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Are Modern Standards Too High?
Hartford Courant ^ | 2/15/07 | Joann Klimikiewicz

Posted on 02/15/2007 10:19:33 AM PST by qam1

It can be argued, and without a hint of mockery, that the commitment crisis befalling the current marrying generation could come down to a question of deodorant.

And it's a big question.

Blinking at the vast rows of tubes in the pharmacy aisle, there are many considerations: Stick or aerosol? Regular or scented? Sea Breeze or Powder Fresh? Newfangled body spray or old-fashioned antiperspirant?

The options feel endless. And overwhelming.

The same can be said of the modern state of dating and mating and trying to marry, says Jillian Strauss, author of "Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We're Still Single."

"We live in a multiple-choice society, and our options are totally paralyzing us," Strauss says. "And because we have so many choices, we raise our expectations."

Experts believe those mounting expectations factor heavily in the nation's declining marriage rate. Today, Americans look to their partners to be everything: best friends and lovers, protectors and counselors. They want marriages anchored in romance yet practically organized around family and finances.

"One of the fundamental problems about marriage today is that we have a very high standard of what it should be," says David Popenoe, a co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. "And that kind of marriage is actually unique in the history [of the institution]. In times past, a spouse was just someone who could help you get through life. It was a sexual and work partnership more than anything.

"But today, it's an emotional partnership. That's much harder to maintain."

And much harder to find, says Strauss. "We don't really need marriage for financial stability or status. We want it because we think it will make us happy," she says. "That's a [higher] bar to set. How can something make us happy all the time?"

Still, Strauss' generation digs through the masses of singles in search of it. As much as they've treasured their independence, as they brush against and into their 30s, they're wondering why they haven't been able to find that connection yet. And why it seemed so easy for their parents' generation.

The answer, says Strauss, is there's a lot stacked up against Generation X. Many values and ideals they were raised with go against the nature of marriage and the ingredients that make it work.

A successful marriage takes compromise, but her generation was raised to believe it is a dirty word. Marriage is about working as a team, but they were raised to think in terms of "I." Marriage is about consistency and companionship. Gen Xers crave change and value their independence.

And marriage requires tolerance. But Strauss says her peers stand at its threshold with a lofty checklist of unwavering standards. Singles today shop for mates like they do houses and cars. They log onto internet dating sights or Google potential partners, getting information that was never available to their parents' generation.

An opposing political affiliation, a misspelled word in an e-mail, a hobby that doesn't match their own - all these things gleaned at an instant, and all grounds to pull out of a relationship, or never plug in in the first place.

"We've started to commodify our partners. And we think we can have every single thing we want in a mate," says Strauss. If they disappoint, "we think there's an upgrade out there, just like a cellphone."

It comes back to a question of options. Whereas previous generations might have had 10 people to choose from at party, hers has hundreds to choose from on Match.com. They have to whittle them down somehow.

"You think, `I've waited this long. I'm not going to settle now. I'm going to wait for the right person'," says Strauss. "All the options seem to say the perfect person is out there."

Are We Asking Too Much?

Isn't this too much expectation put upon one person, upon one relationship? It might be, says Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage."

Yet, she's not an advocate of lowering expectations. "I have studied the 4,000 years of marriage where people did not expect any kind of fairness or fulfillment," says Coontz. "Some people might have managed to carve out a good marriage anyway, but it also meant a lot of people put up with some truly miserable marriages."

What she advocates is that people broaden expectations of relationships they have outside of romantic partnerships. No one person can meet every single need. The belief that they should, Coontz says, is a new one that's developed only in the last 30 years.

"More married people are cocooning with each other than ever before. And fewer married people say they have other friends and confidantes outside of marriage," says Coontz. "And that's probably a bad thing. Somehow we've gone from one extreme to the other."

From not expecting enough to expecting far too much.

But this does not have to spell gloom for modern-day courtship in America, says Strauss. "All these obstacles exist out there, seeming to conspire against our finding love. But it's all within ourselves to change it," she says.

Flip the paradigm, Strauss says. Embrace compromise, celebrate change. Come to terms with the fact that a committed relationship does not have to equate boredom, that swinging singledom is not always so swinging.

Take a risk - on mates, on their inevitable foibles, on easing some standards of that unwavering checklist.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: genx; itsallaboutme; loveandmarriage
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To: qam1

This is why our fairy-tales of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella should be replaced with Shrek.

You're not a princess, you're not marrying a prince. He's an ogre, and if you're really honest with yourself, you are too.


51 posted on 02/15/2007 12:28:35 PM PST by dan1123
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To: qam1

"mounting expectations factor heavily in the nation's declining marriage rate. '

He expected mounting, she declined. It was a short marriage.


52 posted on 02/15/2007 12:41:00 PM PST by gcruse (http://garycruse.blogspot.com/)
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To: Lady Jag

and your comment indicates you expect Christians to be absolutely perfect- Sorry to dissapoint you- but we just like you or asnyone else- sinners- saved by grace. We aint saints contrary to some folks misguided narrow viewpoints.


53 posted on 02/15/2007 12:41:03 PM PST by CottShop
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To: dan1123

ah- but I'm a prince of an ogre.


54 posted on 02/15/2007 12:42:02 PM PST by CottShop
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To: CottShop

Apparently.

I'll pray for you.


55 posted on 02/15/2007 12:45:24 PM PST by Lady Jag (A positive attitude will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.)
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To: Lady Jag

Good- can always use more prayer- thanks


56 posted on 02/15/2007 12:57:19 PM PST by CottShop
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To: qam1

Do you know hard it is to find a conservative guy nowadays?

I married the one I found who wasn't already married, engaged, or in a steady relationship. Being single and "independent" is over-rated. I got married later than I wanted to, but it took me awhile to find someone who didn't see being a conservative as a character flaw.


57 posted on 02/15/2007 1:19:43 PM PST by kcbc2001
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To: RockinRight

Ok, good luck with the firefighting.


58 posted on 02/15/2007 1:31:16 PM PST by expatpat
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To: wallcrawlr

Why then would you think that I would want to live with you?


59 posted on 02/15/2007 1:32:46 PM PST by expatpat
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To: GSlob
Luca Landucci, a small-time Florentine apothecary

I want what he was taking.

60 posted on 02/15/2007 1:33:07 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: qam1
The answer, says Strauss, is there's a lot stacked up against Generation X. Many values and ideals they were raised with go against the nature of marriage and the ingredients that make it work.

A successful marriage takes compromise, but her generation was raised to believe it is a dirty word. Marriage is about working as a team, but they were raised to think in terms of "I." Marriage is about consistency and companionship. Gen Xers crave change and value their independence.

Absolute BS. My generation has kept it's marriages intact far longer than my parents generation did. This is garbage.

61 posted on 02/15/2007 1:34:15 PM PST by ShadowDancer (Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Do you mean that you want to get what he was dosing his wife with?


62 posted on 02/15/2007 1:35:01 PM PST by expatpat
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To: expatpat

You're having a great time on this one, ain't cha? :)


63 posted on 02/15/2007 1:36:53 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: wizecrakker; JenB; wagglebee; DollyCali

"So again... men haven't changed. Women have."

You don't know what the term 'Shotgun Wedding' means? They were for the males who took advantage of a girl and didn't bother to marry her--even after the fact--until her DADDY showed up with a shotgun and the Justice of the Peace, to make sure she and their baby didn't have to go on government assistance etc.

Plenty of us males are still old-fashioned MEN who respect and protect women. Plenty of merely-males continue to use women as playthings.


64 posted on 02/15/2007 1:42:03 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (Public Employees: Honor Your Oaths! Defend the Constitution from Enemies--Foreign and Domestic!)
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To: Obadiah

Actually, most of the states with the higest divorce rates are red states:

http://www.statemaster.com/graph/lif_div_rat-lifestyle-divorce-rate


65 posted on 02/15/2007 1:45:23 PM PST by MinnesotaLibertarian
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To: Ditto

The script says the guy not only must be a good provider, but be drop dead handsome as well as being sensitive, romantic, caring, giving and totally understanding. The only guys like that in real-life already have boyfriends. ;~))
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You forgot to mention that he must be a great dancer.


66 posted on 02/15/2007 3:03:00 PM PST by RipSawyer (Does anybody still believe this is a free country?)
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To: Ditto

The script says the guy not only must be a good provider, but be drop dead handsome as well as being sensitive, romantic, caring, giving and totally understanding. The only guys like that in real-life already have boyfriends. ;~))
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You forgot to mention that he must be a great dancer.


67 posted on 02/15/2007 3:03:31 PM PST by RipSawyer (Does anybody still believe this is a free country?)
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To: Tijeras_Slim
"I want what he was taking."
Well, as he died some 490 years ago, the recipe has been hopelessly lost. But he is considered to be a trustworthy source. [The others must be still worse, I guess]. Still, a wife who over 48 years had never once made him angry - where to get one such?
68 posted on 02/15/2007 4:06:51 PM PST by GSlob
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To: wizecrakker
Men haven't changed. It's women who've gotten pickier. Maybe it's a Darwinian choke-point, I dunno...

I disagree. I think that both sexes have a somewhat elevated and unrealistic standard for potential spouses. I know many plain men who think they merit a supermodel with a PhD who wants to scrub their toilets and raise their kids while simultaneously earning a six-figure income and screwing the socks off them every night. And I know some rather average women who think they deserve a Russell Crowe lookalike who has a law degree and makes six figures but has all the time in the world to romance them. Where do they get these ideas? I blame Hugh Hefner for the males' delusions but don't know who to blame for the females'.

69 posted on 02/15/2007 4:39:22 PM PST by Fairview
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To: RockinRight

A multi tasker eh? Putting out fires while surfing FR.

d;^)


70 posted on 02/15/2007 4:44:10 PM PST by Chuckster (Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset)
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got htis in an email

26 reasons why men have 2 dogs and not two wives:

The later you are, them ore excited dogs are to see you

Dogs will forgive you for playin with other dogs

if a dog is gorgeous, other dogs aren't jealous

Dogs don't notice if you call them by another dog's name

Dogs like it if you leave lots of stuff on the floor

A dog's parents never visit

Dogs do not hate their bodies

Dogs agree that you have to yell to get your point across

Dogs liek to snoop outside instead of in your wallet or desk

Dogs seldom outlive you

You never have to wait for a dog- they're always ready to go

Dogs find you amusing when you're drunk

Another man will seldom steal your dog

A dog won't wake yuou up at night and ask "If I die, will you get another dog?"

A dog will let you put a studded collar on them without calling you a pervert

If a dog smells another dog on you, they don't get mad- they just think it's interesting

On a car trip a dog never insists on running the heater

Dogs don't let magazine articles guide their lives

If you dog gets old you can put it to sleep

If a dog leaves, it won't take half your stuff

(I left a few of the worser ones out)


71 posted on 02/15/2007 4:51:07 PM PST by CottShop
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To: qam1

How far do I have to go to read about "terrible American women" and the virtues of the "subservient foreign brides"?


72 posted on 02/15/2007 4:54:15 PM PST by dakine
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To: qam1

>>"We live in a multiple-choice society, and our options are totally paralyzing us," Strauss says. "And because we have so many choices, we raise our expectations."<<

I am reminded of the scene from Moscow on the Hudson where a Robin Williams as a recent defector from Russia goes into a grocery story and asks "where is the line for coffee" they tell him the aisle number and when he gets there not only is there no line but dozens of brands in all kinds of sizes, he has a panic attack and wakes up on a stretcher. He is helped by a Cuban defector to adapt. He takes any job he can and works his way up while the security guard (the first American he met) stays a security guard and then becomes unemployed.

The lesson I took from that is not that choices are bad but that basic principles of adapting and hard work don't change.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087747/


73 posted on 02/15/2007 4:58:16 PM PST by gondramB (It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.)
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To: Lady Jag
Isn't that the woman that made up a lot of stuff? Correct me if I am wrong.
74 posted on 02/15/2007 5:07:17 PM PST by Little Bill (Welcome to the Newly Socialist State of New Hampshire)
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To: The Spirit Of Allegiance

bump to your post...


75 posted on 02/15/2007 5:09:59 PM PST by gobucks (Blissful Marriage: A result of a worldly husband's transformation into the Word's wife.)
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To: Disambiguator

Thank you, I'm looking forward to just such a blessing!


76 posted on 02/15/2007 5:14:36 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (Public Employees: Honor Your Oaths! Defend the Constitution from Enemies--Foreign and Domestic!)
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To: dan1123
He's an ogre, and if you're really honest with yourself, you are too.

Though I've seen Shrek, I never thought of it that way. That's very good. Sadly, a lot of young women don't see the ogre in themselves, only in the guy. I have a son in his late 20s who tries to date, but the women just don't seem realistic in their expectations (and he's a great catch, if I do say so). At this rate, I'll never be a grandma.

77 posted on 02/15/2007 5:20:40 PM PST by radiohead (They call me DOCTOR radiohead.)
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To: dakine
Not from me, non American accents grate. These threads would not exist if a problem did not exist. I was married for 27 years and had a nasty divorce, mainly because I like a good fight.

If woman realized that men do not want to go home to more of the same Sh*t that they left at work life would be so much easier.

78 posted on 02/15/2007 5:28:19 PM PST by Little Bill (Welcome to the Newly Socialist State of New Hampshire)
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To: dan1123
"You forgot to mention wildly rich and have all the time in the world to spend with them (little or no job). Also well-traveled, multilingual, good musician, highly intelligent, and humble to the point of thinking he is nothing and she is everything. And of course she has to meet him as a hitchhiking free spirit who is rough around the edges."

Do you really believe this? Spend all the time in the world with them? Humble to the point of thinking he is nothing and she is everything? You've bought into the myth, my friend.

A woman doesn't want a doormat who will kiss her ass and spend every waking moment with her. How boringly predictable. Where's the challenge? Where's the excitement? You bought into the male role myth and trust me, it's a myth. Women want us to be men. If you've ever seen a woman swoon over some dirt bag who treats her like garbage, a woman who will do almost anything to keep him in her life, then you know that what you wrote about is a myth.

She may tell you that the myth is what she wants, she may even believe it...but, when she sees and feels attraction for a real man, a man who may not fit your myth in any way shape or form, then get out of her way. You will not be able to stop her from feeling primal attraction for him, no gift you can buy for her, no amount of kissing her butt is going to do anything more than turn her off and she won't be looking back.

79 posted on 02/15/2007 5:33:22 PM PST by GBA (God Bless America!)
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To: qam1

I dislike both the people who complain about "too many choices" and the people who prefer Pepsi to Coke just about equally. I'd be more likely to shoot such people than marry one of them.


80 posted on 02/15/2007 5:43:07 PM PST by dr_who_2
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To: The Spirit Of Allegiance
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.

They had sweaters back then? I thought it was all gowns-and-togas.

81 posted on 02/15/2007 8:47:51 PM PST by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: lesser_satan; speedy; hispanarepublicana; mikrofon; Roscoe Karns
I'll not needle you mercilessly, but there were probably some wool-y mammoths or aflockasheep or alpacagoats around. Besides, you're just knit-picking anyway so I'll not cotton to ewe.
82 posted on 02/15/2007 8:56:23 PM PST by The Spirit Of Allegiance (Public Employees: Honor Your Oaths! Defend the Constitution from Enemies--Foreign and Domestic!)
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To: GBA

I believe the posters in that exchange were making fun of romance-movies, not talking about real life.


83 posted on 02/15/2007 9:17:59 PM PST by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: The Spirit Of Allegiance

LOL


84 posted on 02/15/2007 9:24:06 PM PST by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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