Archive for February, 2011
Infidelity is infidelity…but there is the kind of infidelity that is about sex, and the other kind. Though most infidelity has a sexual component, it is often SO NOT about sex.
Infidelity comes in many forms, like the inappropriate friendship, the one-night stand, or the full-blown affair.
To most the breach of monogamy is defined physically, but it is emotional component of infidelity which poses the greatest threat.
I see it differently than most women, but here’s my take. The least significant act of infidelity is the one-night stand. It is often, as unintended as a hiccup. Anyone can be vulnerable to the sexual attraction of another and wake up the morning-after with clear-headed remorse. Nobody wants to find out that their partner has spent the night in the arms of someone else, but as infidelity goes, this is rarely reason enough to trash an otherwise sound relationship. However, this is only true if the one-night stand is a single incident. A series of one-night-stands is the behavior of a person who is probably incapable of being faithful.
I can already hear the thoughts of those who would ask, “But what about the sanctity of marriage?”
Sanctity???? How about sanity???? Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even among the most sanctimonious and devoutly religious many marriages fall short of sanctity. Fidelity is meaningless if our relationship becomes hostile or cruel. If our relationships are not loving, it hardly matters if we are faithful.
The second most damaging kind of infidelity is the affair. The affair is different from the one-night-stand, because it is ongoing. It is an intentional undercover relationship. A longer affair is not necessarily indicative of deeper emotions, because once in an affair, it can be difficult to get out. The sexual and emotional satisfaction are satisfying and addictive. Though affairs are fueled by sexual desire, they are driven by emotional need.
Upon discovering that one’s partner has become involved with someone else, there is a myriad of confusing emotions and daunting questions. Answering those questions is often destructive, but understanding the answers can be helpful.
My advice to anyone who discovers infidelity is to skip the obvious questions, because the answers will only cause more emotional upheaval. If you wish to restore the relationship, focus on the questions that are helpful. Any good investigative journalist knows the first question is always, “Who?”. Knowing who will satisfy curiosity, but knowing is rarely positive. Where and when are also NOT very helpful.
“Who” is not helpful, because it shifts the focus and blame to the wrong person. The other woman/man is not the only culpable party. Despite this, women can become very hung-up on the “who” causing a toxic cocktail of emotions, which will ultimately compound the issue. The betrayed woman will compare herself to and try to compete with the other woman. She will ask what the other women had that she didn’t. The question can be answered without being asked, because the answer is almost always the same.
She had one thing. It wasn’t her face, her hair, the outrageous body, sexual talent or anything else. She had the magical ability to make your partner believe he could be happier with someone else. Whether she was short, tall, fat, skinny, blonde, brunette or redhead; she was Tinkerbell. She opened the door that allowed him to fly out your bedroom window. That’s all.
You cannot compete with Tinkerbell. She is fantasy. You are real. Your real life is full of real issues and real annoyances that will cause tensions between you and your spouse. Her real life is tidily separate from his, allowing them both to exist, for a season, in a place about as real as Never-Neverland.
The only question worth answering is “Why?” Why was he willing to turn his back on a marriage and risk ruining your life? This is another easily answered question. It was because within the other relationship his emotional needs were met. As it turns out, the sex is a bonus. Somehow she was able to make him feel contentment, self-worth and an emotional connection–like the one you once shared with him.
It is SO NOT about the sex. It is almost always about a commonality, being understood and feeling a connection. Real life has a way of battering and bruising connections, especially in a long relationship. Once damaged, they can be hard to heal. This is why ultimately, an intimate friendship is more dangerous than a sexual liason.
Upon being discovered, the question of whether or not they slept together is usually THE biggie. It is painful to think of one’s partner with someone else, but if he says they never slept together, don’t breathe a big sigh of relief. Even if he’s telling the truth, whether or not they slept together is almost irrelevant, because it is SO NOT about the sex. The heady emotion of feeling cared for or understood is more seductive than the most beautiful woman. If he felt that he was misunderstood or not cared for, the only question that needs to be answered is why.
The Container Store–it’s a big store that sells stuff to put things in. I don’t know that women really go so gaga for containers, but The Container Store has made MILLIONS selling them, because as keepers of the home, women are expected to keep the house neat and there is a notion containers promote order.
I know of no scientific evidence to suggest women are more tidy or orderly than men; and in many cases, the opposite is true. Being neat is no more natural, than always smelling good (another thing men have come to expect of women). Nevertheless, even working women are supposed to be able to keep an organized home.
Men like order. They not only like it, they need it. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the founders of The Container Store, were men, as were many of the organizing gurus who convinced us containers were the secret to having an organized life.
And the point is?
Continuing on from the last post re: why men make strong women weak, I want to address a thing that continues to fill even the strongest woman with insecurities. It is the age-old problem of when he doesn’t call (though this theme has many variations).
At any age, women wonder what’s going one when “he” doesn’t call, text, write . . et cetera. When her brain is preoccupied with thoughts of someone special, not hearing from that special someone will quickly fill her mind with questions.
Did I do something wrong? (I knew I should have worn the other dress.)
Was he maimed in a terrible accident? (Maybe there was a train derailment, a freak water cooler explosion. Maybe he was attacked by suburban feral cats.)
Has he lost interest?
Is there someone else?
When he hasn’t called it’s because he isn’t thinking of you! There are only two reasons for this. Obviously, the first is he doesn’t care. Assuming you can reasonably eliminate that first reason, the second is a perfectly sound justification for what may seem like insensitivity or nonchalance.
It’s the damn containers. Men’s heads are a small-scale version of The Container Store. Their brains are arranged just like that emporium of baskets & bins. There is a department for Office Stuff–the things they think about at work. There is a place for Outdoor Stuff, things like sports, motorcycles and boats. There is a place for miscellaneous Home Stuff, like the wife and kids–including a large section devoted to Bedroom Stuff. Each of these sections is full of small compartments and containers, by which they keep their heads organized. Despite the fact that they can’t find their socks or organize the stuff around them, within the confines of their own world, they have everything neatly compartmentalized–including you!
Men don’t function well with too many things bombarding them. They tend to function best, when they can be singularly focused. If they are thinking about work, they are probably not thinking about you. If they are thinking about football, they are probably not thinking about you. If they are watching a movie, they are probably not thinking about you.
When they are operating in the compartment full of work stuff, they are not thinking about who needs a ride from soccer practice, or picking up the shirts at the cleaners. It is the reason they forget birthdays and anniversaries, it is the reason they won’t remember anything you said during the 4th quarter, it is the reason they go days without calling.
When they justify behaviors which seem uncaring to us, by saying they had other things on their minds, it sounds like a lame rationalization, but unfortunately it’s true. A woman can be concentrating on a dozen things, and performing more than one task, but it is unlikely she will stop thinking about the people she cares about. (Remember, they are simpler creatures than we are.)
If only The Container Store sold something in which women could store their fondness until it were convenient.
Q. What’s a woman’s favorite position?
A woman’s place is in the kitchen, unless we don’t want it to be. Fortunately, women are no longer confined to the home, we have many choices. It is no small thing that each day women leave their homes, proving they are every bit as qualified as men to run companies, research and develop things, build things, grow things or make their mark on the world in whatever way they wish. Women have broken barriers to become leaders in fields once exclusive to men. There has never been a better time or place to be a woman. Today women have countless venues in which to demonstrate their capabilities and competence.
Though many women still choose home over career, there is no place a woman cannot succeed, whether it be managing millions for a corporation, training men to do their jobs, or making a roomful of rambunctious children as quiet as a library. We may have different strengths than our male counterparts, but we are every bit as capable. This is why, it still amazes me to see women of extraordinary competency being rendered powerless by men.
They are such simple creatures. Compared to single-cell organisms, like say a paramecium, they are complex, but compared to females, they are simple. Simple creatures with the ability to confuse us, infuriate us and neutralize us.
Once upon a time, women got married. The end.
That was then. Times have changed and many women begin “Dating: The Sequel” a few decades past Sweet Sixteen. With 20 or so years of things learned, life experienced and all the wisdom that provides, one would think females should be better equipped than ever to succeed in their relationships. Ironically, men are still able to make even the most competent and powerful women weak.
A women may be able to go head-to-head with any man professionally, yet a man she desires can quickly turn her into jelly on legs. I remember an a female friend who was a published author, scholar and professor at a good university. Lamenting her romantic foibles, she said, “As a professional, I’m holding a royal flush, but my personal life is still a crap-shoot.” Even she realized the dichotomy of being able to take charge in everything but her love life.
Why is it that the woman who can convince venture capitalists to give millions, has trouble convincing a single individual to give his heart? Why does a woman attorney too powerful to wait on anyone, agonize as she waits for “him” to call, or a woman exec, making enough $ to afford her own driver, can’t keep a man from driving her crazy?
On the one hand, we owe everything to “feminism” for changing the rules that once held us back, on the other hand, feminism hasn’t changed our gender. We are still women–the same as always, with tender and vulnerable hearts. They are still men. They still make us crazy. We still need them.
They hold power over us, because deep inside of each of us is the need to connect. We crave the intimacy of a loving relationship with another human being. We still need them, we still want them. Next time, I will address one reason men can make a woman cry herself to sleep, and not even have a clue why.
Men only want one thing–that‘s the generalization spread by those who would protect all of us guileless females from males of a certain age, the age which begins at puberty and ends sometime after erectile dysfunction. If only it were that simple…. Eventually, men develop complex thought patterns that allow them to begin thinking of and desiring more than one thing–including a disproportionately large number of inanimate things. (Apparently men like things that don’t talk to them, though they will indulge women, children and certain talking electronics devices.)
Men complain of how hard it is to buy gifts for women, but men can be equally difficult to buy for. They generally don’t want the stuff we’d buy them, anymore than we want some of the stuff they bring us. I have long ago stopped buying Beloved Soul Mate clothing, because all those handsome garments in the back of his closet seemed so forlorn.
Men may accuse women of expensive tastes, but most of the things they want are big ticket items like cars, boats, sporting equipment, event tickets or electronics. Fortunately, they also like quite a few things which are within anyone’s price range–such as validation, food and intimacy. If you want to make his Valentine’s Day special for him, go cheap and give him the things he can’t buy.
Unless you are with the wrong man, more than anything else, HE wants to be the man you dream about. He wants to be respected and admired for who he is. It’s so simple, yet, the longer we are in relationship, the more apt we are to neglect communicating our admiration. While you’re reminding him what it is about him you love, remind him why he fell in love with you, by doing your best to be as attractive and charming as you were when he fell for you.
That should be enough to make him putty, but why stop there when you could go for a hat trick. After admiration, there are two other things of which men rarely get enough–food & sex. Since Valentine’s Day is usually a day on which they wine & dine us, why not surprise him by canceling the reservations and letting dinner be on you this year? You can give him a perfectly wonderful hassle-free evening and with the money saved he can buy himself or you something special!
You’re probably thinking it’s too late to throw together a perfect evening, but never was there a more appropriate time to recall that old K.I.S.S. acronym. Remember “Keep it simple sweetheart”?
For our first course, I suggest something green. I like cold steamed asparagus, but broccoli or a even salad out of a bag would be equally nice. Garnish it with bell pepper heart and you’ll look like one of those hotties from The Food Network.
Next, shrimp cocktail–as simple or as complicated as you like. You can buy shrimp, cooked and peeled, so that all you have to do is combine it with your favorite cocktail sauce. Here, I’ve arranged the shrimp in a heart shaped dish then inverted it onto a nice plate. If that’s too much work, arrange shrimp around the rim of an attractive dish or goblet as I’ve done here with this pretty margarita glass.
For the entrée, I suggest a nice juicy steak. The one pictured above n above is a butterflied rib-eye, AKA a Sweetheart Cut Rib Eye steak. Butterfly your own, or ask your butcher to do it for you. Not only is it charming, but it’s meant to be shared, meaning that the meal is already going to be more intimate than what you’d have in a restaurant.
The meal is simple and simply romantic, because it begs for intimate interaction. Pour something nice to drink. Relax and enjoy spending time with your special someone. Another thing men never tire of is the good company and conversation of a woman they love, and what could be more seductive than feeding your love a bit of this or that with your fingers? (Yet another reason to love asparagus.)
Follow this up with something simple like fresh fruit or chocolates arranged on a plate. Afterward you can decide for yourselves what to have for dessert.
That silly day, on which, we make a fuss about romance is less than a week away. If you’re over the age of eight, there’s a good chance it will disappoint you–though my teen son says, he still likes it because someone usually gives him candy. It’s possible I have become jaded, while the rest of the world is still full of hopeless romantics, but I am convinced Valentine’s Day is overrated.
I read up on Valentine’s Day, this left me more confused than before. There seems to be no clear notion of who St. Valentine was or how a “saints” day devolved to our modern day cutesy celebration. Though the holiday commemorates a man, the accoutrements of Valentine’s Day are mostly geared toward women–hearts, flowers–all that pink and red. Seriously, walk down a Valentine’s gift-aisle and ask yourself what respectable man would know how to accept a miniature pink teddy bear–more importantly ask yourself what female over age 17 would want one.
HINT: Guys, when you see the small teddy bears, keep walking, preferably to a different store.
Though most women love romance, Valentine’s Day has an antithetical way of reminding us how romance-deficient our lives are. It is a day when our fate is subject to the whims of the chunky cherub; who seems only to dress for toga parties, our most significant relationships are trivialized through cards, and our sense of worth can be diminished if our significant other fails to convey love. It is the day when we are reminded men don’t understand us nearly as well as we wish they did, nor do they have any realistic notion as to the size or style of lingerie we’d wear.
Only the most Herculean of men will pass the test which requires them to produce a gift which adequately epitomizes their sentiments–yet some compound the challenge, by shopping at Walgreen’s at 4:45 on February 14th. For them, it just another occasion on which their efforts to please will be evaluated, like a midterm exam for lovers.
How you feel about February the 14th, romance and men in general is largely the result of your relationship history. You may be one of those who hates being single or one of those who adores it.
If you are single and hating it, there are two things you can do. First, convince yourself this is the year in which you will meet that special someone who will guarantee next Valentine’s Day won’t be a miserable repeat of this one. That’s a good strategy, but in the meantime, I suggest Wite-Out. Use it to eradicate February 14th from your calendar, then replace the date with February 29th. Since three out of four years, Feb 29th is all but forgotten, it is the perfect “No Date” date.
If you are single with a man in your life, you are in the demographic most likely to enjoy the day–but don’t count on it. The caliber of your current relationship will likely determine the quality of your Valentine’s Day. If you are blissfully and ecstatically happy, you probably don’t care if he gets you anything. Ironically, if you’re that happy, it’s probably because he’s the kind of guy who will manage to produce a perfectly thoughtful token of his love. If so, the most gracious thing you can do is tell your less-happy girlfriends he bought you a new bathmat. There is simply no reason to tell the less-fortunate anything that will make them feel more impoverished.
If you are one in a relationship, with which you are dissatisfied, Valentine’s Day will not redeem the situation. Knowing this, you must lower your expectations–how else will you be able to feign excitement when he presents you with a silk rose from the counter of 7-11 or a teensy red teddy bear?
If you are one of the few who is happy not to be bothered with a man in your life, you are the equivalent of a gifted student, because you have learned how to enjoy life on your own terms whether or not you have the company of a man. If you are in that category, celebrate the realization that your happiness is not contingent on having a man in your life, but don’t go out on Valentine’s Day. (People like you tend to have no trouble attracting men.)
No matter what your status, February 14th is a great day to toast yourself with a glass of bubbly, indulge in extra chocolates or buy yourself flowers!
Sunday is the big day. It’s a bad day for dieters, but a good day for pizza delivery boys. It’s a bad day for those who don’t like Clydesdales, but a good day for those who like commercials with Clydesdales. It’s a big day for gamblers, and a bigger day for bookies. It’s a great day for winners–especially those who beat the odds at the sports book. It is a sad day for fans of the losing team–and the best day for fans of the winning team. It’s a huge day for my friend Jenn, whose love of The Steelers borders on religious devotion. Even while living in Chargers territory, this Pittsburgh zealot managed to incorporate a Steelers motif into her wardrobe every single day. If there’s a lingerie store called Frederick’s of Pittsburgh, she probably has them on speed-dial.
I’m a little jealous–not of her ability to tastefully wear black and gold, but of her love of the game and her team. I’ve don’t enjoy football enough to be a true fan, but I’ll cop to being a bandwagon fan. When the whole city gets Charger Fever, it’s contagious and I’m susceptible. It’s pathetic how quickly I turn into a lightning bolt lemming. If our home team were better, my wardrobe would probably rival Jenn’s.
When it comes to football there are two kinds of women–those who are fans and the rest of us. Depending on your level of fandom, Super Bowl Sunday is either the happiest or saddest day of the season. For me it’s the best day of the entire season, because it is the end of the season. On the other hand, the end of the season means no more three-hour long afternoons without anybody needing anything from me.
I love the Sundays when the men of my household are all held hostage by the big screen. I like to make game-food, then disappear. They are oblivious. I could walk naked through the room, they’d scream and cheer, but they wouldn’t notice me. I could switch out the wings and replace them with Snausages. They’d wonder why the food wasn’t as good as usual, but they’d probably just smother them in guacamole and keep eating.
Since I’m easily occupied, I’ve never considered either option. While they revel in the wonder of HD plasma, I am free to enjoy unencumbered sweet solitude. While they commune with the big screen, I am happy to commune with this small one. I might read a good book, work on a project or go out for a latte & a pedicure. It’s all good. The season is almost over. I hate to see it end, but there’s always next year.
Buying lunch at my favorite hot dog stand, there is an attractive man in line next to me. The hot dog man asks if we’re together. Unable to resist the temptation to quip, I tell him we’ve recently separated. The handsome man laughs as he says, “We’ve never been happier”. With mock hostility, I respond, “We’ve never been more miserable.”
Such is the case with marriage and divorce. While divorce can be a tremendous relief from an unpleasant situation, the relief is often counteracted by the residual resentments that cause it to become a continual source of contentious misery.
Within your social circle, there is probably a couple who makes everyone wonder how they got together. Likewise, there are probably couples who appear to perfect in every way. Against all odds, the unlikely couple stays happily married forever and ever, and the perfect couple one day shocks their friends by announcing plans to break up.
Recently, a friend went public with his decision to file for divorce. There was an immediate backlash from his well-meaning friends telling him he shouldn’t or couldn’t. The friends assured him that he and his attractive wife were perfect for each other. Surely,whatever differences they had would be worked out.
I recall a friend who described his former marriage as the “couple in the perfect picture”.
Another said, “In public, my spouse looks perfect.”
Another was blindsided, when his sweet-as-honey wife turned into the woman who had no conscience.
No more than we can figure out why the odd couple is perfectly happy, can an outsider see the intimacies of a marriage or determine why “the perfect couple” isn’t. Just as every marriage brings joy, every marriage brings pain. It is the yin and yang of marriage which requires constantly trying to recalibrate and adjust to someone who is not like us. Whether our differences are large or small, our success in marriage is contingent on how well we can tolerate OR work through our differences.
From the outside every marriage is only the picture presented. Once upon a time, marriages were more likely to last longer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they were happier. An outsider cannot see or understand the private dynamics that make a couple succeed or fail. It is precisely because of this, we are surprised when we learn of a couple splitting after decades of marriage, but the decision to divorce is rarely made in haste. Many couples stay married longer than they’d like to, if there are children or financial issues to consider.
Just as we smile for cameras, a troubled couple may look better at cocktail parties, than in marriage counseling. When the issues become overwhelming, couples may try repeatedly to salvage their marriage. Perhaps, every issue can be resolved, but often one or both individuals becomes too exhausted to continue trying–especially if numerous efforts have failed.
The dissolution of a marriage is waking up from a pleasant dream and realizing an unpleasant reality. When we choose to marry, we believe in forever. Nobody would walk down the aisle, if they believed forever could be so temporary.