Plus is campaigning for rules allowing parents of young children to take up to four weeks a year of unpaid leave to be relaxed to allow them to pass on the entitlement to their own parents if they still work.
Although business leaders have voiced concern that any extension of flexible working would increase pressure on small firms, supporters of the change argue it could boost the economy by enabling more parents to continue working.
In the polling, by Survation, working parents were asked what they would do if their own parents were unable to help look after the children. Overall 21 per cent said they would have to find the money for extra paid childcare but almost as many, 19 per cent, said they would give up work themselves. That includes almost a quarter of working mothers and in seven fathers polled.
There are currently around 10.8 million working parents in the UK including four million families in which both parents are employed. One recent study last year showed that almost 200,000 former stay-at-home mothers had re-joined the workforce in just two years.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of Grandparents Plus said: “One in three working parents rely on grandparents for childcare but what are the political parties offering grandparents?
“It is often younger grandmothers in particular who provide the intensive childcare support and they are the ones at risk of dropping out of the labour market. But we are also seeing granddads doing more too. If we want grandparents to work longer and care more for children, we need to give them the flexibility to do it. Many parents don’t take all the unpaid leave they are entitled to. But if they could share it with a grandparent, that would help hard-pressed working grandparents to juggle work and care and our poll shows parents back our call. As an increasing number of grandparents stay in work in their mid-sixties and older we will see more working parents at risk of losing the childcare they rely so heavily on. This will see mothers dropping out of the labour market and our economy cannot afford that.”
· Divorce Without Court: A Helpful Reform
State Rep. John Lesch and state Sen. Sandy Pappas recently introduced a "cooperative private divorce" bill that creates an administrative pathway to divorce that skips the court system reports Minneapolis Star-Tribune. If most divorces settle out of court and people just file paperwork for court approval, why is this such a significant reform?
Any time people are put in an adversarial position, anxiety and animosity are almost inevitable. A court proceeding is fundamentally a contest between adversaries - a win/lose battle that depends on convincing a powerful decision maker that the other person is wrong.
In our culture, the very idea of divorce has the court system in the background. People are assumed to be adversaries, and they respond with hostility in the very situation that calls for generosity of spirit. Everyone in the family law system knows the bitter court battles that result. Even more important, many of the divorce cases that settle out of court are begrudging compromises made by adversaries to avoid the risk of a judge deciding against them.
The hard work of many good people has humanized the divorce system, and Minnesota's is one of the best. But the essential nature of the adversary court system cannot be negated. It's like how we handle prostitution and drug use - diversion and treatment programs have modified the criminal system, but once an issue is assigned to the criminal system rather than the public health system, certain consequences inevitably follow. Once we decide that divorce requires a court order, we suffuse the process with conflict.
In a cooperative private divorce, people would submit a simple form online called "Intent to Divorce." After 90 days to make sure they have thought it through and have consulted with any advisers they wanted, they could submit another form called "Declaration of Divorce" that contained whatever agreements they chose to make about their children or their financial affairs. Then they would be issued a "Certificate of Divorce." That's it. Complete privacy. No judge's approval. The couple could modify their agreements or scrap the private system and go to court any time they wanted.
The most common criticism of this new system is paternalistic: Without oversight, people will screw it up. But most "mistakes" now come from lay people not always following the complex rules a judge might use to decide arguments about things like real estate. But is it really a mistake if people agree on what seems fair to them? And if they wanted to follow complex rules, they would be free to hire lawyers. People get married, raise children and write wills without court oversight. Why can't they decide how they divorce?
Once the court monopoly on divorce is ended, the private market will respond with supportive services that not only would reduce mistakes but may prevent some divorces, because the first stop for couples in trouble won't automatically be a lawyer to represent them against their spouse. We know lawyers who welcome this chance to do creative work in a non-adversarial setting.
Another objection is that some people will be pushed around without a judge to protect them. The bill contains careful warnings that the private system should be used only by people who can work together in good faith. And, as in all areas of the law, judges will retain authority to vacate private agreements obtained through misconduct.
Some experienced family lawyers contend that an administrative divorce system is unconstitutional. Legal scholars will weigh in, but it's interesting that those who say it's unconstitutional don't usually refer to a constitutional provision or a policy argument about why the Legislature lacks authority to dissolve the bond between people it created. Rather, they contend that some court might find the system unconstitutional. This is exactly what happens in the current divorce system - the discussion moves from what is the best course of action to a prediction about what a judge might do.
Everywhere you look, the tide of cultural evolution is toward empowerment and respect for individuals. It is time the divorce system got into the flow.
· The online dating site sued for targeting married people
An online dating site that targets married people is being accused of breaking the law. A court in France must now decide whether the company is illegally encouraging spouses to cheat reports the BBC.
Is it permitted for a dating website to promote adultery, when fidelity in marriage is written into French civil law? That is the question underlying a law-suit targeting the French company Gleeden, which boasts that it is the world's leading "extra-conjugal site conceived for married women". Angered by Gleeden's provocative advertising on the public transport system, the Association of Catholic Families (ACF) has filed a civil case contesting the site's legality.
It might seem odd in this permissive age, but family lawyers agree that the ACF plea has a respectable chance of succeeding. This is because the notion of fidelity as constituting an integral part of marriage is specifically spelt out in the French civil code.
In France, all law is based on written codes (penal code, labour code, commercial code etc) which can be amended by parliament. Judges are free to interpret the codes, but their room for manoeuvre is much more limited than in a common law system like the UK's. And in Article 212 of the Civil Code, it states: "Married partners owe each other the duty of respect, fidelity, help and assistance."
"There are plenty of other websites out there which promote sexual contact between individuals, but what makes Gleeden different is that its very business model is based on marital infidelity," says Jean-Marie Andres, president of the Association of Catholic Families. "It states quite openly that its purpose is to offer married women opportunities to have sex outside the marriage. But here in France, people and parliament are all in agreement that marriage is a public commitment. It's in the law. What we are trying to do with our suit is show that the civil code - the law - has meaning."
Gleeden does not demur from the accusation that it is aimed at married women. Far from it. Married women are its unique selling point. The advertisements which caused such horror among conservatives and Catholics blatantly encourage wives to think that cheating is both permissible and fun. One poster displayed on buses and metros shows an attractive young woman in a bridal dress with her fingers crossed behind her back. The message is clear: vows are for suckers.
Founded in 2009, the website says it has 2.3 million members in Europe including one million in France. It has smaller operations in the US and other countries. Under the Gleeden model, women do not pay to be registered on the site. Men buy credit, opening up different levels of access to registered women. Though accurate information on this is impossible to obtain, Gleeden says 80% of the people who use it are indeed married.
Forthcoming conferences and events
· Forthcoming conferences
Details of all forthcoming conferences can always be found under our listing at 2-in-2-1
Consultations and Campaigns
Below is our running list of current and recent consultations and campaigns. New items or those requiring action are highlighted. The Reference numbers are to the newsletter where we covered the subject.
· In our darkest hours
The news this past week has been filled with the stories and horror of the Alp’s air crash – but there was one snippet that really caught my attention – it was a German man expressing sympathy for the parents of the co-pilot. He had realised that behind this tragic story, and all the media attention that it inevitably brings these days, lay the personal tragedy and trauma of a family caught up in a maelstrom of emotions and questions.
Actually that was the second example of such a situation I had come across in a week. The first involved a family whose son had just been sent to prison – a happy, normal, family suddenly rocked by the transgressions of one of their offspring. There is nothing to suggest that the parents had been poor at parenting or similar, this was a product of a very normal loving home – though I am sure that the parents will have run endlessly over what they might have done, or not done, differently over the years.
To me both these stories highlight both the responsibilities of being a parent, and the risks that having a child brings. As far as I know, in both cases, the parents had provided a loving, stable nurturing environment, had supported their offspring through the challenges of adolescence, and then seen them “launched” into adult life. And yet something still went tragically wrong…..
The risk is clear – our offspring become independent adults who may, for whatever reasons, transgress socially or legally acceptable boundaries, and in the process wreak huge collateral damage on those who have sought to nurture and protect them through life. The German pilot’s parents will forever be marked out as “that pilot’s parents” – never again will they be able to tell those stories of their offspring success that are the mainstay of so many social occasions. People will always be looking, wondering…. And so too for our friends for whom the events could have career threatening consequences….
Such pressures are huge on a couple, but perhaps just bearable – if they were placed on the shoulders of one parent alone they just might be too much. At least these couples, in the privacy of their own relationships, have someone intimately connected with every aspect of their offspring’s life to whom they can turn to help rationalise and empathise. Of course the trauma and grief they will each bear will stretch their own relationships to the limit – we each process these things in very different ways – doubtless there will be tears of anger as well as of grief, but through it all they will hopefully also realise that their spouse stands beside them, just as wounded and bloodied, but still standing and fighting beside them.
It is for times such as these, when our children inflict the deepest pain possible, that we need the unquestioning support of one who has made absolute vows of support and love – who has made the promises of marriage to walk beside us in our darkest hours.
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March 20, 2015
10 Actions That Children Learn From Their Parents' Marriage
by Doug Fields – When I speak on marriage, I’m always asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage.
The answer is yes . . . and, no.
Yes, there are times when we’ve talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But, for the most part, Cathy and I have been wise enough to know that our kids are constantly watching and learning from us without us having to do a lot of talking. Our actions (both good and bad) are always teaching them about marriage.
I would be thrilled if my kids had a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share . . . it’s definitely not perfect, but we’re both very proud of what we’ve developed over 27+ years.
Here are 10 actions that I know my kids have observed from us over the years: (Click here for the entire entry.)