Love & Learn

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    US parents are overwhelmingly guilty -- even if they really don't have a reason to feel that way. They're scared something will happen to their kids. They hover, they stifle ... they hold hands too tightly, for too long. It's common criticism we hear from parents who raise children in other countries.

    There's praise, too. US parents are creative, silly, loving, attentive ... but there may be some lessons worth learning if we open our minds. Here are 7 ways parents from around the world approach childhood differently.

    Do you think the US could learn a thing or two from parents in different countries? What could they learn from us?

    Image via © Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto/Corbis

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    This piece is part of an ongoing series featuring real people's epic love stories. Each one is a poignant reminder of true love's power to conquer almost anything.

    Have you ever been curious about arranged marriage? Maybe not curious enough to try it out yourself -- but it does hold a certain mystery in American culture.

    We've all heard the horror stories about child brides. But for millions of middle-class people around the world, arranged marriage has far less drama. It's simply an accepted way of joining families together based on shared values and backgrounds. The success rate of arranged marriages is astounding.

    Except sometimes such a union just doesn't work out. What happens then? For Pratima Aravabhoomi, a young mother who left her arranged marriage to start a new life on her own terms, the answer was anything but simple.

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    When did it become fashionable to make your kid a target of torment right after they leave the womb? It's all warm and soothing in there and -- boom! -- now your kid has to respond to the name Imogen. Celebs are the biggest offenders when it comes to saddling their kids with crazy baby names, but there are everyday moms following their lead.

    When it comes to baby names, you need to take your role as protector seriously. Don't brainstorm possible names over a glass of wine. If it makes you laugh, it will make the kids on the playground howl. Be mom first ... hip, cool mom with a child named Rainbow Bark comes second. Really, it does.

    Please, moms, step away from signing the baby name certificate until you have committed these rules to memory.

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    For all of us, a certain amount of touching is absolutely essential to a good marriage. It's just a fact. Touch is the very essence of marriage, that which separates you and your spouse from siblings, friends, or two roommates who happen to share children.

    But "touch" encompasses a wide swath of intimate gestures that range all the way from a hug in the kitchen when one of you had a bad day to hot sex in your bedroom that lasts all night long. So which of these two is the proverbial "glue" in a marriage? In an epic smackdown between the cuddles and the wild sex, which would win the last round?

    It should be simple enough to answer, right? People have preferences. And yet, like almost everything else in marriage, it's neither simple nor straightforward.

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    Choosing a child’s name is one of the first major decisions a parent makes. But what if you’re an adoptive parent opening your heart and home to a child who already has a name?

    That makes a difficult decision even harder.

    "There’s no rule of thumb," says Jennifer Traficanti, director of child services of the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE). "It’s truly a personal decision for families. It’s their right as parents to make that choice. For the majority of families, changing the child’s last name is a given, but the first name requires careful consideration. The child’s feelings should come first."

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    "Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass," said author Mary Kay Blakely. She's right. Not only is divorce painful, it can also be incredibly complicated.

    And what that means is that it's a breeding ground for mistakes. So many terrible, long-lasting, devastating, regrettable mistakes are made because we're on an emotional roller coaster, or because the legal process is messy, or both.

    "It's what I call the 'divorce paradox,'" says divorce lawyer Rebecca Zung, author of Breaking Free: A Step-By-Step Divorce Guide to Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Freedom. "In the worst emotional trauma, you have to make the most critical decisions of your life."

    Wondering about all the ways women can go wrong when their marriages end? We've got the scoop on the biggest divorce secrets and fails by someone who's seen it all.

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    There's a lot of talk about what you should and shouldn't do in front of your spouse -- and how much privacy to give each other in marriage. The truth is, the best marriages I know have very low expectations when it comes to all that.

    If that seems counter to everything you've ever heard about "two becoming one in marriage," it is. But also, it isn't.

    Two DO become one when they commit to spend the rest of their lives together. But no one is expecting two different people to blend into one another so completely that neither is a whole person anymore. The reality is, marriage is compromise and more than that, it's an endless exercise in truth-telling. If you can't be yourself in front of your spouse -- the one you live with and see day in and day out, the one who sees sides of you no one else ever will -- then who can you be yourself with? 

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    What really turns women on? Is it really all those qualities we're fed as being attractive? You know the usual suspects: a wide-toothed grin, captivating eyes, a sparky sense of humor, bulging muscles, smarts, the ability to look jaw-droppingly handsome in a crisp, collared shirt. Those are the obvious things that get us hot and bothered, right? Sure. But maybe not exclusively ...

    Because while those may be what makes a man sexy on the surface, it's a different ball game once he's your husband. As I settle into life as an "old" -- okay, older -- 30-something married lady, I've opened my eyes to a new kind of turn-on which has very little to do with my husband resembling a rom-com's dashing lead and more to do with him resembling ... a dad.

    More specifically, my husband changed his very first diaper recently. And I have to tell you, it was oddly ... hot.

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    Before my husband slipped an engagement ring on my finger and popped the question, I knew I wasn't going to take his last name. My reasoning was two-fold: One, there are no boys in my family, and two, I just didn't like the idea of getting rid of the name I've always had -- it sort of seemed like I was erasing my old self.

    Here's my thing, though: I didn't take my husband's last name but I didn't keep mine, either. I hyphenated.

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    You know the old adage "once a cheater, always a cheater"? People use it all the time without a lot of thought. Well now it looks like they may have been right all along.

    In a recent survey of 484 unmarried 18- to 34-year-olds, people who say they cheated in one relationship are three-and-a-half times more likely to report being unfaithful again in another relationship. In other words, they tend to be repeat offenders. But here's what's even scarier: They aren't the only ones who get in a bad rut in that scenario.

    People who were cheated on are also more likely to be betrayed again in their next relationship. And believe me, I can relate. So why does this happen -- and what can those of us who have been there do to break the cycle?

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