Several alert chumps last week sent me the article on Huffington Post about “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists, and Rebels” by therapist Susan Pease Gadoua and journalist Vicki Larson.
I guess the Huffington Post must be a skeptic about these new marriages because they put the article on their Divorce page.
Shockingly, by contrast, the HuffPo Wedding page is full of retrograde stories about commitment, like “Daughter Holds Beautiful Hospital Wedding So Her Dying Mom Can Be There,” or “7 Ways I Knew My Husband Was the One.” Bah! These unsophisticated people and the way they cherish each other.
I’ve put Vicki Larson through the patented Universal Bullshit Translator several times before, most notably for arguing you should be friends with your ex-cheater and that forgiveness is “essential.” IMO, this is New I Do is just a new shift on victim-blaming — oh hey, you shouldn’t expect monogamy. None of the cool kids (aka “realists” and “rebels”) are doing that.
Look, if you want to swing openly — fine. If having a colorful flotilla of sexual partners is what rocks your world, I’m unclear on why you want to be married (the tax break? the dress?) If “consensual non-monogamy” works for you, consent is the important thing. Everyone is on board. No harm, no foul.
So if I’m cool about your penchant for open marriage, why on earth don’t those “rebels” and “realists” respect MY sexual choice of monogamy? Why the monogamy bashing? Moreover, why go to pains to excuse affairs?
Even though people today are growing up in more diverse families than ever before and are much more open to and accepting of broader views of gender and sexuality than generations past, society still tends to view non-monogamous relationships negatively. Just look at the language that’s used to talk about it. Those who engage in it are either promiscuous, putting themselves and others at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, or cheaters, with a breakup being the expected outcome once an affair is discovered. It’s all about diseases, betrayal, secrecy, and deception.
We use the language of cheating for CHEATERS, not CONSENSUAL non-monogamous relationships. Cheating is, yes, negative. Cheating IS about diseases, betrayal, secrecy, and deception. DUH. There’s no “deception” if you AGREE to it. Why the muddleheaded word salad talk, Vicki?
I hate to break it to you smug rebels, but swingers are just as vulnerable as chumps when it comes to cheating. As Larson points out in the article, polyamory has rules!
But like many others in open relationships, they had rules–the sex was always safe, there were no sleepovers, and every arrangement was to be agreed to beforehand.
All it takes to be a cheater is to break the rules when someone trusts you to abide in them. Who breaks rules? Oh, you know, rebels and shit. Good luck with that.
Breaking agreed upon rules is about having shitty character, NOT monogamy.
Still, they believe there was something incredibly brave and empowering about their decision; a “badge of courage,” is how Kira describes it.
Really? Gee, here I thought they gave courage awards for fighting Ebola in west Africa, or hiding Jews in your basement from Nazis, or some other self-sacrificing act. Kira deserves a badge of courage for fucking a coworker?
“For a lot of people, it doesn’t even occur to them that they can be anything other than monogamous, and they get into a situation and then realize they maybe feel differently. I also feel monogamy can be dangerous even without sleeping with other people. Just having a sense of your own sexuality, being attracted to other people, being able to flirt with other people; when you can’t do that, it just shuts down a part of you. It changes who you are in your marriage and so long-term, that can be really damaging,” she told us.
Kira, I’m glad you brought up the dangers and miseries of monogamous marriage. It was a weak and shut down Edith Windsor who challenged the U.S. Supreme Court on her love and devotion to Thea Spyer, which won a landmark case recognizing their same-sex marriage. We should all be so feeble.
I’m sure there are people who want the freedom to eat cake and have sex with whomever they want while “married.” I don’t think they inspire anyone. Sure, they may award themselves badges of courage for their edgy little acts of derring do, but who aspires to that kind of love?
The love that moves people is the singularity of one’s affections. The unwavering devotion. The focus. Being cherished completely.
I hate the cynical work of hacks and quacks like Larson and Gaduoa that question such love as “unrealistic.” Who are you to presume you could ever be CHERISHED?! Dream on! Life is the pursuit of individual happiness and the unfettered ability to fuck whomever we want to when we want to. You have a problem with that? Then you’re conventional, over-bearing, hegemonic with your monogamy.
I give the Badge of Monogamy Courage Award to Annie and Danny Perasa, the couple featured on many NPR StoryCorps. Danny worked as a horse-betting clerk in Brooklyn.
“When a guy is happily married, no matter what happens at work, no matter what happens in the rest of the day,” Danny said, “there’s a shelter when you get home, there’s a knowledge, knowing that you can hug somebody without them throwing you down the stairs and saying, ‘Get your hands off me.’ Being married is like having a color television set; you never want to go back to black and white.”
He wrote his wife Annie love letters every day.
As she nursed him through pancreatic cancer he said:
“I could write on and on about her. She lights up the room in the morning when she tells me to put both hands on her shoulders so that she can support me. She lights up my life when she says to me at night, ‘Wouldn’t you like a little ice cream? Or ‘Would you please drink more water?’ ” Danny said. “I mean, those aren’t very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart. In my mind and my heart there has never been, there is not now and never will be another Annie.”
People pulled over their cars and WEPT listening to their stories on the radio. When Danny died, Annie received over a thousand letters of condolence from around the world. She read one every day in memory of Danny’s love letters.
See if you can listen to this with a dry eye.
“It was a gift to be married to him.” — Annie