Link Roundup: Happy Marriage?; Telecommuting; How to Shop IRL

Scrooge1) Thanks for the cheerful morning read on how most of us will not end up happily married, Quartz!

Just as most Americans want to believe that they will get rich someday, most Americans want to think that they will have a marriage of far-above-average quality. … What we do tell people is that happy couples are really no different from unhappy couples. Either they have found some secret formula for happiness (and if you buy the right book/attend the right seminar/take the right product, you will be happy too!), or they have learned to lower their expectations to the point where they don’t feel the sting of disappointment from incompatibility, loneliness, sexlessness or boredom. The first case is akin to Senator Marco Rubio testifying that America is “a nation of haves and soon to haves.” It is theoretically possible for any single individual to become wealthy, but it is unlikely that we are all going to be rich anytime soon. The second is like saying that rich people don’t have more money than poor people, just a better attitude. 

This is not a well written article. (“There are many theories floating around about why greater gender equality have not put an end to divorce in America.”) Does that mean the thesis is wrong? I hope so. The dream of being contently coupled should be more accessible than the dream of being Scrooge McDuck. There is, after all, an infinite amount of happiness in the world, and only a finite number of gold coins.

2) Women and childless men, don’t ask to work remotely

[Sociologist Christin] Munsch had 646 people read a transcript of a fake phone conversation between an employee and a human-resources representative. The employees asked to alter their schedules for a period of six months, requesting either to work from home two days per week or to come in early and leave early three days per week. Perhaps unsurprisingly—given what we know about women and likability—this went over better when the worker was a man. … 

The reasons for the “flextime” and “flexplace” requests varied. In some cases, the workers said they wanted the afternoons to “take care of my daughter after school.” Others, though, said they wanted to leave early to “train for the California Classic Cycling Challenge,” or to work from home so they could “lessen my impact on the environment.” It turns out that both men and women whose reason for the request was childcare-related, as opposed to either exercise- or environment-related, were more supported in their requests, more respected, and seen as marginally more committed to their work and worthier of promotions. … The effect was especially pronounced for men. The women were judged similarly regardless of the reason they gave for working from home. Meanwhile, the subjects were significantly more likely to approve of the men who were motivated by family obligations rather than personal issues.

Let’s go work in tech! Companies like Google and Reddit (?!) offer the best paid parental leave policies, and they’re probably all about Classic Cycling Challenges too.

3) Has Internet shopping ruined us for actual shopping?

Barnes & Noble lumps almost everything that isn’t YA, romance, crime (I think), or sci-fi/fantasy into the same category of “fiction.” That includes literary fiction, chick-fic and dude-fic, fiction in translation, classics, small press and indie fiction, and a bunch of other subgenres, all mashed up together under one heading, in alphabetical order.

I CANNOT SHOP THIS WAY YOU GUYS.

Maybe I’ve been ridiculously spoiled by the bookternet, but unless I have a specific title that I’m gunning for (and it happens to be a title that Barnes & Noble carries, which usually isn’t the case when I want a specific title), I find it impossible to even know where to start. I’ve gotten so spoiled on being able to filter and sort, search by subgenre or literary school, or “related” authors/ topics/styles, that when faced with a broad sampling of current and classic literature that isn’t otherwise arranged or organized, my brain short-circuits. I end up wandering aimlessly and slightly panicked through aisle after aisle without really taking in what I’m looking at.

FWIW, my strategy is to either a) check my Goodreads To-Read list, or b) pick a letter, like W, and zero in on those authors. Even if it turns out you weren’t looking for something by West, Wilde, or Woolf (and why aren’t you?) it might calm you down enough to remember what you were actually in search of.

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23 Comments / Post A Comment

No, this has always been a big bookstore problem even before online shopping, at least from a librarians perspective. I enjoy fiction but I almost always leave Barnes and Noble with a magazine or non-fiction, because both of those have subheadings and are easy to browse. Their fiction section is absolutely unbrowseable. Except for those tables of books out in the middle, but I usually decide I’ve read everything worth reading of those.

@fo (#839)

“The dream of being contently coupled”

Ester–you just did the ‘lowered expectations’ thing; the premise is “a marriage of far-above-average quality”–like the kiss at the end of The Princess Bride, only in decades-long marriage form. The *dream* is of having a Hollywood-quality marriage, not ‘being content’.

@@fo I think being content IS the dream, though! If you’re not content with what you have, that’s when you’re antsy and annoyed and downloading Tinder. That’s why I don’t think it’s as unreasonable/unattainable as the Quartz article makes it seem.

garli (#4,150)

@Ester Bloom How is being content with your partner lowered expectations?

@fo (#839)

@garli I presume that was directed to me–Flip it around–how is ‘being content’ “a marriage of far-above-average quality”?

Guess it’s a matter of where “content” fits on the emotion scale in one’s interpretation; I see it as a very middle of the road state–good enough to not make an effort for better, not fantastico (*necessarily*–of course one would *also* be content with fantastico).

Oh, and PS, I’n NOT saying that I think that “a marriage of far-above-average quality” is a reasonable thing to expect, or even necessarily to strive for, but since that was the thesis of the quote (that people *expect* that), and I ain’t clicking thru to that dreck, that’s what I was working from.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

There is SO MUCH I have to say about that marriage article. My long-term relationship ended just over a week ago because my (former) partner chose Path Two: we had “the best partnership he had ever experienced,” but he wanted to continue the search.

Ultimately I’m relieved, because I want to be valued and loved and with someone who thinks I’m the end of the search.

But I keep thinking about everything in this piece: the idea that relationships have to be everything you want or you have to keep searching, the idea that he and I already had a better partnership than most and putting it aside in hopes to find something slightly better seems foolhardy, the idea that in a world where one of the few things you truly get to choose is a romantic partner, you are of course going to try to find the most optimum partner and reject anything that isn’t optimum — after all, by the time you’re an adult, you have settled in so many other ways.

@HelloTheFuture Ugh, I’m sorry. Break ups are the worst. It seems like your attitude is the best possible one to have under the circumstances, though, and good on you.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Ester Bloom awwww thanks :)

rhinoceranita (#5,858)

@HelloTheFuture I’m sorry! You seem so levelheaded about it. Was this who you were supporting through school?

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@rhinoceranita Thank goodness, no. I have never supported anyone through school. I am still mastering the art of supporting myself financially.

therealjaygatsby (#4,053)

@HelloTheFuture Humans are just really weird. We get what we want, value it for a while, and then usually start thinking “what if there’s more out there?” Even if we’re sitting in our dream homes, surrounded by loving family and friends, we’re still wondering and asking ourselves what if, what if, what if. We’re always grasping for the next degree of happiness, that final peak that promises to make everything feel right and good and whole.

Of course, that state of being probably doesn’t exist, and our search for it is making us miserable. We let ourselves down and break each other’s hearts, all in a greedy effort to fill our own chests with the warm, final feeling of contentment that we always suspect to be lurking just around the next corner.

It’s actually amazing how we can get used to anything, good or bad. As Camus put it, “I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowing overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it.” Familiarity, perhaps that’s the word for it. And sometimes I think we mistake the familiar with the normal, the commonplace, much to our own detriment. Even the most extraordinary thing starts to feel familiar in time.

But I think it’s really important to try and keep these separate, to remember that the familiar isn’t necessarily normal or commonplace. It’s important to try and remember how good things really are under the layers of delusional bullshit we apply with our always working, always doubting minds. It’s important to remember that maybe we already have exactly what we want, and that maybe that’s not so normal or commonplace at all. Maybe we’re just familiar with what we have, and when you really think about it, it’s actually quite extraordinary to know something or someone so well.

I don’t know how to remember this myself, but God I wish I did.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@therealjaygatsby I actually don’t think “delusional bullshit” applies in this scenario — as I noted above, I think his choice is valid — but I do agree that it is extraordinary to know someone so well. That’s part of what made this relationship, including its ending, feel so healthy and good. We knew each other as adults, and made a decision as adults.

therealjaygatsby (#4,053)

@HelloTheFuture Apologies for that — this was @ you but not really AT you. I think I was mostly just talking to myself.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@therealjaygatsby No worries. Everyone is allowed to work out their own stuff through conversation! That is… part of why we have conversations?

Allison (#4,509)

I hate shopping for clothes in a store now, even though I can actually try things on, I can’t immediately filter by price and size. I only want to try it on if it has a chance at fitting and is something I can actually afford.

garli (#4,150)

@Allison Yes I’m 100% ruined by online shopping. In all fairness I always have super hated normal shopping. The only exception is sports equipment where you want to feel the weight/balance of different models.

EM (#1,012)

@Allison YES. My plan of attack when shopping:

1. Identify the specific thing I want online, usually after reading lots of reviews.
2. Go into the store, locate desired item, try it out.
3. Purchase or flee, ideally without having to speak to anyone.

If I lived in America, land of free shipping and free returns, I would probably never actually physically enter a store. Canada is kind of a pain for that reason.

CaddyFdot (#2,686)

@EM “ideally without having to speak to anyone.” YES! This is my ideal situation also.

garli (#4,150)

The marriage article is terrible. Just about every other line begs the question “what’s your source on that” (eg: Nowadays, women leave perfectly kind, helpful husbands for reasons that seem mysterious.)

Also they don’t even define what a happy/good/successful marriage is.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@garli WHAT even is that pull quote. I am not reading this article, I’m too happy for a Monday

garli (#4,150)

@honey cowl I don’t know dude, I didn’t write that mess. It’s like no one ever edited it. Or the writer didn’t come up with a point before they started (or finished) writing it.

@fo (#839)

@garli “”what’s your source on that” (eg: Nowadays, women leave perfectly kind, helpful husbands for reasons that seem mysterious.)”

Um, duh, all of the author’s bitter, divorced, drinkin’ buddies.

E$ (#1,636)

Well, dang, I am working from home reading this WFH article (it’s my lunch break!) and thinking how nice it would be to do this once a week. I am so productive in the quiet at home, and my commute is quite long.

If only I weren’t a childless woman! *shakes fist*

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