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.
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, 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 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 and a repeat guest on national television and radio shows such as Good Morning America, Fox News, CNBC, ABC-TV,, 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 For more information please visit

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ice Break Gamifies Romantic Relationships

The Ice Break Gamifies Romantic Relationships

By Liz Gannes

The Web is rife with dating sites, and in fact a team of early YouTubers was planning to add another one to the mix — they called it Pickv. But late last year the team seized on a different project: What comes after dating sites.
 And so today they are launching TheIceBreak as a personal improvement site called for couples — think of it as the equivalent of Mint or RunKeeper for relationships. (And you can use it even if you didn’t meet your partner on a dating site.)

The IceBreak co-founders Christina Brodbeck and Dwipal Desai have read up on theories of relationships and enlisted the help of a couples therapist to design their service.

Here’s how it works: TheIceBreak asks one or both members of a couple to answer a daily icebreaker question about their partner or relationship, as well as capture a moment, like a photo of a smile. Once a week the service pings users to answer a survey about their relationship to be compiled into a stats report about how things are going and how they compare to other couples.

Participation on TheIceBreak is entirely private and/or anonymous, which could inhibit its growth, though the site does include hooks for users to share their relationship moments and accomplishments to Facebook and Twitter.

Brodbeck and Desai, who were a very early designer and engineer at YouTube, respectively, have funded TheIceBreak themselves and work out of the Founders Den in San Francisco. They’re letting anyone who signs up into their beta trial now and said they plan to launch mobile apps in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Shocking Truth for 30% of Divorced Women

The Shocking Truth for 30% of Divorced Women

It was the day she had dreamed about. Standing barefoot at sunset, "Joni" (a former client of mine whose name I have changed) stood looking at the man she was about to marry. She planned the perfect wedding--a fairytale. There was one hitch--as she looked into her future husband's eyes, she had a pretty good idea that the marriage would not last.

Joni's story was not unique. After years of working with women like her I was curious about why so many women stayed in relationships that were essentially doomed from the start. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I have spent more than 15 years working with women seeking guidance for relationship issues. The initial call usually involves a request to help with "communication skills" or "conflict management." More often than not, as therapy progresses, they reveal that the problems started long before they walked down the aisle. And if they're not married, they'll admit that they already know he's is not the right guy for them--yet they stay.

When I had a serendipitous meeting with a former runaway bride, we decided to write a book about this phenomenon. My coauthor's story of her near-miss at the altar along with my clinical experience turned into a mission to find out why so many women walk down the aisle knowing they are making a mistake! We thought if we could help women recognize the excuses for dating--and ultimately marrying--the wrong guys, maybe we could help them find the courage to get out before it was too late.

We developed a survey and sent it to divorced women, with one qualifier: "Did you know you were making a mistake as you were walking down the aisle?"

We sent it to everyone we knew. Within days our inboxes were jammed. Eventually, close to 1000 women gave detailed accounts about why they knowingly dated and eventually married the wrong guys.

Amid a chorus of critics who shout "hindsight bias" or "selective memory," I stand firm. If you take 10 divorced women and ask them whether they believed on their wedding day that they were marrying the right guy for the right reasons, seven of them would say yes and three will confess they had serious doubts long before walking down the aisle. That's the shocking truth for 30% of divorced women.

These women have very clear, distinct memories of the doubts, issues and concerns that existed in the relationship all along. They can also tell you exactly what they were feeling before they walked down the aisle. For example:

I was avoiding my dad's eyes as I waited with him at the end of the aisle. I did not want to hear any "pearls of wisdom." Instead I paid attention to the photographer. I simply could not look at my dad because I knew I was making a mistake.

I felt like I was dying a thousand deaths. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with.

By the time they made it to the ceremony, they felt it was too late to turn back. While their insides told them to run, their outsides marched down the aisle. They saw problems and ignored them. However, every single one of them put the blame for ignoring the problems and issues squarely on their own shoulders. The problem is not that their fiancé was a bad guy-the problem was that they ignored the problems!

Why would smart women do this? They cited many of the same reasons:

• Age: The self-imposed biological clock is starting to tick a little louder.
• "Marriage will instantly make the relationship better."
• "It's my last chance to get married and no one else will come along."
• "If it doesn't work out I can always get a divorce."

You can be critical, point your finger and shake your head. Judgment aside, "these women" are your sisters, daughters, and friends. Maybe even you. Their common --yet misguided--belief is that they are better off with the wrong guy than being alone. It doesn't matter how self-actualized, independent or liberal-minded they are.

So what's the answer? When in doubt, don't! Don't let fears of being alone dictate a night out with someone you have nothing in common with. Don't continue to date a man with whom you have zero chemistry. Chemistry matters. Don't say "I do" because you have "invested too much time in the relationship" or it's "the next logical step." And absolutely don't think that divorce can be used as an escape route without consequence. Divorce is not easy even when you are the one serving the papers. It's expensive, painful and it affects everyone around you.

Just ask Joni. She saw the red flags and she ignored them. Her gut told her something was wrong but she tuned it out. She found out the hard way that being alone would have been a lot easier than marrying the wrong guy--especially as she starts the painful task of navigating a divorce. The moral of the story is pay attention to those red flags and gut feelings. If you do, you are guaranteed to have happier, healthier relationships. What a difference this would make in the divorce rate. As a therapist, I'd be thrilled.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Relationships and real estate

Relationships and real estate

The relationships we choose can have ramifications for our home ownership.

"If you are living as a couple but because of circumstance only one of you pays the mortgage, the rules are all over the map as to whether you have the same rights as a married couple upon separation," says Christine van Cauwenberghe, an estate planning specialist with Investors Group in Winnipeg.

Regardless of who pays the mortgage, it is important to get legal advice on how to set up the ownership or title of your home.

"We tell clients entering into common-law relationships to enter into some sort of cohabitation agreement... as to how the assets are going to be shared," Ms. Cauwenberghe says.

"Generally, title to the property is what determines who is the owner, not who pays," says Ray Leclair, real estate lawyer and vice-president of Title Plus at Law Pro in Toronto.

"It is very dependent upon the individual facts," he adds. That is true whether you are married or in a common-law relationship, and no matter how property ownership is set up.

"When you buy a property... you can put it as joint tenants or tenants in common," Mr. Leclair says. "Joint tenancy is the common way for married couples who will be taking title. They are equal owners of the property and the survivor is automatically the owner."

If the title is registered as tenants in common, unless otherwise stated, a couple is presumed to have an equal share of the property, Mr Leclair says. However, he cautions, there have been successful claims on property based upon constructive trust and unjust enrichment.

"The constructive trust [case] was where the common-law spouse... was in a relationship for 25 years. They split up. He was the [sole] title owner. She didn't accept that, so she went to court and established that she had a constructive trust that he held the property in trust for both of them," Mr. Leclair says. "The unjust enrichment [case] is where two people get together, one owns but the other puts a lot of money into renovations. It would be unjust to let [only the title owner profit from the proceeds of the sale of the home]."

Mr. Leclair says marriage affects the status of the home.

"Married spouses have equal right to possession," Mr. Leclair says. "There's a restriction upon the title 'spouse'... transferring, mortgaging, doing anything with the property without the written consent of the other spouse."

Ms. Cauwenberghe says cohabitation agreements can be useful for dividing property up to a point.

"In the courts once you've entered into a 'family joint venture'... raising children together, one person is moving so the other person can take a job... we're going to get closer to the 50-50 division no matter who is making the payments," Ms. Cauwenberghe says. "You're making decisions as a couple."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Early sex linked to divorce

Early sex linked to divorce
By: Ani

A study, examining the link between teen sex and divorce rate, has found that women who started having sex in their teens are more likely to divorce.

The University of Iowa analysis found that 31 percent of women who had sex for the first time as teens divorced within five years, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years.

The divorce rate for women who delayed sex until adulthood was far lower: 15 percent at five years, and 27 percent at 10 years.

Author Anthony Paik, associate professor of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, examined the responses of 3,793 ever-married women to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.

"The results are consistent with the argument that there are down sides to adolescent sexuality, including the increased likelihood of divorce," Paik said.

"But there's also support for the 'more sex positive' view, because if a teen delays sex to late adolescence and it is wanted, that choice in itself doesn't necessarily lead to increased risk of divorce," he stated.

Paik said there are a couple of potential explanations for the link between teen sex and divorce.

"One possibility is a selection explanation, that the women who had sex as adolescents were predisposed to divorce. The attitudes that made them feel OK about having sex as teens may have also influenced the outcome of their marriage," Paik explained.

"The other possibility is a causal explanation -- that the early sexual experience led to the development of behaviours or beliefs that promote divorce," he said.

In a statistical analysis, he found more evidence for the latter, suggesting that the sexual experiences as a teen affected the marriage. The results related to unwanted sex supported his hunch.

Nevertheless, he cautions that it is too early to rule out the selection explanation.

"If the sex was not completely wanted or occurred in a traumatic context, it's easy to imagine how that could have a negative impact on how women might feel about relationships, or on relationship skills," Paik said.

"The experience could point people on a path toward less stable relationships," he stated.

The findings have been published in the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sexting cannot replace real relationships

Sexting cannot replace real relationships
The way people get involved in and develop sexual relationships with others has changed dramatically over the last 20 years due to the increased availability of devices such as computers, video cams and cell phones.

But at the end of the day there is no substitute for physical, face-to-face contact in our sexual relationships, according to a new study.

Diane Kholos Wysocki from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Cheryl Childers from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, investigated the behaviors of infidelity on the Internet and sexting - sending sexually explicit text messages and photographs via email or cell phone.

Sexting is a fairly new phenomenon, where adults send their nude photographs and sexually explicit text messages to another adult to turn them on and increase the likelihood of a sexual relationship.

At the same time, the Internet has made the act of infidelity much easier.

In order to explore both sexting and infidelity and understand how people use the internet to find sexual partners, Wysocki and Childers placed a survey on a website aimed at married people looking for sexual partners outside their marriage (

A total of 5,187 adults answered questions about Internet use, sexual behaviors, and feelings about sexual behaviors on the Internet.

In particular, Wysocki and Childers found that respondents were more interested in finding real-life partners, both for dating and for sexual encounters, than online-only partners.

"While social networking sites are increasingly being used for social contact, people continue to be more interested in real-life partners, rather than online partners. It seems that, at some point in a relationship, we need the physical, face-to-face contact. Part of the reason for this may be that, ultimately, humans are social creatures," the researchers concluded.

Their findings were published online in Springer's journal, Sexuality and Culture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Teaching Kids How to Break Up Nicely

Teaching Kids How to Break Up Nicely

Late last month, 200 teenagers from Boston-area schools gathered to discuss the minutia of Facebook breakup etiquette. Should you delete pictures of your ex after splitting up? Is it O.K. to unfriend your last girlfriend if you can’t stop looking at her profile? And is it ever ethically defensible to change your relationship status to single without first notifying the person whose heart you’re crushing?

These pressing adolescent questions were part of a one-day conference on “healthy breakups” sponsored by theBoston Public Health Commission. “No one talks to young people about this aspect of relationships,” Nicole Daley, one of the conference organizers, told me between breakout sessions as teenagers swarmed a nearby cotton-candy stand. “We’re here to change that.”

Minutes later, 15 high-school students on a sugar high convened for a session on “creating online boundaries.” The girls outnumbered the boys, and they didn’t hesitate to gang up on a charming — and, until then, immensely well liked — 17-year-old named Roberto, who proclaimed with a bit too much gusto that “racing to update your relationship status after a breakup” is a healthy behavior. That was just one of a handful of scenarios the teenagers debated and placed into “healthy” or “unhealthy” categories: others included “posting mean/embarrassing statuses about your ex” (unhealthy) and “rushing into a new ‘Facebook official’ relationship” (understandable, but still not healthy).

“Roberto, you’re really going to run all the way to your house after school to change your status?” a 16-year-old named Lazangie asked, shaking her head. She knows a thing or two about Facebook-related breakups: her last relationship ended, she said, because her ex-boyfriend couldn’t handle her male friends posting niceties on her wall.

“When I’m done with a relationship, I’m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 minutes to update my status,” Roberto told the group. “When it’s over, it’s over. I’m done with you.”

“The key word here is ‘racing,’ ” another girl replied with all the condescension she could muster. “Is that really healthy? Breaking up shouldn’t be a competition!”

The group’s adult facilitator — who wore a blue “Face It, Don’t Facebook It” pin, in a reference to the apparently troubling trend of young people breaking up with one another via social media — nodded in agreement and suggested that Roberto consider taking a “technology timeout” the next time he felt compelled to race home and publicly declare his singlehood. Roberto reluctantly agreed to consider it.

Throughout the one-day meeting, organizers did their best to make the teenagers forget they were about to learn something. They were encouraged to freely use their cellphones (“We’re not” — the kind of adults — “who tell you not to use them!” an organizer boasted during the day’s opening session), and breakup-themed songs, like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” blasted from the main conference room’s speakers. The pandering worked: I saw only one teen roll her eyes all day.

To help the youngsters envision what a healthy split might look like, pictures and videos of several celebrity couples who managed amicable breakups were projected onto a big screen. Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, for example, were heralded as healthy because “they’re still friends and were able to co-star in a movie together.” Their parting was juxtaposed with those of Kanye West and Amber Rose (West wrote a mean song about her) and Sammi and Ronnie from “Jersey Shore” (Sammi supposedly defriended Ronnie’s friends on her Facebook page), who each exhibited the kind of “unhealthy” breakup behavior that the Boston Health Commission hopes Massachusetts young people will rise above.

In that pursuit, organizers encouraged the crowd to eschew parting ways over text message or Facebook, the most common teen breakup methods. (A bisexual 15-year-old confessed in a morning session that she learned that her girlfriend of two years had dumped her only when she changed her relationship status to single.) Attendees were advised — with mixed results — to bravely confront the awkwardness of face-to-face breakups. When the facilitator in a session titled “Breakups 101” suggested that teenagers meet with “and come to an agreement or mutual understanding” with a soon-to-be ex, a skeptical 19-year-old nearly leapt out of her chair in protest. “So, you’re telling me that you’re crying at night, you’re not sleeping, you’re eating all this food to make you feel better, and you’re supposed to just come to an agreement?”

That sounded like wishful thinking to at least one teenager, who insisted that dating in high school is for suckers. “Who needs the drama?” she said, adding that many peers choose friendships or casual sexual relationships over formal romantic ones. “I’ve got enough problems without some stupid boy breaking up with me on Facebook.”

Clothes make the man

Clothes make the man


Los Angeles Times

You may not have your own version of Ryan Gosling's Jacob Palmer character waiting in the wings to make you (or your fashion-challenged mate) over the way he did Steve Carell's Cal Weaver in "Crazy, Stupid, Love." But the movie's costume designer, Dayna Pink - who not coincidentally dresses Carell for red carpets and events - has advice on fighting fashion faux pas.
Fit is foremost
"The No. 1 problem most guys have is fit," Pink says. "In general, when a guy buys off the rack, he doesn't take time to get his pants hemmed - or if he's got big shoulders and a small waist he doesn't get the jacket tailored. They're just not aware of it. ... If you go shopping, take the extra time to make sure you get something that fits you. That means you may have to get a tailor."
Lead with the shoulder
And when it comes to fit, she explains, "The shoulder is everything - in shirts and in suits. If the shoulder is too big, then the suit's too big, period. The rest can be tailored, but the shoulder can't. So it's always a good idea to dress a man from the shoulders."
Simplicity is key
"You don't have to look like you're trying so hard," Pink advises. "Just because you see it in a men's magazine doesn't mean it's going to work on you - not everybody should be in a skinny-cut jeans, for example. This is especially true if you're not an uber-fashion guy."
Choose the right shoes
Although uniting running shoes with a pair of khakis and a polo has become universally accepted silver-screen shorthand to indicate the "fashion-challenged male," Pink is quick to point out that sneakers aren't necessarily off limits. "There are some that might work - like Converse hightops or these suede Pumas that are out right now," she says. "They'd be perfect with a pair of jeans or khakis."
Accessories after the fact
"All the little things make a difference," Pink says. "Yes, the shoes but if you're wearing a ring, if your belt's nice, your bag - what you carry is as important as what you wear." Pink points out that knowing when to forgo the accessories is equally important, and points to the final scene of "Crazy, Stupid, Love," in which Carell's character gives a touching speech wearing a simple white dress shirt and a gray Ermenegildo Zegna blazer, sans necktie. "When we were doing his fitting I was thinking about going with an Etro tie," she explains. "And Steve was the one who suggested we get rid of the tie. It was like a light bulb went off, and it fits where his character has gone by the end of the movie."