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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.
August 28th, 2006
Bridezilla is Born : How fine china and fluffy towels turned me into a monster

Among the first pieces of advice for the newly engaged couple is to set up a wedding registry as soon as possible. If you don’t, you’ll get six toasters and some terrible ceramic statuettes, the guidebooks warn. There are a lot of decisions to be made—and all the gender-neutral terminology in the world can’t hide the fact that this is clearly intended to be woman’s work. Some stores (like Bloomingdale’s) are honest: They call it the Bridal Registry. It’s shopping, it’s girly, and while the man can hold the official Bridal Registry bar code zapper gun, it’s the woman who is supposed to make the big decisions.
If you think “big decisions” should…

August 4th, 2006
Do I have to go to confession for attending Madonna's Confessions tour?

When Madonna’s Confession’s Tour came to New York City last week, I was one of the screaming fans in a jam-packed Madison Square Garden. I’ve wanted to go to Madonna concert since 1994 when my father forbid me to attend her Bedtime Stories tour. Now I feel like it’s time for me to make some confessions.
Papa Does Preach
“My money isn’t going to support a Catholic-hater,” Dad said as he refused to give permission to attend the concert with my friends. I was 17 and thought my parents were Draconian in their rules and regulations.
I was going to pay for it with my allowance money, I argued. No dice: It was still our family money going to support a woman who the Pope had accused of…

August 4th, 2006
Do's and Don'ts: How to Avoid Jealousy in your "Opposite Sex" Friendships

Perhaps it was because I went to an all girls’ school, but when I got to college, most of my closest friends were guys. I’ve got great photos of me being held up by six boys from our school newspaper and of formals and parties with me as the only woman among a sea of tuxedos. Yet as we’ve gotten older, our friendships have changed. We’re less likely to hang out a deux; we’re more likely to turn events into double dates or group parties. There’s a fine line that men and women tread when they want to preserve opposite-sex friendships-and keep significant other’s from getting jealous.
According to our recent survey, 79% of BustedHalo respondents said they have gotten jealous…

July 30th, 2006
Can a guy and a girl be 'just friends'?

Opposite-sex friendships are great, and can be completely uncomplicated. Or they can get you into a whole heap of trouble.
Sometimes a movie hits a chord in the collective conscience of a generation: The 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally did just that.
Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do…
Harry: You only think you do.
As young adults attend co-ed colleges and…

July 15th, 2006
The Handbag Problem A.K.A. Advice on How To Be a Great "Date"

John was attending a work cocktail party with his girlfriend Angie when they had a fight. Angie attends receptions for her job all the time, but this was the first time she’d been to a business function of John’s. He introduced her to his colleagues as “my date” or “my girlfriend”—but she felt like people were looking right past her. “I was a decorative accessory or an unnecessary appendage,” she said.
After a few drinks to compensate for the awkwardness, she started to introduce herself to people as “John’s handbag”—the accessory. People laughed nervously. By the third time she’d told one of John’s colleagues…

July 4th, 2006
Rules of Engagement: Hitching a ride on the Wedding Train

In March of last year, I met a handsome, witty man named Peter at a black-tie charity benefit in New York City and we talked until the wee hours of the morning. From the start, I knew this was a special relationship. It was simple. We communicated well. He made me laugh and treated me with love and respect. He was a talker—and a great listener. And after about six months, I was pretty sure this was it: Peter and I were in love, and I hoped someday we might get married.
Around this time I received a piece of great advice: Think about what being married means—and think about it now, while you are calm and thoughtful—because once you get engaged, the Wedding Train rolls out of the station and can become a runaway…

June 19th, 2006
The "Arguments" for Premarital Sex... and the down-to-earth responses you should know

I gave a talk recently on sex and dating to a group of Catholic 15- and 16-year-olds in New York City. Since my normal audience is young-adults—Catholics in their 20s and 30s—I planned to write a talk that focused on the most innocent parts of dating, geared for teens: some dating advice, good communication skills and a bit about why the Church wants us to abstain from sex until marriage.
I was really surprised to learn that the majority of my teenaged audience was already sexually active. While not all of the kids were actually having intercourse, all but a few were sexually knowledgeable and believed that sex was a necessary part of a dating relationship. As one boy put it, “if we’re not ‘doing…

June 5th, 2006
Catholic Do's and Don'ts: A Guide for Wedding Guests

The wedding season is upon us and BustedHalo readers have written in with great questions about religious protocol as we celebrate our friends’ marriages. Does attending a Saturday evening wedding at church of another Christian denomination “count” as going to church for the week-or do you have to go again the next day at a Catholic church? Can you take communion at a non-Catholic wedding? And do you participate in the blessings and rituals of other faiths?
Here’s a quick guide:
What counts as “going to church?”
You attend a 5 p.m. communion wedding ceremony for two Episcopalian friends of yours. The prayers and readings are similar to the Catholic Mass, but the communion…

May 22nd, 2006
Advice from Celibate Clergy

Since I began writing this column, scores of readers have emailed me asking for personal advice. I always offer whatever thoughts I can, and usually end letters by recommending that they speak with their priest or someone else within their church community for more detailed and ongoing advice.

Along the way, I began to wonder about this. Can a celibate clergy really give good advice to young-adults about relationships and sexuality? We recently asked the readers of BustedHalo to share their thoughts—and an enormous number of you answered.
Faith & Sex
Discussions about sexuality and relationships are alive and well within the church community: 42% of female and 58% of male respondents to our Pure…

May 8th, 2006
Marriage and Holy Orders: An Anglican Wedding Prompts Questions for Catholics

On the Friday after Easter I attended the wedding of my friends Andrea and Simon in Oxford, England. Andrea and Simon are both studying to be vicars, so they have many friends and teachers within the Anglican Church. In fact, there were more than 150 priests in attendance on that Friday afternoon as the couple took the sacrament of holy marriage in a nuptial mass, and Andrea’s father, a reverend, officiated.
The Catholic Church has a long way to go before we’d see a similar wedding in our Church, but it was so high-church (lots of incense, formal hymns, etc.) I could envision it. It made me reconsider the importance of talking about marriage and Holy Orders as sacraments that might one day be considered…

April 24th, 2006
Updating the Best of Pure Sex, Pure Love's First Year

For more than a year, I’ve been writing the Pure Sex, Pure Love column for BustedHalo. We’ve covered some big topics: When to bring up your faith in a new relationship, how to make sure you are being open to meeting the right person, and, of course, the thorny topics of sex – is premarital sex always a sin, and how far is too far when it comes to intimacy before marriage?
As a social scientist, I’ve used online polls to get a sense of what BustedHalo readers think about these topics. Through the answers I receive, I hope to take a snapshot of the opinions of the young-adult Catholic community as a whole.
Usually, the poll for the upcoming column is posted alongside the previous week’s column.…

March 30th, 2006
Impure Thoughts: What are they and where do they come from?

The Bible tells us “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 26:7) and the Buddha is quoted as saying “What we think, we become.” Our minds are powerful tools, so it’s fair to ask the question: what counts as an impure thought? Why are these thoughts wrong? And isn’t just thinking it better than doing it?
Indeed, this is a hot topic. A record number of respondents filled out our recent BustedHalo survey on impure thoughts—and young-adult Catholics aren’t always in agreement with the experts.
Impure or forbidden thoughts include sexual fantasies, violence against others or ourselves, cheating, divorce, rape, and other behaviors that we think of…

March 6th, 2006
Give up yourself this Lent and strengthen your relationships at the same time

At age 16, I told my father I was giving up going to church for Lent. At 19, I told him I was giving up my virginity for Lent. In the end, I was never that rebellious: I usually gave up chocolate, but it was a whole lot of fun to torment my ever-patient father.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized you don’t have to give up something for Lent. The Lenten period is a time where we prepare to remember Christ’s death and celebrate his resurrection to new life. We’re supposed to think about the ways we can strengthen our faith and help others as God comes to give us a second chance.
There are three parts of Lenten preparation, says Father Dave Dwyer of the Paulists: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He gives…

February 18th, 2006
How Can Churches Help Young Catholics Find Their Match?

So you’re single and looking for love. What’s on your list? Does she have to be beautiful, smart and funny? Does he have to be caring, tall and handsome? What about the bigger things: Does she share your dreams for the future? Does he want to have a family? And on this list of must-haves in your true love, where does religion come in?

“Every time you slice the pie again, the potential piece you are looking for gets smaller and smaller,” a 29-year-old woman recently said to me recently. “Did God really intend for it to be this difficult for me to find a man who shares my faith and who I want to kiss?”
The Un-Guide
Todd Hertz and Camerin Courtney address this and other challenges of faith-based…

February 6th, 2006
Pure Sex Pure Love #20

A few weeks ago Pope Benedict delivered his first encyclical — a papal letter to the universal Church — entitled Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).
OK, so he probably wasn’t talking about Whitman’s-Sampler-in-a-heart-shaped-box kind of Valentine’s Day love, but bear with me: There are many languages of love.
Our faith tells us that the longing we feel for love — from our family, our spouse, and our friends — is, at core, a longing for God’s love. Why can we never be satisfied with the gifts of love that special someone gives us? Because they are human, and we’re searching for a greater love.
Body and Soul
“We speak of love of country, love of one’s…

January 23rd, 2006
The M-Bomb

Conventional wisdom has it that a woman, ever-obsessed with getting married, starts pairing her first name with his last name before the end of date #1—and will be the one to bring up the initial suggestion of marriage as a hope for the future. The first part is true: Rare is the woman who hasn’t (at least once) started plotting the romantic fairytale ending of a relationship in her head before the end of the first act. But my research finds that the second part is false: If the relationship is moving in that direction, it’s men, not women, who will bring up that first, tentative conversation about marriage.
More than 90% of BustedHalo respondents said they believed that women were usually the first…

January 9th, 2006
Turn Your Cablight On: Advice for Catholic Dating from a Jewish New York City Dating Expert

Certain religions seem to be more interested in helping young adults date within their faith. Every synagogue seems to have a matchmaker. For those in the Mormon faith, every big city has a church dedicated to bringing singles together. But Catholics don’t seem to do as much of this sort of thing.
I live on the Upper West Side in New York City, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, and over the years I’ve been fascinated (and a bit jealous) about the number of ways local young-adult Jews have to meet others who share their faith. There are very active websites like jdate, frumster and sawyouatsini.com. There are dozens of married women who act as matchmakers and make introductions between eligible singles.…

November 15th, 2005
Advice on love and marriage from those who've been there and done it

As a relationship columnist, people often ask me for advice, and, most of the time, I’ve got a lot to say. I’ve got plenty of opinions on topics ranging from first-date etiquette and how to navigate those new feelings of love to body language and how far is too far. But when it comes to how to make a marriage work, and how love changes over decades, children, good times and bad, I need as much advice as the rest of you.
So I asked several older-marrieds to share their advice for us young up-and-comers. Here are their top five (with many extras) pointers:
#1: Love Changes through the Years
“When we first got married, we were two survivors looking for a life boat; anything looked like a potential oar. He wanted…

November 3rd, 2005
This Thing Called Love

The Beatles sang “All you need is love,” but didn’t give us a whole lot more to work with. Movies, novels and television shows all offer their own interpretation of what love means. But none of them ever quite captured it for me. Is it really love only if you feel butterflies in your stomach and don’t sleep at night? Should you do silly things, or can you make thoughtful decisions and still be in love?
In previous columns we’ve talked about when and how to say I love you, and some of the challenges young adults face as they search for a life partner. This is part of our Pure Sex, Pure Love ongoing series focusing on that big little word. What is love-and why is it so important?
A Brief History…

October 17th, 2005
WARNING: Quizzes in Women's Magazines May Be Harmful to Your Relationship

Do you enjoy having houseplants, but your boyfriend thinks they should be kept outside? Does she prefer subtitles at foreign films, but you prefer dubbed voice? And do you like a living room with wall-to-wall carpeting, but he prefers wood floors? According to a personal compatibility quiz in the fall issue of Tango, a new magazine about relationships, if you and your significant other disagree on a few of these trivial items, the verdict isn’t good: “Sorry, you two just don’t seem to be compatible,” the magazine reports.
But next to it on the newsstands you will also find a recent issue of Redbook offering a quiz to “find out if you’ve really found Mr. Right.” This…

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