| || || |
Marriage destroyers: Cheating Husband, Betrayed Wife, or Other Woman!
"Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman)." Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Two fascinating, powerful articles I've read recently (available here and here) have led me to revisit the issue of who is really to blame when a marriage collapses under the unbearable weight of what is normally an otherwise inconsequential extra-marital affair.
Are we justified in blaming the normally middle-aged man, who should have controlled himself? Why would he risk so much for so little?
Explanations are easy to come by, ranging from economics (He finally has enough money and status to be attractive to sexy young women at the peak of their reproductive power) to existential dread (he's coming to terms with his own mortality by lashing out symbolically against his own impending old age and death) to the wife's life cycle (she's nearing menopause so he's biologically driven toward the fertility of younger women). Each of these may have some measure of truth, but none answers the most pressing question: Why do men have such overwhelming hunger for variety in their sexual partners-not just at mid-life, but always?
The Coolidge effect has been discussed elsewhere. Essentially, it's just a scientific way of saying men (like many male mammals) need variety in partners to maintain sexual interest. If the ghost of Calvin Coolidge weren't haunting him, a man would simply buy a DVD or two of his favorite porn actress and watch it over and over the rest of his life. Knowing how the movie ends is hardly going to ruin the experience for him If you've never been to a porn gateway web site, you'll be astounded by the variety and specificity of the offerings there: everything from "unshaved Japanese lesbians" to "tattooed redheads" to "overweight older gals."
When researchers decided to look at this issue to develop a Sexual Boredom Scale, they found that for men, sexual boredom was correlated with variety in partners (or lack thereof), while for women, it was more related to variety in activity. In other words, women were more likely to be satisfied by changes in the sexual what, while men (gay or straight) were more likely to respond to a changes in the sexual whom. It's a simple, unavoidable truth almost everyone knows to be true, but few dare to discuss: variety and change are the necessary spice of the sex life of the male of our species.
But even having an intellectual understanding of this aspect of many men's inner reality doesn't make acceptance any easier for many women. Writer and film director Nora Ephron has explored these issues in many of her films, including Heartburn, which was based on her own failed marriage. In a 2009 interview she explained how raising two sons had informed her view of men: "Boys are so sweet," she said. "But the problem with men is not whether they're nice or not. It's that it's hard for them at a certain point in their lives to stay true. It just is. It's almost not their fault." But then she added, "it feels like it's their fault if you are involved with any of them."
In a letter to his then-friend Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung wrote, "The prerequisite for a good marriage, it seems to me, is the license to be unfaithful." (January 30, 1910.)
Is there any truth to this? If men evolved over millions of years to seek sexual novelty (thus avoiding genetic stagnation in small groups of foragers in a sparsely populated planet), is it fair to condemn them now for responding to these ancient, evolved appetites?
What do you think? In future installments, I'll look at this all too common situation from the perspective of the betrayed wife and the home-wrecking other woman.
Porn destroys ideals, marriage
Pornography. Few subjects are so ubiquitous and taboo in American culture.
But it seems the taboo factor is wearing off. Over the past three decades, our society has become increasingly porn-friendly. What was once the occasional Penthouse stashed away in your grandfather's garage has blossomed into what is now a $12 billion industry, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
What has caused this sudden moral shift? Was it the liberating sexual revolution of the 1960s? Or perhaps the embracing of postmodernism and its relative views on morality?
Both of these explanations for America's porn explosion miss the mark. It is not shifting ideology, but the greed of corporate America that has turned pornography into one of our nation's largest industries.
In pornography, big businesses have had the opportunity to play at one of human's natural desires - sex - and make big profits. These businesses have given little thought to pornography's devastating effects; they're in it for the money.
Large American corporations rake in more than half of pornography's $12 billion in annual revenues, according to a 2000 article in The New York Times.
The pornography industry has cast its lure, and America has taken the bait. By making pornography mainstream, corporate America has said that it's acceptable, and we've begun to believe them.
Already, much larger companies, including General Motors Corp. and AT&T Corp. had been raking in heavy profits from the pornographic industry, according to a 2002 Frontline report on the Public Broadcast Service.
According to the Frontline report, General Motors owned DirectTV, which channeled pornography into millions of American homes. When Frontline asked AT&T executives why their respectable company would dabble in the taboo industry, their answer was simple - everybody else was doing it.
Since more companies are producing more pornography, more Americans consume it and are subconsciously beginning to believe it is acceptable.
But what we do not realize is the way that it has twisted our views of sexuality and ripped apart marriages and families.
Pornography degrades women, showing them as submissive sexual objects. A 2003 TCU study, according to a 2004 issue of the Skiff, showed that men who view pornography frequently have more discriminatory views of women than men who do not view pornography.
According to a 1988 article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, pornography leads to lowered sexual satisfaction. Those who regularly view porn are likely to have trouble separating reality from fantasy.
Pornography destroys marriages. Divorce lawyers at the 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that Internet pornography played a significant role in more than half their divorce cases, according to Time Magazine.
The negative effects of pornography go on. Pornography twists the good and natural human desire for sex.
Without a fight, America has let a few large corporations determine its sexual values.
It's time we decide if we really want pornography to be a defining aspect of American culture.
Overcome Resentment in a Marriage Before it Destroys Your Relationship
Make no mistake about it, resentment is a marriage killer. Holding onto resentment makes a healthy, happy marriage impossible. You cannot feel love while being resentful. Real intimacy is not possible while holding on to resentment. The more resentment you have, the more negative your feelings will be toward your spouse. In order to have a successful, healthy relationship, you must learn to overcome your resentment toward your spouse. If you do not find a way to get rid of the negative feelings, you risk having your marriage fail. Let's look at what causes resentment in the first place and at what needs to be done to overcome resentment in a marriage.
What is resentment? The dictionary definition says "the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult". So, to put it simply, resentment is your negative feelings about something that has happened to you. Resentment can also be thought of as unexpressed anger. We have all had things happen that caused us to feel resentful for a short time, but we soon forgot about it and moved on, The danger to a marriage occurs when resentment builds each time there is conflict or disagreement.
How does resentment build? Any time small problems are ignored and larger issues are avoided, resentment will build. Unresolved problems and not being able to reach an agreement, (even if that means agreeing to disagree) when conflict arises is the biggest cause of resentment in a marriage. Feelings of being taken for granted or of being unappreciated can also cause resentment. When resentment builds, your negative feelings toward your spouse grow to the point that is is hard to look at them in any way except negatively.
Lack of communication is a huge factor contributing to resentment. If something is bothering you and you don't speak up, you are only adding to the problem. You must identify the issues and openly and honestly discuss them. Approach the issues with an open mind and try to see your spouses point of view. If the real issues are not resolved, resentment will build and you will find yourself resenting everything your spouse does from the way they brush their hair to the way they make a sandwich. Silly, you bet, but it is the truth.
Negative feelings caused by resentment affect not only your spouse but they also affect you. It doesn't matter how happy a person you normally are, holding onto resentment takes away your joy in living making you bitter. It changes how you interact with your spouse and with others, causing you to only see the bad and never see the good that is surely there.
Anger Destroys Intimacy
Anger is a natural emotion. We all feel it at times. It is not something to repress or ignore.
Anger is a warning sign that something is not right; that something is bothering you or even harming you. It is an emotion created through evolution to protect us or protect our species. However, anger is also based on how we perceive a situation not necessarily the reality of what is occurring.
Anger is also a toxic emotion. If anger remains in your system it is destructive to your physical as well as emotional and spiritual self. Hence anger is an emotion with which one needs to deal!
The problem is, many of us do not know how to appropriately handle anger. We feel the emotion and allow ourselves to be rude, mean, or even destructive. Anger becomes a tool for power, control, and demands, destroying communication, love, respect and compassion.
What do we do when we feel anger? We take some deep breaths and acknowledge our anger to ourselves. We consciously notice the emotion. We allow ourselves to feel it. We respect the fact that our bodies are giving us information and decide we will carefully deal with the emotion in the way that is most appropriate rather than let the emotion rule our minds and hearts.
We do not repress or ignore anger, we do not pretend it does not exist. These common (among women particularly) techniques only keep the anger inside and often show up as disrespect, depression, detachment, or disgust. It is important to experience the anger if that is what you are feeling, then to release it rather than stuff it down inside only to have it reemerge often and in more subversive ways.
The most important key to managing anger is to not let the emotion rule your behavior. Too often, lives are torn apart, relationships damaged, communication thwarted because of the poor choices of behavior in moments of anger.
Rather, give yourself time to process the emotion, find ways to calm yourself while acknowledging the difficulty of controlling the anger. Understand what the anger is about, what you are doing to keep the emotion alive. Then, and only then are you ready to deal with it appropriately.
Anger is a powerful emotion but one that can be dealt with appropriately. The more we understand our emotions, the more we can use them rather than be used by them.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA