Tag Archives: infidelity

Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To See The Kids Are All Right

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

OK, folks, I’ve got another movie recommendation for you.

It’s a small-ish, Indie film by Director Lisa Cholodenko called The Kids Are All Right which has been out in the States for a while now, but only recently opened over here in the land of the free and the brave. (Whoops! That’s the U.S.! I meant, the land that spawned the land of the free and the brave…must get my history straight.)

As always, when I recommend movies or books on this site, it’s because I think that they have something profound to say about adulthood.

So, too, with this film. Here are five reasons you should rush out to see it if you haven’t done so already:

1. It’s about marriage. The film centers around two women – played with just the right mix of pluck and vulnerability by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore – who’ve been married to each other for 18 plus years. And though it’s sort of a film about gay marriage (see #4), I wouldn’t say that’s the central theme. Rather, this film is about what I’ve referred to before as middle marriage – that particular stage of life when you’ve been married for a while and the kids are no longer babies and maybe you’ve had a career change or a move or two, and you’re trying to figure out what it’s all about. And Cholodenko (who also co-wrote the script) gets that stage of life perfectly: the yearnings, the frustrations, the mis-communications, the boredom, the anxiety and, most importantly, the weary and imperfect love that underlies it. I guarantee that if you’ve been married or in a long-term committed relationship for more than five years you will watch this movie and find yourself nodding in recognition.

2. It’s about infidelity. I give nothing away by revealing that the movie’s central drama concerns what happens when the man who donated sperm to this couple many years earlier so that they could have kids re-appears and completely upends their family life. Lots of movies have treated the topic of marital infidelity, which is – as I’ve noted before – not only wide-spread, but in some ways, entirely predictable. (I always feel like I need to justify that claim, so here’s some scientific evidence about why monogamy isn’t natural.) What I liked about this film was the way that the topic was broached. The cheating didn’t stem primarily from feelings of boredom or revenge or even idle sexual attraction. It stemmed from the desire to be recognized and appreciated. Which struck me as so…honest.

3. It’s about parenting teens. Again, there are loads of movies about parenting. What sets this one apart is that it focuses very specifically on parenting teenagers which – in light of our cultural obsession with babies (thank you, Erika Jong!) – can sometimes go missing. The movie not only addresses the classic theme of “letting go” ( the couples’ eldest child is about to go off to college), but also how difficult it can be when you don’t approve of the company your kids are keeping. And Lord knows I could relate to that.

4. It’s about gay marriage. OK, I realize that I just said that this movie wasn’t primarily about gay marriage. And it isn’t. But I very much liked that rather than seeing another film exploring some aspect of a long-term heterosexual relationship, this one brought us inside a homosexual one. In a country where we are still – improbably – trying to figure out if everyone should have the right to marry whoever the heck they want, having a mainstream picture focus in on a lesbian couple with kids who look (gasp) just like every other couple with kids is culturally important.

5. It also stars Mark Ruffalo. ‘Nuff said.

*****

I was over on Politics Daily yesterday talking about the latest chapter in the harrowing Elizabeth Smart story.

Image: Minhas mães e meu pai by Universo Produção via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Why Women Shouldn't Settle For Unhappy Marriages

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Or, more precisely: unhappy marriages. And I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t time for more women to – as we say in politics – “throw the bums out.”

I got to thinking about this after my colleague, Melinda Henneberger, wrote a post last weekend about one of those marriages about which we know just a bit too much: Silda and Elliot Spitzer‘s. You may recall Spitzer as the former Governor of New York who resigned from his job when it was revealed that he’d been patronizing a prostitution service. And you will certainly recall his wife, Silda, who stood next to him as he resigned in what has to go down in history as one of the most painful “stand by your man” performances of all time.

What Melinda zeroes in on is a quote attributed to Silda Spitzer in Peter Elkind’s new book, Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer. Referring to her husband’s penchant for hookers, Mrs. Spitzer says: “The wife is supposed to take care of the sex. This is my failing. I wasn’t adequate.”

Take a moment to cringe. Please.

And when you’re done, do some reflection. Because we all know plenty of Sildas, don’t we ladies? Strong, confident, loving female friends who dissolve into a pool of self-doubt and self-loathing when their husbands stray or simply fail to live up to their expectations.

Read the rest of this article here

Image: Divorce by jcoterhals via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways To Stay Monogamous

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. This week’s topic is Five Ways To Stay Monogamous.

I think we all know that this hasn’t exactly been the summer of matrimonial bliss. From Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to author/radio personality Sandra Tsing Loh to our about-to-possibly-be-impeached Senator Mark Sanford, marriage has taken a real kick to the groin. In all of these cases, infidelity was the alleged culprit.

Not everyone’s bothered by infidelity, of course. Newsweek recently ran a story about poly-amorous couples and how people make it work when there’s more than one partner involved.

And some people are more bothered by it than they arguably should be. In this month’s in Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan rants against the cultural trends leading to the likes of John Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter. (See also Amy Benfer’s deliciously scathing review in Salon.)

But assuming you count among those who are interested in sticking it out with one person, here are some tips for keeping it real – as opposed to Rielle (sorry, couldn’t resist):

1. Acknowledge That Monogamy is Totally Unnatural. Face it, it is. Which is probably why so many people have affairs. Polls show that although 90% of married people disapprove of extramarital relationships, 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have experienced extramarital intercourse. This doesn’t mean monogamy isn’t noble, enviable, worthwhile, efficient, healthy, and any other adjectival “good” you wish to throw at it. But it is not a natural state of affairs. So begin by acknowledging that with your partner and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

2. Choose a Partner With Whom You Share Many Interests. In my humble opinion, one of the main reasons people wander is that they don’t have enough in common with their partners/spouses to begin with. While you don’t need to have completely overlapping interests (see below), with so many things clamoring for your attention – work, children, aging parents – you do need to enjoy doing the same things in your free time.

3. Keep a Private Space. At the same time, don’t suffocate one another. It’s healthy to have your own space and to enjoy the freedom to pursue interests that your partner doesn’t share. My husband likes watching concert videos. He also enjoys eating sushi. I like pop-tarts and going to musical theatre (though not at the same time). We don’t try to do those things together. Thank God.

4. Develop an Adult Crush. This is perhaps the best recipe for staying faithful. Just as you had crushes in junior high, it’s OK to have them in adulthood as well. It’s a safe way to feel like you’re still alive outside of your main relationship. I used to have a crush on my son’s first pediatrician. These days, it’s a staffer at one of the local book stores. I only see him once every other month or so, but there’s always a small frisson when we exchange pleasantries (most recently, over his hatred – and my love – for The Sound Of Music.) And because I only see him every so often, and don’t even know his name, it’s no big deal. Plus, my husband knows all about him.

5. Avoid Situations That Allow for Infidelity. If you really don’t want to have an affair, don’t put yourself in a situation that allows one to occur. I have a good friend who developed a crush on a bartender. She found (per #4) that she was frequenting his bar more and more on her own to chat with him. Then one day she actually brought her laptop to the bar and started working there. And at that point she realized “What am I doing? I’m working in a bar!” She fled the scene never to return. Good for her.

Image: Rings/Yüzük by Caucus via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Tips for Adulthood: Five Signs Your Partner is Being Unfaithful

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Yesterday, I posted about the sad state of infidelity in America (and Europe). In today’s post, I list five signs that your partner is being unfaithful:

1. They suddenly develop a rash of new hobbies. I had one friend who –  in explaining her husband’s busy schedule and why she barely saw him anymore – said: “Well, you know, Paul’s got a lot of hobbies. He does banjo and judo and race car driving. He’s also taking classes to learn how to cook. And then every other Thursday he goes to the symphony…” Um, honey, I think Paul’s having an affair.

2. Their appearance changes dramatically. The tell-tale sign of infidelity is the abrupt change in look. Watch out for the here-to-fore button-downed male executive suddenly sporting loafers, designer jeans and  “party shirts.” With ladies, it’s all about the accessories:  a new found zeal for exotic handbags, scarves and showy jewelry. Be really wary when someone starts parting their hair on the other side.

3. They use payphones. Ok, this was back before the advent of the cell phone/mobile. But we had one neighbor when I was growing up who could always be seen making calls from the pay phone on the corner. Which was really curious because she had a landline in her home. I remember my father saying matter-of-factly: “She’s having an affair.” I suppose the modern day equivalent would be someone who spends all their time texting and never uses email. Much less of an e-paper trail.

4. They claim to have a “penetration phobia.” My friends, you can’t make this sh&% up. This is literally what one friend’s husband said to her by way of explaining his sudden loss of interest round’ about bedtime. Ah yes, that’s a good one. Three children later and you’re only now discovering this problem?

5. They tell you they need to “get away” to do some writing. Along the Appalachian trail. Without the kids. I’m afraid Mark Sanford has forever ruined the notion of the writer’s retreat for the rest of us. Darn him…

Image: Pay Phone NYC by Gonzalo Fernandez via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Oh Come All Ye Unfaithful: Why Silvio Berlusconi's Marital Problems Should Make Americans Happy

It’s been a bad month for fidelity in America, folks.

We’ve had Jon and Kate’s split-up on reality tv, Sandra Tsing Loh’s devastating indictment of “companionate marriage” in The Atlantic, and of course, the ongoing saga that is Governor Mark Sanford’s marital melt-down. (As comedian John Stewart put it so well:  “Another case of Conservative Mind, Liberal Penis…”).

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat writes, American marriage  – or at least marriage in the over-educated, hyper-achieving America that Loh writes about – has become a place where pragmatic concerns (read: mortgages, parenting) over-shadow passion and romance. Hence, all those affairs. And what’s worse – at least according to Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory – it’s not clear that those couples who survive infidelity end up all that happily married.

But cheer up folks. There’s a silver lining here. After all these years of being mocked by the Europeans for our prudish sexual norms, Italy, of all places, finally has a bonafide sex scandal. You think Mark Sanford has problems? Try being Silvio Berlusconi caught cavorting with a not-quite-18 year old and allegedly paying an escort to have sex with him.

As I write about today in my very first post for the Woman Up column at Politics Daily, even Italians seem put off by the latest round of accusations about extra-marital shenanigans by their Prime Minister. Read it here.

It’s not that Italians were ever immune to infidelity. Quite the contrary. They seemed to welcome it as an inevitable if not excusable part of long-term marital relationships. Which made America’s quite public and anguished contortions over monogamy seem both exaggerated and ridiculous.

No longer, America.

Somehow, knowing that even in Italy, infidelity is now getting a bad rap made me feel a teensy bit better about the state of affairs – pun intended – back home.

Image: Infidelity by fmarq via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl