Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (30 Mb)

Topics:

  • the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
  • cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
  • balancing marriage, family and career
  • single motherhood by choice and IVF
  • donor-conceived children
  • modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
  • the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
  • the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
  • the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
  • fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
  • how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children

52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should you marry someone who promises you that “there will be no divorce”?

I was having a chat with a friend of mine who just got out of a serious relationship and I was trying to pick his brain to find out everything about the woman he was intending to marry so I could see why things went wrong. He told me that she had told him over and over that “there would be no divorce” and that he found that very convincing, despite very obvious warning signs in the area of respect (which I wrote about yesterday).

Well. I was very surprised to hear this, and so I asked him whether he thought it was enough that this woman told him that “three will be no divorce”. He said yes. This woman had experienced the divorce of her own parents and she was resolved (by act of will) never to let that happen to her. He found that acceptable, but I didn’t because I know the numbers on this, and I know that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce themselves. So the pain of divorce is no deterrent here.

So should we believe that people can avoid a divorce just by saying they will? I told him no. And for an example, I offered a thought experiment. I said to imagine two runners on a track who are charged with completing 10 laps. One runner is a Navy SEAL like Mike Murphy, who has been trained to run miles and miles carrying a 60 pound load. In the mountains. The other is a 300-lb couch potato whose idea of exercise is reaching for the TV remote control. Suppose I ask both runners: do you intend to finish the 10 laps? Should I believe them if they both say yes?

Look, marriage is like building a house. People can say whatever they want about their prospects for success, but the will doesn’t decide here. You have to certain skills, you have to have a certain amount of money, you have to have a plan, you have to be able to read blueprints, you have to be able to hire specialists, you understand the differences between materials, etc. When you think about it, no long-term enterprise can be accomplished by act of will. Piano recitals, math exams, investing for retirement… nothing can be done by sheer act of will.

Now with that being said, let’s take a look at an example.

An example

I found this article in the Wall Street Journal way back in 2011, but it fits my conversation with my friend.

The author, Susan Gregory Thomas, lists some of the mistakes she made that led her to get a divorce in her first marriage.

This is the first thing I saw that caught my eye:

“Whatever happens, we’re never going to get divorced.” Over the course of 16 years, I said that often to my husband, especially after our children were born.

So she is trying to express an intention here, repeatedly, to her husband. I think the point here is that she did have good intentions but as we shall see that was not enough to prevent the divorce. That’s a warning to others that good intentions are not enough.

Here is the second thing:

I believed that I had married my best friend as fervently as I believed that I’d never get divorced. No marital scenario, I told myself, could become so bleak or hopeless as to compel me to embed my children in the torture of a split family. And I wasn’t the only one with strong personal reasons to make this commitment.

I noticed that a lot of people seem to think that being compatible is very important to marriage. But I don’t think that it is the most important thing. For example, you would not expect two cocaine addicts or two gambling addicts, etc. to have a stable marriage. I think marriage is more like a job interview where there are specific things that each person has to be able to do in order to make it work. So again, she’s giving a warning to others that compatibility is not a guarantee of marriage success.

And there’s more:

My husband and I were as obvious as points on a graph in a Generation X marriage study. We were together for nearly eight years before we got married, and even though statistics show that divorce rates are 48% higher for those who have lived together previously, we paid no heed.

We also paid no heed to his Catholic parents, who comprised one of the rare reassuringly unified couples I’d ever met, when they warned us that we should wait until we were married to live together. As they put it, being pals and roommates is different from being husband and wife. How bizarrely old-fashioned and sexist! We didn’t need anything so naïve or retro as “marriage.” Please. We were best friends.

Sociologists, anthropologists and other cultural observers tell us that members of Generation X are more emotionally invested in our spouses than previous generations were. We are best friends; our marriages are genuine partnerships. Many studies have found that Generation X family men help around the house a good deal more than their forefathers. We depend on each other and work together.

So here I am seeing that she rejected sex roles, parental advice, or the moral guidelines of Christianity. Again, she is discussing some of the factors that I at least think contribute to divorce. I think that she is right to highlight the fact that she was wrong to disregard the statistics on cohabitation.

So here are some of the mistakes:

  • reject advice from parents
  • avoid chastity
  • cohabitate for EIGHT YEARS
  • embrace feminism, reject complementarian sex roles
  • thinking that good intentions would overcome every challenge

So, what does the research show works to have a stable marriage?

  • chastity
  • rejection of feminism
  • regular church attendance
  • parental involvement in the courting
  • parents of both spouses married
  • no previous divorces

Guess what? You can’t break all the rules and still succeed by sheer force of will.  If you break all the rules like that woman in the story, you can’t have a working marriage. Not without repudiating everything you believed, and taking steps to undo all the damage from everything you’ve done. You can’t keep all the bad beliefs and bad habits you’ve built up and marry them to a marriage that will stand the test of time.

A good marriage is an enterprise, and it requires that your character be changed to fit the requirements. There is no way to short-circuit the preparation / selection processes by act of will. And just because your friends are getting married, that’s no reason for you to rush into it unprepared. The best way to prepare for marriage is pick people of the opposite sex and practice marriage behaviors (e.g. – listening, helping) with them – even with people you don’t intend to marry. Take an interest in their lives and practice denying yourself to help them with their problems. That’s better than making idle promises you’re not able to keep. And this works the same for men and for women. Both people need to get this right.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Studies show that egalitarian marriage results in less sex

From the ultra-leftist New York Times, of all places. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Most of the article is standard leftist boilerplate, but check this out:

Today, according to census data, in 64 percent of U.S. marriages with children under 18, both husband and wife work. There’s more gender-fluidity when it comes to who brings in the money, who does the laundry and dishes, who drives the car pool and braids the kids’ hair, even who owns the home. A vast majority of adults under 30 in this country say that this is a good thing, according to a Pew Research Center survey: They aspire to what’s known in the social sciences as an egalitarian marriage, meaning that both spouses work and take care of the house and that the relationship is built on equal power, shared interests and friendship. But the very qualities that lead to greater emotional satisfaction in peer marriages, as one sociologist calls them, may be having an unexpectedly negative impact on these couples’ sex lives.

A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year, surprised many, precisely because it went against the logical assumption that as marriages improve by becoming more equal, the sex in these marriages will improve, too. Instead, it found that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming — the kinds of things many women say they want their husbands to do — then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.

[...][Study co-author] Brines believes the quandary many couples find themselves in comes down to this: “The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.” In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.

[...]The chores study seems to show that women do want their husbands to help out — just in gender-specific ways. Couples in which the husband did plenty of traditionally male chores reported a 17.5 percent higher frequency of sexual intercourse than those in which the husband did none.

[...]When I asked Esther Perel, a couples therapist whose book, “Mating in Captivity,” addresses the issue of desire in marriage, about the role sexual scripts play in egalitarian partnerships, she explained it like this: “Egalitarian marriage takes the values of a good social system — consensus-building and consent — and assumes you can bring these rules into the bedroom. But the values that make for good social relationships are not necessarily the same ones that drive lust.” In fact, she continued, “most of us get turned on at night by the very things that we’ll demonstrate against during the day.”

Now let’s leave that new study, and review an older study.

Egalitarianism inroduces a risk of divorce

Here is a related story about a Norwegian study that finds that egalitarian marriages have a higher risk of divorce.

Excerpt:

Couples who share housework duties run a higher risk of divorce than couples where the woman does most of the chores, a Norwegian study sure to get tongues wagging has shown.

The divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.

“The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled Equality in the Home, said.

Researchers found no, or very little, cause-and-effect. Rather, they saw in the correlation a sign of “modern” attitudes.

“Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage” as being less sacred, Mr Hansen said, stressing it was all about values.

“In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially. They can manage much easier if they divorce,” he said.

There were only some marginal aspects where researchers said there may be cause-and-effect.

“Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity … where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” Mr Hansen suggested.

“There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight,” he added.

I think that this article is basically correct – men like having clearly defined roles. A man has the traditional roles of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. He has the responsibility to lead in those areas. He doesn’t want to have the woman’s role, he doesn’t want to be forced to perform it. Complementarianism is the rational view, the view that leads to happier and more stable marriages. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. Men and women maybe be equal in importance and value, but they are not interchangeable. They are not identical.

Now, anyone who denies the facts has to do better than 1) introduce the bare possibility that all the studies are wrong and 2) claim that their own marriage refutes what the studies say and 3) sex isn’t that important anyway for the stability of the marriage, 4) a higher risk of divorce isn’t that bad for the stability of the marriage. The facts are what they are and the wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence. Complementarianism is supported by evidence. Egalitarianism is just ideology.

Egalitarian marriage does not make women happier

Elusive Wapiti writes about in this blog post.

Excerpt:

Norwegian researchers confirm and extend Brad Wilcox and Steven Nock’s research suggesting that egalitarianism sets couples up to fail:

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.

The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said. “One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.

The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on. The reasons, Mr Hansen said, lay only partially with the chores themselves. “Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity … where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” he suggested. “There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight.”

See, Wilcox’s view is this:

The companionate theory of marriage suggests that egalitarianism in practice and belief leads to higher marital quality for wives and higher levels of positive emotion work on the part of husbands. Our analysis of women’s marital quality and men’s marital emotion work provides little evidence in support of this theory. Rather, in examining women’s marital quality and men’s emotional investments in marriage, we find that dyadic commitment to institutional ideals about marriage and women’s contentment with the division of household tasks are more critical. We also show that men’s marital emotion work is a very important determinant of women’s marital quality. We conclude by noting that her marriage is happiest when it combines elements of the new and old: that is, gender equity and normative commitment to the institution of marriage.

His full study from 2006 is here.

Now some people think that if men are not forced to do women’s chores, it will somehow lead to domestic abuse. What do studies say about that?

Domestic violence more likely in two income couples

From Psych Central.

Excerpt:

Intimate partner violence is two times more likely to occur in two income households, compared to those where only one partner works, according to a new study.

Conducted by Sam Houston State University researchers Cortney A. Franklin, Ph.D., and doctoral student Tasha A. Menaker and supported by the Crime Victims’ Institute, the study looked at the impact of education levels and employment among heterosexual partners as it relates to domestic violence.

While the researchers found that differences in education levels appeared to have little influence, when both partners were working, intimate partner violence increased.

“When both male and females were employed, the odds of victimization were more than two times higher than when the male was the only breadwinner in the partnership, lending support to the idea that female employment may challenge male authority and power in a relationship,” said the researchers.

The study was based on telephone interviews with 303 women who identified themselves as either currently or recently in a serious romantic relationship.

[...]The study found that more than 60 percent of women in two-income couples reported victimization, while only 30 percent of women reported victimization in cases when only the male partner was employed.

[...]The study is scheduled to be published in the journal Violence Against Women.

Now let’s see if women in church have their views informed by studies, or not.

Church women have it exactly backwards

For further reading, check out this excellent post from Sunshine Mary. I am including this for life application.

Excerpt:

My husband and I attend a large Protestant church of the superfunrockband denomination. On Wednesday evenings, our church holds small group Bible studies, and HHG and I attend the one for married couples.  We meet in a large room and split into small groups, each group with its own table and leader.

This past week was rough because the topic was sex.  I just could not believe that all the things we joke about Christians saying were actually said.  For example, one young woman actually used the women-are-like-a-crockpot crock of crap.  This is not true, in case anyone has not figured it out yet.  It does not take a woman, Christian or otherwise, eight hours to become sexually aroused.  The idea that a man needs to spend eight hours giving her tender kisses, helping with the laundry, telling her how much he loves her, and bringing her flowers just to turn her on is wrong.  She may like all those things very much, they may be nice things to do, but they will not make her sexually aroused.  Why do Christian women keep telling men this?  It’s like we’ve all succumbed to mass delusion.

Unbelievably, another woman told the group how hot it is when her husband does the dishes and plays with the kids.  She actually said that as a serious comment, and all the other ladies laughed and nodded.

[...]I could no longer stand it, so I whipped out my iPad and looked up a recent study, refuting her blue pill bull pucky…

[...]For the entire evening, it was the same old yip yap about helping with the housework, making sure your wife feels loved enough, making her feel safe, blah blah blah.  None of this is good advice for generating attraction, of course, although it wasn’t surprising.

Why do Christian women perpetuate these myths about attraction, thereby assuring themselves and their husbands a frustrating sex life?  It’s certainly not Biblical.  We could be really jaded and say they are just lying, but I don’t think that is the reason.

It’s more that we hear this over and over again – that we want men who are always tender, gentle, and sensitive, that we need a deep emotional connection, lots of intimate conversation, and plenty of sweet romance before we can feel sexual attraction.  This advice is pervasive: it’s on every Christian website, in our movies, magazines, sermons, and books, and thus we just come to believe it.

You would think that these studies would destroy feminist myths, but a lot of what goes on in churches is never checked against the data. Maybe we should start, though. And note that this is a case where the Bible and the data are once again in perfect harmony — in the sense that both claim that the sexes really are different. It’s the church’s embrace of radical feminism that’s wrong.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

State of Utah lists 15 consequences to redefining marriage in appellate brief

This is from National Review.

Excerpt:

In an historic opening brief filed yesterday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the state of Utah identified at least 15 consequences of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. You can read the full text, which justifies more fully why each of these reasons are valid.

Here are some of their reasons:

1. “First, as many commentators have observed, because procreation is an inherently gendered affair, redefining marriage in genderless terms would break the critical conceptual link between marriage and procreation. . . . Given the manifest ills of fatherless parenting, the State has a compelling interest in sending a powerful message to women that, whenever possible, marriage to the fathers of their children is very important to the welfare of those children and to society itself.”

5. “Fifth, and most obviously, a genderless definition of marriage would likely increase the number of children being raised by same-sex parents. That could happen because the couple decides to raise together an existing child of one of the partners. Or it could result from the conception of a new child through surrogacy or sperm-donation. Either way, such children will not benefit from the State’s preferred mother-father parenting model; often they will have no way of knowing even the identity of both biological parents. And recent evidence on same-sex parenting, while not conclusive, indicates that same-sex parenting arrangements are less effective than married biological mothers and fathers in producing positive outcomes in the lives of their children.

8. “[The] correlation between genderless marriage and lower birthrates. . . . It is also striking that fertility and birthrates tend to be markedly lower in nations and states that have embraced same-sex marriage.”

12. “Governments would likely be pressured—and perhaps agree—to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches or other non-profit religious organizations that refuse on religious grounds to recognize same-sex marriages or to provide benefits to same-sex couples on the same terms as husband-wife couples.”

13. “Governments would likely be pressured—and perhaps agree—to investigate, prosecute and punish people in wedding-related businesses for refusing on religious conscience grounds to assist with same-sex weddings.”

14. “Government licensing agencies would likely be pressured—and perhaps agree—to investigate and punish counselors for refusing on religious conscience grounds to counsel same-sex married couples on the same terms as heterosexual couples.”

15. “Religion-based conflicts between public schools and parents would likely increase as children are taught about sexuality and marriage in ways that contravene parents’ and students’ deeply held religious beliefs.”

These reasons are all of interest to the state, but what about the other social consequences of redefining marriage?

Ryan T. Anderson wrote about that a while back.

Excerpt:

The Norm of Monogamy. New York University Professor Judith Stacey has expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek…small group marriages.”[5] In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates call for legal recognition of sexual relationships involving more than two partners.[6]

University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires using legal recognition to “denormalize[] heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and “rectif[y] past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.” She supports “minimal marriage” in which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties, the type of relationship involved, and which rights and responsibilities to exchange with each.”[7]

And:

The Norm of Exclusivity. Andrew Sullivan, who has extolled the “spirituality” of “anonymous sex,” also thinks that the “openness” of same-sex unions could enhance the bonds of husbands and wives:

[A]mong gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds.… [T]here is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.… [S]omething of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.[11]

“Openness” and “flexibility” are Sullivan’s euphemisms for sexual infidelity. Similarly, in a New York Times Magazine profile, gay activist Dan Savage encourages spouses to adopt “a more flexible attitude” about allowing each other to seek sex outside their marriage.[12] The New York Times recently reported on a study finding that exclusivity was not the norm among gay partners: “‘With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,’ said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, ‘but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.’”[13]

We really need to think about the consequences of these decisions before we jump into them. The last time we redefined marriage, it was no-fault divorce. That worked out great for selfish adults who wanted to make marriage about their own happiness and feelings, but it didn’t work out well for the children who were impacted.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can the negative effects of fatherlessness be attributed to other factors, like poverty?

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Here’s a blog post from the Institute for Family Studies to answer that question.

Introduction:

Growing up without a father—whether that’s due to divorce, a nonmarital birth, or a father’s death—is associated with a host of negative effects. But given that children from low-income families, for instance, are more likely to live apart from their father in the first place, it can be hard to tell to what extent an absent father causes the problems that father absence is associated with, and to what extent other factors related to both family structure and child outcomes (like household income) are to blame.

Researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider published a paper last year on exactly this problem. They reviewed 47 studies that used a variety of methods designed to uncover the causal effects of father absence, such as lagged dependent variable models, natural experiments, and individual fixed effects models.

Here’s one of the findings:

Labor Force: McLanahan and her colleagues found few studies on how father absence affects children’s employment and income in adulthood. The handful of analyses they did find are not entirely comparable; however, some of their findings were consistent. “Divorce was associated with lower levels of employment” in two studies, and in two other studies there were “higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.” In a fifth study, growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stably married parents.

Here is Dr. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation to add some more evidence for this view.

He writes:

Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.[19] Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.

The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:

  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;[20]
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;[21]
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school;[22] and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.[23]

The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families. [24] Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.[25]

Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.[26]

Yesterday, on the Dennis Prager show, Dennis was discussing this article and this article during the male – female hour. He made the point that children raised by single mothers and divorced mothers don’t have the experience of growing up and seeing their mother love her husband and act like a wife towards him. No government program can provide that. It is important that boys and girls have that experience of seeing a woman love her husband, and seeing a man love his wife. Of seeing them in a committed, stable, purposeful relationship, trying to provide for and raise their children.

Today, a lot of women are watching Hollywood movies and TV shows where men are portrayed in a very negative way, e.g. – Mad Men. These shows are often written by people on the hard left – radical feminists and/or gay activists. A girl growing up in this environment is just not going to have access to a positive view of how men and women get along in a marriage, making them less marry-able. Less safe to marry. That example of man and wife would act as a counter to Hollywood, but too many boys and girls are growing up without it.

So what’s the take-home lesson? The take-home lesson is that we need to be more careful about choosing partners and having children. It’s probably a good idea to be less driven by emotions, peer approval and hormones, and more driven by rational thought and studies. Choose wisely, and test well.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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