Rita Rudner's 50 facts about men

# Men like to barbecue. Men will cook if danger is involved.

# Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry.

# If you buy your husband or boyfriend a video camera, for the first few weeks he has it, lock the door when you go to the bathroom. Most of my husband's early films end with a scream and a flush.

# Be careful of men who are bald and rich; the arrogance of "rich" usually cancels out the nice of "bald."

# Marrying a divorced man is ecologically responsible. In a world where there are more women than men, it pays to recycle.


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Rita Rudner's 50 facts about men

  1. Men like to barbecue. Men will cook if danger is involved.
  2. Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
  3. If you buy your husband or boyfriend a video camera, for the first few weeks he has it, lock the door when you go to the bathroom. Most of my husband's early films end with a scream and a flush.
  4. Be careful of men who are bald and rich; the arrogance of "rich" usually cancels out the nice of "bald."
  5. Marrying a divorced man is ecologically responsible. In a world where there are more women than men, it pays to recycle.
  6. Men are very confident people. My husband is so confident that when he watches sports on television, he thinks that if he concentrates he can help his team. If the team is in trouble, he coaches the players from our living room, and if they're really in trouble, I have to get off the phone in case they call him.
  7. If it's attention you want, don't get involved with a man during play-off season.
  8. Men like phones with lots of buttons. It makes them feel important.
  9. Men love to be the first to read the newspaper in the morning. Not being the first is upsetting to their psyches.
  10. All men look nerdy in black socks and sandals.
  11. The way a man looks at himself in a mirror will tell you if he can ever care about anyone else.
  12. Don't try to teach men how to do anything in public. They can learn in private; in public they have to know.
  13. Men who are going bald often wear baseball caps.
  14. All men are afraid of eyelash curlers. I sleep with one under my pillow, instead of a gun.
  15. A good place to meet a man is at the dry cleaner. These men usually have jobs and bathe.
  16. Men love watches with multiple functions. My husband has one that is a combination address book, telescope and piano.
  17. All men hate to hear "We need to talk about our relationship." These seven words strike fear in the heart of even General Schwarzkopf.
  18. Men are sevsitive in strange ways. If a man has built a fire and the last log does not burn, he will take it personally.
  19. Men are brave enough to go to war, but they are not brave enough to get a bikini wax.
  20. All men think that they're nice guys. Some of them are not. Contact me for a list of names.
  21. Men don't get cellulite. God might just be a man.
  22. Men have an easier time buying bathing suits. Women have two types: depressing and more depressing. Men have two types: nerdy and not nerdy.
  23. Men have higher body temperatures than women. If your heating goes out in winter, I recommend sleeping next to a man. Men are like portable heaters that snore.
  24. Women take clothing much more seriously than men. I've never seen a man walk into a party and say "Oh, my God, I'm so embarrassed; get me out of here. There's another man wearing a black tuxedo."
  25. Most men hate to shop. That's why the men's department is usually on the first floor of a department store, two inches from the door.
  26. If a man prepares dinner for you and the salad contains three or more types fo lettuce, he is serious.
  27. If you're dating a man who you think might be "Mr. Right," if he a) got older, b) got a new job, or c) visited a psychiatrist, you are in for a nasty surprise. The cocoon-to-butterfly theory only works on cocoons and butterflies.
  28. Men own basketball teams. Every year cheerleaders' outfits get tighter and briefer, and players' shorts get bagggier and longer.
  29. No man is charming all of the time. Even Cary Grant is on record saying he wished he could be Cary Grant.
  30. When four or more men get together, they talk about sports.
  31. When four or more women get together, they talk about men.
  32. Not one man in a beer commercial has a beer belly.
  33. Men are less sentimental than women. No man has ever seen the movie THE WAY WE WERE twice, voluntarily.
  34. Most women are introspective: "Am I in love? Am I emotionally and creatively fulfilled?" Most men are outrospective: "Did my team win? How's my car?"
  35. If a man says, "I'll call you," and he doesn't, he didn't forget...he didn't lose your number...he didn't die. He just didn't want to call you.
  36. Men hate to lose. I once beat my husband at tennis. I asked him, "Are we going to have sex again?" He said, "Yes, but not with each other."
  37. Men who can eat anything they want and not gain weight should do it out of sight of women.
  38. Getting rid of a man without hurting his masculinity is a problem. "Get out" and "I never want to see you again" might sound like a challenge. If you want to get rid of a man, I suggest saying, "I love you...I want to marry you...I want to have your children." Sometimes they leave skid marks.
  39. Men accept compliments much better than women do. Example: "Mitch, you look great." Mitch:"Thanks." On the other side:"Ruth, you look great." Ruth: "I do? Must be the lighting."
  40. Impulse buying is not macho. Men rarely call the Home Shopping Network.
  41. Men who listen to classical music tend not to spit.
  42. Only men who have worn a ski suit understand how complicated it is for a woman to go to the bathroom when she's wearing a jumpsuit.
  43. Men don't feel the urge to get married as quickly as women do because their clothes all button and zip in the front. Women's dresses usually button and zip in the back. We need men emotionally and sexually, but we also need men to help us get dressed.
  44. Men are self-confident because they grow up identifying with superheros. Women have bad self-images because they grow up identifying with Barbie.
  45. When a woman tries on clothing from her closet that feels tight, she will assume she has gained weight. When a man tries something from his closet that feels tight, he will assume the clothing has shrunk.
  46. Male menopause is a lot more fun than female menopause. With female menopause you gain weight and get hot flashes. Male menopause - you get to date young girls and drive motorcycles.
  47. Men forget everything; women remember everything.
  48. That's why men need instant replays in sports. They've already forgotten what happened.
  49. Men would like monogamy better if it sounded less like monotony.
  50. All men would still really like to own a train set.

Porcupine sex and three myths of compatibility

The secret to compatibility is a lot like the old joke: "How do two porcupines make love?" Answer: "Very carefully."

Compatibility is something you have to work at. Like porcupine sex, compatibility has to be negotiated as you go along. You'll have a better chance at negotiating this dance if you let go of three popular myths and misconceptions about compatibility.

Myth #1: Similar people are more compatible

There is no evidence that very similar couples are more likely to have lasting, loving relationships, with one exception. If you have very traditional ideas about marriage, family, and gender roles, research suggests you'll probably be more satisfied with a partner who shares these beliefs. Otherwise, chances are, you can be happy with someone who's similar in some ways and opposite in others.

Often, these differences spark a lot of passion. Plus, you avoid the boredom of being with someone who already knows how you think and feel about everything. As Jerry Seinfeld once said: "I can't be with someone like me…I hate myself!"

Myth #2: Compatible couples enjoy each other's company and don't fight

All couples have fights. They typically fight about the same things too: money, kids, and sex. Contrary to what most self-help books will tell you, many very happy couples fight all the time. My aunt and uncle bicker constantly, but they certainly stay involved in each other's lives. Plus, if you look closely, you'll notice how they wink at, tease, and occasionally kiss at the same time they're fighting.

All couples go through periods of feeling bored with each other too. My friends and I joke that you can always tell the couples in a restaurant who are dating and the couples who are married, because the married ones aren't talking. Again, it goes against popular wisdom, but many very happy couples don't have a lot in common or much to talk about. Compatibility is about your ability to re-connect with each other, over and over again.

Myth #3: You can tell within the first few dates if your date is compatible

Although I'm a big believer in natural "chemistry," I've seen too many couples either give up too quickly or rush into a relationship, solely based on first impressions. Unfortunately, a lot of important information remains hidden for the first five or six dates. Frankly, everyone is on their best behavior on these first dates (or at least until you've had sex).

This brings us back to those sexy porcupines. They look sweet and even cuddly until threatened, and then the quills spike up. For most of us, our personality and communication style work the same way. It's only when we are threatened (because we feel hurt, angry, or afraid) that our instinctual way of responding pops out. Like those porcupines, we often start jabbing and hurting each other or simply run away.

Making love very carefully

Compatibility is about what the two of you do in those prickly situations. It's your ability to create a good "fit," even when your connection doesn't come naturally. That's why I encourage people to focus less on looks and common interests and more on a potential partner's "relationship skills" or "emotional intelligence."

If you're going to end up fighting, you might as well find someone who knows how to fight fair. If you know you're eventually going to get bored with your partner, you should probably find someone who likes to try new things and wants to grow and change with you.

Like Father, Like Daughter? Not if I Can Help It

Those of us physicians who feel the heavy bureaucratic burden of medicine are much less likely to encourage our children to follow in our footsteps.

Intense and beautiful, kooky and wise — these are terms that come to mind when I try to describe my teenage daughter. Perhaps most fitting is the word"free" — her mind is fast, strong and unfettered. She has a heart for the suffering and she can do the science — but I'm scared of leading her into my world, pushing her even just a little, into the devouring vortex of medicine. And I know why. It's because she's so free.

Both my parents are doctors. Three of the six guys in my department are doctors' kids. I don't know if this statistic is kept by any of the agencies, departments and commissions set up to monitor, regulate, police or control us, but a lot of today's physicians are physicians' children. But I think that's about to change.

Not that the biggest picture has changed. It's still so easy to fall in love with the raison d'etre of one's own father or mother. Medicine is undeniably a mission, a calling. Yet young people must feel it — each somehow attracted to his or her specialty, one's own nook in the grand house of medicine. I still know I did.

My field is very broad. An orthopedic surgeon can spend his or her day casting babies' club feet, sewing an artery whose cross section is smaller than the dot on this i or hammering a foot long chunk of steel into someone's thigh bone with a (sterile) five pound maul — all in the name of good will toward man. Our patients generally get better and the uniquely orthopedic interaction of science and humanity makes for a great richness of experience in our everyday lives. Ask any doc — ortho is fun. And while not much of a relativist, I can imagine that docs in other specialties love their fields as well — though maybe not all ("ah, the romance of ... nephrology?").

Still, a question doctors my age ask each other all the time is, "Are you steering your kids into medical school?" The answers are quite often bitter, sometimes wistful — and usually negative. Partly this is not just a doctor thing. No father wants his kids to suffer, his boys to miss the good times, his girls to be toughened and, yes, coarsened, by the vulgar realities which nonetheless shaped him. Largely, though, the answers are "medical" ones and they revolve around two factors: first, that it seems a kid who can get straight As in a hard course of college study and 'delay gratification' for the ten years or so of training, can go into business and make a lot more money doing a lot less work than their medical parent does. And second, many docs simply don't want their child to "put up with all the sh—." Its the freedom issue — in more prosaic terms,

"They make you feel like a convict" is what doctors say about the people, commissions, agencies and departments we must answer to, every month, for the rest of our lives, or be stripped of the right to practice medicine (as well as the ability to earn a living). Every doctor lives under continuous scrutiny from federal, state, hospital, insurance company, specialty board, medico-legal, and professional conduct organizations. Hundreds of pages of forms must be filled out, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, hundreds of hours of study and examination must be completed every year — just to stay in practice — and that's after Board Certification, a process at then end of ten years of intense training, study, work and examination.

Each of these burdens is placed on the doctor in the name of "protecting the public", but everyone in the medical business knows the plain truth: that not one of these actually helps us treat patients, not one makes us better doctors. You become a better doctor when you notice patterns, when you get out of your own way enough to hear real complaints and treat them. You might scrub in with a friend who does a new procedure, go to an interesting course (the good ones often don't give CME — mandated continuing medical education — credits) or you might become a better doctor in your room at night with your old books that you see in a new light because you've seen a certain case that day. Every doctor knows this: however it happens, professional growth does not take place via "administrative compliance." The public is not protected at all by these things. What they do protect is the livelihood of an entire class — the millions who make their livings in the public and private "administration" of American medicine. Do I want to feed my little girl to this beast? I don't think so.

Following in a parent's footsteps, knowing firsthand the unusual life of a doc and stoking the early fires of a developing superego with such high octane respect and responsibility that scarcely any other human endeavor seems worthy — this is the psychology that makes doctors' kids into doctors. There are, quite honestly, many in my field of surgery who will work for any salary — some would literally pay to do it. They can derive satisfaction from little else, their self-concept is utterly enmeshed in it and doctor's children or not, they will be doctors in the next generation. Today they make up, by my guess, about 10% of us. Wish them well for they will be the only ones to take care of us if we have a hard problem when we get old.

The 90% who can't conceive of life not-as-a-doctor are on the verge of being replaced by a bunch who don't seem to mind the bureaucratic stuff — the 9 to 5 docs. Hard problems do not attract them. Sub specialization, cost-effectiveness and "compliance issues" will increasingly dominate their professional lives and they will deal well with an enlarged para-medical industry and hospital bureaucracy.

And we will probably still have the "at least you know you won't starve" immigrants and the upwardly mobile "my son, the doctor" crowd. And still just maybe this daughter of mine — not that I would push her, you see, but she did so well this summer in anatomy camp ...

Raising a Child in Iran's Cultural Divide

Raising a Child in Iran's Cultural Divide
Coping with the gulf between Iranian private and public life is a difficult skill even for adults to manage. So what should we teach our children?

My friend's eight-year-old son brought a DVD home from school the other day, a 10-minute collection of "highlights" from his third-grade class. As far as I could tell he wasn't attending an Iranian elementary school so much as one of those scary Pakistani-type madrassas, where rows of boys sit on the floor memorizing the Koran and the alumni all died at Tora Bora. The first minutes captured the class making ritual ablutions before prayer, followed by scenes of them actually praying together in the classroom, and finally, a lively segment of them practicing the call to prayer. Noting my horrified look, my friend explained that "public schools here are really much better these days." Much better, apparently, means that alongside Islamic indoctrination, kids also receive an hour of music lessons a week, their textbooks include color pictures, and teachers no longer say "raise your hand if your parents drink alcohol at home."

When I first discovered I was pregnant, and my husband and I discussed starting our family here in Iran, I thought mostly about bassinettes, prenatal tests, and how much a baby would adore the animal reliefs at Persepolis. I knew we would be raising our child between cultures — we both come from Iranian families, but grew up in the West and are familiar with the discomforts of living in between. What I didn't realize is that really we had three cultural divides to deal with: the West; fundamentalist, public Iran; and tolerant, inside-the-house Iran. This became clear to me as my pregnancy developed, and I stopped viewing my friends' kids as conversation wreckers, and began noticing what complicated little lives they lead.

Coping with the gulf between Iranian private and public life is an intricate skill that even adults here manage with varying degrees of success. Wearing masks or lying when required, all while keeping your core identity intact, is the daily business of adults who live in authoritarian societies. But how on earth do you teach children these skills? Is it possible, even, to raise an open-minded, healthy child in a culture that is fundamentalist and anarchic? That I have plenty of tolerant, sane friends who grew up here is proof that this can be done. But I'm not sure how high the success rate is, and whether it's something I could manage without becoming a paranoid, insufferable parent.

The very idea that I would be competing with my child's teachers and other role models over basic values (the role of religion in daily life, whether or not Western culture is corrupt) is intimidating. What if they win out, even for a phase? What's even scarier is that by doing the right thing — poising your kid's mind against extremist mullahs and their dogma — you may not be instilling tolerance, but safety hazards. Kids seem prone to asking endless questions from the moment they can talk. They want to know why you wear a veil outside in Tehran, but not at home and not on trips. The right answer (Mommy doesn't believe in the veil, but the government denies her right to choose) could be punishable, if repeated by a child in a classroom.

In most cases, you simply can't measure the future cost of teaching your kids liberal values; for espousing them openly, perhaps one day they will be punished by a teacher, expelled from school, caught by police, fired from a job. Being caught between such choices — allowing your kid to be brainwashed, teaching him otherwise at possible risk — is a grotesque dilemma and perhaps at the heart of why so many hundreds of thousands of young Iranian parents emigrate each year once they are on the cusp of parenthood. They can take up the East-West divide in cities like Toronto and Los Angeles, but at least be spared the Iran-Iran divide inside their own country.

Since for now I'm intent to stay, I've surveyed my friends — those whose children attend public school — to see how they deal with the gap between their private culture and the one outside. There seems to be two ways to approach the problem. The first is low-key: to simply model the values and behavior you believe in, and hope for the best. The premise here is that kids are too young to be taught moral shades of gray, and can grow up most naturally if allowed to absorb the intricacies of Iranian society slowly, without too much instruction by tense parents. The benefit of this is style is that you don't actively teach your kids to lie. My friend, the one with the prayer DVD, follows this approach, and the result is an honest child who recently told his teacher, "my parents don't pray." Nothing happened, but much could have. My friend thinks it isn't right to engage in reverse-inculcation at home. "Then how are we any different from them?" she asks. "He should have the right to choose himself the values he wants." I agree: it's like sending your kid off Jonestown with the Kool-Aid folks, and hoping he'll emerge an independent spirit.

Another approach, practiced by an Iranian-American friend of mine, is the "keeping secrets" method. This involves teaching your kids that the values you teach at home — that alcohol is alright in moderation, that satellite television is acceptable, that a divorced mother has the right to date — are part of a special, private world of which they should never speak outside. This makes a value out of privacy, and sidesteps the delicate task of teaching why it's okay to lie in certain situations, but not in others. None of this wards off the day your son returns home, as in the case of this friend, and informs you that as per what he learned in class that day, you, his mother, are immoral for not wearing a full black chador, and are disrespecting "our culture." Not long after, her son ran home from school weeping, after his class chanted "Death to America" at an annual school protest rally. His classmates, being young and therefore casually cruel, told him that because he had been born in America, he would need to die too. That day, his school, teachers and most of his classmates forever lost their credibility.

Oprah Justifies Madonna's Love

When Madonna went on Oprah Winfrey today to "set the record straight" about her controversial adoption of a Malawian child, the subject of most immediate interest was not her new baby. It was her new accent. The singer's speaking style had long ago morphed into a strange, inexplicable Britmericanese. But there was something different today, a rounding of the vowels, the faintest elongation of the Rs--was there some Irish in there now? I could swear there was: at the end of words like "December," just the hint of a brogue--"Decemburr."

Was Madonna trying, sub- or fully consciously, to borrow a little aura from Bono and Sir Bob Geldof? If so, nicely played, Ms. Ciccone! No one does charitable unimpeachability like the Irish! When you want to go saintly, Go Bragh!

Not that she necessarily needed the linguistic help. We have seen that Winfrey can be a vengeful goddess when crossed. But she can also be a benevolent one when she so wishes, and today she lent her fellow celebrideity the use of her cloud from which to hurl thunderbolts of self-defense. Appearing by satellite from London, and toting along professional-looking pictures of adorable new son David with her other children and husband Guy Ritchie, Madonna answered charges that she essentially used her wealth and fame to accelerate the adoption process and muscle a child in an orphanage away from his still-living father.

Intent but composed, she said that, contrary to press reports and interviews with David's father, she had met the father, who thanked her for "giving his son a life," and noted that David had been in the orphange since he was two weeks old. It would not be entirely seemly, of course, for a superstar multimillionaire to accuse a poor father in a Third World country of being neglectful and a liar, so she instead found a reliable enemy--the media. The press, she said, must have bullied the father, applied pressure and guilt until he changed his story, and in so doing, threatened to hurt not just David but all the children of Africa. "Shame on you," she closed, "for discouraging other people from wanting to do the same thing."

And it's hard to disagree with her--hard, because Oprah made no serious effort to give voice to Madonna's critics (she had no dissenting voices on the show, not counting a few headlines flashed on camera and her own disdainful phrasings of their critiques). Also because, well, we're all a little afraid of Oprah, and one got the impression she would be really, really pissed if you did disagree with Madonna. The camera repeatedly cut to Oprah during Madonna's answers--were those tears welling in Winfrey's eyes?--as she nodded and interjected support: "Yep!" "God bless you for that!" "That's a brave thing that you did!"

For Oprah's studio audience, anyway--and presumably a good chunk of home viewers--that was enough; they backed Madonna with so much applause you'd suspect they'd gladly hand her their babies. Everything is copacetic, it seems, between the two uninymic celebrities, and therefore between America and Madonna as well.

Let's just hope for Madonna's sake her story holds up. We'd hate to have to see Oprah go all James Frey on her.

The Influence of Fathers

Traci Gray

Before the industrial revolution, fathers often worked side by side with their sons and instructed their children in spiritual values. When industrialization took over the American landscape, fathers left their farms and headed to the factories. Fourteen- to 16-hour workdays set the stage for the absentee father.

Eventually, fathers came to be regarded as merely breadwinners who fulfilled their paternal duties by providing.

But is that image changing again?

Research shows that tweens and teens need the firm leadership a father provides. A child performs better in school if his father takes an interest in his education. Children have more confidence when their fathers spend time with them and show them affection. Kids learn from watching their fathers’ decisions and listening to logical explanations.

Work pressures and other commitments may make it easy for some men to feel they don’t have the time. However, a 2002 study found that men born after 1965 spent 50 percent more time per workday with their children than boomer fathers (an average of 3.4 hours, versus 2.2 hours). That same year a workplace survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management discovered that men ranked the need to balance work and home life higher than their female colleagues.

Involved fathers find the time to attend their children’s games and recitals. They pull themselves away from the TV to show their children how to change a tire and balance a checkbook. They set firm limits and encourage their kids to do their best — even when they fail.

Take a look at the questions below.

• What did you need from your father that he gave you?

• What did you need but didn’t receive?

• How did his positive input help you to succeed?

• How did the negative aspects possibly set a series of consequences into motion that you may still experience?

The answers to these questions may reveal what your children desperately long for. Now it’s up to you to provide it. It may make your pocketbook a little thinner, but the benefits could be priceless.

The Secret to Motivating a Husband

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.

I discovered a secret — a secret hidden in plain sight! A husband does not lack the knowledge that he is to love his wife. What he lacks is motivation.

The secret is this: A husband is motivated to be loving in response to a wife showing him unconditional respect. That’s a big truth hidden in plain sight. After hearing it, it still seems foreign to many!

Peter reveals that a wife’s "respectful behavior" motivates a husband — even an undeserving one — to open his heart to God and by implication to his wife. "“Even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your … respectful behavior."

Paul, as well, shares God’s secret. "The wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33b NIV). This is his summary statement on marriage to the wife in the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament.

Did you know that God does not command a wife to "agape" love her husband? Only the husband is commanded to agape love. Agape is God-like unconditional love.

The Mysterious Island
Why is a wife not commanded to agape love? God designed a wife to love. She loves to love. For this reason, a husband does not doubt his wife’s love. What he doubts is her respect for him. During an argument, if she shouts , "I love you a ton but don’t feel any respect for you!" he’ll become an island unto himself. A mysterious island.

That is equal to a husband shouting, "I respect you more than any other human being, especially since you received a million-dollar inheritance from your old man, but I don’t love you and never have." What wife would jump in the air and click her heels over that comment? Any wife would be devastated by such a remark from her husband.

As a wife needs love like she needs air, so a husband needs respect like he needs air.

On Run-on Relationships

Lauren F. Winner

Expand image Our culture today puts a lot of emphasis on fully knowing our dating partners and ourselves before even considering marriage. What are the benefits to this way of dating? What are the drawbacks? Lauren talks us through the meandering world of long-term dating.

From Meeting to Marriage: 18 Months
People often ask me how long Griff and I dated before we got married. I tick off the increments on my fingers: We met in June and were friendly for a few months until, in October, we had The Talk (which took place in a teashop, and surprised us both, since each of us had convinced ourselves that our crush was completely unrequited). Then we dated till May when we got engaged, and we got married the following November. So, a little more than a year of dating and engagement, and about 18 months from meeting to tying the knot. It wasn't until the summer of our second year of marriage that we had known each other as long as I'd dated my college boyfriend.

I'm not holding our chronology up as some kind of a standard — there's no set dating calendar that suits everyone. Still, I am surprised by the number of people who respond to our outline of meeting, dating and marrying by saying, "What a quick romance!" or "What a short engagement!"

Occasionally, I wonder if those people are right. There were moments in our first year of marriage, which were rough going, when I wondered if we would have been better off waiting. Maybe we should have gotten to know each other better before plunging into sex, domesticity, shared checking accounts (and a shared closet), and everything else that accompanies marriage.

But most of the time, I'm thankful that we didn't have a much longer dating relationship. Before meeting Griff, I'd been a willing partner in quite a few long romances. There was the college beau I mentioned above, whom I dated for about three years. Then there were two subsequent relationships that lasted more than a year. In hindsight, I can see some of the pitfalls of those oh-so-long relationships.

The Dangers of Endlessly Long Relationships
What's wrong with a dating relationship that lasts for two or three years? Doesn't the old adage say, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure"?

There are, of course, some situations where dating for many years is appropriate and wise. I think of my friends Gina and Hank. They're now happily married, and they dated for almost four years. Gina knew, early on, that she cared about Hank, but she also knew that they approached Christianity from two radically different perspectives. During their years of dating, they searched for (and found) a church they could both joyfully attend, they joined a small group, and they were mentored by an older Christian couple.

But most long relationships are nothing like Gina and Hank's.

Often, long relationships are fraught with ambivalence. You genuinely love, or think you love, or want to love, the person you're dating, and maybe he genuinely loves you — and yet, somewhere, there's uncertainty. You're not really sure you can commit. You and he play a sort of push-me, pull-you game: For a few months, one of you is sure that you've met your life-long mate, and the other person puts on the brakes, and then, a few months later, you switch roles.

This sort of deep-seated ambivalence isn't good for anyone. When your best friend is in a relationship with a man who's fundamentally ambivalent, you can tell her plainly that she deserves better and should extricate herself — but when you're the one in the fraught relationship, it is often harder to see the costs of devoting so much emotional energy to such an uncertain situation.

Pots and Pans, Birds and Bees
bAnother danger of endless dating relationships is our tendency to play house. The longer you date someone, the more you become inclined toward a certain kind of faux domesticity. You're not likely to buy pots and pans with a guy you've been dating for two months, but it can seem a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you've been dating for two years. This playing house can feel enjoyable, but, in fact, it is disordered.

You buy something with someone when you assume you have a long-term future together. But when you're dating, you have no way of knowing if you have a long-term future, and to make purchases as though you do is to delude yourself. (I know whereof I speak: The list of quasi-domestic purchases I made with those ex-boyfriends could fill up the rest of this column.) Your desire to make long-term investments with someone else may be a useful clue: it may tell you that you do indeed want to spend your life with this particular man. But make the commitment before you buy the accoutrements.

Playing house, of course, isn't just about buying pots and pans. The faux domesticity of dating often includes sex. And if pots and pans are symbols of a certain level of commitment, sex is, too. Sex has no place in a relationship other than marriage . Enough said about that, don't you think?

Compatibility Skills
Finally, long-term relationships teach us to "fetishize" a certain kind of compatibility. In other words, we date for years and years in part because we want to make sure we completely know ourselves and our potential mate. We want to ensure that we're really compatible. But this logic, which often attends long-term relationships, is faulty.

Clearly, there are some people with whom we're more compatible than others — it's probably not wise for someone who is committed to living in California to marry someone who can't even consider leaving his childhood town in New Hampshire. But for the most part I believe that we learn to be compatible inside of marriage. I myself have been guilty of over-emphasizing some abstract "compatibility." During my first year of marriage, I sometimes found myself thinking, "Maybe Griff and I should have dated longer; if we had, we'd have realized that in fact we're not compatible at all!"

I now see that the very terms in which I was thinking were flawed. Yes, there are certain ways in which Griff and I are more easily suited to one another (we have very similar approaches to money, for example) and ways in which we are less easily suited to one another (I'm much more introverted than he, and he likes to socialize more than I do). But that doesn't add up to our being "compatible" or "incompatible." In fact, it is through marriage — not through dating — that we are learning about our real compatibility. It is through marriage that we are learning not whether we are compatible, but how to be compatible with one another.

So Why Do We Stay in These Relationships?
There are lots of answers to that question, of course, but I think the most powerful one is hope. For whatever reason — because we've been in a string of lousy relationships, or because we feel like men don't usually pay attention to us and this one has, or because we've invested so much time and emotional energy in this relationship that we feel like we just can't let it go — we want to hold onto this guy and hope that things will get better.

Or perhaps we feel a lot of pressure from friends and family, or even from ourselves, to get married. So we stick it out.

Or we stay because it's easier to be in a relationship, even a lousy one, than to have to wonder what we're going to do on Friday night.

Or we stay because we're in love.

All of those answers and more explain why I stayed in so many long-term relationships, even after it had clearly soured, and the guy and I were stuck in a cycle of attraction, ambivalence, drama, and pain.

In hindsight, I wish I'd gotten out of those relationships sooner. I wish I had devoted far fewer nights to angsting about men with whom I eventually broke up.

How Do You Know?
That said, it can be incredibly hard to know when, or why, to end a relationship. There's nothing wrong with sticking with a relationship and maturely trying to work though some hard patches. In fact, that's good training for the sticking-it-out required by marriage.

In some cases, it's really clear that you should get out of a relationship. If someone is physically or emotionally abusive, end the relationship and break off contact with the guy. And if you find yourself pining for someone who really doesn't return your affection, who plays hot and cold with you, who seems to enjoy toying with you more than he enjoys being with you, end that relationship too.

Other cases are trickier, and, in fact, it might be wiser to not make this decision by yourself. Talk to your girlfriends, who are often willing to speak the hard truth and tell you that your latest beau is not treating you well. And talk to someone a little older — maybe a graduate student who works in residence life at your college, maybe a campus minister — who can offer you a different perspective. If you can, talk to your parents, or an older sister, or an aunt. They may be able to help you see that you should get out of the relationship, or more fully commit to the relationship. They may be able to help you see revealing patterns in your own dating life.

Finally, it may sound hokey, but praying can help, too. Prayer is not, of course, a magic wand. But often when we pray for discernment, the Holy Spirit moves within us and helps us see ourselves, our circumstances, and our desires for what they really are.

Adventurous Japanese couples thrust Dream Love Chairs into overdrive

Ryann Connell

More and more of Japan's love hotels are getting set up with automatic sex machines selling so well they've added "boom" to boom-boom, according to Shukan Post.

The machines are being imported from South Korea, where they've been a phenomenal success in love hotels there.

"Just the other day," the operator of a Tokyo love hotel tells Shukan Post, "we had a couple in here who said they wanted one of our rooms because it had one of the machines in it. Once they got in there, they kept it running for three hours straight."

The automatic sex machines are officially known as Dream Love Chairs. They're equipped with two motorized seats facing each other and switches to adjust things like speed and rotation.

AD-A, the company importing the Dream Love Chairs into Japan, is ecstatic with the results it has achieved.

"A South Korean robotics professor who enlisted the aid of over 100 couples developed the chair through a process of trial and error. There are already over 10,000 Korean love hotels equipped with this machine," a spokesman for AD-D tells Shukan Post. "At the moment in Japan, there are 120 hotels with the machines in them. However, the developers are trying to come up with a model for around 600,000 yen to attract individual buyers."

The men's weekly promptly sends out one of its intrepid reporters to try out the Dream Love Chair with his partner.

Switching on the machine prompts the man's chair to move backward and forward, while the woman's slowly rotates. The machine has a five-gear speed system, with the fastest promising five thrusts per second. There's also a pause button to allow time to consider what's taking place.

Women's seats on the Dream Love Chair have even more functions. They can rotate in either direction at a whopping 10 different speeds! And the seat also vibrates -- at two adjustable speeds!

What's more, the machine is up to date when it comes to politically correct relations between the sexes, with the controls for the man's chair placed on a panel built into the woman's seat, meaning that she controls the pace and actions to a level suitable to her.

On top of all these functions, the chairs at either end of the Dream Love Chair can be adjusted to different heights, while levers make them maneuverable to varying degrees of incline, allowing for as many as 10 different positions to be practiced with ease.

But the main effect, Shukan Post says, is that the machine basically does all the moving for the couple, taking the drudgery out of grinding the pelvis.

Why Isn't Marriage the Way I Thought It Would Be?

Glenn Lutjens

On their honeymoon, Ed and Renee spent hours gazing into each other’s eyes — contemplating how they’d spend their next 50 years. They decided to write those plans down as a road map for the future.

But before long, those plans hit several speed bumps.

Ed lost his job.

Renee was diagnosed with diabetes.

Habits that seemed cute at first became annoying.

When they had a son, Renee decided to stay home — which tightened the family purse strings. Ed worked more to compensate, further reducing their time together. When she voiced concern, it only seemed to irritate him.

They still loved each other. But this wasn’t how either of them had written the script on their honeymoon.

You might find yourself wondering if your early dreams of marital bliss were more illusion than reality. Why isn’t marriage turning out the way you planned?

In premarital counseling, couples often explore their expectations of marriage. But what does that mean? Are expectations the way you think your marriage will look, or the way you want it to look? The two can be very different!

People draw their marital expectations from two wells. One is courtship. If dating was wonderful and starry-eyed, why would you expect marriage to be otherwise? If spending 20 hours a week brings us such joy, you might think, more time together as husband and wife could only be better!

But think back to your courtship. Wasn’t it largely a mirage?

What did you do when you didn’t want to be alone? You got dressed up and did fun things together. What did you do when you were tired of talking? You went home. How did you deal with financial decisions? You made them on your own.

When you were dating, there were some built-in escape valves in your relationship. Now that you’re married, there’s no other home to go to. Your spouse’s finances are yours, and vice versa.

By its nature, courtship allows a couple to live in denial. Marriage makes that posture much more difficult to maintain.

The other well of marital expectations is the marriage you saw firsthand when you were growing up.

That relationship provided one of two images for you to view. Either the marriage didn’t seem worth duplicating, or it did.

Even if the marriage you saw was conflicted and unhappy, you may have believed things would be different for you. Without that hope, the decision to remain single would have seemed pretty appealing. But simply raising your expectations won’t make your marriage better than that of your parents. You need to face past hurts and disappointments, perhaps with the help of a counselor or pastor. That may not have the same thrill that romance does, but it makes it more likely that you’ll experience a fulfilling and romantic marriage.

On the other hand, you may have been fortunate enough to see a model of marriage worth replicating. For that you can rejoice! But there’s a pitfall there, too. You may be locked into thinking that the way you saw Mom and Dad relate is the only healthy way for a marriage to function.

For example, let’s say that your parents were both even-tempered; decisions came easily for them. You or your spouse might be more opinionated and need to discuss matters longer. That’s okay, even though it’s different. There are many styles in marriage that can be healthy.

Parents can affect your marital expectations in other ways, too. That was true with Tom and Jill.

Tom’s expectations about marriage weren’t being met. Through reading and counseling he finally recognized that those expectations were an effort to cope with a painful childhood. Growing up, he’d often been under his mother’s controlling thumb. He’d brought into marriage a vow that he’d never get close enough to his wife to let her control him as Mom had. As a result, he’d never gotten close enough to truly connect with Jill.

Tom had to work through his hurts before he could begin to relate to Jill in a more meaningful way. The two of them met periodically over coffee with a seasoned couple in their church, learning what they might expect in each new stage of marriage.

They still have struggles. But Tom is learning more about God’s expectations for their marriage. Unless he depends on God for the ability to love Jill, he doesn’t have a prayer to make it happen. He’s also learning that by staying true to his marriage, he’s growing in ways he never thought possible.

Tom brought his own expectations to marriage, but God had a better idea.

If your expectations about marriage have been unrealistic, it’s time to challenge them. But if you do, and still have concerns, consider the possibility that the problem might not be your expectations. You might have a problem in your marriage.

Harboring unrealistic expectations doesn’t mean that everything else in a marriage is on track. Your qualms might be slightly off target, but they could be early warning signs about issues that will cause more trouble if you don’t resolve them. Talk about them with your spouse in a respectful way; see whether the two of you can address them. If that fails, look to a pastor or counselor for help.

Vietnam government issues new fines over sex-selection abortions

Steven Ertelt


The Vietnamese government has issued new fines hoping to prevent sex-selection abortions from continuing to prey on baby girls in the Asian nation. The country has the same problem as other nations such as China, North Korea and India, where boys are preferred and girls fall victim to abortions and infanticides.

The new penalties include fines of up to 15 million Vietnamese Dong (about $975 US dollars) for any abortion done for sex-selection reasons.

Anyone who uses force or threats to coerce a Vietnamese woman have an abortion for sex-selection reasons will be fined anywhere from VND 7 million to 15 million ($450-$750).

The new fines come according to a recently-issued Decree 114-2006/ND-CP according to the Nhan Dan newspaper.

The number of abortions in Vietnam has been staggeringly high for some time and a July report indicated that teenage girls there rely on abortion as a means of birth control.

About 300,000 abortions are done in Vietnam annually and the local newspaper Labor reports that the nation's Health Ministry said most of them are on unmarried and younger women. The Obstetrics Hospital in Hanoi does about 20-30 abortions every day and the number of abortions on teens is on the rise.

The paper said that teenagers are increasingly relying on abortion as a method of birth control and not using, or not knowing about, methods of contraception. The paper says about 20 percent of teenagers are actively having sexual relations without using any method of birth control.

The nation plans to launch contraception educational campaigns in an attempt to lower the abortion rates.

Meanwhile, one woman dies from a legal abortion in the Asian nation every five days.

The local Pioneer newspaper reported in April that there are 83 abortions for every 1,000 Vietnamese women of the childbearing age. That compares with a birth rate of only 17 babies born per 1,000 women.

The report said each local Vietnamese woman has approximately 2.5 abortions in her lifetime.

About one-third to one-half of the abortions performed there are done in small health clinics but women are dying at an alarming rate.

Vietnam has long had one of the highest abortion rates in both Asia and the world and the number of abortions has been on the rise. According to national health statistics, 760,000 abortions were carried out in 1989, 1.3 million in 1994 and 1.4 million in 1995.

In 1999, the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reported that Vietnam had the highest abortion rate of any nation.

While experts say the communist government does not espouse abortion as a birth control method, the procedure is "heavily subsidized by the government," and "many published family planning campaigns still list abortion as a method of birth control" according to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency.

Vietnam is one of two countries to receive an award from the United Nations in 1998 for its population control programs.

In Vietnam, abortion is available as part of overall family planning services provided at various provincial, district and communal health facilities.

Approximately 51 percent of the 83 million residents of Vietnam are women and, as of April, 26.4 percent of the nation's population is below the age of 15.

Cambodia grants citizenship to an alleged child sex tourist

Erik Wasson and Prak Chan Thul

Cambodia has apparently granted Khmer citizenship to a wealthy American accused of being one of the world's most notorious child abusers, a former San Francisco Bay Area stockbroker currently in a Mexican prison on charges of child sexual abuse, raising US Justice Department fears that the man will flee to Phnom Penh, according to government documents.

Porn Site Reviews and Previews

The Cambodian government has lately made much of an increase in the arrest of suspects in child-sex tourism. Nonetheless, on May 8, Thomas Frank White of San Francisco, born Feb 14, 1936, officially became a Cambodian, according to a copy of Royal Decree 0506/220, with the help of the US law firm of Tamburello & Hanlon.

A Thomas Frank White, with the same birthday, also from San Francisco and also represented by Tamburello & Hanlon is currently in a Mexican prison facing accusations of sexually abusing 14 minors, according to media reports and a lawyer representing his alleged victims in the US. A photo of White in his Cambodian citizenship application appears to match one of the man in the Mexican prison printed in The San Francisco Chronicle.

According to a copy of a US District Court indictment dated March 23, 2004, Thomas Frank White has been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to travel to a country with intent to engage in sexual acts with minors. He is also facing the charge of conspiracy to sexually exploit children.

The charges refer to crimes allegedly committed both in Mexico and in Thailand, where White resided from October 2000 to February 2003. In August 2005, White settled a $7 million lawsuit brought by two of his alleged underage victims, media reports state.

When arrested in Thailand on Feb 14, 2003, his 68th birthday, White was living with six underage boys, Thai police told the Associated Press. He was jailed in Thailand for close to two years before being extradited to Mexico to face charges. Although he has no US criminal record, US federal prosecutors are negotiating to have White extradited to the US to face the charges there.

According to AP, White founded Thomas White and Co, a brokerage house in 1978 and had been revered in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for helping street children and building an orphanage and school called Casa Blanca, or "white house."

White, through his attorneys, has denied all the charges. The Cambodian government dossier on White states that he meets all the requirements for citizenship. However, a careful examination of the claims in the dossier reveals significant holes.

In the file, Dr. Veng Thai of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department certifies that he examined White on Dec 26, 2005 and certified that White is not HIV positive. He could respond and listen in Khmer. However, Veng Thai said in an interview that he remembers examining White but does not remember any details about him.

Two days after that, when reporters showed Veng Thai a photo of the Thomas Frank White who was in a Mexican prison last December, Veng Thai said that he could not remember administering the HIV quick test he has given other citizenship applicants.

He also said that there was no file on White in his office, before abruptly leaving the interview.

The address given in the dossier for White is 9 E0 Sisowath Street in Daun Penh district of Phnom Penh at the time of his application in June 2005. The address turns out to be a Khmer-owned motorcycle repair shop, where the employees said they had never heard of Thomas Frank White.

If, as appears to be the case, White the Cambodian is also the White in Mexican prison, his lawyer may have used legal sleight of hand to convince the government White is of good character.

To meet the requirement of having no criminal record, the law firm of Tamburello & Hanlon furnished the Cambodian government in June 2005 with a letter from the US State of California. The letter is signed by Robert Santos, Assistant Manager, Bureau of Criminal Identification, Department of Justice, State of California. A police certificate showing he has no criminal record in Cambodia is also attached.

A letter from the California state penal system, however, would not cover the 2004 charges in US federal court or those in Mexico. But a simple search on the Internet could have easily raised red flags about Thomas Frank White, revealing the history of the man in a Mexican jail.

Cambodia's 1996 Nationality Law specifies that to obtain citizenship a foreigner must show he currently resides in Cambodia, has resided here for 7 years continuously, speaks and reads Khmer, is in sound physical and mental health, has no criminal convictions and has a letter certifying to good moral conduct from his local neighborhood in Cambodia.

Those investing 1.25 billion riel here can obtain citizenship without living here for 7 years. Donors contributing more than 1 billion riels to the state budget need neither reside here nor have stayed for 7 years.

According to the documents, White is listed as an accountant with an NGO called the Khmer Fund for Law and Democracy. The NGO is registered at 9 E0 Sisowath Street where the motorbike shop is located, and where no employees have heard of it.

Toy Monireath of the Cooperation Center for Cambodia, which tracks NGO activity, said that there is no record of a Khmer Fund for Law and Democracy or a Cambodian Fund for Law and Democracy.

An assistant to Council of Ministers Secretary of State Nady Tan, confirmed that her boss signed the citizenship decree. Later, Nady Tan said that he did not know anything about why White was given citizenship.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's senior adviser Om Yentieng declined to comment on whether White may have bought his new Cambodian citizenship.

"I welcome your information and I will report this information to the authorities," he said.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith also said he would investigate the case. He did not respond to questions about whether Cambodia should do more to screen citizenship applications.

David Replogle, the San Francisco lawyer who represents more than 20 alleged victims of White, said that he suspects White would try to flee to Cambodia.

"I had heard that he was going to try and get out of jail in Mexico and then flee either to Thailand or Cambodia," he said. "The Thai government refused his citizenship request. I guess his money went farther in Cambodia."

In an email, US federal prosecutor Susan Jerich wrote that "we have always known [White] would try to circumvent, by any means necessary ($$$$)coming back here," she wrote. "If he is able to bail from Mexico-we have 1 idea as to where he will be. What a paradise for him," she wrote.

The US Embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment on Thomas Frank White, citing US privacy laws. Spokesman Jeff Daigle noted that there is no extradition treaty between Cambodia and the US, but changing nationality would not allow anyone to avoid federal charges.

Nanci Clarence, the attorney for White at the time of his arrest in Thailand, wrote in an email that he is now represented by Stuart Hanlon, a California attorney working at Tamburello & Hanlon.

Hanlon left Tamburello & Hanlon recently but the firm provided a forwarding telephone number. A detailed voice message left for Hanlon, asking whether any bribes were paid to obtain Cambodian citizenship was not responded to. Faxed questions sent to the firm of Tamburello & Hanlon were not answered. No fax or email information for Hanlon's new firm was available.

Rodney Hatfield, the country representative for UNICEF, said that evidence that Cambodia has given a passport to an indicted sex tourist should be shared with the government. "I would imagine that if he is now in prison, is facing 14 child abuse charges and is being pursued by US Federal prosecutors on other charges, he is unlikely to find his way to Cambodia anytime soon," he wrote in an email. "The Cambodian Government is trying to prevent pedophiles from visiting the country and is increasingly prosecuting anyone sexually exploiting children."

Thailand: Aussie to be deported on child porn charges


Bangkok - Thai authorities will deport a former West Australian policeman accused of posting a haul of discs containing child pornography to Australia.

Perth police issued an arrest warrant for Christopher Ronald White, 47, after Australian customs officials seized the haul and found White's fingerprints on the package, Thai immigration police said.

White's visa, which had allowed him to live in Thailand for several years, had been revoked and immigration officers expected to deport him within a few days, they said.

Thai authorities said White was known to police. He was arrested in August last year over allegations he had kept a local underage girl as a sex slave for four years.

Following a lengthy police investigation, Thai prosecutors said officers had failed to provide them with proof that White had had a sexual relationship with the girl.

They ruled the case could not proceed to court due to a lack of evidence. White consistently denied the girl's allegations.

He now faces prosecution in Western Australia over the haul of child pornography, which allegedly includes images of a European man engaged with sex acts with young Asian girls.

A WA Police spokesman said White had once been a senior constable in charge of a one-man station at Dwellingup, about 100km south-east of Perth.

Thai authorities said White had been living in the country for more than five years and promoted himself as a bomb expert, who gave regular lectures at several learning institutes in Thailand.

The 15 Hottest Spots for Fast Love


Hot Spots for Fast Love
Let's face it: You and your guy aren't always near a bedroom when desire strikes. So what do you do when you've just got to have it this minute? Scan the scene for an exciting spot to enjoy a rapid romp. "Half the thrill of a quickie is that the world is your mattress," says Lisa Sussman, author of Quickie Sex. Ahead, the hottest havens for a spontaneous sexcapade.

1. Bar Bathroom
Sneak into a stall and have your honey sit on the seat lid. Then stand over him and lower yourself onto his lap.

2. Pool Table
Slide up onto the edge of the table with your legs splayed. You'll be at the perfect height for your pool shark to attack.

3. Baseball Dugout
Revisit those behind-the-school-bleachers days, and pretend it's your first time letting a guy hit a home run.

4. Beanbag Chair
Straddle him on this pliable seat (the cushion of beans will prevent knee burns). Roll your hips in circles while he uses his legs to push forward and pull back.

5. Kitchen Counter
While your pasta's boiling, work up an appetite for dinner by clearing off those countertops and going to town on your hot dish.

Exercise Balls and More...

6. Big Exercise Ball
Lay on your stomach over the ball while your man settles himself over you. Gently roll to and fro, enjoying the many sizzle spots the seesaw effect helps him hit.

7. Stairs
Enjoy a flight of fancy on your steps (preferably carpeted) by sitting on his lap, facing away from him with your gams outside of his. Put your feet on a level where you can use your legs and arms for leverage.

8. Kiddie Pool
On a warm day, fill up a kiddie pool and take a dirty dip. Your partner should sit on his heels while you lay flat with your head on the opposite edge. Have your man lift your hips up so they're above the water.

9. Laundry Room
Hop on top of the dryer and pull your lover to you. The heat of the machine will warm you up in just the right places, and the vibrations will intensify every sensation.

10. Your Office
Invite your cutie to your cubicle after hours and christen your rolling chair with some overtime Os. You can twist and turn like you're on a carnal-val coaster.

Coat Closet and More

11. Coat Closet
While your man holds you up, press your back against one wall and your feet against the other to brace yourself. Keep one hand on the doorknob and the other over your mouth to stifle your moans.

12. Car
If roommates are cramping your sexual style, escape to your soon-to-be-randy ride. Up the ante on your auto amore by reclining the seats to the right erotic angle.

13. Photo Booth
Adjust the stool so the curtain conceals your nether regions. Then lift your skirt and sit snugly on your man's "exposed" lap. No one will have any clue what's up...until the pictures pop out.

14. The Shower
Join your stud for sudsy sex in seconds. Avoid complicated (and hazardous) acrobatics and straddle him on the shower floor. Tuck a towel behind his head for support.

15. At the Front Door
You've been jonesing for your man all evening, so waste no more time and jump his bones before he has even put his keys down. Your "Take me!" mentality will make him feel like an erotic Adonis.

Sexual Equality May Bring Better Sex

Robert Preidt

Equality between men and women may boost sex lives, U.S. researchers report.

A team at the University of Chicago surveyed about 27,500 people, ages 40 to 80, in 29 countries.

The study found that couples who live in Western countries and who have gender equality were most likely to report being satisfied with their sex lives. In contrast, people in countries where men have a dominant status over women -- such as East Asia and the Middle East -- reported less satisfaction with the physical and emotional quality of their sex lives.

Sexual satisfaction was highest in four countries -- Austria, the United States, Spain, and Canada -- and lowest in Japan and Taiwan. Countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Algeria ranked in the middle.

The findings from the "Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors" appear in the April issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

"Male-centered cultures where sexual behavior is more oriented toward procreation tend to discount the importance of sexual pleasure for women," lead author Edward Laumann, the George Herbert Meade Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago, said in a prepared statement.

But in relationships based on equality, couples are more likely to have sexual habits that meet both partners' needs, he noted.

The study findings include:

* In Western nations, two-thirds of men and women reported satisfaction with their sexual relationships and 80 percent said they were satisfied with their ability to have sex. About half of men and one third of women said sex was extremely or very important in their lives.
* In East Asian countries, about one quarter of men and women said they were satisfied with their sex lives, while two-thirds of the men and half of the women reported satisfaction with their ability to have sex. Twenty-eight percent of men and 12 percent of women said sex was important to them.
* In the Middle East, 50 percent of men and 38 percent of women said they had satisfying sex lives and about 70 percent said they were satisfied with their ability to have sex. Sixty percent of men and 37 percent of women said

Beginning to Pray Together

David and Jan Stoop

Here are eight suggestions for beginning to pray together that were given to us by the couples who responded to our questionnaire. They come from their own experiences and were developed through their own struggles to begin to pray together.

1. Take the time needed to talk with each other about your thoughts and feelings about prayer and praying together. Do this without pressuring one another or trying to make the other feel guilty. See if you can agree that this is something you both want in your marriage. Talk about your fears in as open a way as possible. Talk also about your expectations up front, so they don't undermine you later on.

2. Pick a specific time and make a commitment to each other to begin praying together at that time. You'll never get started praying together on a regular basis if you don't make this definite commitment to a specific, agreed-upon time.

3. Don't be upset if you miss a day. It's important, if you miss a day, to just start again the next day. Consistency will come over time. Let yourself off the hook here.

4. Decide who will do what. For example, who decides where you will pray together? Who reminds the other that it is time to pray together? Couples reported that they couldn't just make a commitment to a time and then assume both of them would remember. It helped for one person to take on the responsibility to say, "Hey, it's time for us to pray together." It was interesting to note that for the couples who were successful, it was more often the husband who did the reminding.

5. Start where you are both comfortable. This means that if only one of you is comfortable praying out loud, then you don't start there, for both aren't comfortable at that place. If one of you insists that you pray together silently, then both can be comfortable at that place and that's where you begin.

6. Set a time limit. It was surprising how many couples made this point. "No long-winded prayers," they said. One wife wrote, "No long monologues with fourteen items in them!" Another couple suggested, "First start small and grow from there. Anyone can pattern five or ten minutes into their lives, as opposed to one hour." Another couple said, "Start with five minutes and then gradually, over time, see what happens. Don't try to take too much time as you begin."

7. Agree at the beginning that neither one of you will preach in your praying. Nothing can stop the process like using the time to pray together as a way to preach to your spouse, or to make suggestions in your prayer. Sometimes just making this a rule will give a reluctant spouse the freedom to get started, for a common fear is that one’s spouse will use this time to preach rather than to pray.

8. One husband suggested: "Start with a list of things you want to pray about. This could be done individually or together. Then pray individually about your time of praying together before you actually come together for prayer."

Now that we have the plan, what do we do as a couple when we pray together? A basic premise to keep in mind is the importance of praying for each other. Although the Bible doesn't say directly, "Husbands and wives, pray for each other," it does say in James 5:16 that we are to "pray for each other so that you may be healed." That certainly includes husbands praying for wives and wives praying for husbands. One couple said, "Every time we pray together, we begin by praying a blessing over each other. We do this to edify our spouse and make them feel loved."

One of the things we do is find different prayers in the Bible and then agree to pray them for each other. For example, one of our favorites is a prayer Paul prayed for the Philippians in chapter 1, verses 9 and 10. He writes,

This is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

We've found this prayer to be a beautiful expression of what we want to experience in our marriage. We often use it as our theme verse for the couples’ retreats we lead. Here's the way Dave would pray this for Jan:

"Father, I pray this for Jan, that her love will abound more and more in both knowledge and depth of insight, so that she will be able to discern what is the best, and will be pure and blameless until the day Christ returns."

You might want to read through Paul's letters, and other books of the Bible, looking for prayers that you can pray for each other. This can be a very meaningful way to pray for your spouse. If you don't use these prayers when you actually pray with your spouse, then show your spouse the passage and explain that you are saying that prayer for him or her.

1. Pray silently together. All too often, couples believe that they are praying together only if they are praying out loud. Remember that the key is to intentionally pray together. When we are talking about this with couples’ groups, we suggest that they begin by praying silently. Here are the guidelines: First, sit down together and hold hands. A number of couples have commented on how important it was to be touching each other as they prayed together. Next, talk together about some of your mutual concerns as a couple. Then, as you finish the conversation, one of you should say to the other, "Let's pray about these things." Finally, spend some time in silent prayer together. Whoever finishes first should squeeze his or her partner's hand as a way of saying, "I've finished." When the other person finishes, he or she squeezes back. Congratulations! You've just prayed together.

After doing this for a time, you might say "Amen" out loud as you finish and squeeze your partner's hand, and then wait for him or her to say "Amen."

2. Finish silent prayer aloud. The second way you can pray together is an extension of the way we have just described. It takes us a step further in becoming more open and more comfortable praying together. Instead of simply ending your silent prayer with a verbal "Amen," agree that after a squeeze of the hand, the other person will finish their silent prayer out loud. This does not have to be profound. Simply say something that expresses thanksgiving and praise for the knowledge that God is present with you and that he not only hears your prayers but also knows and hears the deeper needs of your hearts. Or thank God for being present with you, in both your time of conversation and your time of prayer.

3. Write out your prayer. First, write out a short, simple prayer that is meaningful to you. Do this apart from your partner. Then come together and read your prayer to your partner. After you both have finished, you may want to discuss your positive responses to each other’s prayers, and how it felt for you to hear one another talk to God. Or read together some of the prayers we have included at the end of each chapter.

4. Pray as you talk. This approach to praying together simply means we back up in our conversation and consciously include God in the process. As a couple, you can simply stop in the middle of your conversation and suggest, "Let's pray a moment about this." If you're at the silent stage of praying together, pray silently about what you've just been talking about.

If you are verbalizing your prayers, you can simply acknowledge that God is a part of your conversation. For example, when we are talking about a concern we have, one of us might simply say, "Lord, you are here listening as we talk, and we want to acknowledge your presence and ask for your help with this situation." Even this can be simplified, or the other person may add a sentence or two in prayer. We seldom say "Amen" when we do this—we just go back to our conversation. Over time, God's place within your conversation will become more natural, and you will become more aware of his presence.

5. Pray out loud, together, daily. This is the same as our earlier suggestions, except that you are now comfortable enough with the process that you can verbalize your prayer in the presence of your spouse. In our questionnaire, we asked couples to tell us how they moved from praying silently together to praying out loud (meaning, was it difficult?). We wanted to know if couples talked about it beforehand, or if it just happened. We were surprised when a number of them such as the couple we mentioned earlier, replied, "We opened our mouth and said…" We laughed, but it really does boil down to that approach—opening our mouths and saying out loud what we are praying inside.

Over the years, as we've become more comfortable with verbalizing our prayers together, we have expanded our evening prayer time to other times of the day. When we are together, one of us may feel the need to pray, so we stop and pray. It is more just a part of our conversation, even though we are still purposely stopping to pray together.

6. Practice "vulnerable" prayer. This type of praying together is what we think most husbands (and some wives) fear is what we have in mind when we talk about praying together. It is difficult, and we certainly don't suggest starting this way. In vulnerable prayer, we pray about ourselves in the presence of our spouse. Along with praying "Lord, help us," or "Lord, help them," we pray "Lord, help me." When we pray this way, we are comfortable enough with each other that we can bring forward, with candor and honesty, our weaknesses, our failures, and our struggles, and talk openly with God in the presence of our spouse.

This type of praying together is listed last, not because it is the best, but because it is the most difficult. Some couples may never pray this way, while others become very comfortable praying this way and feel that it is this type of praying together that really enhances their spiritual intimacy. Remember, however, the goal is not to pray vulnerably together; it is simply to pray together, consistently.

State Marriage Campaigns are Targets of Intimidation Tactics

Pete Winn,

People in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin are just 26 days away from deciding the fate of amendments to protect marriage.

In Wisconsin, proponents of traditional marriage find themselves the target of intimidation and harassment tactics utilized by their opponents, according to Julaine Appling, executive director of the Wisconsin Family Research Institute -- and a leader of the Vote Yes for Marriage campaign.

"What we should be debating here in Wisconsin," she said, "is: What does this amendment do? What will happen in if we don't put this amendment in place? What will Wisconsin look like if we give people who want to redefine marriage the opportunity to do so, by not putting the amendment in place?"

Instead, gay activists have used the press to make personal insults against Appling -- accusing her of everything from being a liar to being a lesbian.

At the same time, she said the news media have ignored and refused to cover the intimidation tactics that homosexual activists are employing.

"The opponents of this measure have a lot of money and a lot of people," Appling said. "One thing we know is that they are not above trying to intimidate."

The examples of harassment run the gamut from the frustrating to the downright creepy.

It was frustrating, for instance, when a pro-marriage amendment display in the public library of a Madison suburb was vandalized.

"Thirty-six hours after the display went up it was vandalized," she said. "People inside the library took the words off the display, but left the pictures. Well, the pictures without the words were meaningless, so we were robbed of our freedom of expression."

Worse, the design team that created the marriage campaign's logos and Web site found themselves the targets of intimidation by referendum opponents.

"They told us, 'We are getting so much pressure from people who are against the amendment because we work with you, that we have to drop our business ties with you," she added.

The pro-marriage campaign has also been denied advertising.

"Whether it was through the newspaper or other kinds of advertising we were doing, they've told us, 'No, we won't carry the message.' The message was: 'Vote Yes for Marriage: One Man, One Woman. Nov. 7.' "

But most seriously of all, threatening phone calls have been made to people working in support of the amendment.

"These are phone calls that should never have been made," she said, "that were completely inappropriate; filled with foul language, and very threatening messages given to the recipients."

Appling said the campaign isn't going to be intimidated. And it won't put up with such tactics.

"This isn't what this is about," she said. "We aren't going to conduct ourselves that way, and we don't believe it is appropriate that opponents of the measure treat us that way, either, and attempt to intimidate us in any way or deny us of our right to express our opinion on this amendment."

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality said what is happening in Wisconsin is happening in other places as well.

"Gay activism has an 'end-justifies-the-means' mentality," he said. "You just have to shake it off and go on your way, because we cannot let these thugs intimidate us from doing what's right."

LaBarbera said threats against defenders of traditional marriage seem to come with the territory -- he's had more than his share.

"It's very sad to me that a movement which espouses tolerance," he said, "would harbor so many people who are willing to use ugly, evil means to achieve their goal of victory."

Appling, meanwhile, said the pro-marriage campaign has adopted a motto -- "Stop the Lies! Tell the Truth!"

"At the heart of this debate," she said, "is something we cannot ignore -- and that is, Massachusetts and Vermont have happened. We now, in this country, give same-sex marriage licenses to people who live in Massachusetts -- they have legal marriages. You cannot discount that.

"This is not about whether people are going to have benefits -- or have them taken away, if they have them or get them in the future. This is about whether we, the people of the state of Wisconsin, or a judge with an agenda will get to determine what marriage means."

10 Facts You Must Know About Oral Sex

  1. You can get an STD or HIV (the virus that causes AIDs) from oral sex - you must use a condom or dental dam no exceptions.
  2. Oral sex is not something that everyone is interested in - don't pressure somebody to do this, it is the same as pressuring them to have intercourse and it is wrong.
  3. Oral sex is a very intimate, undeniably sexual act. You may technically hold on to your virginity by having oral sex instead of intercourse, but you are sexually active none the less.
  4. The old "spit or swallow" question is outdated. When having oral sex you must use barrier protection such as a condom or dental dam.
  5. Oral sex can and does change the nature of a relationship, it should not be entered into lightly.
  6. Oral sex is not a consolation prize - if your partner says no to intercourse they don't owe you oral sex instead.
  7. Oral sex is not a "safe" alternative to intercourse, although you can not get pregnant from this act you can catch an STD or HIV.
  8. Most religions do consider premarital oral sex, like premarital intercourse, to be wrong and some actually consider oral sex off limits even within a marriage.
  9. Oral sex is every bit as sexually intimate as intercourse.
  10. Oral sex should only be done with a person who you trust, both the players in an oral sex encounter are very vulnerable to the other.

How to... tell if she's real or fake

You've probably wondered this more than a few times while checking out a girl at the bar.

Well, since you can't just outright grab her, and since you don't know her well enough to ask, you're going to have to rely on the telltale signs, which can be hard to spot.

Here are the things to look for (through her clothes of course) that will let you know if she's the real McCoy or not.

Unnatural shape
Most breasts aren't perfect orbs and they usually aren't identical. Be on the lookout for the way they hold in place as she moves around (especially her arms), and how they stay almost the same dimension - instead of flattening out - whether she reaches back or even stretches. Furthermore, when she bends over, you should see them fall if they're real.

Bubbly look
On the topic of odd breast shapes look to see if the top of her breasts are bubbled. Fake boobs defy gravity, so they might look like they're bubbling up. Natural breasts follow a more natural sliding curve line from top to bottom.

Overly firm
Real breasts are mostly fat, which gives them a jiggle quality; if they look more like solid muscle, you may be in the presence of a pair of fake ones.

If they look like balloons that are about to burst, beware. Real boobs do grow with weight gain, but the skin has time to grow with the fat.

High up (if she's not wearing a bra)
Breasts should be at about armpit height. But some bad breast jobs start them way too high on the chest, as if she's got two flotation devices strapped to her chin.

If a woman is not wearing a bra and adorns C-sized orbs that stand up, then it's pretty easy to figure out. The hard ones to pick out are the B cups. They can look real but then you need to spot small abnormalities that a normal breast wouldn't have.

Too far apart
If you can fit your fist between her breasts, they're probably fake (think Tori Spelling). The doctor should have scraped the pectoral tendons to give them a more natural emplacement, but didn't.

Stretch marks
Alright, so not always visible through clothes but maybe if she’s wearing a skimpy top. This usually stems from the surgery. Skin stretches as we grow, but stretched skin can also leaves marks - usually little red lines. If she went too big or her doctor wasn't that great, you might spot the stretch marks.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fake, if she's a yo-yo dieter, she may have gained and lost a bunch of weight, which would also cause stretch marks.

Watch out for the padded bra
A padded bra does two things that fake boobs do: It enhances the size and it fights gravity.

In the cases of a padded bra, a trained eye can see how the breast fills it. If it is filled out and looks very firm, then there's a good chance that they're fake. That likeliness drops if the bra is too small and is overfilled.

Then again, in that case, fake breasts will still keep a good shape whereas the real ones might overflow in the bra.