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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.
October 7th, 2005

Americans have never lacked for advice. From 17th-century Puritan treatises on avoiding the wrath of God to 21st-century paperbacks on breaking the cycle of codependency, pushy prose has told them what to do and how to do it. In the process, it has shaped the norms of American culture, sometimes even to the good. Most self-help books are markers of short-lived fads, but some, like M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled,” are credited with inspiring millions. The book spent more than 13 years — years, not weeks — on the New York Times best-seller list. Dr. Peck, who died last week at the age of 69, was the last of the 20th-century self-help giants. Like Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent…

October 4th, 2005
Growing and Changing in Faith – Together?

In our last BustedHalo poll, we asked how you would handle it if your spouse became significantly more—or less—religious. That question seems to have hit a nerve—and I’m not surprised. As young adults growing into our faith, we are still exploring and changing. Sometimes that means that we will grow closer to God or evolve in our understanding of how we should be living our faith in our everyday lives.
Marriage doesn’t mean the end of personal change—if you are committing the next 60 years to someone, you’d better believe some changes are in store!—and in so many respects, that’s the beauty and craziness of marriage. You are binding yourself to another…

September 20th, 2005
The L-Word: Why does this simple emotion trip us up all the time?

In the midst of a full-on argument with my college boyfriend, I told him I loved him for the first time. He’d been shouting, I’d been crying and yelling, and in trying to explain why I was so upset, I unintentionally blurted out the L-word, bringing the whole fight to a halt.
It’s three little words. I love you. Yet it reduces the most confident among us to sputtering, the most secure among us to paranoia. While I wouldn’t recommend confessing your love for the first time with mascara all over your face and a ball of wet tissues in your clenched fist, there’s not a whole lot of guidance about this early stage of romance.
How Do You Know For Sure?
How long does it take to fall in love? How do you…

September 10th, 2005
Facts and Feelings: Why Getting to Know Someone Takes Time -- and Not Just a Background Search

In .2 seconds I can do a Google search on anyone. For some people, long lists of hits appear. For others, it’ll just be genealogies of random unrelated folks who share the same name and posted a family website. But it always turns up something.
Googling potential dates or new love interests has become commonplace. It’s fun, informative and a great way to procrastinate. But it underscores the fact that we want to know everything we can about someone in the most efficient way possible. While this is good in the business world, it can cause problems in your personal life. I offer this cautionary tale:
Deep Background
Two years ago I was set up on a blind date by a friend-of-a-friend. Blind Date guy and I exchanged…

August 20th, 2005
If you are committed to remaining a virgin until marriage, where do you draw the line on physical intimacy?

Dozens of you responded to our most recent Pure Sex, Pure Love survey about sexual intimacy before marriage-and expressed diverse opinions. Some readers said kissing, handholding and hugging are the only acceptable forms of intimacy before marriage. Other readers said anything short of intercourse is acceptable within a committed relationship.
According to the Church, sex should be reserved for marriage. It’s a rule, and as rules go, it’s pretty black and white. But what is “sex”-and where is the line between acceptable physical intimacy before marriage and out-of-bounds sin? Is making out OK? Clothes off? Oral sex?
Several recent polls of college students – including…

July 7th, 2005
Is Premarital Sex ALWAYS a Sin?

Jen, a 26-year-old BustedHalo reader, was seriously dating her boyfriend when they decided to have sex. This relationship “felt different,” she said, and after a lot of thought, she felt that the relationship was blessed by God. “I knew that it was OK. I didn’t end up marrying that man, but even so, with my 20/20 hindsight, I still know that it wasn’t sinful. It was a way of loving God through this other person. In some instances, it was a form of prayer.” While the Church has unambiguous rules about sex outside of marriage, many practicing Catholics have chosen to have premarital sex. They defend—and worry—about their decisions in a variety of ways.
In the last few weeks, I’ve asked BustedHalo…

June 30th, 2005
Let's Talk About Sex: The Argument for Chastity

C.S. Lewis wrote that chastity is the most unpopular of Christian virtues. Yet apparently, we like to talk about it: Dozens of you responded to our BustedHalo survey about premarital sex—and had a lot to say. The Catholic Church tells us that sex should be reserved for marriage, and needs to serve the dual purposes of procreation and the sacramental joining of husband and wife in the bond of marriage. But as intelligent individuals with free will, we wonder what this means for our own lives while many unmarried couples in committed relationships also wonder where the appropriate line is for them. These are honest questions—and too often the Church shies away from discussing them.This column will be the first…

May 1st, 2005
Public displays of affection: Should a woman take her husband's name, and should a man wear a wedding ring?

Among the many decisions a couple makes on their way to the altar, two choices are very public—and tell us a lot about changing social norms: Will she take his last name and will he wear a wedding ring?
Today more women legally change their names and more men wear wedding bands than they did just 15 years ago. Why? And will these superficial, but very public, signs of commitment help us better live out our sacramental vows?
In 1975, about 4% of college graduate women kept their maiden names once married. That figure rose sharply in the late 1970s and 1980s, according to Harvard professor Claudia Goldin, as women increasingly “made a name” for themselves in higher education and the workplace before often-later…

April 20th, 2005
If it’s this difficult, can it really be love?

Over dinner recently, a close friend told me she was second-guessing her three-year relationship. While she and her boyfriend were very committed to each other, they had been living in different countries for the last year. Through her new church, she’d made many friends—and met a few new guys.
“I love my boyfriend, but it’s been so long since we’ve been together that I’m not sure if it’s right anymore,” she confessed over dinner recently. “We are really struggling. I keep asking myself: If it’s this hard, can it really be love?”
Those of us in our 20s and 30s will date for longer and get married later than our parents did. On average, we will date for two years before marriage (with fewer than…

April 10th, 2005
Pure Sex, Pure Love

Here’s a trick to try out on your next date: During dinner, start playing with something on your side of the table like the salt shaker or the candle. After a little while, gently push it over to the other side of the table. Now watch what happens: If your date pushes it back to your side of the table, s/he’s just not that into you. If they leave it, or play with it, it’s called mirroring—one of the many unconscious ways we display our interest in someone.
Welcome to the world of flirting where subtle body language speaks volumes and where first impressions are usually right. Are you aware of the signals you’re sending?
In his new book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores the power of first impressions.…

March 29th, 2005
When is the right time to bring up religion in a relationship?

Cindy and Peter met in January and they hit it off instantly. They were both into mystery novels and had long dinners debating politics. They started seeing each other twice or three times a week, had lots to talk about and great chemistry. And since they were both in their 30s, Cindy says things were moving pretty fast. About a month into the relationship, Peter invited Cindy to brunch on Sunday, and she said it would have to be a late brunch because she was doing a reading at the 11 a.m. Mass at her church. “He was shocked, and a whole big discussion came up,” Cindy told me over coffee recently. “It turned out that he’s not religious at all, and doesn’t have much respect for people who are.…

March 10th, 2005
Why Girls Watch Sex & the City: It's more than the shoes, boys

Last summer, my boyfriend broke up with me. It was one of those almost-perfect relationships where you are well matched in everything, but there’s just no spark. Immediately I sent out an email to a dozen girlfriends titled “Emergency Girls Drinks.” I’d been dumped, I said, and I needed some support. These were 12 busy women – junior ambassadors, business executives and new mothers – but they all cancelled their plans to meet me at a local bar. One ordered champagne to toast to my freedom. Another listed all the reasons why I was too fabulous for him anyway. And by the end of the night I was laughing, not crying.Now that Sex and the City is on basic cable, the dating traumas, frank discussions…

March 5th, 2005
BustedHalo's new column on dating, relationships and marriage

There are more than 4,000 dating and relationship self-help books in print. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold 30 million copies worldwide. And last month, relationship guru Dr. Phil McGraw hosted a primetime special on CBS where he placed a hidden transmitter in some guy’s ear and coached him through a date.
Dating and relationships are tough?and apparently we’re all looking for some advice. As young Catholics, we face our own set of challenges, but most relationship advice books, columns and TV shows won’t come anywhere near issues of faith.
So that’s where I come in.
Welcome to a new column on BustedHalo devoted to questions about dating, relationships and marriage…

January 30th, 2005
Overqualified for Love: Are high achieving women at a disadvantage when looking for a spouse?

Emily is a tall 29-year-old blonde with great fashion sense who knows the bouncers at New York’s hippest clubs. She graduated from an Ivy-League university with high honors in economics and went to a prestigious business school for her MBA. Now she’s moving up the ranks at an investment bank. In her spare time, she’s a painter—and hopes to launch her first gallery opening this year. She’s beautiful, successful and has a full social life. She appears to be a woman who has everything. But her relationships just never work out. Men date her for a while, but then when things get serious, tell her she’s just not the type they are looking for. And she doesn’t see what she’s…

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