HEALING AND DEALING WITH RELATIONSHIPS
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People Seek Mates Who Are Better Than Themselves
People seeking romantic partners don't want someone merely as good as themselves - they want someone better.
And that is particularly the case with women, according to a study by Steven Clark, a psychologist and assistant professor of behavioral science at Utah Valley State College, and senior assistant Adam Dover.
by AP, The Associated Press
June 12, 2003 Source
They found that even though men and women rate themselves favorably in what they perceive members of the opposite sex want in a romantic partner, they still seek relationships with someone better than themselves.
"Men want someone who is better than they are in a few areas, and women want partners who are better than they are in a lot of areas," Clark said.
"But what is unique is that men and women do not seem to be that different" in rating themselves, he said.
The researchers questioned 53 men and 86 women over a nine-month period, asking each to rate themselves on attributes on traits.
Those were a sense of humor, honesty, socio-economic status, caring nature, educational attainment, weight, religion, ability to forgive, attractiveness, patience, expected income, work effort, emotional stability, dependability, ambition, communication and social skills, hygiene and cleanliness, intelligence and status of occupation.
Men want romantic partners who are better than they are in five of the 19 traits, while women seek partners they perceive to be better in 15 of the 19 attributes.
"Women have much higher standards, and if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, they have a greater investment in child bearing," Clark said. "That would probably make them more conservative, involved and selective."
Both men and women desire long-term mates who manifest mutual love, a dependable character, a pleasant disposition and emotional stability.
The findings were presented recently to the American Psychological Society in Atlanta.
Those surveyed generally think they compare favorably with their same-sex peers, said Clark, adding that the findings are consistent with our individualist culture.
"In terms of driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness, most Americans rate themselves well above average on everything," he said.
Sex gets better after hysterectomy
Women who are fearful that an impending hysterectomy will affect their libido can draw comfort from a new study which shows that their sex lives are likely to improve enormously after the operation.
Hysterectomy – the removal of the womb and ovaries – is commonly thought to affect sexual pleasure because the operation disrupts the nerve supply to the vagina and pubic area and rearranges the pelvic floor.
But the first large-scale study to test whether this assumption is true has found that in fact sexual wellbeing improves after the surgery.
It enrolled 352 Dutchwomen who underwent hysterectomy for a benign disease of the uterus. They filled out a 36-question interview sheet both before and six months after surgery.
"Sexual pleasure significantly improved in all patients, independent of the type of hysterectomy," the study says.
Before the operation, it notes, all of the respondents reported having problems attaining orgasm. That number fell by three-quarters after the operation.
There were similarly huge improvements in arousal, genital sensation and lubrication.
The study was led by Jan-Paul Roovers of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University Medical Center, Utrecht. It appears in next Saturday's issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), published by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Hysterectomy is the commonest major gynaecological operation in Britain and the United States.
In the Netherlands, the authors say, 32 percent of women will need a hysterectomy during their lifetime.
Customs and Ceremonies in Pakistan
By Kamran Bukhari
In Pakistan, as elsewhere in the east, people have a knack of highlighting the significance of an occasion with a particular custom. Life among traditionalists, in fact, can be one long, colorful ritual.
The Pakistani round of rituals is based on sound psychology. It is designed to entice man-and woman-into playing his role in life in a responsive manner. In doing so, it cushions him against some of the doubts, fears, and confusions that are the lot of the people in more individualistic societies.
To help man understand his purpose and significance in the scheme of things, each stage of his life is marked by a ceremony. This endless series of ceremonies helps him realize that he is something special, with a key position in life's bewildering pattern.
The Pakistani ceremonies begin as soon as a child is born. Throughout his life, he experiences their rich symbolism. Besides, they provide his relatives and friends with a welcome escape from life's drudgery.
The very first ceremony, the AZAN, is performed when the baby is barly hours hold. The traditional Islamic call to prayer is said in the baby's ear by his grandfather or some other venerable relative or friend. To commemorate this occasion, sweets are distributed among those present.
The baby's eyes are lined with KAJAL and SURMA (colirium) and a small SURMA dot is applied on his forehead to ward off evil eye. Superstitious parents often tie lengths of black string around the infant's wrists. Since a black mark is commonly regsrded as a blemish, the belief is that both the black dot and the black string will outwit the evil eye into thinking that the baby is unattractive and leaving it alone.
The tradition of not selecting name until the baby has actually arrived on the scene is explained by the wish not to tempt fate. In most Pakistani families, naming the baby is the prerogative of the grandfather. Parents have little say in the matter.
All this is changing and many old customs, especially those rooted in superstitions, are dying out. Since a name is seldom agreed upon before the baby's arrival, it is not uncommon that a child is known by a nickname for quite a while.
Partly because of the superstition but mostly due to sentiments, the first garment of an expected baby's layette is made from an old shirt of the grandfather. An old garment is not likely to tempt fate. Besides, some of the grandfather's fine attributes, it is piously hoped, will be passed on to the infant when he wears a KURTA made of the old man's shirt.
The child is officially named when the AQEEQA is performed, usually within 40 days of birth. A barber carefully shaves off the child's hair thus ensuring, so the belief goes, a strong, thick growth. The shorn curls are weighed against silver, which is given to the poor. To commemorate the occasion a sacrificial offering is made, one for a girl and two for a boy. The meat is distributed among the poor. In some cases, close friends and relatives also receive a share.
The various ceremonies that mark the different stages of a man's life have two features in common: a distribution of largesse to the poor and the spirited feasting and merrymaking by close friends and relations. To bless the occasion and, perhaps, to justify gaiety, the ceremony is usually given a religious flavor.
The simple KHEER-CHATTAI ceremony, performed to mark the fact that the baby is old enough (six to seven months) to begin cereals and broth, also involves much feasting. There is a gathering ot the clan, and the young brothers, sisters and the cousins of the infant place a bit of KHEER (rice pudding) in his mouth. The adults `, then takeover and, after an elaborate dinner, enjoy a dessert of KHEER. Food is also distributed among the poor.
The child next comes into the limelight when he is four years, four months, and four days old. He is now considered old enough to learn to read and the occasion is santified by the BISMILLAH ceremony. BISMILLAH is the first word in the Holy Quran. It means In the name of God. Traditionally, the little boy, dressed in an ACHKAN (high collar, knee lenght tunic) and cap is the center of attraction as he sits on the stool facing the MAULVI (priest). Little girs are dressed like brides, complete with DUPATTA (stole), jewelry and hennaed palms. Promped by the MAULVI,the child repeats BISMILLAH and then writes the first letter of the alphabet on a writing board. The inevitabnle feasting, distribution of sweets and gaiety follows. Sweets are also sent to the neighborhood mosque and distributed to the poor.
After the Bismillah ceremony comes the AMIN. This solemn ceremony is performed when the child finishes his first reading of the Holy Quran, usually around the age of 10, sometimes even earlier. The MAULVI, who so painstakingly has helped his young pupil to master the Arabic script and to read the SURATS (verses from the Holy Quran) is traditionally given a POSHAK (robe) complete with turban and shawl. Gifts are given to the child and sweets are served.
With the child himself, the two most popular ceremonies are his SAALGIRAH (birthday) and his ROZA KUSHAI, which celebrates breaking of the first fast during the month of Ramadan. The birthday enables him to whoop it up with his friends.
As for ROZA KUSHAI, it marks more than the child's first fast. He is 12 years old, the age when fasting becomes obligatory. The carefree childhood years are behind him and he is ready to participate in religious observances. Hence, there is an air of solemnity about the elaborate SEHRI (a meal which is served about an hour before dawn). At sunset, the IFTAR is again a lavish affair, with a dozen delicacies to reward the young man for self-denial. His friends, cousins, and older relatives are there to congratulate him and share in the repast. Naturally, the poor are not forgotten.
One of the skills highly prized in the young girl is the ability to read well at MILAD. To offer thanks is a spontaneous reaction, of course, but people prefer to make it an impressive event. And so a milad is organized to offer thanks to the Almioghty for the blessing ranging from the birth of a child, to recovery from an illness, to success in examination. Normally, the milad is rounded off with a distribution of sweets. However, some may organize an elaborate tea or sumptutious dinner.
The next series of cereminies centers on marriage, the culmination of youth, the flowering and fruitation of life, man's commitment to the human race, his acknowledgement of nature's immutable cycle of growth and decay.
Many arrangements must be made for different ceremonies accompanying the marriage. First comes the MAYUN or LAGAN, three or four days before marriage. This marks the retirement of the bride to a secluded section of the house. During this time she is to appear shabby which will then enhance the value of her emergence as a beautiful bride.
The day before the marriage the MEHNDI ceremony is held during which the girl's hand and feet are painted with henna.
Pakistani marriage present an interesting paradox. The Muslim marriage is a social contract. The consent of the bride and the groom to the marriage (ijab and qabool) in the presence of at least two witnesses is all that is required to solemnize the wedding. Thereafter the QAZI (religious scholar) and the guests offer a short prayer for the success of the marriage. The ceremony is over. Dried dates are then distributed to the guests. The gay feasts, such as MAYUN and MEHNDI, commence days before the actual ceremony. They are high-lighted by a vast variety of rituals, many of them quite archaic, but nevertheless imbued with a certain sentiment appeal.
Wedding customs vary from province to province, even from family to family. But the underlying idea is to emphasize the sanctity of the institution. The marriage unites not only the young people but also both of their families. The bride and groom assume prescribed responsibilities to their in-laws. A trust so carefully and elaborately tied is almost impossible to loosen.
A wedding does not, of course, bring to an end the ceremonies that occur in a man's life as regularly as milestones. Yet the ceremonies that bind him so firmly in marriage constitute a high point. By the time he aquires a wife, he has learned to accept and adjust to his place in life's complicated pattern. After that, inevitably, attention shifts to his first-born.
Security Ordered for Woman Who Eloped
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A 24-year-old Pakistani woman threatened with death after marrying without her family's permission got special protection on Thursday on the orders of President Pervez Musharraf.
Shaista Almani eloped with Balakh Sher Mahar in August in defiance of tribal customs in which marriages are arranged by the partners' families.
Local media said the couple were forced to flee after returning as man and wife to their home town of Pannu Aqil in the southern province of Sindh when Almani received death threats.
Some news reports said Mahar had divorced Almani under pressure from his family but her life was still in danger.
The official APP news agency said Musharraf had ordered Sindh authorities to take all possible measures to ensure her safety.
"The President also directed the provincial government to take action against those who are harassing Ms Almani," it said.
Every year, hundreds of women are killed in feudal rural Pakistan for offences deemed to have offended family honor or Islam, including adultery, marrying without the consent of their families and failing to bring an adequate dowry.
It was the second intervention by Musharraf in less than two months in cases relating to women.
In November, he ordered a probe into whether a 23-year-old woman was the victim of a so-called "honor killing" in central Pakistan after examination of her body showed signs of torture.
Her father later admitted to police that he strangled her after she eloped with her lover.
But rights groups say many cases of murder for financial gain or other reasons are presented in Pakistan as honor killings as authorities tend to deal with them more leniently or not at all.
By Caryn S. Lennon, J.D.
What happens when love isn't enough? When you've tried everything and the marriage isn't working? When divorce seems like the only answer?
No one is ever really prepared for how complex and stressful the process will be, or how many difficult decisions have to be made before husband and wife can divorce. The choices are critical, because your entire future is at stake.
Unfortunately, too many people end up getting a divorce the traditional way: by hiring lawyers and going to court. The cost is huge, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end no one really wins, and both parties have spent their investments, retirement funds, or the children's college education fund on lawyer's fees and court costs.
There is an alternative. "Cooperative divorce" is a process in which husband and wife work together to reach an agreement on issues such as parenting plans and financial plans. It sounds impossible, especially to individuals still struggling to accept the idea that the marriage is over. However, you don't have to like your spouse to negotiate an agreement. What you need is the knowledge that cooperation is in your own best interest, whether you want the divorce or not. You must be willing to set aside your emotions, take responsibility for the decisions, and get help.
The Emotional Divorce
Treat your divorce as a series of events, each of which should be handled separately. The first event is your emotional divorce, the process of accepting on an emotional level that the marriage is in trouble and that separating is appropriate. Understand that you are likely to experience many difficult emotions. Anger, fear and guilt are common feelings for couples about to separate. You are taking a life-altering step when you leave your marriage, whether it is your choice or not. Emotions, however, shouldn't be the basis for your most important decisions. Getting the emotional divorce first enables you and your spouse to think clearly about legal and financial matters. There will always be some issues worth your time and effort, and some better set aside. Decisions about your house, investments, pensions and children should be made calmly and rationally, taking into account what you need, which is not necessarily what you may think you want.
The Financial Divorce
The financial divorce is next. The key to a successful cooperative divorce and a secure financial future is preparation. You can only make intelligent decisions if you know all your options. Books, seminars and websites can be useful sources of information. Get advice on your rights and obligations from experts. Consult an attorney about the law, an accountant about tax questions, and a Certified Divorce Planner™ (an expert in divorce finances) for financial issues.
Begin by collecting all the information you can about your family's finances. Bank statements, tax returns, W-2s and 1099s, brokerage statements, bills, loan documents and other financial records are critical to determining where you stand financially and where you will be in years to come. You have to know your starting point to plan your future, so you will need to determine what you are spending and how much income is available to meet your financial needs. Remember that you will be supporting two households on the same income in the future, so expect to have to make changes.
Accuracy is really important, too. Most people have no idea how much they actually spend because so much of our spending is cash. Add up those cash withdrawals every month when you're doing your budget. Don't forget expenses that aren't regular either. Anticipate and plan for annual costs such as homeowner association fees, or the money might not be available when you need it.
When you have a clear picture of your finances you can begin to make decisions on the issues: support (child/spouse) and division of assets and debts. There are guidelines for these decisions. Support issues are generally decided on the basis of need. All states have a formula into which you insert income figures for the parents, number of children, and other factors in order to calculate child support payments. The result may or may not meet your actual needs, since there are no adjustments for your unique circumstances. You can negotiate for an amount that differs from the guidelines.
Spousal support is based on need of the recipient and ability of the other spouse to pay, but not all jurisdictions provide guidelines. If you have prepared a thorough budget and can demonstrate a clear need, it will be easier to negotiate for temporary or permanent spousal support.
Property is generally divided according to what the couple thinks is fair. You may agree to divide the marital assets 50/50 or you may not. It's your choice. Most couples who work with a Certified Divorce Planner™ do not split assets evenly. If you can't agree, a judge will make the decisions for you. The law provides factors for the judge to consider (length of marriage; age and health of spouses; ability to earn; education levels, etc.), but you have to convince the judge by presenting evidence of what is an "equitable distribution" of the assets.
The Legal Divorce
The final step is the legal divorce, or what lawyers call the "dissolution of the marriage" by a court. You will need to negotiate a settlement agreement that includes the provisions you've made for support, division of property, parenting and any other matters that concern you. Using a mediator will save you time and thousands of dollars. Mediators guide you through the decision-making process step by step, showing you what to do and helping you make choices for yourselves. Working together and sharing the cost of mediation lets you resolve the issues efficiently and economically, often in only a few hours. The end result, a Property Settlement Agreement (or Separation Agreement, or Marital Separation Agreement) is a map for your future. The agreement will be attached to the petition which is sent to the court when you are ready to request an inexpensive, uncontested divorce.
The system of marriage that existed in Kerala in the past were diverse and ingenious. The marriage is the most decisive event in the girl's life, after she has attained puberty. Even before, when she is a small child there is a custom called 'Kettukalyanam'.
Kettukalyanam was the practice among Nayars (also Kshatriyas, Ezhavas, Arayas, pulayas and even certain tribes) to conduct ritual marriages of their daughters usually several girls of different age groups belonging to a tarawad had their marriage conducted in the same place and on the same occasion. The adult males married the girls. Some times one adult married several women.
In some cases, the bridegroom belonged to the Kshatriyas or Aryapattan or Elayatu communities (lower status sub-castes among Nambootiris). He also acted as the priest. He tied a sacramental thread around the neck of the bride. Then the brother of the child bride carried her on his shoulders to a decorated pandal, a thatched shed improvised for the occasion in the front courtyard of the house.
The bride would be in her wedding shawl (mandrakodi) which covers her face as a veil. After the wedding is performed by tying the thread, the priest - bridegroom washes his hands, an act which symbolises his severance of all relationship with the girl whom he had just initiated into wedlock. The real marriage of the girl has yet to take place after she attains puberty. But for a girl to attain puberty before she had her Kettukalyanam among Nayars, Kshatriyas, Tiyyas is very expensive, elaborate and festive than the real marriage ceremonies. The ritual marriage ceremony would be concluded by sumptuous feasts for four days consecutively in which friends and relatives would participate. On the fourth day, the women of the village took a ceremonial bath along with the girl and returned to her home to make merry and rejoice with dances and songs.
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