Tag Archives: monogamy

Tips for Adulthood: Five Tips For Staying Monogamous

sandy ring

sandy ringhave a friend who is thinking about having an affair. He loves his wife, and they have two lovely kids. But in an ideal world, he would like to conduct his sex life outside of the marriage. Needless to say, he’s torn about this impulse, and has yet to take any concrete steps, but he has verbalized his desires to me and a couple of other close friends.

Whatever you think about that arrangement – or more importantly, whatever his wife thinks (!) – his very honest and open attempt to grapple with his feelings reminded me, once again, why monogamy is such a difficult ideal to uphold, even in the best of circumstances.

For those of you who recognize this as a real problem – in your own marriages or among those you are close to – here are five tips for maintaining a monogamous relationship:

Read the rest of this post over on Better After 50:

Image: Sandy ring by Derek Gavey via Flickr

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.

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GPS For Gay Sex Hits Heterosexual Market

Remember online dating? Gosh, that seems so last century. An iPhone application which allows cruising gay men to locate one another instantly using Global Positioning System technology is now spreading to the heterosexual market.

This latest rage in online romance is called Grindr. Grindr is a free, downloadable iPhone app that lets you find “gay, bi, curious guys near you.” It’s sort of a sexual version of toptable — an iPhone app that allows you to search for all the restaurants offering a certain cuisine in your immediate vicinity. Similarly, Grindr provides a grid of who else in your neighborhood is using Grindr, what they look like and — tantalizingly — exactly how far away they are from you, measured in feet. If there’s mutual interest, you can begin to “chat” and . . . who knows? The night is young.

Grindr has been hugely popular since its release in March 2009. There are now more than 700,000 men in 162 countries using Grindr, with 2,000 downloading it every day. A BlackBerry-friendly version was launched last month. It’s so popular that its creator — the 33-year-old American-born Joel Simkhai — will be releasing a “straight version” by the end of the year targeted at heterosexuals.

Read the rest of this article at www.PoliticsDaily.com…

Image: i-Blue GPS 757 logger and TOKompass midlet via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. If you have been following the ups and downs of the British elections over the past week, you will laugh out loud at this spoof in The Guardian of what ensued during the early hours post-election. (Note: This is part of an ongoing series in the paper based on last year’s political farce, In The Loop, about the run-up to the Iraq War. If you haven’t seen In The Loop, run, don’t walk to your nearest video store.)

2. And speaking of the British elections, here’s my take on Day One of the new political marriage between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

3. While we’re on the topic of marriage, I was fascinated by this interview in Salon with Tara Parker-Pope, author of For Better: The Science of A Good Marriage. Among other things – and in light of the heavy traffic my assertion that “monogamy isn’t natural” drew on this blog – I was pleased to see my basic point vindicated: monogamy isn’t natural but it can be achieved.

4. Regardless of your views on monogamy, you definitely don’t want to contemplate happy marriage without first considering this marriage-saving blanket (also courtesy of Salon.) Here’s an interview with its inventor, Frank Bibbo. Priceless!

5. This is a terrific piece from the New York Times’ Motherlode blog by Ross Kenneth Urkin on what happens when parents re-marry. It’s also an excellent example of a fine young writer at work.

6. Finally, I absolutely adored this new (to me) list of the 50 best author-vs.-author put downs of all time over at Michelle Kerns’ Book Examiner blog at Examiner.com. (Hat tip: Lisa Romeo Writes.)

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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.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. You may be Tigered out, but of all the volumes of things I’ve read on Tiger Woods in the last two weeks, this piece by Jay Michaelson about our (absurd) cultural attachment to the ideal of monogamy struck me as the most intelligent. (And I say this as someone who encourages the practice.)

2. Regardless of where you fall on the abortion issue, this is one of the most compelling interviews I’ve ever heard on any topic in my entire life. It’s an interview on BBC Radio 4’s program The Choice with Dr. Warren Hern, the only doctor who still provides late-term abortions in America.

3. I really enjoyed this in-real-time description of what it’s like to write with small children around by Stephanie McGee in Literary Mama.

4. And speaking of literary mamas, my new favorite Mom blog is Motherese. Kristen has a wonderfully fresh and honest voice and I admire her dedication.

5. I was sad to learn about the death of the book tour (via @gretchenrubin).

6. Finally, for those who are interested, here are my posts this week from PoliticsDaily.com, one on challenges to the restrictive abortion law in Ireland, and another on a prostitute turned PhD called Belle de Jour.

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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.

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