The Death of Marriage
This post was taken from my prior personal site, originally posted in August 2008.
What about modern society says that the union of marriage is a successful one? Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sienna Miller, Silda Spitzer, Michelle Paterson, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Tea Leoni, Hillary Clinton–all these women had their husbands or fiances cheat on them. They are all beautiful, smart, successful women and all were the victims of infidelity and all probably thought they had the perfect life.
I question marriage as I hear about my friends questioning their boyfriends and as David Duchovny enters rehab for a sex addiction. When will it come out that John McCain and Barack Obama cheated? I supposed it’s there, waiting for someone to discover? Chances are better it is true than false.
In America, we are raised to think there is some knight in shining armor waiting for us to find him. Then a big dress and ceremony will ensue, we will fornicate for a week on the beaches of Hawaii and after about two years, we’ll pop out a piglet because the honeymoon period is over and we need something to keep the love or the image of it, alive. The problem is that maybe we are no different from the animals that really just want to mate to procreate and move on with their separate lives.
What part of the 50% divorce rate and the number of men cheating is supposed to make an independent woman think marriage will make everything sunny and safe?
Most men will blame a wife that doesn’t want sex for their infidelity. However, sometimes they cheat for the same reason a dog licks himself–because he can. So while many women struggle to “have it all” the men are struggling to keep it all inside. Meanwhile, one stray and the divorce ensues and the kids are tossed in a tug of war, choosing which parent to hate more.
Why not rid society of the notion and stigma that everyone must get married. What about being honest life partners and being truthful with each other when the spark fades so you can discuss changes rather than cheating on the “forever faithful union?” After all, how many people do you think are sure their spouses are faithful because most people are shocked to learn their husband or wife is cheating.
While I was at a bar one night last week, a 30-something divorced international woman, entrepreneur, independent, sexy, sits next to me and my girl. So while we are waiting for Kennedy to speak, the three of us and the 50-something bartender begin talking about marriage and cheating and all that comes with it. The bartender says when he got married, he had only been with his wife. But when my girl asks if he’s ever cheated, the man that last time told me he’d find me a nice ____ man and do Jewish men cheat?—-he turns away. We look at each other and we both know he strayed. And then he says, come on, he married his first and he’s been married for 20+ years. Later, I ask this women what does she think about marriage, does she think that marriage as a monogamous forever union is dying. In her late 30s, divorced, this central Asian woman is now dating a Caucasian man in NYC, she answers, here’s the deal. If you are content with an average life, staying home with the kids, it’s fine. But she says, looking at me with serious eyes, if you want to do something big, if you want to change the world, marriage is not for you. And something hits me.
Is it as simple as men cheat and women cheat, or men cheat and women shop and dine? What do we really want? One friend said that men know what they want–women, it’s just a matter of getting them. Women don’t know what they want. Perhaps it’s true. In the process of expecting a man as chill and talented and multi-faceted as our girlfriends, we are puzzled when attempting to decide what to give up, what do we sacrifice.
The other day i told my best girl, men and condos are the same in NYC– you don’t get the big open floorplan condo in a good location with a view of the river and a full service building and new appliances. Something has to give. The same way, you don’t get a man with looks, bedroom abilities, a fat bank account and a heart and soul–something has to give.
So how would it work if people made wills and worked out their health insurance situations and had commitment ceremonies if they chose, or just remained partners indefinitely and had kids, shared a home, had a joint bank account and each their own account. When things got stale, instead of sneaking around— shock, sit down for this one— they communicated and talked and decided: A) let’s do something different, maybe each have night to ourselves once a week b) Let’s spice up the sex life C) open relationship or D) therapy before deciding it’s all over. ???