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Dollar Rich but Time (and Relationship) Poor Americans: A Way Out?

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Forming and developing relationships takes time not money. In the U.S. we are great at making money, running businesses and increasing productivity, and have  57 Nobel Laureates in Economics to prove it. The rest of the world agrees and beats a path to our universities to learn how.  Though we are the richest nation in history, however, our people don’t get much paid vacation, and more than half don’t use the small amount they do get! Contrast this with Western Europe where most take August off for family vacation time. I myself, an immigrant from Ireland, was struck by this difference and concluded that “Americans live to work while Europeans work to live.”

Is there any connection here with the fact that America is in deep relationship crisis: only 46% of our children grow up in a family with both parents present all the time? For Black Americans it is only 17%! As a culture we excel at work and income but fail miserably in relationships even as we are very generous with our money.

We lead in helping to pull the world’s remaining half billion out of extreme poverty, yet are digging a cultural grave for ourselves as the  Senate’s alarming report, Trends in Deaths of Despair (aka suicide) reveals. For the U.S. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s remark holds true: “There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.”

Yet, there may be a way of harnessing our “work” strength to resolve our relationship weakness. 

Recently I had an epiphany while trying to help a friend who had “screwed up” his marriage and family life. He was trying hard to put it back together, but in his anxiety was jumping all over the place and getting nowhere except into deeper trouble. I was close to throwing in the towel, for nothing I did helped. Then a grace came: “What are the most important relationships in your life?” I asked.  He answered, “God and my wife.” Then I said, “Why not ask your wife ‘What is the one thing I can do for you today that will bring our relationship closer to what you want it to be?’ He liked that. He has been doing it every day and says his wife reports their relationship is the best it has been for years! By prioritizing the work involved around the needs of their relationship he sped ahead.

Then it occurred to him to go further: why not look at all the other relationships in his life and, mentally, ask and answer the same question for his children (one by one), his boss (i.e. his work), and so on.  Soon he had all his tasks rank-ordered but in a way that fit both “U.S. productivity” standards as well as his own need to have the people in his life happier with him.

He concluded: “There is no point doing anything before “the single most needed thing” in any of these relationships.”  When he surveyed them all, he found he had his whole life covered! In order of importance and with peace in his soul.

I have been mulling this over and applying it. Here is what I have learned so far:

  • All our tasks (productivity) can be looked at relationally.    
  • Simultaneously every important relationship has a task waiting to bring it to the next level.
  • Relationships give us the most productive rank-ordering of what we should be doing.  Everybody (wife, bosses, friends, God) will likely agree with the ordering.
  • Our productivity will soar, for we will be at peace and able to concentrate.
  • It is a fine way “to love your neighbor”.

The experiment is still ongoing for me and for my friend. I suspect that with constant practice it will have a profound re-orienting effect.  I wish I had “discovered” it when I was much younger. I would have lived my life differently — with better work and richer relationships. 

Hillbilly Elegy: The Power of an Attachment beyond Mother’s or Father’s

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I recently listened to J.D.Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and given Faith and Family Finding’s recent exploration of attachment research, I found that a blessing for I heard the story differently.  

In spite of Appalachian poverty, family violence and addiction, and his mother’s five husbands, Vance and his sister end well: he with a Yale Law degree and a beautiful wife; she with a peaceful marriage.

Despite the violence and drugs, there were two secret ingredients: one, the deep attachment of virtually all in the family of origin to each other, and to their culture and place, and, two, the care of his maternal grandparents, who had overcome, somewhat, their own problems of addiction and violence.  Both grandparents played a big role in Vance’s image of what he could be. They sternly propped him up, always with massive doses of affection and the assurance that he always had a home — their home. ‘Mawmaw’ his grandmother, was the deepest influence. Originally a scandal to her family, pregnant at age 14, she fled Appalachia with her young husband and settled in the booming town of Middletown, Ohio. 

The human heart is made to belong, and Vance was instinctively aware of it throughout his young, struggling childhood.  Though close to going under a few times, he continued to strive. He was bright, both intellectually (Yale Law) and socially (he could read the situations well), but he also had a few saviors, his sister and Mawmaw, who was anchor for them both.  Feeling unprepared for college, he joined the Marines to toughen up. Heart, intellect and a secure base (Mawmaw and the Marines), these have given the world a great talent, who now is devoting himself to helping others have the same.

If you have not read the book, I recommend it.  Ron Howard, whose movie version comes out in 2020, has a good record in directing biographies, letting the truth of the story come out through his lens. 

I hope Howard is inspired to explore the life of Vance’s sister Lindsay, who, with a preternatural calm and prudence, repeatedly protected him before his own abilities kicked in.  She went on to marry a good man and raise a sizeable family. Women like her, hidden in the background, constantly build and renew the world.

For the good of the child, the future of the world,

Pat Fagan

What is Your Attachment Style, Dad?

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Is your attachment style a help or hindrance to your son’s future capacity for intimacy with the woman he will marry? 

Our capacity to belong to others is shaped by our early experiences of security or fear in the big relationships of our childhood.

John Bowlby began attachment theory with an accumulation of insights, starting in the 1950’s. This perspective has progressed enormously in both developmental psychology and in its application to individual and marital therapy (emotionally focused therapy).

The basic insights are well within the grasp of ordinary people, and by observing the patterns of those they are close to (parents, siblings, friends, co-workers) they can get a sense of the different styles and then begin to reflect on what their own might be.  Though there are many subdivisions, the three main styles are:

  1. Securely attached
  2. Insecure Anxious
  3. Insecure Avoidant 

The securely attached are at ease with appropriate intimacies with family and friends. They are easy to confide in and are at ease confiding in others.  They are not driven nor constrained by unfounded fears of the other in front of them.

The two basic forms of insecure attachments are ways of handling fears provoked whenever someone is getting “too close”.  Some call the Insecure-Anxious the “Protestor” because their anxiety often takes a slightly angry form and they “protest” a lot.  The Insecure-Avoidant type is sometimes called a “Withdrawer”, for they pull back a lot. 

Naturally, it is much better for a boy to have a father who has the capacity to be securely attached to his son, shows affection with ease and delights in affirming his son’s development.  A father who protests his son’s behavior a lot is likely either to drive his son away in avoidant withdrawal or to make him anxious and defensive (protestor). Neither does the father who is withdrawn and fearful of expressing his affection or affirmation generate a sense of security in his son.  

However, many fathers, given their own upbringing are protestors or withdrawers, through no fault of their own.  What can they do about it? 

First, they can become aware of what a “protestor” looks like and what an “withdrawer” looks like by observing or recollecting those they know well: their mother, their father, their individual brothers and sisters; their wife and their wife’s family members.  (It will be wise not to comment on what they deduce but just learn quietly so that they can figure out what their own pattern is. Insecure patterns were created to guard against the pain expected or feared. It is best to tread lightly here and stay silent.)  

Another way fathers can learn what their style is, is to ask trusted friends or relatives what they observe and think.  Of course, this assumes enough security to approach that friend. But overcoming the fear is worth it.

Whatever our styles and the early relationships that molded them, as adults, we have the power and chance to deliberately alter the pattern with our children (and with our spouse).  

A son needs to be at ease with his father if he is to accept what his father says on matters sexual as he goes through adolescence.  Sexuality is designed for intimacy and creativity, so the son’s rating of his father’s capacity for intimacy will color his receptivity (probably subconsciously, but powerfully).  Thus, a protesting or withdrawing father needs to deliberately adopt a new style (which takes study and effort) at least with his son and for his son’s sake. The earlier, the better.

How can a father change? If his marriage is in decent (“good enough”) shape but he spots things he would like to change, his wife can help him (and benefit herself) by the study and discussion of a few books.  One to explore, first on the marriage front: Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage by therapist Jesse Gill.  By “looking inside” on Amazon, one can read most of the first chapter and decide whether to follow through.    Another good read is the well-told, autobiographical story of Jed Diamond, also a therapist, My Distant Dad. It details his own trials and disasters as he groped his way towards healing a deep wound, though not before causing many wounds along the way.  But he has helped thousands since. 

If your own life is “good enough” these books go beyond your needs but are a good way to see the basics in action. Another, less discriminating way is to pick and choose videos on “attachment” on You Tube. The objective is for all is to become sensitive to how easy or difficult we are to be close to, and how that is shaping our children’s capacity for a happy marriage, and our sons’ abilities to trust their father on sex and marriage. 

It is a basic knowledge we all need.  Everyone benefits.

Man’s Most Basic Need: The Need to Belong

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All our Faith and Family Findings of the last few months drive home the most basic fact about man: We are made to belong. And, cannot belong just to ourselves. 

 Our capacity to be attached appropriately to the important people in our lives (spouses, children, friends and our colleagues at work) determines our happiness. Yet, our capacity to be attached to others is primarily a product of how attached to us our mother was, which in turn is largely a product of her experiences of attachment in her earliest years.  Granted, biological hardwiring of the child has a big effect on how a mother responds to her infant’s need for attachment. Some infants are easier to hold and enjoy. But it is those who are not so easy to enjoy who that affection they seem to reject even as they cry for it.  

So much can be unpacked from the data of our recent Findings: the mothers need for a husband (and extended family) who take special care of her as these huge new demands are put on her and the husband’s capacity to take second place to a newborn in his wife’s new life of “distributing affection”. (The first birth is the occasion that triggers more divorces than any other life event – or so the data showed about 15 years ago.  I have not seen any contrary data since).  

From the mix of our early attachment experiences, combined with our neurological make-up, four main styles of attachment influence arise that shape our relationship dominant style for the rest of our lives: secure attachment (easy to get along with plus a capacity to  accept people as they are); anxious attachment (wanting and seeking attachment but never feeling fulfilled because of a fear of not being lovable enough); avoidant attachment style (keeping a distance, reaching out but with reservations, pulling back or with- holding commitment) and then anxious-avoidant (a mixture of anxiously reaching out and then pulling back).  

It is amazing to see in the data how pervasive these styles are in our relationships:  in romance and marriage; in the “ordinary” settings of work; biologically on the immune system, longevity, capacity to handle stress and even on the capacity to deal with psychosis!  

We are made to belong, and the good life is to belong securely with those who are most important to us in life.   The growing concern is “How to get there?” One of the greatest mystics in human history (recognized so across all religions) is John of the Cross …so named for his penetration of the meaning of suffering (and he experienced many severe rejections from those most important to his life).  His guidance: “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.” 

Behavioral psychologists already know how to help anxious or avoidant mothers break the intergenerational cycle of insecure attachment —not by eliminating the insecurity in the mother, but by teaching her how to act in an attached way towards her infant child (despite her feelings).  It works! John of the Cross and behavioral psychologists acting in tandem!

Given the breakdown in family and the almost culturally-normed experience of parental rejection that so many children have in our era,  we have an epidemic of detachment, evidenced, for instance, in the opioid epidemic, or in manifestations such as the sexual behavior the Japanese cohort of millennials no longer interested in marriage or romance or even in the opposite sex. Further, new discoveries in making the digital more reality like, and in the games derived, are adding quickly shaping  “detachment patterns” of adolescent addiction to the digital, non-relational life. 

Much beckons for all parents across the globe in learning how to stem detachment in their children and, instead, to help them be attached human beings.  Neurobiological insights will help and motivate. Cognitive behavioral discoveries in therapeutics will help, and stories from those who overcome these habits will help.  

We are entering a very new phase in human history: even as we conquer space and the atom and everything in between we are eroding our capacities for attachment.  But everything most human depends on attachment. The world will soon be starving for a solution. The data of Mapping America   indicates the way.

For the good of the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

The Body Language of Belonging

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Today’s findings are body-speak for man’s deepest need: the need to belong, and remind us of the famous sociological phenomenon, the Roseto Effect.  Roseto, Pennsylvania, was a virtual transplant of a people and culture of the town of Roseto in southeast Italy.  It kept the old country patterns of tight family and extended family ways of life , leading to a total integration of the generations, predictable habits of work, play, family and worship; interdependence on each other in times of need, marriage within the culture.  They belonged intensely to each other. And despite breaking all the dietary rules for cardiovascular health they had outstanding heart health, no crime and no requests for welfare assistance. They belonged intensely to each other and had a way of life that protected that belonging.  As one author pithily nailed it: “In short, Rosetans were nourished by people.”

As time went on, the more American they became, the more Rosetans’s health resembled the rest of the country.  Said differently, the less they belonged to each other the more their bodies revealed the stress. 

For both poor and rich the secret of a good life is the same:  base life on the important relationships of family and community rather than on “the task”.   The pursuit of close relationships yields plenty of tasks — the Rosetans of Pennsylvania worked harder and longer than did their neighboring towns; but the modern way of the pursuit of tasks for the goods they give (grades, degrees, fitness, income, property) does not yield close relationships.  To paraphrase a sacred text “Seek first the kingdom of closeness and all these other things will be added unto you.”

Traditional Italian life and Spanish life used to be quite similar in patterns of ‘people-belonging.” But modern Spain has made a Faustian bargain. Today, virtually all mothers, no matter their income level, return to work at month four.  Many deliberately avoid getting too attached to their newborn because they do not want to experience the wrenching anxiety that sudden separation will visit on them and their babies.  

What a Faustian bargain:  work for its own sake. Their household gods have certainly been replaced by a new religion.  Such a culture cannot replace itself. It is in a downward spiral. 

But maybe family love will be rediscovered by some divine intervention will intervene and let people discover close family again, especially in the newborn infant.  It certainly won’t be a government program.  

For the good of the child, the future of the world,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Faux Belonging

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To belong deeply some others is man’s deepest need.  It lasts beyond death.

First and foremost children need to belong to both their parents and thrive most when those parents belong to each other and to their children. Then  life is good, no matter the material circumstances.

In this week’s findings we see, yet again, the negative relationship between cohabitation and belonging.  It is a major disruptor of marriage and a predictor of instability in marriage if one has had more than one sexual partner. These data are getting old now. By the mid 1980’s Larry Bumpass (U Wisconsin) and Jay Teachman (then U Maryland) began to put their finger this bad news.  Since then the work of many but especially Scott Stanley has unpacked what is happening even when cohabitation results in marriage: “sliding not deciding”.  

In the absence of a moral or cultural authority the data make little impact and people suffer, none more than the children of the cohabiting couple. Twenty-five years into the future these children in their turn are much more likely to repeat the pattern.

Cohabitation is faux belonging and helps build a faux society with more and more faux relationships. 

For the good of the child,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

The Natural “Centrality” of the Male — Again

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The Marxist Feminists by seeking the weakest spot by which to collapse society, found it in the “patriarch” (the father of the family, i.e. the married father, or more precisely in the potential “patriarch”. Remove him and society and its institutions would gradually collapse.  Monogamous marriage is their main target.  Lenin removed it immediately (1919), but Russian Communists, now with a society to run, restored it in 1929 because of the social chaos it had brought with it.  However, for purposes of destabilizing US society, this was a brilliant insight, not recognized by opponents of Marxism, even among those believed in the sacredness of marriage and family.  That the role of the father was not fully grasped until these deconstruction effects began to be seen. If anything, traditionally that central role was given to mother, not father. But many mistook the natural emotionally-deeper bonding of children to mother,  to be the relational core of family bonding.  Father is, not because he is stronger, but because he is weaker and more vulnerable.

The female, the mother, has nature pulling and pushing her into deep relationship with her children. For nine months she gets to know her baby in her womb with increasing intensity. The catharsis of giving birth yields its own bonding. Breast feeding for the months that follow increases the bond, even as the child’s experience lays down the foundations of the erotic in the adulthood.

By contrast the male, the father, gets little help from nature.  His bonding is principally an act of the will, of virtue, of good habit. It can be strong, very strong and has huge effects but on the anthropological level the bond with mother wins out, noticeable on the battlefield and in the celibate priest’s relationship with his parents. The bond with mother is stronger.  

Thus, the father’s relationship to his wife and to his children is the lynchpin in the family and society, not because of an inherent male strength but because of an inherent male weakness. His attachment is the treasured glue that makes the family whole, because the father-family relationship is the more breakable one (and the one most often broken). Thus, his role is the keystone that supports the “arch” that is the family, and, given society’s dependence on the family, the keystone that holds society together. The father’s embrace of monogamy is the dynamic that yields a strong culture of love, and commitment.  Without it we get poverty, violence, abuse, educational failure, crime depression, anxiety. Furthermore, these deficits compound when the brokenness is repeated generation after generation — as has been the case with the Black family.

A strong marriage is thus the core strength of family and therefore of society.  Each sex has a unique contribution, mother more anchored in the bios, the father in the will (only because of the relative absence of the bios). Hence the married father is the lynchpin of the family, of the community, of the culture. Remove the male and the structure begins to collapse, no matter how great the female.

The male’s centrality lies in his relative vulnerability on matters sexual, to sex without the acceptance of its burdens and duties — to the child and its mother.  The erotic is his weak spot. The female knows this and in turn is tempted to use her attractiveness to him to gain attachment or control – two very different temptations, stemming from two very different characters.  The Marxist Feminists realized the potential of male vulnerability for their ends and set it as their main tool. Hence the easy alliance with other groups on all aspects of easy sex: contraception, especially outside of marriage, abortion, gay marriage, sex ed groups (especially SIECUS and its affiliates in the realm of sex education).

Today the breakdown of the family is far advanced as the following chart on the most broken makes clear:

The implications for the society are enormous.  As all cultures evolved, they did so around the transmission of sexual mores. Their biggest function is to keep sexual expression within marriage — in slightly different ways in different cultures, but always within the marriage form of that culture.  The mechanism of enforcement is the taboo. But the US culture today, defanged with the erosion of almost all taboos, instead of being a culture that preserves the family, instead presents constant dangers through the mainstreaming of divorce, serial cohabitation, out of wedlock births, abortion, hook-ups, and pornography, all with debilitating consequences in the formation of the emerging generation.

The rescue of society must have at its center the rebuilding of the male as the center of the family.  When that becomes a cultural movement America might be saved. Otherwise its unravelling will continue. It cannot but.  However Americans are practical, “can do” people, so the chances of this happening are good.

Keep this in mind as we celebrate the 4th of July.  We need a new generation of “Founding Fathers”. 

For overviews of the research on each of these issues, see www.Marripedia.org and for more charts on the same see: charts see http://marri.us/research/sexuality/

A Child’s Capacity to Feel Good on Father’s Day

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Father’s Day celebrates the relationship between a father and his child(ren), a relationship that is very generative —-of good or evil, of love or hate — depending on the relationship. Some are blessed with great fathers, e.g. John Paul II and Therese Martin.  Others are cursed with fathers who generate hate, as was the case for most of the founders of The National Organization of Women (NOW).  I have read the biographies of six of them and the pattern is the same in all. Each had fathers whose treatment of them and their mothers would generate hatred of them in any human being. The same holds for Shulamith Firestone (not a founder of NOW but maybe even more intellectually influential in the long run).

While the erotic nature of male and female is nurtured at the breast of the mother, its capacity to unfold that eroticism in a flourishing heterosexual relationship is found in the relationship with the father (for both son and daughter).  The sexual choices that the child’s parents made (sex within or outside of marriage) have a huge amount to do with that peacefulness — not everything to do with it, but much to do with it — as this chart from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult  Health shows:

Here adolescents rated the warmth of their relationship with their fathers (in 1996).  The numbers speak loudly for themselves. Living with one’s biological father in an always-intact married family makes a huge difference.

There clearly is much room for improvement even in the intact family.  Back in the Bush II Administration, the Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored a fatherhood ad campaign in conjunction with The Ad Council.  It had big effects.  My brother-in-law who was a shipping broker in New York City told me of one pretty powerful effect:  within a year or so most married financial services professionals (finance, shipping, wholesale, insurance) who used to treat clients visiting New York to dinner, as standard practice, ceased doing so because, as a result of the campaign, it became a cultural norm in NYC that fathers should be home for dinner with their children rather than out on the town with clients. What an impact!

That  Administration’s Secretary of HHS was Dr. Wade Horn, a clinical psychologist who knew his “stuff” and knew, more than anyone else in the history of HHS, how to wield his power for good.  But he ran up against the hatred of NOW (remember those foundresses) and hate drives out love. Another project he wanted to pull off was a joint project, not with the Ad Council this time, but with the National Council for Family Relations (NCFR), the publisher of the premier research journal, the Journal of Marriage and Family. A deal was struck to build a publicly available database of findings on the effects of marriage on children and on society.  It was moving forward when suddenly it was derailed by an internal revolt within NCFR: a coterie of radical feminists put an end to it.  The details of that revolting incident have never been made public, nor a great investigative story ever pursued by any of the top newspapers or magazines. It still awaits an enterprising reporter (and editor).  

The influence hate-inspiring fathers continues down through the generations as does the influence of self-sacrificing fathers in the continuing battle between love and hate.  in what family structure does hate most reside?

Consider the following:

When I (an older white male) feel slighted by a the somewhat over hostility of a young black woman (e.g. in the manner of response at a retail store) I immediately think of what she likely endured in her family of origin, given the unprovoked slighting:  she likely was raised in the family structure to the extreme right and likely carries the sexual scars for the rest of her life, depriving her of the capacity to form a loving, enduring relationship with a man who could become the loving father of her children.

We see all around us the battle between love and hate and the body count mounts.  While all of us blessed enough to celebrate Father’s, let us remember that many (most?)  US children cannot. Let us pray and work to have the nation challenge itself to give to every child its universal, most basic of human rights, the father it needs: a loving father, in a loving marriage.

In the end only love makes the difference we all say we want.

For the good of the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan

PS: If you know of stories of great fathers do send them or the link to them to MARRI. Stories of fathers who generate hate will be occasionally useful too, though we need much more of the good kind.

The Men Women Desire: Emasculated or What?

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A few months ago while testing my thesis, with an audience of students, about the centrality of the “patriarch” (as defined by feminists) to the thriving family and society, I was struck by the response of one male undergrad.  He said that should he speak the way I had spoken he would likely get fired from a job or, at minimum, run into trouble with the HR department.  (He was a full-time student in his junior year).  I was taken aback and asked the other young men (all full-time undergrads at The Catholic University of America) if they knew what he was talking about. They did and agreed with him.

With this I realized that radical Marxist feminist ideas have already penetrated universally and deep — deep even into the hearts of the best of young men, raised (most likely) in good, intact Catholic families.  These young men were in many ways the “cream of the crop”.  They were good men: friends, who loved and played sports, looked forward to finding the right girl, valued chastity, worshiped more than weekly, went to confession often, prayed daily, studied hard and helped others get through difficult exams.  Yes: “The Cream of the Crop” — yet already afraid of being manly men and scared soon to be such in the workplace.

Given that, I have since put the following question to a number of audiences:  “We have women’s study centers/departments/institutes in colleges all over the country (644 in 2014);  what do you think would happen if we were to propose similar ‘Men’s studies Centers’ ?”  The response is always the same: not just protest, riots!

One could say our ideas are now ruled by academic dominatrices who demand male submissives, nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines on “Toxic Masculinities” in which the traditional man (read “married and religious’) is assumed to be domineering and violent.

Earlier this week a director of coaches from a Christian sports organization described to me his concern that a significant portion of the teenage boy is organization deals with are afraid to commit — and committing is key to sports.  They are soft.   Most are from economically comfortable families in a high-income part of the country.  Further, it is the mothers (not the fathers) who voice anxiety about their boys and demand a difference: they are sending their disengaged boys to the care of masculine men — sports coaches — to make men out of them, and often show anger when the project seems not to bring about the expected change, and instead further highlights their sons’  weak stance on life.

Emasculated males, disgruntled, anxious, and increasingly angry females!

The more the coach and I probed this the more we concluded that the Christian vocation of following Christ (becoming His disciple) and becoming totally self-sacrificing, was absent from the modern “Christian” discourse about marriage.

We live in a world of unrivaled comfort.  The ordinary college grad (despite debts, etc.) lives as gentry never could even dream of for most of human history, and many young, just-married couples live better than most kings have.  On the scale of the human historical experience we are the most pampered generation in all of history (despite the levels of abject poverty — which by the way are constantly dropping, globally, with talk of total elimination of this abject poverty, worldwide, by 2050).  Prosperity always breeds softness unless a demanding vocation is expected by the culture and is personally embraced.  Christian churches no longer present such a demanding vocation in marriage.  It too has become soft.

[Even thought this blog is written for all readers — Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Confucian, Shinto, secular and SBNRs (spiritual but not religious), in this day of mass media all from these religious groupings are aware of what a Christian is supposed to be.  They also have similar teachings, for the natural family requires self-sacrifice, sometimes heroic, and in all cultures that heroism is most honored.  Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” evokes universal agreement.]

With that explanation I now zero in on the problem of the  Average American Male (who still is “Christian”):

The fully mature Christian man (deliberate follower of Christ) has come to grips and is at ease (though he struggles and suffers) with being one who gives himself totally for his wife (first) and his children.  Everything he does is for their good. However, such a man has one big need: a woman who has embraced the same vocation:  to sacrifice herself totally for her husband (first) and then her children (not the other way around), and everything she does is dedicated to that. This is her way, this is her husband’s way, of following Christ.

But, when prosperity is combined with a feminist culture these norms are now avoided by Christians and instead pacts (compromises) with social and material comfort are negotiated, nowhere more than in marriage and family life.  And the children suffer: boys become soft and girls come to despise them.

By the way: in today’s culture, which of these two — boys or girls — are called upon to be strong?

The correction needed involves a massive amount of rebuilding of marriage and family.  Even in the intact, weekly worshiping family there is a huge amount of brokenness (revealed in softness) and outside of marriage, many, many times more.

But this crisis is beginning to provoke great responses all over the place as Americans awaken to the fact that we are experiencing a catastrophe in civilization. Should this young generation survive and thrive they will truly be  “The Greatest Generation” for no other has ever confronted anything like this family situation in all of human history.  Even the best of parents wound their children in some way. Today’s parents do so in degrees offspring have never experienced before.  Though this is not fully their fault, it is fully their burden.

There are two responses constantly beckoning.  They come from two very different parts of the human heart and lead to two very different destinies in human relationships: ‘anger and power’ or ‘love and sacrifice’.  The first can win temporary battles but only the second survives to win the war — a war not over for any until the end of each of our times— on the deathbed.

One of these myriad good responses is a work by Dr. Rick FitzGibbons, an APA-award-winning family psychiatrist who, later this year, will release Habits for a Healthy Marriage (Ignatius Press), filled with the distilled wisdom of 40 years of clinical experience.  It is destined to become a classic because he lays out for every modern couple, the next steps to take, no matter where one is starting from on the road to becoming a great couple — the couple their children need them to be, and the couple they have always wished they could be.

Can enough people (enough Christians) find the source of hope and confidence to start this journey?  For without such widespread hope the burden is frightening — and, not surprisingly, suicide is increasingly seen as the easy way out.

The finding of this hope is the pivot on which the future of our civilization now rests, a hope strong enough to draw all into committing — committing to the work Fitzgibbons lays out so that couples all over the country are talking to each other, about how to turn emasculated young sons into courageous, self-sacrificing mature men that young women will desire to marry. (The answer lies deep in their marriage.)

Whence comes this confidence to commit to such a marriage—– to commit for the rest of the game, the rest of the battle, the rest of the war, the rest of life.

The true answer needs to be seen by many, widely known, believed and tapped into, deeply.  Quiet prayer leads to the source..

For the good of the child,

The center and future of civilization,

Pat Fagan

 

 

Who has the Best Sex?

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“Who has the best sex?

“Who has the best sex?

Those who have the best and most united relationships!

Who has these relationships?  

Those who worship God as He asks, weekly or more!  

Sex is all about life and love. Life (existence) and love are of the essence of God.  The closer man is to Him the more he thrives. That is good spiritual direction. It is also good social science!

The great paradox in the social sciences today is that most social scientists in the academy seem to make the universe orbit around sex but refuse to go where the data on “the best sex” lead: to the intact married family that worships God weekly.  The most recent work of one of the world’s leading sociologists, Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia, and the team of social scientists he pulled together from BYU and Georgetown, have given the academic world yet another major lesson in the fundamentals of sex, of living and of thriving.

By writing in the New York Times and in the team’s new report, “Ties that Bind”, released this week at The Brookings Institute, many more “in the middle or to the left” should see these data. This should help change the debate on campus.  

My way of summing up the report is that across families of the world there is a  J-Curve pattern in the results: at the lower end of the ’ J’ lie the better results of united “progressive” couples while the best results, lying at the upper end of the J, are those of the united “traditional” couples, especially on matters of relationship quality and sexual satisfaction.  

On this cluster of issues, the data is constant.  I presented to a college audience in Princeton (the posters “Who has the best sex?” drew a great crowd) in the early 2000’s.  There I used similar results — from “Sex in America: A Definitive Survey” (1994) which drew its data from the National Health and Social Life Survey (U. Chicago and SUNY). The results then: ose who were virginal at marriage and worshipped weekly (a rather traditional group) reported the greatest sexual satisfaction in a similar J-curve fashion.

Mapping America, MARRI’s own project, shows national demographic correlations on myriad outcomes, to be seen in the report “Sexuality” with a sub-section reporting ten different sexual outcomes, this time with four different levels of worship (weekly, monthly, annually, none). On all ten outcomes the “most traditional” do best. And, by and large, the more frequently people worship, the better they do.

Life, love and the Creator go together!  This is something all cultures have embodied — universally. The force of natural law, and the suffering its violation will entail, will bring many back to sanity.  You cannot fool mother nature. However, as an old teacher of mine used to say: “The school of experience is a great school, its fees are mighty high.” Let us go for the gold and follow the data – to the best sex, the best relationships — all to be had by those who marry and worship God weekly!  

For the good of the child, the future of the world,

Pat Fagan

https://ifstudies.org/ifs-admin/resources/reports/worldfamilymap-2019-051819final.pdf