Want to save your marriage? Don’t have kids — (a fun opinion piece)

Lots of women look forward to motherhood – getting to know a tiny baby, raising a growing child, developing a relationship with a maturing son or daughter. All over the world, people believe that parenting is the most rewarding part of life. And it’s good that so many mothers treasure that bond with their child, because the transition to parenthood causes profound changes in a woman’s marriage and her overall happiness … and not for the better…

Families usually welcome a baby to the mix with great expectations. But as a mother’s bond with a child grows, it’s likely that her other relationships are deteriorating. I surveyed decades of studies on the psychological effects of having a child to write my book Great Myths of Intimate Relationships: Dating, Sex, and Marriage, and here’s what the research literature shows…

For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship.

The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.

Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness, because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one’s satisfaction with one’s spouse.

RTFA for the complete analysis. Professor Johnson offers a clear conclusion which doesn’t diminish the prospects for meaningful marriage – for a couple. I figured this out on my own over a half-century ago. There were variables in how I intended to spend much of my adult life – but, I came to the same conclusion.

Living in a “Good Catholic state” the urologist who performed my vasectomy asked me to swear that I went to Rhode Island. Such procedures – like the purchase of condoms – were illegal. Performing vasectomies was akin to abortions BITD.

Never looked back. Never regretted the decision. Were all of my marriages heaven on Earth? The plural answers that question, doesn’t it. But, it could have, would have been a lot worse if children were part of the equation as well. And I finally did meet the right person for me – decades ago.

It gets better every day, every year. We celebrate our Lunaversary every month. And we both agree dog-children are OK.

Lindsay and Edward together in Moscow

The mystery of the whereabouts of Edward Snowden’s long-time girlfriend is solved in a documentary that premiered in New York on Friday night: she has been living with the national security whistleblower in Russia since July.

The surprise revelation in the documentary, filmed by Laura Poitras, upends the widespread assumption that Snowden had deserted Lindsay Mills and that she, in a fit of pique, fled Hawaii where they had been living to stay with her parents in mainland US.

Since Snowden, a former NSA contractor, outed himself last year as being behind the biggest leak in US intelligence history, Mills has remained silent, giving no interviews or any hints of her feelings on the subject of her boyfriend or his actions.

The two-hour long documentary, Citizenfour, shows Mills living in Russia with Snowden…

Citizenfour offers a fly-on-the wall account of Snowden. Poitras filmed him at the Mira hotel in Hong Kong last year during interviews with journalists that resulted in a series of stories in the Guardian about the extent of surveillance by the US and British intelligence agencies as well as the internet and telecom companies. The revelations started a worldwide debate about the balance between surveillance and privacy.

Poitras captures the tension in his room at the Mira – where then-Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and I interviewed him – and in his final minutes at the hotel before he fled after being tipped off that hordes of media were about to arrive. She also filmed at the Guardian in London ahead of publication of one of the most explosive of the stories arising from Snowden’s revelations, and in Moscow, where Snowden is now in exile.

Snowden has been reluctant to talk about his personal life, preferring the media focus to be on wider debate about surveillance rather than him. But Poitras’s portrayal is both personal and sympathetic.

In his first comment about the documentary, which Poitras had shown to him in advance, Snowden told the Guardian: “I hope people won’t see this as a story about heroism. It’s actually a story about what ordinary people can do in extraordinary circumstances.”

I wish more Americans had the courage of Edward Snowden. I’ve known a few, folks who became left-wing activists on behalf of civil rights, peace and national liberation BITD. Two in particular who worked for military intelligence, who left the military and returned to the United States to become active in very different ways. Like Snowden, revulsion at the lies and deceit of our government, our “leaders” patronizing attitude towards the American people, lies in support of an imperial foreign policy – turned them into activists against political corruption.

And Lindsay Mills – I know nothing more than what little I read in newspapers like the GUARDIAN. Most of what appears here in the States, from the TIMES to TV talking heads, you can presume to be crap, lies and more crap. Mostly motivated by dedication and subservience to the Washington establishment. I accept her private life with Edward Snowden as her own.

I accept their life together as a reflection of the proto-existential dicho, “what is done out of love takes place beyond good and evil”. Snowden, for love of his country and its Constitution. Mills, for love of her man.

Tree cover on farms around the world is more than expected


Almost half of the world’s farmland has at least 10 percent tree cover, according to a study on Monday indicating that farmers are far less destructive to carbon-storing forests than previously believed.

“The area revealed in this study is twice the size of the Amazon, and shows that farmers are protecting and planting trees spontaneously,” Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, said in a statement.

The Centre’s report, based on satellite images and the first to estimate tree cover on the world’s farms, showed tree canopies exceeded 10 percent on farmland of 10 million square kms (3.9 million sq miles) — 46 percent of all agricultural land and an area the size of Canada or China…

Previous estimates of the area of farmland used in agroforestry had ranged up to only about 3 million sq kms…

“We’re pleasantly surprised — it quantifies an under-appreciated resource,” Tony Simons, deputy director general of the World Agroforestry Center, told Reuters.

The report found that trees were integral to agricultural landscapes in all parts of the world, with the exceptions of arid North Africa and West Asia.

Simons said the report indicated a new front for fighting climate change. Farmers would do more to preserve trees if they got credits under a new U.N. climate pact due to be agreed at a meeting in Copenhagen in December…

“This study offers convincing evidence that farms and forests are in no way mutually exclusive,” said Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for a tree-planting campaign across Africa.

Many of my kin in North America are farmers up on PEI. A typical farm might be 100 acres with only 40-50% cleared for planting.

The rest is kept as woodlot for heating and cooking. Been that way for a couple of centuries. Makes good sense to me.