Entries in communal (5)


App Review: Brownie Points

There are a number of apps out there that are designed to help people find, keep, and cultivate their relationships. Given our expertise in relationship science, we’ve taken to reviewing these apps from time to time to determine the extent to which they reflect and/or make use of relationship science (see our previous post reviewing apps here). Our latest review is for the brand-new app called Brownie Points (also on Facebook here).

What the App Does: Brownie Points allows couple members (i.e., users) to track and assign “brownie” points to tasks that partners can later exchange for rewards. For example, suppose Kate wants William to change their new baby’s diapers. William wants to be able to sleep in on the weekends and have the occasional night out with his buddies. Together, Kate and William negotiate how many points William receives for changing diapers as well as how many points it ‘costs’ to be able to sleep in on the weekend or have a night out. Once William has enough points he can exchange them for extra sleep or an opportunity to go our drinking with his brother Harry.

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Juggling Under Pressure

I am one sandwiched woman. Between living with a retired mother with health concerns, trying to manage two preschool-aged boys, and balancing a full-time career, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the demands of life (hence the absence of my column the last few months!). Mix in my mother’s recent knee replacement surgery (bad) and an upcoming promotion at work (good), I have struggled the last few months to carve out quality time with The Consultant. Although an intimate relationship is very important to me (and everyone), my career and family take priority; I can juggle only so many proverbial balls at a time!

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Is Sex Allowed to Be Important in a Romantic Relationship?

A recent article in Wall Street Journal (WSJ) by Elizabeth Bernstein, How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex? What Happens When He Says 'More' and She Says 'No', created some controversy. The article focused on Chris and Afton Mower, a heterosexual couple who share the details of their previously sexless marriage. At one point in their relationship, the couple went one year without having sex. The husband, Chris, desired more sex, whereas his wife, Afton, had no interest in sex.

Over time, after communicating and reading a self-help book together, Chris and Afton revived their sexual relationship and now both report being satisfied with their sex life. In the article, Bernstein referenced our research on sexual communal strength (discussed here) to suggest that at times a person may prioritize their romantic partner’s sexual needs over their own preferences and that this focus on a partner’s needs can be beneficial (not only for the partner whose needs are being met, but also for the partner meeting the needs).1 Bernstein's article caused quite a stir in the media; a number of news outlets, including JezebelThe Week, and New York Magazine, published responses. Critics rebuked the article for what they perceived as its focus on the “man’s perspective” and questioned the depression, weight gain and emotional distress that Chris linked to his sexual rejection. Based on some of the responses, it was also controversial to suggest that a person has some responsibility in an ongoing romantic relationship to meet their partner’s sexual needs, perhaps especially when it is the male partner who desires more sex than his wife.

After reading these responses I began to wonder whether (and for whom) we allow sex to be important in a relationship.

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Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: How Having Money Can Make You a Worse Parent

Common sense suggests that people should get their financial ducks in a row before having children. Indeed, couples frequently put off having children because they first want to be more financially secure. There are definitely some important upsides to this strategy; for example, kids tend to be healthier and happier when their parents are more well-off. But might there also be downsides to pursuing wealth before parenting?

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A Careful Balance of Care

Giving and receiving care is an essential part of relationships. But how do you know just how giving you should be or how much you should expect others to give in return? Research indicates that there are two common types of relationships people engage in to ensure balanced giving and receiving.

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