Why Thomas Hardy, Not Jane Austen, Is a Better Guide to Love

Valentine’s Day is here, and with it, the usual slew of literary and pop culture reminders of what love does to us. Pick your poison—Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks, the Brontes, Old Hollywood, 90s rom coms, BBC bodice rippers—we are saturated by reminders that a rewarding life includes a worthy, rewarding and, above all, romantic relationship. … Continued

Books, Culture

Don’t Be a Pessimist About Love and Marriage

Is Romanticism the bane of happy marriages? Without a doubt. At least, that’s the argument philosopher Alain de Botton made last week in the New York Times. The piece struck a nerve with everyone I asked about it; the fact that it remained the most-read story for days after it was published makes me confident … Continued


How Two New Movies Explain the Meaning of Marriage

Imagine a world where marriage is mandated even in the absence of love—or just save yourself the trouble and go see the new film, The Lobster. Directed by the Greek satirist Yorgos Lanthimos (Oscar-nominated in 2011 for his provocative Dogtooth) and starring a paunchy, mustachioed Colin Farrell, The Lobster posits just such a dystopian future, … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

What the Museum of Broken Relationships Tells Us about Love

In Croatia there is a warehouse of discarded objects masquerading as artifacts called the Museum of Broken Relationships. The conceit of the museum is this: Disgruntled lovers around the world share objects from past love affairs along with details about how the objects tell the story behind the demise of the relationship. The museum, which … Continued


Be My (Compulsory) Valentine

My three kids returned home this week each with a list of the names of their classmates and firm instructions from their teachers that, if they chose to participate in the festivities, they must write Valentine’s Day cards to every single kid in the class. Nothing like a little forced goodwill and fake friendships to … Continued

Culture, Parenting

JLaw, Meet Your New Love Guru: Ben Bernanke

In a world dominated by dating apps that promise true love (or at least efficient hookups) at the swipe of a finger across a screen, old-fashioned dating and marriage advice might seem passé. In fact, as a new generation confronts the question of whether or not to get married, it’s more necessary than ever. How … Continued


What Millennials Can Learn about Love from Opera

Of all the art forms for life to imitate, opera might be the most unlikely. Its stilted affairs and tragic finales might offer expressive representation of our love lives, but they seem far removed from our actual habits and behaviors. And yet, as the current generation of young people comes of age, and the focus … Continued


What Tolkien Can Teach Us about Love and Family

My mother has dementia. I’ve found in her condition a reason not to feel sorrow, although that feeling is there, or to call for advances in medicine to provide a cure. I have no desire to partake in a walk for the cure. What I’ve found, rather, is a new way to wonder at the … Continued

Books, Culture

Love Lessons from ‘Anne of Green Gables’

Recently, I was staring at a huge tree, its branches covered in white blossoms. It had been a long winter in Washington, D.C., and I caught myself deliberately slowing my steps, wanting to savor the sight of the tree as long as possible. Didn’t, I thought, Anne of Green Gables have a tree like this? … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Movies

Meghan Trainor’s Twisted Ideas about Love and Marriage

Meghan Trainor wants a husband. In her new hit song “Dear Future Husband,” the 21-year-old pop star lays out what she’s looking for in a man and in a marriage. But beneath the song’s innocent, bubblegum beat is a surprisingly twisted version of love and romance. The song has already set off a firestorm of … Continued

Entertainment, Music