Category Archives: relationships

How to cut expenses

Every year, the US congress has a difficult time deciding how to pay for the expenses that have been approved in previous sessions of congress.  The confrontations leading to the “Fiscal Cliff” are similar to the problems that a husband and a wife have in trying to meet the needs of the family while staying within the household budget.

A wife may think that it is necessary to spend $100 every three weeks, about $1700 per year, in the beauty shop.  A husband may feel that a 60-inch flat screen television with a special audio system for $2000 is necessary for entertainment.  Of course, the additional cable bills for $300 dollars a month, or $3,600 per year, are also necessary.  If the family has children, there are additional expenses for toys, school supplies and clothing which is outgrown quickly or worn out.

The only way to cut expenses is to eliminate those things that you can do without.  All the members of the family have to get together to agree on the expenses that will be eliminated.  Nobody will be happy because everybody has to sacrifice.  Just like the members of congress, everybody will grumble and complain.  If you are single, you are the only one who has to sacrifice and you have to have the discipline to stick to a budget.  Here is a list of things that you may try:

  • Stop smoking to save your health and your money.
  • Sell your car and use public transportation to go to work.
  • Take your lunch to work instead of going to a restaurant.
  • Read books from the public library instead of going to movie theaters.
  • Brew your own coffee instead of buying it in expensive coffee shops.
  • Pay down your credit card debt.  If possible, pay in full every month to avoid fees.

The most effective way to save money is to make a list of your monthly expenses and then determine which ones you can eliminate.  Looking at a complete list of expenses gives you a perspective of your spending habits.  Eliminating many small incidental expenses sometimes can save big bucks, but small cuts in recurring large expenses may provide the greatest savings.

Learn how to budget your income

The Case for Sex Education

Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin
Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has picked Sarah Palin as a running mate, and everybody is talking about Sarah’s 17-year old pregnant daughter, Bristol.  Sarah and her husband Todd Palin made a public disclosure about the pregnancy saying:  “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned.  Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child.”

There have been reports that Levi Johnston, the 18-year old boy who made Bristol pregnant, does not want to get married, but this is probably beyond his control.  Republicans have sought the support of religious groups and it would not look very good for the Vice President’s daughter to be an unwed mother with a bastard son.  It will be a shotgun wedding and probably an unhappy marriage.  Poor kids.

You reap what you sow.  Republicans have been against sex education for a long time and have withdrawn money from programs that teach about contraception.  According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, half of Americans have lost their virginity by age 16.  If children are not educated about sex, they will follow their instincts and make more babies.  It is well known that only teaching sexual abstinence is not an effective way of preventing teen pregnancies.  Today’s world is filled with many sexually alluring images in fashion magazines, movies, videos, and the internet.  Many teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are the result of ignorance, lack of effective communication with parents, and not knowing how to deal with temptations.

Stable relationships depend on brain chemistry

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Vasopressin

Scientists have found a gene that affects the way men bond to their partners.[1]  The gene codes for one of the receptors for vasopressin, a hormone found in the brains of most mammals. Men who carry one or two copies of a variant of this gene (allele 334) are more likely to have a marital or relationship problem than those who lacked the gene variant.  The research found that men without the allele had more stable relationships with their partners.  Men with two alleles were less likely to show enough commitment in their relationships.

Earlier studies had found similar results in animals.  Prairie voles form lifetime bonds with their mates and help to raise successive litters.  On the other hand, montane voles which are physically very similar, do not bond with the females and do not help to raise their offspring.  The animal experiments showed that by manipulating the vasopressin receptors, montane voles could be changed into devoted partners and prairie voles could be changed into unsupportive parents.

Vasopessin is a small peptide consisting of 9 amino acids which is very similar to oxytocin, a maternal hormone that stimulates mammary glands and helps to bond a mother to her child.  About 40 percent of men have one or two copies of allele 334.  The median duration of first marriages that end in divorce is about 7.8 years.  In the future, it may be possible to have premarital genetic tests that could be used to predict the chances of a successful marriage and avoid the chances of marrying a womanizer or a deadbeat dad.

[1] Hasse Walum, Lars Westberg, Susanne Henningsson, Jenae M. Neiderhiser, David Reiss, Wilmar Igl, Jody M. Ganiban, Erica L. Spotts, Nancy L. Pedersen, Elias Eriksson and Paul Lichtenstein, Genetic variation in the vasopressin receptor 1a gene (AVPR1A) associates with pair-bonding behavior in humans, PNAS Early Edition, 2-5 September 2008.