Family Journal: June 28, 2021

It has been so nice to have all five of us together this summer. We are combining shopping, outdoor adventure, doctors’ appointments, helping Owen, etc. Reconnecting as a family is the best aspect of summer holidays. This weekend we dropped Ocean and Nadia off at the mall in nearby Wilkes Barre and Owen, Oliver and I did a round of disc golf on the course along the bank of the Susquehanna River. The large trees and grassy areas make for a pleasant environment. The flowing river and downtown skyline make for delightful views.

We used the same strategy yesterday when we visited the town of Jim Thorpe. We drop the girls off for shopping and the boys go out and do something. Jim Thorpe is a beautiful town nestled in the Lehigh Gorge and is quite touristy. The main street is filled with unique little shops which they enjoyed. We drove across the river and hiked up to Glen Onoko Falls. Park officials closed part of the trail because they were receiving too many distress calls of injured hikers. The steep sides of the gorge combined with slippery rocks and flip-flops, caused many accidents and even deaths through the years. We did the 3 kilometer ascent quite rapidly. The falls are beautiful and I wish we had more time there to explore. We’ll definitely visit Jim Thorpe again and I’ll share some photos of the town. We like to cycle the trail which goes over 25 miles between White Haven and Jim Thorpe, but with my injury this year, we are confined to walking.

I listened with interest to Dr. David Buss from the University of Texas Austin being interviewed by Sam Harris. Buss is a psychologist with a background in evolutionary biology who researches human mating behavior. Harris and Buss were pointing out the differences between men and women when it comes to finding and keeping a mate. It is obvious because of the physical differences between the sexes, there will be differences in mating strategies. For example, women invest much energy in producing a nutrient-packed egg and the 40-week pregnancy and birth. For men, fertilization and gestation takes place inside of the female and this is not as big of a physical investment. There is a social movement to play down these differences. Because this is such an important, emotional topic for almost everyone, much of the common perceptions of differences between men and women can be backed up by evolutionary differences. However, both Buss and Harris are not excusing bad male behavior (cheating, sexual harassment, etc.) but by understanding natural tendencies developed over long periods of time, humans can overcome this to be fulfilled mates and parents.

I especially enjoyed the concept of mate value. Males are valued for traits such as income earning, kindness, emotional stability, empathy, intelligence, height, prestige/power, looks, etc. The higher one is on these continuums, the higher one’s mate value. Women are valued for much of the same things, but youth and beauty do get higher values than in men. Evidence for this is in the average age gap between men and women with marriage. In the first marriage, an average age gap of 3 years, the second marriage is 5 years and the third marriage is 8 years. As men age and gain income and prestige, they value youth in women. I was thinking on how mate value applies to my children and I think all young people should read Buss’s work to assist them in finding the right partner and maintaining a healthy marriage and family. It must be more challenging today with the internet and the many more possibilities of meeting people and comparing oneself to others. I always say that who you marry is more important than what your career field is when considering satisfaction in life. The other concept of interest covered in the conversation was the “dark triad” of personality traits that are associated with male sexual harassment and abuse. Men that rate high in Narcism (self-centered), psychopathy (lacking empathy) and Machiavelliasm (manipluating others) are dangerous, serial offenders. Most men do not exhibit the dark triad of personality traits.

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