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Friday, August 2, 2013

Speed dating: the Happy Meal of romance?


Speed dating: the Happy Meal of romance?

In her latest missive from the world of 21st century courtship, Northern Lass meets 21 three-minute men
Speed dating is something that has never really held much appeal in the past. Maybe it’s down to a preconception of it being the Happy Meal equivalent of dating, or a gimmicky, grown-up mix of musical chairs and snap.
But, as mentioned in my last article, internet dating wasn’t really having the desired outcome for my friend Dan. The frustration of being ignored after what seemed like another promising date had led us to take action and look at new ways of meeting people.
The Manchester based dating blogger Cubic Garden had mentioned to me that he had more success meeting suitable dates speed dating than he had internet dating. So we figured it was worth putting any preconceptions to one side and giving it a go.
There are a couple of regular speed dating nights on in Manchester, each running nights in different venues on different days of the week. We needed to find a night where we both fitted into the same age bracket, which happened to be Elite Speed Dating, which runs on Saturdays at the Circle club.
The word “Elite” initially put me off – as did it being housed in a venue that wouldn’t normally let me in on a Saturday night. Favouring trainers and dancing rather than tottering and pouting when it comes to a night out, I dress accordingly and would possibly look like I’d just rolled out of the back of a Transit van rather than a salon in comparison to the regular crowd. I feared we were in for a night made up of consecutive three-minute periods speaking to those who consider themselves to fit the definition of “Elite”, thus creating a two-hour back-to-back soul-sapping twatathon.
When I mentioned I was going to my friend Alison, she told me about a lesbian speed-dating night her ex-girlfriend had put on a few years back. One lady showed up enquiring that if she paid her tenner could she then “go and get off with all the girls?” The same woman opened up her first three-minute date with the question: “What do you think of cannibalism?” I suppose this could be quite an important question if the person you were sat opposite is a staunch vegetarian, let’s face it, in that respect you are never going to see eye to eye.
On the way to the club, Dan was also growing increasingly conscious of what to ask when it came to opening questions. It was beginning to dawn on him that this was a night of intensive small talk. “Dunno,” I helpfully advised. “Pay them a compliment, then hopefully they will start asking questions?” We hadn’t thought this through ... Dan doesn’t like small talk and I’m nosey so would probably seem a bit interrogate-y. But we had arrived and there was no point backing out.
Walking in, to our relief, there was a real mix of people, and to our relief you got a free glass of champagne to calm any nerves. We sat down and registered. My old married name was on the list due to its being connected to my PayPal account. Dan misunderstood the significance of this and in a minor panic – thinking I’d failed to inform him we were on a covert operation – gave the completely false name of … Smith.
The instructions were simple. All the women sat at a table, and the men moved from table to table every time a whistle was blown. You got a sheet to make notes about each person, and had to tick yes or no regarding seeing them again.
In the hours that followed we both had 21 dates.
The most striking thing about the whole process was the sheer amount of bilge you can cover with someone you have never met before – in three minutes. It was spectacular. Discussions ranged from the size of my calculator buttons with a maths teacher, one man’s Made in Chelsea addiction, the brief history of someone’s ex-girlfriend, and my being challenged by a pharmacist to try to buy three packs of paracetamol next time I was in Tesco.
One guy spent the entire date looking around the room and over my shoulder as if expecting something to happen that absolutely didn’t involve me. Trying to engage him in conversation by asking him a series of questions about himself wasn’t working, and I was just starting to consider shouting “OI MATE – OVER HERE!” while manically waving just inches in front of his face – but I was thankfully saved by the whistle. Apparently he was “looking for someone specific”. I wasn’t her; we both ticked no. Wow, just three minutes to reach that conclusion; speed dating is efficient!
Each date ended with quickly writing a note on the person you have just dated and ticking “yes” or “no”. One guy refused to leave his seat until I ticked yes in front of him, so I did… then quickly scribbled it out as soon as he’d moved on.
By date 21 I was fully dated out. Luckily that date was Dan so we compared notes on how it had gone then I went to the bathroom and he went to the bar.
From inside the cubicle I could hear two girls discussing Dan and how nice they thought he was. Resisting the urge to be the source of mad squealings from behind the toilet door – “Yes – date Dan … both of you … he’s ace!” – I casually walked out and then ran off to the bar to tell him. Apparently a kind of friendship paradox had just occurred, as he too had stood next to a couple of blokes who were discussing how they would like to “give me one”. Aaaaawww ... this was turning out to be dead romantic!
I wondered if some of the guy’s sheets may be made up of notes that simply said “wouldn’t get it”, “maybe if drunk” and “would definitely GET IT!”
A couple of days later we both received an email to say if we had any matches. I had one, which considering I only ticked yes for two people was pretty good going. Another 10 had expressed an interest in meeting again or indeed “giving me one”, and Elite gives you the option of finding out who they are if you want to know. Dan hadn’t got any matches, but again had only ticked two yeses; however he had another six girls who had expressed an interest in meeting.
I asked Dan if he intended to contact any of the six girls; he didn’t. Between the dates and the email, he’d managed to hotfoot it back to his family in Ireland, meet someone at a match.com party over there, and was now smitten.
Speed dating was an absolute blast. It was far more fun than expected, definitely wasn’t a twatathon and not one person judged me on my anti-cannibalistic lifestyle. I definitely recommend it to anyone that wants a fun change to internet dating.
I looked at the details of my match on the email. I knew I wasn’t going to call him. While all this had been going on, I’d been on a couple more dates with the man I’d met on a dating site a few weeks previously.
I’d been honest with him about everything from the start, the Facebook stalking of him before we met to ensure he wasn’t a mass murderer, the writing of this column, the speed dating with someone I had met dating, and he didn’t seem fazed by any of it.
We had entered into that relationship grey area. Though there had been no discussion of us being an item, it just didn’t feel right to be contacting another person. Oh God, it was time for that cringeworthy conversation that in my limited experience neither side really wants to initiate in case the answer isn’t one you want to hear. “So … just what is going on with us?”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Women may buy designer bags to protect their relationships


Women may buy designer bags to protect their relationships, study suggests
By 
MICHELLE CASTILLO

Could women's penchants for designer handbags and shoes actually be a signal for other women to stay away from their significant other?
A new study currently in press for the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that women may use designer goods to tell other females that their significant other is dedicated to them.

"It might seem irrational that each year Americans spend over $250 billion on women's luxury products with an average woman acquiring three new handbags a year, but conspicuous consumption is actually smart for women who want to protect their relationship," study co-author Vladas Griskevicius, an associate professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, said in a press release. "When a woman is flaunting designer products, it says to other women 'back off my man.'"

To reach that conclusion, researchers conducted five experiments with 649 women of varying ages.
First, the women were given a scenario of seeing a woman at a party with her date. Then they were asked what they thought about that woman's relationship solely based on the quality of her belongings.
The researchers discovered that women were more likely to think that owners of luxury items were in a devoted relationship, and they were less willing to flirt with the owner's significant other. It didn't even matter to them who had paid for the items: The subjects believed that no matter what, the man had something to do with the luxury purchases.
In another experiment, researchers asked the subjects in relationships to picture that another woman was flirting with their man, in order to make them jealous. Then, in a seemingly unrelated task, the women were asked to draw a designer logo. Women who were jealous drew logos twice as large compared to women who were just asked to draw without being provoked.
"The feeling that a relationship is being threatened by another woman automatically triggers women to want to flash Gucci, Chanel, and Fendi to other women," research co-author Yajin Wang, a PhD student at the Carlson School of Management, said in a press release. "A designer handbag or a pair of expensive shoes seems to work like a shield, where wielding a Fendi handbag successfully fends off romantic rivals."
The researchers saw the same behavior when they tried that experiment on single women. To them, this suggested that unattached women may seek out designer brands in order to prevent other women from taking advantage of them when they are in a relationship. In a way, the luxury goods were a signal to stop women from latching onto their future, prospective significant other. The authors added that future research was needed to test this hypothesis.
In one other experiment, they gave participants $5 and told them that they could spend as much as they wanted to buy $1 raffle tickets to win a $200 shopping spree at eight different luxury brand stores including Nordstrom's, Tiffany and Coach.
Then, they tried to make some of the women jealous just like they had done in the previous experiments. Women who felt their relationships were threatened were willing to spend 32 percent more in order for a chance to win the shopping spree. They were also shown to want more expensive handbags, cars, cell phones and shoes.
Previous research by Griskevicius showed that men bought more expensive products in order to show of their wealth and attract mates. Using this study, he believes women buy expensive products to show off to other women, not in order to appeal to men. The author added to the Minneapolis Post that this behavior happens on subconscious level.

"The fact that most women's luxury products are aimed to impress other women helps explain why men have a hard time figuring out if a woman's handbag costs $50 or $5,000," Griskevicius explained. "Women's designer products are geared to show off to other women not men."
He added that women who don't have the desire to flaunt expensive goods may not have as many fears about losing their significant other.

"For women in relationships who are not displaying these fancy handbags and showing off, it suggests that they are more secure in their relationship, that they feel less threatened," Griskeviciu said to the Minneapolis Post.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bad credit: A deal breaker for many singles

Bad credit: A deal breaker for many singles

By Blake Ellis

First comes love ... then comes a credit check.

For many singles, bad credit can be a deal breaker when it comes to finding love. About 30% of women and 20% of men say they won't marry a person with a low credit score, according to a new survey from FreeCreditScore.com that polled 1,000 adults.
Most respondents also said money management skills are just as important as looks when deciding whether someone is worth pursuing.
This is especially true for women, with nearly all female respondents ranking financial responsibility and financial compatibility as more important or just as important as career ambition, physical attraction and sex and intimacy, the survey found.
Male respondents said financial savvy is just as important as physical attraction, slightly less important than sex and intimacy and much more important than career ambition.
While 57% of men say that credit scores play into their dating decisions, a staggering 75% of women said they consider the numerical rating. Credit scores are calculated based on your payment history, amount owed, the types of credit you have and the number of years that credit has been available to you.
Linda Basloe, a 57-year-old from Herkimer, N.Y., with excellent credit, said she won't even give a man her digits until she knows his credit score.
"I definitely consider bad credit a deal breaker," she said. "I wouldn't even consider someone in that situation -- the joke about me has always been 'to please fill out a credit application and I will consider [you].'"
Why such concern over this magic number? Respondents said they worry that a partner with bad credit could hurt their prospects for qualifying for home loans, auto loans or lower interest rates and they'd be irresponsible about handling joint finances.
Basloe said she has worked hard to achieve financial independence and doesn't want a relationship with someone financially irresponsible to ruin that.
credit scores dating
20% of men and 30% of women say they won't marry someone with a poor credit score, a new survey finds.
"I wouldn't attach myself to someone who would bring me down -- mortgage-wise, or when it comes to buying a larger house or even [qualifying for] insurance rates -- it affects every aspect of your life," she said. "It doesn't matter how beautiful they are, that's not going to pay the mortgage."
"I wouldn't attach myself to someone who would bring me down -- mortgage-wise, or when it comes to buying a larger house or even [qualifying for] insurance rates -- it affects every aspect of your life," she said. "It doesn't matter how beautiful they are, that's not going to pay the mortgage."
But no matter how important it may be, it can be an awkward topic to broach. Roughly half of the survey respondents have talked about their credit score with a romantic interest, with 39% discussing it during the first year of a relationship, 21% bringing it up before committing to a relationship and 19% comparing scores before moving in together. A mere 1% discussed their scores on a first date.
Basloe doesn't ask someone for their credit score before dating them because she thinks they could easily lie, but she does look for red flags. She scans the local newspaper for people who owe back taxes, pays attention to what kind of car a man drives and whether he has purchased a home or is still renting.
Jerry Koller, a 50-year old from Irvine, Calif., said he put a halt to a budding romance a couple of years ago after seeing stacks of unopened bills and rent notices in his date's kitchen.
"I went to dinner and casually asked her about her credit and she told me she couldn't buy a car recently as her scores were no good," he said. "[I] made it a last date."
To cater to the credit-obsessed, there are even dating sites where you can find someone in your score range. At Creditscoredating.com, credit scores are factored into the matchmaking process, pairing you with users who have similar scores. Since scores are self-reported, however, it's hard to tell if someone is telling the truth.
According to the site's scoring guide:
"800-850 is 'MARRIAGE POTENTIAL DING DING DING' 750-800 is 'take him/her home to Mom' 700-750 is a 'fixer-upper' 650-700 is 'fun for a night out, maybe, but bring cash' 600-650 is 'keep lookin'!'; anything below 500 is 'RUN because they won't even get a car loan, probably, and how embarrassing will that be at the PTA meetings?' 200 is 'this person is just pulling your leg and is really royalty.'"
Similarly, Texas matchmaker Melanie Matcek said she runs background checks on clients before helping them find love. While she doesn't pull their credit scores, she says she can get a clear picture of their financial situations and find out if they've ever been in legal trouble that would have impacted their credit.
"If they are unstable financially, they are weeded out," she said. "I've run across many singles that are looking for someone to 'rescue' them. This is a recipe for disaster. Everyone must be able to stand on their own two feet first." To top of page
Do you only date people with perfect credit? E-mail blake.ellis@turner.com to share your story.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cellphones and texting have blown up the dating culture


Drew Johnson has learned that when it comes to asking a woman out, texting beats calling every time.
"Most of the girls I've hung out with lately prefer a group activity rather than one-on-one," says Johnson, 30, a mechanical engineer from West Chicago, Ill., who plays bass in a band. "From my observations, the response rate on, 'Do you want to go for dinner or meet for a drink?' is very low compared to 'I'm here with a group of people. Show up if you want to,' " he says.
Casual, easy and non-threatening — the simple beauty of text messaging is upending American dating culture. Not since the dawn of the automobile has a technology — the cellphone — so swiftly and radically changed the way people interact, meet and move forward (or not) in a relationship. Texting has created a new brand of mobile etiquette, and for dating, it has given rise to new ways of flirting and even defining exactly what's going on between two people.
A new survey of 1,500 daters provided to USA TODAY reveals how deeply mobile technology has rocked the dating world. The daters, ages 21 to 50, give even greater insight into mobile behaviors and a new range of dating questions: Do you check your phone during a date? How soon must you reply to a text? Should a friend call or text you to see how the date is going? Hearing someone's voice on the phone is still a key element for a relationship, yet people are increasingly more likely to rely on the relative "safety" of a text for initial contacts as well as keeping in touch as a relationship develops.
Although the survey was commissioned by two niche dating websites — ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com — their members did not participate. Rather, an independent research firm conducted the survey in May. The data illustrate just how much mobile technology has altered dating behavior, communication and expectations for romance.
Among the findings:
•Approximately one-third of men (31%) and women (33%) agree it's less intimidating to ask for a date via text vs. a phone call.
•One in four say an hour is the longest acceptable response time to a text to someone you are dating or interested in dating; one in 10 expect a response instantly or within a few minutes.
•More men (44%) than women (37%) say mobile devices make it easier to flirt and get acquainted.
"Texting is kind of an ongoing conversation. It does make it easier to flirt. Maybe you're talking every day," says Alex Pulda, 27, who works in product research in San Francisco. "It's not like text conveys a ton of emotion, but you are getting a little more comfortable with each other."
A SAFER WAY TO FLIRT
Clinical psychologist Beverly Palmer, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, has researched flirting and non-verbal behavior. She says that because text doesn't afford the level of intimacy that voice does, relationships can be ended much quicker.
Palmer says men traditionally make the first move and women respond, which she says is "very difficult" for men. "In texting, a man can pull back quickly if he gets rejected, and it's easier to say 'no' to the guy because you're not having to confront the guy."
Men and women are adjusting to this new reality of dating in a mobile-dependent society. According to a report released this year by Nielsen based on actual phone bills of mobile contract subscribers, about 764 text messages per person were sent/received each month in the USA in 2012, compared with about 165 mobile calls per month.
The rise of text in the world of dating is another indication of how much has changed in the way relationships develop. Young adults are used to being overscheduled and multitasking. They've grown up with group activities and are more comfortable in packs. Experts say it should be no surprise they're treating their romantic relationships in much the same way — not wanting to invest too much time or effort in case they don't click.
Texting vs. talking keeps it casual. First dates are largely a chemistry check anyway, and to many young adults, the one-on-one time spent on an actual date feels too much like a commitment.
"If you're sitting down for a dinner date, that's putting way too much time out there for a first date. You don't know how it's going to go," says Adam Diamond, 29, a movie trailer editor in Los Angeles.
Preschool teacher Rachel Goetz of Manhattan likes the flexibility a drink allows for both parties.
"It can also work for the woman. If I'm not interested, then I don't feel bad that the gentleman spent a lot of money on a dinner," says Goetz, 34. "People are too worried that they're not going to like the person they're meeting, and the drink is an easy hour if it doesn't work out."
HIDING BEHIND TECHNOLOGY
Being time-efficient means text blasts for dates, says Ruthie Dean, 28, of Nashville, co-author of Real Men Don't Text, being published in September.
"Guys are using text messages to send the same message to multiple women. 'Hey, do you want to hang out tonight.' They're kind of fishing for a response," she says.
Dean, a Millennial who writes about her generation — generally born 1982 to 2000 — says, "We really see this generation as having a huge handicap in communication. We have our heads down in our smartphones a lot. We don't know how to express our emotions, and we tend to hide behind technology, computers and social media.
"People are uncomfortable using the phone. A text message is easier. You can think exactly what you want to say and how to craft it. When they are face-to-face or over the phone, there's this awkwardness," she says.
Pulda says he texts for everything, including dates.
"I don't love phone calls," he says. "They have all the downsides and don't have the benefit of face-to-face communication. It's kind of this in-between. And part of it is, it's a lot more work than a text."
Millennials' love of texting is rubbing off on other generations, suggests Naomi Baron, a linguistics professor at American University in Washington who studies electronically mediated communication.
She says telephone calls are often thought of as an intrusion, while texting affords a way of "controlling the volume," a term she uses to describe the sense of control that text gives users that they can't get with a voice conversation.
"We tell ourselves we don't want to disturb someone. Sometimes it's true, but more often, it's because we can't get them off the phone," she says.
In texting, "we don't have to talk to people or listen to what another person has to say. We decide how we want to encounter or whether we want to encounter other people. Technology gives us tools for controlling our relationships."
Baron co-authored research, published last year in the journal Language Sciences, which studied mobile phone use in five nations, including the USA.
Among the study's findings: "More women than men reported choosing to text rather than talk because 'talking takes too long.' In the focus groups, students in several countries noted how easy it is to become embroiled in a lengthy voice call. With texting, senders manage the interaction, circumventing potential obligation to hear the other person out."
Johnson knows that firsthand.
"Often if I call, I get a text back saying, 'What's up?' I find that people not only prefer texting but have no problem making it blatantly clear that they only want to handle the conversation by text," he says.

Monday, August 22, 2011

8 Books That Could Save a Marriage

These 8 Books Could Save Your Marriage
Iris Krasnow

What does it take to stay married to one person, under one roof, for the rest of your life?

I was so interested in that question that I wrote a book attempting to answer it. Over the course of my research, I interviewed 200 women who had been married 15 years or more -- sometimes many, many more -- about how they sustain their relationship. Though these wives came from diverse backgrounds and described themselves in varying stages of marital joy or distress, the strategies they shared for going the matrimonial distance were strikingly similar:

-Have close women friends and men friends with whom to vent (and drink).
-Have a strong sense of self beyond your marriage. Longterm bliss is possible if each partner is blissful apart from the other.

Through their raw, real reflections, the women I spoke to helped me better navigate my own 23-year-old marriage, and I'm proud of the book that emerged from my interviews with them, 'The Secret Lives Of Wives.'

But I also appreciate what good company the book joins. I am continually inspired by the works of other authors who attempt to unravel the mystery of what love really is, and how to make it last.
Here are 8 books that have changed how we talk about marriage -- and could very likely change yours for the better:

By Stephanie Coontz

Coontz exposes the 1950s happy-housewife and the bygone traditional values we revere as illusory nostalgia. With astonishing research and sharp insights, she parts the curtain on the inequities that restrained the moms of the Boomers, revealing a picture that bears very little resemblance to the Ozzie and Harriet idyll. 

Takeaway: We are lucky to live in a time when the most successful marriages are those where the spouses are equals.

By Thomas Patrick Malone, M.D. and Patrick Thomas Malone, M.D. 

A father and son team of therapists has written a beautiful book on how to craft intimate relationships and surrender to the vulnerability that comes with love. Using case studies, the Malones take readers through the triumphs and fears that come with opening oneself fully to another. 

Takeaway: Intimacy takes hard work and artful attention to achieve.

By Diane Ackerman

What does it mean to love? We come to understand the answer to this elusive question as Ackerman walks us through history, starting in ancient times. Though she writes that "love is the great intangible" we realize that the heart of love, from "wolflike" passion to "the thick tangle of feelings" that it inevitably involves, is unchanged through the ages. 

Takeaway: To know true love is what every human lives for.


By Erich Fromm

The best part of this iconic book is that it stresses the importance to know-ing oneself in order to create an enduring love partnership. As Fromm writes, "If a person has not reached the level where he has a sense of identity ... he tends to idolize the loved person. In this process he loses himself in the loved one instead of finding himself." 

Takeaway: Mastering the art of loving requires that you first love yourself.


By Helen Fisher

Fisher, an anthropologist, answers centuries-old questions like why we love, why we stay and why we stray from a view that is biological, cultural and bracing. We learn that the infatuation stage of love, which we hope will last forever, is chemically impossible to sustain, and that the attachment stage that follows may not be as sexy, but that it's the real thing. 

Takeaway: Hot passion comes and goes; comfortable love lasts.


By Erica Jong

I was twenty when Erica Jong's steamer was flying through our college dorm, transfixing us with her erotic and breathtaking "zipless" adventures. The women's movement was surging, and so were our hormones as Jong wrote of being "possessed" by free love, taking many of us along with her on her wild ride. 

Takeaway: Remembering the confusion and heartbreak of the zipless revolution will make you newly appreciative of your trustworthy, aging marriage.


By Dr. Connell Cowan and Gail Parent

This book enlarges Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu's wisdom on mastering the art of war to mastering the art of winning at love. The authors give readers spiritual ammunition to achieve victory, not through brute force, but with intelligence and emotional fortitude. 

Takeaway: Love, like war, takes patience, stealth and tenacity.


Edited by Richard Whelan

This distillation of sixteen of Emerson's principal essays on the power of individualism show us what it takes not only to succeed in relationships, but also to succeed in life. On every page, Emerson, who wrote these pieces in the mid 1800s, reminds us of the timeless importance of humility, integrity and most of all self-reliance. 

Takeaway: Be true to yourself, and the relationships you form will be true to you.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Tips to Avoid Trouble in a Divorce

Tips to Avoid Trouble in a Divorce
By Diana Mercer



So here's the inside scoop. I've been a divorce attorney for 23 years and as a result, every single one of my friends (both actual friends, and Facebook friends) ask me for my advice when they're facing a divorce.
When I have friends who are getting divorced, and they ask me for advice, here's what I tell them. The real deal, the confidential, back-channel skinny. Beyond legal advice, which they can get anywhere.
These are my top tips for staying out of trouble:
Ignore Legal Smack Talk from Your Spouse: I love that spouses try and give each other legal advice. Really? Since when did your spouse go to law school and become a divorce lawyer? And you're listening? Heck, even if they're dishing out good advice, it pays to double check.
Question "My Friend Said": If your spouse talks about friends' divorces or what the lawyer plans on doing to you legally, ask:
• How many years did that friend's divorce take? 
• How much did it cost?
• How much did your lawyer say that taking me to the cleaners would cost in legal fees
• Is your lawyer willing to put it in writing that they guaranteed that their result will be better than what I'm prepared to offer voluntarily?
You're safe with that last one---no lawyer would guarantee anything or put fees in writing so this will force your spouse to have an honest discussion with the lawyer about the pros and cons of pursuing any given action.
Watch Out For Non-Monetary Games: Keep an eye out for your spouse manipulating the kids. Make sure your bond with them remains strong. Don't bad-mouth your spouse---your kids will figure that out later and hate you, so keep the long term in mind.
Your spouse may think he or she is plotting and being strategic like some sort of Divorce 007. But at the end of the day, it's a business deal and a parenting plan. It is what it is. So don't let your imagination run away with you.
You can keep costs (and suspicion, and plotting) down by:
1. Being organized. Make a notebook with labeled dividers with all of the financial records (recent ones, at least) and tax returns (as many as you have copies of), a comparative market analysis (free from any realtor) of the value of your house, your most recent pay stub...and ideally you'll make your spouse a notebook, too.
I know that might sound crazy (making your adversary a notebook) but your spouse's attorney will charge for making a notebook and getting the records together (which could run up the bill by several thousand dollars) so if you can take the wind out of those sails from the get go (your spouse is entitled to all that info pursuant to law anyway) and all of the mystery out of your financial situation, you're ahead of the game.
Don't get paralyzed by your emotions. It's easy to sit down with a hole punch and a notebook and put stuff in by date. You don't need all your faculties to do that, so it's a good activity for when you're feeling lost.
2. Staying Sane. Make appointments with your therapist, make time for your kids (and don't talk about your spouse), play golf or ride bikes (ideally with your kids), make time with friends. Take care of yourself. Eat right and work out.
3. Don't taking the bait: Your spouse will say stuff to you just to get you riled up. Ignore it. "Obviously, this is a hot topic for both of us, so I'm not going to respond at this point. I do hope we can work all of this out, though, at some point." Then change the subject. Say that as many times as you have to.
Eventually, your spouse will get bored when it's clear you aren't going to fight back. This will freak your spouse out a little, particularly at first, so feel free to chuckle. When you start to behave differently than you have over the last eleventy-million years they're going to wonder what's up and watching that might be a little amusing as the old tricks don't work on you anymore.
4. Find that Special Someone--Quietly: If you decide you want to date or get laid, don't let anyone find out about it. Not under any circumstances. Your spouse will go bananas if you're with someone else, so avoid that at all costs. It doesn't matter if it's your spouse who suggested the divorce or found a new lover first. They still go nuts when they see you've moved on, too. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying don't let anyone find out.
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana's divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Factor to Consider During a Split: Education Pays
By Natalie Pace

Include this life line in your divorce settlement.
On June 29-30, 2011, President Bill Clinton brought together over 750 CEOs, NGOs, Nobel Prize winners and young entrepreneurs to figure out how to put America back to work. Why? There are three million jobs that are unfilled today. Filling those existing positions would go a long way to putting America back to work. So what's the hold-up? The biggest reason for so many unfilled jobs is that too many unemployed Americans lack the skills and education needed to fill the available positions. Which is why setting up a college fund (not just the "promise to save" but an actual fund) for the kids is gold in your divorce settlement--as much as custody and alimony.
Today, Americans without an education are seven times more likely to be without a job. There is 15% unemployment among Americans without a high school diploma. Meanwhile, almost everyone with a doctorate is working -- with only 1.9% unemployment among PhDs. As you can see in the graph below, education pays in dollars, too. PhDs earn almost four times as much as someone without a high school diploma.
2011-08-05-EDUBLS.JPG
While not all jobs require a degree, new jobs quite often require acquiring new skills. Of the 3 million jobs that remain unfilled at this time, lower-skilled work, like construction and manufacturing, remain the weakest areas of the American labor market.
There are some initiatives that are helping to solve the skills and education gap. Georgia Works allows employers to recruit, train and then hire staff. As Michael L. Thurman, Georgia's former labor commissioner, explains, with this initiative, the employer gets to "audition" the employee. The Bay Area Medical Academy takes welfare recipients and others on the fringe of society and teaches them to become medical assistants in the San Francisco area. The Green City Force trains and hires young workers to paint rooftops white in New York City. This simple strategy reduces the temperature on the roof by up to 40 degrees and can cut the energy bill in the building by up to 18%. However, far too many of the uneducated labor force in the U.S. are slipping into unemployable status.
The Honor System
I've spoken to many divorcees who had divorce settlements that mandated money aside for college, only to discover when it came time to pay tuition that no funds had actually been saved. Or the college fund had been drained to pay other bills. It's difficult, expensive, time-consuming and simply too late to try and go back to court for a judgment in time to keep your kid in college. (College admission is very competitive these days.) That is why setting up a 529 college fund that both parents are able to monitor annually (at minimum) is a safeguard against this disaster. But which brokerage and which fund are best?
529 College Savings Plans 
529 College Savings Plans vary dramatically, so much so that FINRA.org, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has issued an Investor Alert, warning Americans that "investors may be shortchanging themselves by investing in 529 college savings plans with high fees [and] plans that currently do not offer them state tax benefits." The FINRA.org Investor Alert offers "8 easy lessons that, if followed, will help you make smart college savings plan choices."
Once you set up the right fund, the great news is that if the winds of Wall Street fall in your favor, over time, your monthly investment and gains can compound - providing your college student with far more for that Ivy League (or Junior College League) education than you could have ever saved.
Careers of the Future
Creating the college ethos (in both homes) is just as important as setting up the funds. So be sure that both you and your ex are reinforcing the value of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to your tweens. STEM underlies almost every job today. Even car mechanics are working on computers.
Biotechnology, technology, smart phones, cloud computing, health services and engineering companies are hiring at a rapid pace, and some of these professions - especially in computer technology -- have more jobs than applicants. But other emerging industries are on the horizon as well. If Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu and President Obama have their way, clean energy will become a major driver of American industry going forward. And not just to reduce global warming. This focus on clean energy is intended to put the U.S. in the forefront of one of the strongest new global growth industries.
According to Secretary Chu, "The world will demand clean energy and high energy products. This is an international competition. We still generate the best ideas in the world." Currently, clean energy companies in the U.S., like Applied Materials, KLA Tencor and Veeco Instruments, are leading Wall Street in revenue growth, having more than doubled sales over the past two years, with 80% of the revenue coming from Asia.
As President Clinton pointed out at the CGI America Conference, "We're spending too much money on today and yesterday and not enough on tomorrow." When that is the case in a divorce, it could end up costing you a ton of extra money and sleepless nights down the road. You don't want to end up with an unemployed 26-year old sleeping on your couch.

About Natalie Pace:
Natalie Pace is the author of You Vs. Wall Street and the founder and CEO of the Women's Investment Network, LLC. She is a blogger on HuffingtonPost.com and a repeat guest on national television and radio shows such as Good Morning America, Fox News, CNBC, ABC-TV, Forbes.com, NPR and more. As a philanthropist, she has helped to raise more than two million for Los Angeles public schools and financial literacy. Follow her on Facebook.com/NWPace. For more information please visit NataliePace.com