Saturday, February 28, 2009

Splitting Up to Make Ends Meet?

When you can't sell your home and you have a good job offer elsewhere, what do you do? You and your spouse might consider splitting up for a bit. Welcome to the commuter marriage.

This article on NPR covers some key issues. Census Bureau stats show that the number of people moving from one state to another has dropped 27% last year. As I said in an earlier post, there are certainly challenges in one of these commuter marriages, but I believe it is possible for a strong marriage to endure this; but not for a sustained period of time.

Everyone has a part in the goal of selling the house and ending the commuter marriage. Enlisting the kids to help is a good approach. The biggest challenge is to keep the house clean because potential buyers can stop by at any time. "We're a lot cleaner than we used to be" comments Nannette Dillon who gets her children to pitch in. Her daughter said, "We have to clean up after we have friends over...we had a snow day and all we did was clean." I believe it's an excellent way of teaching children responsibility. Nannette stated that it's not all about the money, "You need to be happy and for us, we're making the decision that our family needs to be together."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Research Status: Babies Born in Winter are Less Intelligent

This research is still as bogus as when I blogged about it last month, but since my son-in-law says that simply mentioning this topic will draw major attention to my website....well hey, I'm always up for a good experiment. Folks, correlation is not causation and please click here to read how I approched this topic previously.

Can we please discuss some research that is more interesting?
Like Liz Szabo's article on just how early children get rhythm. It's a small study, but a fascinating one. 2 and 3 day old infants can perceive musical patterns and even take note when a drummer misses a beat! The researchers suggest that it's possible that babies are born with a musical sense because it helps communication.
It's a short and fascinating piece.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Inspiring than His Bailout, Obama's Marriage

The First Couple is generating alot of buzz about happy marriages. Jocelyn Noveck's piece in the Washington Post is a delight to read. Their "21st Century White House Marriage" is setting high standards for our country. A number of important themes are touched on by Noveck including: date night for couples, balancing professional success with family stability, displaying affection, and spouses as best friends.

One off-the-wall comment from a NY mother and author, "It worries me because, how many years have they been married, and they're so romantic?'s total pressure!"
My 2 cents: It's good pressure lady; get over it.

My only question was: why did my son-in-law (who reads the Wash.Post daily) not spot this gem and email it to me for the blogosphere?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Large Family ShowBiz Boom and More

Kate Zernike does a masterful job of describing large families and barely mentions the world's newest octuplets (big plus).
She describes 3 TV shows on TLC at the beginning of the article (click here to read it).

Then she delves into some key elements of the discussion:
*Smart women choose career; ambitionless women have children
*Large families are presumed to be really rich having children as status symbols, or really poor living off the dole
*Large families have an economy of scale
*Large families are some of the Greenest families

ENDNOTE: When I am asked by couples, "How many kids do you think we should have?" my response is always: as many or as few, as long as you think it through. To read my other posts on large families, please click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Brief Encounter with President Obama by Dr. Alan Singer

Do you know how long I have been waiting to write my little meet-the-President story? Years. This column appeared in the February 11, 2009 Home News Tribune and was truly great fun to write.

My brush with fame took place in the spring of 2006. I was waiting for an elevator in the U.S. Capitol building when U.S. Sen. Barack Obama appeared next to me. Here is our brief exchange:

SINGER: "Senator Obama, I want to thank you for your inspiring remarks. (One hour prior, Obama addressed our delegation.) It was nice of you to take the time in your schedule to speak to our group."
OBAMA: "You are very welcome (shaking my hand and glancing at my ID badge). Where are you from, Dr. Singer?" (Bell rings; elevator door opens and we step in.)
SINGER: "I am from New Jersey, and Senator Obama, I can see why they say you are a rising star in the Democratic Party."
OBAMA: "Thanks, that's very nice of you, but you actually just stepped into an elevator that is for senators only. Sorry."
SINGER: Oops! (Stepping out of the elevator.) So nice to meet you and best of luck to you."

So much for my face-to-face encounter with our new president. As I pressed the button to ascend in the bank of elevators designated for the general public, I never would have imagined that I had just shaken hands with the future president of the United States.

There are millions of Americans whose dreams and hopes are now fulfilled by virtue of the fact that President Obama was elected and now serves as our commander in chief. While contemplating my own dreams and hopes for our new president and our country, I came across a recent survey by the Lifetime Television Network. The research titled "Every Woman Counts" is a compilation of data based on the responses of 600 American women.

The nonpartisan "Every Woman Counts" campaign is an effort to engage women in the political process. Seventy-one percent of the women surveyed believed that the economy should be the No. 1 concern for the Obama administration. Health care and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the next highest priorities. According to the news release on the poll, "The plurality (35 percent) of women said they will know that Barack Obama is attending to the needs of women if he addresses the issues related to families and work — life balance, while 22 percent said they will hold him accountable based on the way he handles the economy. One in ten said they will base their review of the Obama administration on whether he deals with pay equity."

I was gratified that "67 percent of women said that President Obama should not consider gender at all when appointing his Cabinet, and should just focus on qualifications." But, I believe it is unfortunate that 65 percent of the women surveyed believe that male and female candidates are held to different standards on the campaign trail. Male candidates, they indicated, have the edge on: being taken seriously by voters; being covered seriously by the media; addressing issues such as national security/terrorism, and addressing the issue of the economy.

Another positive note from this research had to do with the candidacies of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. "Eighty-six percent of the women surveyed said that young girls and women in their lives would be more likely to take an interest in politics thanks to the experiences of these women," according to the survey.

And to the man in the senators-only elevator, it was a privilege to shake your hand and wish you good luck, because you really do have your hands full.

Be Counted columnist Dr. Alan Singer is a marriage therapist in Highland Park. Respond to this column via his Web site

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Agreeing With Coontz on Marital Satisfaction

I never thought the day would come that I would completely agree with Stephanie Coontz. When I have read her books and essays, on average, I am about 30 - 40% in sync with her thinking. Her recent op-ed in the NY Times was tremendous. Titled "Till Children Do Us Part", the essay describes research of the Cowans which is fascinating. Marital satisfaction decreases with the arrival of each child; this we know. According to Coontz the Cowans found, "The average drop in marital satisfaction was almost entirely accounted for by the couples who slid into being parents, disagreed over it, or were ambivalent about it. Couples who planned or equally welcomed the conception were likely to maintain or even increase their marital satisfaction after the child was born."

I did not find myself disagreeing with anything that Coontz said. In fact I benefited greatly from her essay and I highly recomend it.
Click here to enjoy it as well.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Jerusalem Postscript

As I boarded the plane for the flight back to New Jersey, I bought my last copy of the Jerusalem Post. In it, was a full page article by Judy Siegel, titled "Consultants in the Baby Business". It's a fascinating desrciption of the Puah Institute for Fertility According to Halacha (Jewish Law), which was established in 1990 and run in Jerusalem by R. Menachem Burstein (

Recap: We started our visit just as Israeli troops were returning from Gaza. The debate was raging on....was their mission accomplished or not? As we left, the war was old news an the debate was all about the coming Election in Israel.

My interview with Mayor Shaul Goldstein will take some time to write up and transcribe. It provided some terrific insight into community support for marriage, childbirth, and families of soldiers at war.