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Christine B. Whelan :
214 article(s)

Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
April 7th, 2011
Struggling to show affection through being

If you asked my husband, I think he’d say that my most irritating quality is my desire to just do “one more thing” before bed, trying to squeeze in one more errand into an already packed day and generally just being resistant to all unstructured downtime. I’m a go-go-go kind of gal. Sitting and “relaxing” isn’t my strong suit. If you asked me what his most irritating quality is, I’d say it’s that he does so much sitting and relaxing… while I’m all about doing.
And yet, I’m slowly learning that there’s something to be said for his way of doing things: To have a successful relationship — with your significant other, and with…

March 19th, 2011

I usually write about news events and the latest research, but virtue is all around us — and our best chance of character development comes in our relationships with our families. So here’s your to-do list for the day

March 18th, 2011
The road of return to the Catholic faith

I went to Mass every Sunday with my father throughout my childhood, and even said evening prayers with him until I was a teenager. Then I went to college, and promptly stopped all of it. Sure, when I was home I’d attend regularly but, on my own, my faith — which had never really matured past childhood — was pushed to the side. By the time I arrived at graduate school, I was Catholic in name only.
My early- and mid-20s were a challenge for any glimmer of my remaining faith. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, where my father — who worked in 2 World Trade Center — was lucky to survive, I felt overwhelmed and fell into a depression. Then, two of my close friends attempted suicide and…

March 12th, 2011

A recent study suggests that some 30% of Americans has trouble relaxing and putting work aside to enjoy vacation – and a handful of us suffer from more acute “leisure sickness” and “weekend headaches” from our attempts at fun.
Reports the Wall Street Journal
Only 53% of working Americans say they come back feeling rested and rejuvenated after vacation, and 30% say they have trouble coping with work stress while they’re away, according to an Expedia.com survey of 1,530. Some try to cram in so much activity that they come back more exhausted than when they left. Others stay so plugged on Blackberrys and cellphones that colleagues and clients don’t even suspect they’re…

March 9th, 2011

When you plan a wedding, you might select the specific readings or poems to commemorate your love at the ceremony. You’ll invite friends and family to witness the event, sanctify the union and celebrate your commitment. There might even be a wedding planner to get all the details in place.
In Japan, that’s one of two possible ceremonies a couple can now have: First you get married in a symbolic ceremony.  And then you can end your marriage with a similarly elaborate event — divorce ceremony planner and all.
According to Reuters, businessman Hiroki Terai came up with the idea “to help couples celebrate their decision to separate after one of his friends was going through a bitter divorce.”…

March 4th, 2011

A while back Tara Parker-Pope wrote a New York Times piece about the high toll of technology over-dependence that’s worth mentioning: With immediate access to information and online storage galore, are we getting more impatient… and more forgetful?
Typically, the concern about our dependence on technology is that it detracts from our time with family and friends in the real world. But psychologists have become intrigued by a more subtle and insidious effect of our online interactions. It may be that the immediacy of the Internet, the efficiency of the iPhone and the anonymity of the chat room change the core of who we are, issues that Dr. Aboujaoude explores in a book, “Virtually You: The…

March 3rd, 2011
Why Understanding Your Values Is the First Step to Success

What are your values? And do you live them every day? These may seem like simple questions, but some honest introspection can lead to big changes in your day-to-day choices about work, volunteering, money and relationships.

March 2nd, 2011

A few weeks back, I blogged about new research that found, when searching for a relationship partner, we tend to gravitate toward people who are like us — because we’re looking for approval from our peer-group… and perfect strangers. The conclusion was that social information cues matter: We don’t live in a vacuum, and community matters. Researchers in England and Denmark just released even more research to support the idea that the opinions of others matter.
Reports medicalnewstoday.com
Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) in collaboration with Aarhus University in Denmark have found that the ‘reward’ area…

February 24th, 2011

When I was a ‘tween and teenager, I had two best friends. The three of us were our own little clique — inseparable and bonded in a sisterly way. Having two best friends instead of one caused some problems, sure, because there was often a tension between who was closest to whom, but generally, it worked. We were the Three Muskateers. We were Heuy, Dewey and Louie. We sat in the same place in the hallway of our middle- and high-school, we helped each other with homework, we had sleepovers and weekend adventures our albums are now filled with photos from confirmations to graduations to weddings.
As an adult, however, I’m blessed to have expanded that friendship circle to at least six women (not to mention…

February 23rd, 2011

Opposites attract, right?
It’s one of the myths marriage and family sociologists love to shatter: While Hollywood has romantic notions of maids in Manhattan finding love among the affluent, the truth is that assorative mating–the idea that we pair up with people quite similar to ourselves in terms of education, race, class and religious background–still rules.
New research in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior… takes this one step further: The reason why we tend to gravitate toward people who are like us is that we’re looking for approval from our peer-group… and perfect strangers.
Reports ScienceDaily: 
Many people like to think they have discriminating

February 19th, 2011

Childbearing outside marriage is on the rise, with some 40% of all births to unwed mothers. And more than half of unplanned pregnancies occur among women who were not using any form of contraception the month they conceived. Were all of those women just being careless?
According to new research, led by Julia McQuillan at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, some women are trying to conceive, others are trying not to conceive — but a significant proportion of women, both unmarried and married, don’t fall into either category: They’re OK with either outcome. And to understand the new realities of American fertility means learning more about these women and their choices.

February 17th, 2011
Wise, tenacious, and fearless self-help

How do I stop procrastinating?
Where do I find a meaningful relationship?
How do I ace a job interview?
What do I do with a roommate who hates me?
And what am I really working toward in my life — what’s my purpose?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 25, then chances are you’ve asked yourself these questions. The last few years have been pretty tough for young adults: The economic downtown means that jobs are harder to find after graduation and all these life-skills and personal questions have become a lot more important.

Should I work at a job I hate just because it pays more than the career I really love?
Is this all there is in life?

Sound familiar? If so, you’re a member of Generation WTF…

February 16th, 2011

Here’s a plot of a future James Bond movie: The evil female character is lulled into trusting Bond after he spikes her drink with oxytocin, a brain hormone that gives her the warm-and-fuzzies. When her partner in crime realizes what’s happened, he drops the antidote-testosterone-into her mouth and she’s off to attack the world once more.
In 2005, Swiss researchers found in that a squirt of oxytocin would make players in an investment game more trusting. And recently, researchers at Utrecht University in Holland report that they have identified an antidote: Testosterone.
Reports the Independent of London:
The researchers found that when testosterone is administered as a small, one-off…

February 14th, 2011

Writing about the repetition in men’s magazines earlier this week made me look back at my research on men’s and women’s magazines from more than a decade ago. A few points to note:
1) Repetition isn’t anything new in the gendered magazine world. Cosmopolitan has been doing it for ages. In the January 1990 issue, a cover story announces: ‘Go North Young Woman! Alaska is Teeming with Eligible Men.’ The article features AlaskaMen magazine, a catalog of eligible bachelors hoping to find a mate. As Cosmo… explains, “America’s last frontier is teeming with bachelors.” Just five years later, it seems the lonely guys in Alaska put in another bid. In April 1995 issue,

February 9th, 2011

Gawker recently reported that Men’s Health magazine was recycling cover stories – and selling readers nearly identical covers – with messages of physical inadequacy. Men’s Health has four topics that it routinely features, Gawker proves with terrific graphics: “Six Pack Abs,” “Lose Your Gut,” “Get Back in Shape” and “Flat-Belly Foods.”
In an age of obesity, that’s as good of a sore spot as any to poke and prod relentlessly: Your abs are not flat, so you are a bad person.
Comments the sociologists at Contexts.org
“The degree to which cover lines can be reused, and content is interchangeable, underscores the degree…

February 5th, 2011

Think you’re too busy to read a good book, have a quiet hour with your spouse or go to the gym five days a week? You’re not, you just choose to spend too much of your time on unimportant and less rewarding activities, argues Laura Vanderkam in her book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.…
Every week, you–and everyone else–get 168 hours in which to work, sleep, exercise, do chores, run errands, spend time with your kids and save the world. Let’s say you work 50 hours a week and then sleep for 8 hours a night, that still leaves 62 hours to do other things. Sure, you’ve got to commute, bathe and do chores, but 62 hours is a lot of time. What exactly are you doing with it?
Odds are, you

February 3rd, 2011
Money talks in relationships

Relationships experts often tell young couples that as things get “serious” it’s important to have some conversations about money. But what exactly should you talk about during that conversation? Are you going to lay down your W-2s and 1099s to compare numbers? Are you going to have amorphous discussions about money that are really more about who’s the power broker in the relationship? Fights about money are rarely about the dollars and cents themselves and typically more reflective of some other disconnect in your relationship. So I’d like to offer a new spin on this “money talk” advice: Before you start talking numbers, take a moment to look inward and figure…

February 2nd, 2011

For years I’ve written about the increase in women’s college and professional school graduation rates. But never have I seen the data so starkly displayed as it is on Prof. Mark J. Perry’s blog, Carpe Diem.
He rightly notes that
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of University and College Women’s Centers across the country, here is a partial list. A Google search of “College Women’s Centers” finds almost 6,000 links on the Web. A Google search of “College Men’s Centers” finds almost no links on the Internet (a few hundred, now including this post), and asks the question: Did you mean: “College Women’s Centers”?
And he

January 29th, 2011

Scientific American has a fun podcast on one of the more irksome elements of modern life: Hearing half of the inane conversation of a fellow passenger on mass transportation.
Researchers have found that it is more distracting to listen to half of a conversation — dubbed a halfalogue — than it is to listen to two people chatting in front of you. Although, as someone who spends a lot of time working at coffee shops, it’s really distracting to a) listen to someone get fired; b) hear to one woman offer bad dating advice to another woman; and c) try to focus when two men are discussing their weight-lifting regimens – and the importance of interspersing yoga three days a week – in very loud voices.…

January 26th, 2011

I don’t have a BlackBerry or an iPhone. I know, I know, it’s absurd that I’ve gone this long without the pacifier-tether that is a handheld device. So when I complain about friends and family who use these gadgets at dinner, the theater, in meetings and beyond, I usually get written off as a Luddite.
Which is why I love when others kick up a fuss about this issue, too. Christine Pearson’s New York Times piece was picked up by newspapers nationwide this weekend, and I caught it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette….
Electronic devices lead to more incivility because of their powerful ability to claim our attention — no matter where we are or what we’re doing. No one likes to be snubbed,

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