I’d skimmed through this story by Kate Bolick earlier the Instant Man had thrown it a link but I really didn’t sit down to read it until the actual magazine showed up, and this paragraph halfway through jumped out at me:
When I was a little girl, my mother and I went for a walk and ran into her friend Regina. They talked for a few minutes, caught up. I gleaned from their conversation that Regina wasn’t married, and as soon as we made our goodbyes, I bombarded my mother with questions. “No husband? How could that be? She’s a grown-up! Grown-ups have husbands!” My mother explained that not all grown-ups get married. “Then who opens the pickle jar?”
It didn’t help that the same weekend that the magazine arrived, I received official word that my son’s marriage had gone down the chute. (I’d figured as much from monitoring Facebook, but I chose to refrain from making any specific comment, there or here, until I’d actually talked to him. One does not admit to being stalky.)
There are times when I think we, as a society, have given up on marriage. Even those ardent Defenders of Marriage who’ve dedicated their time to making sure that gay couples don’t get a trip to the altar seem to have changed their tune somewhat: I’m hearing “What do you want to do that for?” at least as often as “The Lord shall smite thee.” (Your Humble Narrator was griping about the Defense of Marriage Act way back in 1996.)
Along those lines:
Perhaps true to conservative fears, the rise of gay marriage has helped heterosexuals think more creatively about their own conventions. News stories about polyamory, “ethical nonmonogamy,” and the like pop up with increasing frequency. Gay men have traditionally had a more permissive attitude toward infidelity; how will this influence the straight world? [Social historian Stephanie] Coontz points out that two of the hallmarks of contemporary marriage are demands for monogamy on an equal basis, and candor. “Throughout history, there was a fairly high tolerance of [men’s] extramarital flings, with women expected to look the other way,” she said. “Now we have to ask: Can we be more monogamous? Or understand that flings happen?”
I’d point out that thinking differently and thinking “creatively” are not necessarily synonymous, but other than “Geez, people, you’ve got to take these damn vows seriously,” I got nothing. Infidelity was not a factor in the failure of my own marriage, nor of my son’s. As for candor well, I presume he inherited my tendency to say Exactly The Wrong Thing.
This would be easier to take, I suspect, if I weren’t still ridden with all kinds of romantic delusions. (In earlier times, I would have said flatly that thinking the subject had anything to do with me was the biggest delusion of them all.) I have basically come to the conclusion that my heart is brain-dead, and any noises it emits can safely be ignored. Unfortunately, that’s the organ that occasionally craves the pickles and who will open the jar?