Getting Hitched: Reviews

THE BOOK IS OUT–in paperback and Kindle.  Buy your copy today by clicking on the image below.  Below are some representative reviews.

From an email:

I want you to know that [my sister] saw the book lying on the table and picked it up on the strength of the title, then didn’t put it down until she had finished reading it.  When next she saw me she eagerly told me how much she enjoyed it… [She said to tell you:]

Dear Dr.Upham……I loved your book. The common sense  angle you took in writing it hooked me. You can bet I will be referring to it often!

From one of the reviews at Amazon:

It has more to say to men than women – not surprising in light of the fact that it is written by a man. Yet there are some gems for the ladies too. If you experience even one ‘aha moment’ it will be worth the cost of this book since even one realization could change the rest of your life. There are specific instructions to get out of your rut and change your mindset and suggestions about staying married as well as getting hitched. I could have told my daughter some of these things myself, but thought it’s always good to hear it from another source. Besides, even I learned a thing or two. Continue reading

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Beautiful Friday: Love is Here to Stay

Yeah it’s been a while.  I just thought I’d throw this one out here.  Just fantastic.  Music by George Gershwin (just before he died WAY too early of brain cancer), lyrics by his brother Ira, and performed by Nat King Cole (awesome).

Anything true about marriage?  Enduring bonds.  “In time / the Rockies may crumble / Gibraltar may tumble / They’re only made of clay…”

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Marriage-Minded

new year

Happy New Year!

So for marriage-minded readers, here are eight resolutions–matters of both thought and action–that you should consider making as the new year begins (and for many of us it only really began this morning as we went back to work!).

In order to gear up for some husband hunting or wife fishing, it’s helpful first to adjust your attitude, and then take action to begin looking around.

Continue reading

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Beautiful Friday: It’s a Wonderful Life

The greatest movie ever made: It’s a Wonderful Life.

The film says so many true and beautiful things about marriage.

I’m having difficulty in picking a favorite scene–but this one might do it.

For the unmarried, curious, and hopeful, I speak with confidence: Sometimes–sometimes, now and then– it really is like this.

Merry Christmas!

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Semi-hiatus for Christmas and beyond.

As you might see, I’ve been taking something of a hiatus from blogging–mainly because work obligations have been (happily) multiplying..  I will occasionally post here, but alas, I cannot maintain the old schedule.

And Merry Christmas!

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Upham’s review of Anton’s review of Tom Wolfe’s review of the womenfolk

A few months ago, the Claremont Review of Books (“CRB”) published a fascination review essay by Michael Anton, reviewing Tom Wolfe’s novels, and in particular, how wolfe presents some brute facts about women and sex.

I thought that Wolfe, as presented by Anton–indulged in some unfair and dangerous caricatures of women–presenting women as disloyal, unreliable–inclined regularly to abandon a husband in favor of some hotter guy.

As my regular readers know, I tend to think of natural inclination as much more disposed to the household–as involving primordinal inclinations that show that by nature male and female are already both inclined to not only copulation but also the enduring relation to take care of their joint offspring.  As Aristotle observed, male and female are by nature much more inclined to form the conjugal bond than to form cities.

Below is my reply to Anton that the CRB was not able to publish. Continue reading

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Courtship rituals: liberty v. equality v. fraternity in partner dancing

So how do you get hitched?

The answer is obvious in cultures with clear courtship rituals.  The answer is increasingly obscure in cultures like ours where the emphasis on freedom allows for much more improvisation, but this freedom makes it tougher for most to get hitched.

There are two kinds of rules that facilitate courtship: (1) the duty to court AND (2) the rule against extravagance.  Both of these restrictions on freedom tend to facilitate marriage.

1. The duty to court.

The problem is that most people are somewhat shy–and that shyness is peculiarly acute in matters of mutual attraction.  Where the rule is freedom and personal initiative, the absence of expectations effectively requires the participants to promulgate–autocratically–the appropriate ways to behave.  Shy people–most people–don’t feel comfortable doing this.

One of the ways to help people overcome shyness is by gentle rules.  If there is a rule, for instance, that every man must ask one woman to dance, then the shy young man can plausibly suggest, to himself and to all observers, that social compliance, not personal hubris, leads him to take the initiative.   If the rules say that the appropriate answer is “yes” absent extraordinary circumstances, then the shy young woman can say “yes” on much the same grounds.

Such rules can be liberating.  They tend to facilitate the initial stages of courtship.

The problem with such rules is when the genuinely unwilling are dragged along.

2. The duty to be modest about courting

There’s another kind of rule that can facilitate courtship–and that’s the rule against extravagance.  In dancing or any other little courtship ritual, one of the dangers is that people will get really good at it–and display such excellence as to deter others from doing so.

Courtship rituals should be easy to learn, easy to follow.  It should be easy for the marriage-minded to be an acceptable participant.

3. Social partner dancing has exhibited both of these rules

Recently my wife and I went social dancing–swing dancing, to be more precise..  One of the leaders/instructors mentioned two rules before the dance began–both of these corresponded to the two rules I mentioned above:

  1. The request and acceptance of a dance must be understood as something light and casual–and neither request nor acceptance should be interpreted, per se, as request or consent for some date.
  2. No aerials–ostensibly because of danger–but I think because too much excellence tends to turn social dancing into spectacle.

Social dancing, it seems, declined for various reasons, but one of those–almost certainly–was the rise of both excellence and improvisation on the dance floor.  Dances became spectacles.  Max Pearl, in a recent article, explained how swing dancing undermined partner dancing as a social convention:

But rather than getting more people out on the dance floor, the style’s athletic combination of complex turns, dangerous throws and light-speed footwork began to push intimidated amateurs back onto the sidelines. “As a result, the rise of swing meant that customers were dancing less and listening more,” Wald writes, quoting a 1938 Billboard report that chronicled the shifting dynamic. It was typical, he says, to see a crowd of 1,000 watching and grooving to only 100 people dancing.

Rules that once prescribed fixed (but easy to learn) steps produced greater inclusion.  At some point the freedom to dance proves a deterrent.

The democracy of the marital aristocracy

As Pearl points out, the aristocracy was quite resistant to aristocracy of dance.  Dancing too well was frowned upon.  I think the reason is that too much excellence at social gatherings makes the shy and the awkward feel uncomfortable.  In courting, it creates something of an arms race, especially among men.  The better solution was democracy–giving everyone a limited set of dance steps to learn–but prohibiting the excellent from showing off.

I don’t have a thesis here, just some reflections on the tensions between liberty, equality, and the fraternization between the sexes.

 

 

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Beautiful Friday: Shall We Dance (When the confident monogamous West met the curious polygamous East).

150 years ago, the United States abolished slavery.  The change was consistent with a worldwide trend abolishing compulsory servitude, whether slavery in the British Empire, serfdom in Russia, and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, apparent progress was being made on many other cultural and economic fronts.  Infant mortality rates were dropping, life expectancy was increasing, population was booming, commerce was booming, the poor and women were enjoying greater and greater economic, cultural, and political rights, and Europe was in the midst of the most peaceful century in its history.

The West was confidant–I would say, hubristic–but not without reason..

At the very same time, the West was monogamous.  Indeed, the Victorians were perhaps as fiercely monogamous as  any other people in the history of the world.

In sharp contrast, the East was, in its ruling class at least, still very polygynous.

As Lincoln’s Republican Party announced in its 1856 platform: slavery and polygamy are the “twin relics of barbarism.”

Both as fact and as fictionalized, one of the most famous encounters between the monogamous west and the polygamous east occurred when the British widow Anna Leonowens served as English teacher in the court of the king of Siam, about the same time America was abolishing slavery.  Her autobiography became the basis for a semi-fictional novel, which novel was then turned into a musical, the King and I.

Here’s the climax of that encounter:  Shall We Dance.

This beautiful piece prompts three reflections. Continue reading

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Cat-calling: the Limits of Equality and the Golden Rule

“In America, a young unmarried woman may alone and without fear undertake a long journey.”  So wrote the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville in 1832, contrasting America with Europe and even the rest of the world.

Whether Tocqueville’s assessment was right then, it seems clear that the same contrast could not be made today. According to the mass of anecdotal evidence young women do not feel safer traveling alone in the United States than in Europe.

Indeed, in recent years, there has been increased discussion of the broad phenomenon of “cat-calling” in the United States.  Many, many women have reported feeling unsafe in traveling alone in the United States.

In case it needs to be said to some of my readers: the women making these complaints are not generally hostile to men.  Quite the contrary–you hear the objection from women who are married or hope to be married–women who professedly like men.  Indeed, one, but not the only complaint, is that the phenomenon of sexual harassment forces some women to take on a kind of hostile composure that they would otherwise not like to assume.  One gets the distinct impression that some are upset precisely because they have to set aside their natural cheerfulness kindness in order to avoid aggressive looks, profane shouts, groping, etc..

I’m writing today to say a few words about how the phenomenon of cat-calling– as it prevails today–cannot be solved simply by reliance on the principles of equality and the golden rule.  Indeed, in the wrongly-formed mind, such egalitarian ideals can induce men to engage in this offensive behavior.

Continue reading

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A Beautiful Catholic Book. The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in The Home

Today I suspend my usual policy of blogging for a general audience to celebrate a recent Catholic book I’ve read: The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home, by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler.

It’s truly a beautiful Catholic book.

The aim of the authors is to encourage ordinary people to make their homes places of the extraordinary.  The household, despite its  fundamentally terrestrial purpose, can and should be a place that points to celestial things.

The authors–David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler–bring the benefit of their extensive background–not only literary and artistic, but also domestic. Continue reading

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Beautiful Friday: One Boy (from Bye-Bye Birdie)

   

Today on Beautiful Friday (a day late, I know) it’s “One Boy” from Bye Bye Birdie.

It’s a pretty song and a lovely sentiment.  A little celebration of monogamy–as monogamy is an achievement, and needs help.

I especially enjoy the theme, Beautiful girl, grateful nerd.  Believe me, I know something about that arrangement.

One caveat–in one respect, the song is wrong.  You don’t need “someone who is living just for you.”  Nobody should look for nor aspire to be such a perfect instrument for another’s good.  Marital unity is not an absorption, nor an instrumentalization, whether mutual or otherwise.  Marriage, instead, is a union of a man and a woman, and marital ntegrity depends on the integrity of the spouses.

Marriage involves great self-giving–the mutual giving of bodies, the shared enterprise in offspring, and thus the sharing of economic resources.   As the husband says in the old Anglican rite: “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.”

Marriage is not, however, a complete self-surrender–soul, mind, body.  Only ONE, perhaps, is worthy of such a gift–and that ONE is far more than another human being.

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