Making Intimate Relationships Last

January Salon

We have pulled together a few articles on our highly requested salon topic – making intimate relationships last. As always, these articles are not mandatory homework, but we hope that you will find some time (maybe during naptime or after the kids are sleeping?) to peruse our fine assortment of reading materials.

The Five Languages of Love
According to marriage counsellor Dr. Gary Chapman, each of us has a “love language”, a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. To complicate things, we tend to fall in love with someone who has a different love language. There’s a quiz to help you determine which of the five is your primary language. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to convince your partner to do it, too. (*We HIGHLY recommend completing the quiz mentioned here as it would make for a great starting point for our discussion.)

For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage
New York Times “Well” columnist Tara Parker-Pope’s most recent book explores what make a good marriage and the science behind this most intimate relationship. Read an excerpt from her book or take one of the many quizzes she offers on her site to see if your relationship is hot or cool, or find out how well you know your partner.

Talk Sex with Sue Johanson

Famous nurse and sex educator, Sue Johanson shares some useful tips to help couples listen empathetically to one another. Her article Communications & Couple Therapy offers basic communication skills to help spouses get through tough situations. The 81-year-old talk show host’s site also hosts some “interesting” sex-related articles, if you prefer to focus on the “intimate” side of the relationship.

Dr. Phil

Who better than Oprah’s favourite psychologist to give you advice on marriage do’s? In his article The Five Biggest Mistakes that Threaten Relationships he and his group of specialists give five simple tips that can help you and your partner stay connected and in love.

Happy Reading!

Mme J. and Mme B. xo

Mean Girls, Female Rivalry and Bullies

September Salon

We’ve pulled together a few resources for you and would love to hear your thoughts. There’s a lot more information available today than there was when we were in high school. Our hope is that this topic will help us be better friends, co-workers and parents.

Understanding Mean Girls

Mean Girls come in many forms. We see them in the movies and in our past and present. This blog post from Psych Your Mind makes some excellent points about what’s behind the mean girl facade, the people who enable them and the dark consequences of psychological and physical bullying. It’s also a great reference for films, books and real-life examples. We should all take note of number four for our salon discussion: We are all mean girls at times.

Queen Bees and Wannabes

For a lot of people, the movie Mean Girls was more than just a mind-numbingly entertaining video. It brought the somewhat taboo topic of female bullying into everyday conversation. In this video, The Politics of Girl World, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, Rosalind Wiseman, dissects several different scenes from the movie and shares anecdotes and facts she’s learned through her research on teenage girls and boys. She explains her hopes for the film and her book, which are “to get girls talking” about this topic and to see what the “consequences” of their actions are, so that they can hopefully avoid situations like those in the movie.

How girls bully

Have you really ever asked yourself HOW girls bully? We all know about the physical element, which is so often displayed by our male counterparts, but what about the verbal and emotional parts? Girl bullies are known to be “quietly vicious” and their actions often go unnoticed by adults. So what exactly do girls do to hurt one another? This article explains the fact that the older girls get, the more cerebral (and less physical) they become. Girls alienate, ostracize, harass, exclude and spread rumors about each other. And worst of all, they do it in packs.

Girl vs. Girl

Female rivalry is a little different than the traditional alpha female and clique scenario, but it can have similar psychological effects. In this Harper’s Bazaar article, author Naomi Wolf takes a look at the adult version of this rivalry in the film Black Swan and other adult female feuds in history. She asks us to bring this unflattering subject into the light to see how it affects our closest relationships, our careers and our ability to lead.

Happy Reading!


July Salon

Polygamy in Canada

So much of the news coverage on polygamy comes from the U.S. and abroad, but what about polygamy on our home turf? I must admit that I wasn’t aware of the community of Bounty in B.C. or that there hasn’t been a successful prosecution for polygamy in Canada for more than 60 years. This CBC article gives a bit of the history in Canada and the current laws.

Polygamy, Bigamy and Polyamory: What’s the difference?

After a fair bit of searching, this was the best and least biased take on the differences between these three. I figured the one that gets down to the greek suffix “gamy” for marriage and the prefix “poly” for many was a good start. Some other terms worth noting: polyandry, polygyny, polyfidelity and non-monogamy. If you’re really a keener, you can find some interesting definitions from the Poly Amory Society.

Polygamy in the Media

Two popular TV shows have more people in North America talking about polygamy than ever before. Whether they agree with it or not, millions of viewers are tuning in to Sister Wives to see the “reality” of living in a polygamous marriage. Perhaps a glossy view of this outlawed form of marriage, read below to see the more contentious side of polygamy in the New York Times.

A Collection of Polygamy Articles from the New York Times

In case those charming sister wives had you shopping for your own wife, the NYT reminds us of the dark side of men having multiple wives. TheFundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and Utah appear at the heart of many compounds, underage brides and sexual assault charges. Polygamy looks very different outside of North America. It is traditionalist practice in places such as South Africa, where president Jacob Zuma is a proponent of plural marriage. He has four wives and 20 children.

Parenting Taboos

May Salon

Inspired by the TED talk Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, our May Mother’s Day salon with all or our moms will attempt to tackle parenting taboos both then and now. We’re excited to hear what each generation has to say.

Here are the four taboos provided by Griscom and Volkman as well as three that we’ve added. We’ve also provided a few more resources for each taboo. There are some great articles here from the New York Times, Maclean’s, Baby Center and more. We hope you’ll get through a few of them before the May salon. There’s some juicy stuff here.

1) You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your baby in the very first minute.

If a new parent were ever to admit (aloud) that they didn’t feel an instant connection or
deep devotion to their baby the moment he/she entered this world, society would outcast
them as a three-headed monster! But for those of us who’ve been there, having a baby is
a bigger change than you could ever expect (regardless of how many people warn you). No wonder it’s estimated that 50-80% of mothers suffer from some form of the “baby
blues” after giving birth. Here are two great resources on postpartum depression and the reality of bonding with baby.

2) You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be.

Going from Ms. Independent to Ms. Mom is not an easy transition. One day you’re a
career woman, on the rise in your job and feeling on top of the world. Your marriage is
great with a date night at least once a week. Your house is always immaculate and there’s
no to-do list left unchecked. Meeting up with friends for drinks is a regular thing and
you’re always dressed in the trendiest of trends! But then, the baby comes. All of a
sudden, you can’t keep up. You never see your friends. Heck, you hardly brush your hair
or teeth anymore. Having a baby CAN be lonely. Being on a limited income sure doesn’t
help either. Here are some very practical guidelines to combating that isolation and making the most of maternity leave.

3) You can’t talk about your miscarriage.

Each mother and mother-to-be experiences the loss of a baby differently. There are many resources for this loss; however, talking about it without those closest to you can be the most difficult. We’re wondering why this grief compared to other losses is so hidden. Two articles to help us understand: a very personal story of miscarriage and another on how to support a woman who has experienced a miscarriage.

4) You can’t say that your average happiness has declined since having a child.

Having a baby is the most wonderful, sweet, joyous, exhilarating thing you will ever do, right? Griscom and Volkman argue this is not necessarily true and that’s okay. You can admit it without worrying that the Children’s Aid Society is going to come knocking at your door. Parenting has many stresses placed on it in our modern world and we should be able to talk about it. This New York Times article All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting is an honest approach to the reality of parenting in the 21st century.

Additional Taboos

5) Gender Disappointment

While many parents long for a boy or a girl, few talk about the disappointment of finding out they are having the opposite of their desires. It may only be the initial shock, or surprise, but for some it is much harder to handle. This article on overcoming gender disappointment sheds light on external pressures, guilt and preconceived notions of gender.

6) Career vs. Children

This taboo comes in many forms. A few generations ago, mothers who chose to work outside the home faced harsh criticism from other women. While the times are changing, women are often criticized if they choose to travel for work, give sole custody to their husband in cases of separation, or continue in a career that is seen as dangerous. This Momformation blog covers some of the criticism moms face when choosing dangerous careers and The Gender Gap in Motherhood describes the unfortunate reality of the double standard women face with work/life balance.

7) Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding and formula-feeding have flip-flopped as the top choice for mothers and doctors over the years. Present-day trends favour breastfeeding, but the debate still goes on when it comes to ability, length of time and desire. What’s best for baby is important, but the taboo here seems to lie in what’s best for mom. This Maclean’s interview with Joan B. Wolf, assistant professor of women’s studies at Texas A&M University and the author of the controversial new book Is Breast Best? Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood, covers many of the more controversial aspects of how mothers choose to feed their babies.

Living Simpler in a Complex World

March Salon

Our March Salon will tackle the idea of Living Simpler in a Complex World, which has implications on many levels. On a practical level we can take the approach of simplifying our lives in order to be more efficient or find peace of mind. Zen-like habits, decluttering our homes and living with minimal possessions has numerous psychological and spiritual benefits.

If we zoom out and look beyond a Western World filled with jam-packed pantries, cheaply made clothes and disorderly closets, there are global implications to slowing down and finding simplicity in our busy lives. In other terms: living simply so that others may simply live.

We’ve compiled a few resources for our moms to browse. It’s not mandatory and we won’t quiz you, so read as little or as much as you’d like.

Wikipedia: Simple Living
Wikipedia is a always a nice place to start the conversation. Here you’ll find jumping points for sustainable living, secular and religious viewpoints, anti-consumerism and increasing self-sufficiency.

Zenhabits: Smile, Breathe and Go Slowly
Blogger and Author Leo Babauta promotes simplicity in a chaotic world by providing very practical steps to achieving a more zen-like existence. He’s also made a large portion of his book Focus available for free to download.

Rowdy Kittens: Social Change Through Simple Living
Another blogger and author passionate about living simply, Tammy Strobel writes about living car-free, entrepreneurship and downsizing. In a recent post titled The No-Refrigerator Challenge she notes that “the average American throws away about 197 pounds of food every year.” Yikes! Her two books, Smalltopia and Simply Car-free, sound inspiring.

ABC Special: Are Today’s Kids Too Busy?
Have parents taken scheduling activities to an extreme? This short video looks at this controversial topic and suggests that many families do it to simply to “keep up with the Joneses”. Dr. Lisa Thornton outlines some of the warning signs to look for when trying to establish a balance between free-time and scheduled activities.

My Simpler Life: Creating a Saner, Simpler Life
Becoming consumed in materialism starts at a very young age. Here, mom blogger Beth, talks about practical tips on how to “tame” materialism when it comes to your child. A quick and easy read, this short article delves into the topic of teaching your children that brand-name clothing is a waste of money and that commercials are just about getting you to buy a product.

Mme J and Mme B

Deconstructing Cosmo Magazine

January Salon

As a group we decided that our January salon would have us deconstructing the December issue of American Cosmo. It was one of a number of topics found in my go-to salon book The Joy of Conversation: The Complete Guide to Salons by Jaida Nha Sandra.

The moms have picked up the issue with cover model Julia Stiles and have been reading, scanning and taking notes for our upcoming meeting. The conversation should be a lively one. I’ve not picked up a Cosmo for years, so my take on the mag is sure to be different from that of regular readers. I’ve already been surprised (both good and bad) by some of the content, ads and images.

To go with our topic, here are a few more resources that are interesting companions for deconstructing this well-known mag. A glass of wine and your man waiting in the wings are also good companions, should you decide to take some of the “expert advice”.

1) The official Cosmo website is a wealth of daily tidbits, including a daily sex position, featured videos and games. I’ll have to keep checking in, though. They’re either really fond of the “joystick joyride” (I’m not referring to the games) or they’re not posting new information as frequently as they could be.

2) Hard to imagine Cosmopolitan as a family magazine, but that’s what it started out as in the late 1800s. It then transformed into a literary mag before becoming a women’s magazine in the 1960s. Briefly reading about its roots and history has shaped the way I look at this magazine. I recommend reading this wiki entry before our salon.

3) Further to the history, knowing a little about Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief from 1965 to 1997, gives some context for how the current magazine was shaped. This New York Times book review of the biography of Brown provides a quick glimpse into the life of this fascinating woman.

4) This man’s take on Cosmo from Kritik magazine (now defunct?) may prompt you to ask what your husband thinks of the magazine. I’m guessing there has already been some lively conversation between partners on this salon topic.

Have Women and Men Achieved Equality in 2010?

November Salon

Each time we post a salon topic we’ll also be sharing with you articles, websites and books that we think will contribute to the conversation. We encourage our saloners to read, browse and share these posts, as well as send us information they feel is relevant to the group and topic.

Please feel free to get the conversation started pre-salon or keep it going after we’ve met in the comments section. If you can’t attend, you can contribute here or use these posts to get your own conversations started.

Ms. Magazine Blog

Ms. has been bringing the world news on women’s issues since it was founded in the early ’70s. There’s a wealth of  information on everything from reproductive rights and sports to the military and the arts. Their ‘How We’re Doing’ section has great big-picture articles to see where women stand in key areas.


Wondering how Canada compares to other countries when it comes to gender equality? Wikigender is the place to look if you like hard numbers and stats. View Canada’s page and take some time to see the comparative data, which is extracted and posted daily, on everything from literacy to health.

Twenty-Five Horribly Sexist Vintage Ads

Ads for a variety of products may have you feeling like we’ve come along way, baby, or that these sentiments still feel a little too familiar.

Guerrilla Girls

Feminists, activists and artists, these women call attention to issues of equality, race, sex and gender in very creative ways. Check out their posters and this video to see some of their tongue-in-cheek work, which began in the ’80s in New York.

The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Thanks to Forbes and their love of ranking, categorizing and listing we have the world’s 100 most powerful women neatly placed in four categories. Interesting on it’s own, but perhaps a comparative glance at some of Forbes’ other lists will give this one more perspective. The conversation starter: Where did Lady Gaga place?

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