Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Long Surprise

Not as surprising as say, fucking someone else....

See? It grabs your attention. That's what I love about writing. I read the article in Slate by Amanda Hess on the Double X blog several weeks back and the last line of the third paragraph made me laugh out loud. We've all had this same thought, not just men. The: I will be with this one person for the rest of my life? Whole life?

I know what you are thinking- where is this coming from? But hear me out, because not everything is as sinister as it seems.

One thing I do in my every day life is talk about uncomfortable things, so its gonna happen on the blog as well. You saw it coming. You will be uncomfortable. That is not my intention, I am not aiming for that as my sole purpose, however I will not shy away from it. I know my boundaries and I reach outside of them from time to time, as topics come up and require my thought to be applied. Feel free to do the same.

Sex, marriage, the concept of passion and romance, women and men, the expectations placed on us by our society and ourselves as a result of looking in the mirror the world has made around us (read: bouncing your own ideas back until you are in a wind tunnel of your own original thought) are difficult topics at best, squirmy at worst and mostly to be shied away from.

 Especially when you are talking about infidelity. Cheating. Adultery. By any name and with any terrible attachments (such as happens when your spouse cheats with your friend, sibling  babysitter, nanny, teacher, coworker, old flame) this is the act of stepping out (of your clothes) on your spouse. The article spurred my inspiration, as this is a topic I feel people know, even understand, and yet refuse to acknowledge the reality of.

Why do people cheat? Are we interested in the answer? Well, you are if you are cheated on. You want lots of answers, not the least of which is why?. But for me, its more interesting to examine the institution as a whole. Do people cheat because of monogamy or temptation? Is cheating related to our inability as humans to be honest in the face of what everyone around them says they should think or feel? Or is it the MOST honest expression of who and what we really are DESPITE what others around us say we should think and feel?

 I am inspired by the thoughts of how human social interactions really work and this is one of those taboo topics, but hardly anything is more worthy of exploration than the human heart, particularly as it attends to the most intimate of relationships.

How do we keep a relationship good? Real? Definitive? Safe? What does one do to protect against the infidelity that seems to fly around in the air like a virus? Is it just the protection of self inflicted morality? It's not the religions, as we know from far too many news stories and far more never published. Churches and schools and jobs and kids and homes don't keep it safe. Praying and hoping and lingerie don't keep it safe.
What then, of the modern marriage? Women are no longer economically dependent on men and men are no longer shunned if not married (outside of very conservative cities).

The surprising thing is that so many people are able to be monogamous for so long, not that so many cheat. The percentages are not in favor of the long term married. The fears that people have of becoming too comfortable, too lazy are understandable, as the novelty of 'new love' is supposedly so fun and tempting that you worry you aren't keeping it fun enough. The reality is much different than you may think. The ties that bind are strong, people are complacent and change is hard. I believe I know what it is that makes it work, and that is talking. I know, hot stuff, right?

It proves to be true more often than not. When a relationship devolves into a lack of communication, that is when you can see how talking held you together. Sure, the sex is great, the surprise gifts, the getaway trips, the common bond of raising children are all ways that people keep it together. But the communication is a deal breaker. This is never more true than after a fight when the 'silent treatment' kicks in. Why would you use silence as a punishment? A lack of communication is the way that some people communicate just how shitty of an excuse for a person they think you are.

The long surprise is coming for all of us... we will be surprised at how things turn out, even if they turn out as we hope. We will look back and be surprised if our marriages don't make it, and definitely surprised if they do. People are mysterious and confusing at the same time that they are so deceptively simple. Marriages cannot be saved. Not if they need saving. If someone manages to 'save' their marriage, they wanted it. They worked at it. They had the drive to keep it going. In effect, then, was the marriage ever 'in trouble'? And if it had just ended instead of being dragged out, without the support and interest of the parties involved, would that miserable little hell have been preferable to divorce?

No one can say for sure about another person's life. You have to know what you have and what you want. If they are the same or if they are different things, only you really know. I think finding that out might be the greatest surprise of all.

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