I had an interesting discussion with Girlfriend fairly recently. We were talking about how rare it seems to be for two people to really connect, to get past the superficiality of acquaintanceship and move to the type of bonding that allows for close friendship. Perhaps it isn’t as rare for everybody else as it seems to be for me and her, but we commented that we had a very limited number of people we each would consider to be true friends.
We spent a large part of the conversation trying to identify what quality, attribute, or event enables the transition from acquaintance to friend. In doing so, we talked about why she and I felt that we were friends with each other. The conclusion we came to was that we felt that we could be open with each other. We trusted each other enough to disclose our deeper thoughts and feelings, and instead of judgment or shock from the other person, we received in return understanding and acceptance. She made the observation: “To love is to be vulnerable; and being vulnerable is the start of being loved”
I was 23, so I don’t feel I can definitely say that I married too young. But I feel I probably married too inexperienced. I can count on one hand the number of girls I dated seriously–that is, those to whom I felt able to say “I love you.” And on both hands the number of girls I dated at all. I didn’t know myself very well. And I feel I didn’t know much about life, to say nothing of girls.
But I’m not going to blame the dissolution of my marriage on either my age or inexperience. Not that I necessarily hold them blameless, but rather that’s not the topic I want to address today. Instead, I want to talk a little about one particular member of my personal ancient pantheon of girls I dated. She was 22 years old and she was my Greek Goddess.
I stumbled upon a great post this morning about the social imprint of monogamy and the unachievable ideal prevalent in society of finding your “one and only” when you marry. The post in question was titled How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person. It is clever and insightful about the ways in which many of us enter marriage without really understanding it, and about how marriage can never meet up with the fantasies we entertain about it in our minds.
Unfortunately, in trying to explain where we go from there, the author fails to continue to use the critical thinking that got him that far in the discussion. Or, perhaps more accurately and more fairly, in listing some alternatives to the problem of what to do when we find ourselves in a marriage that doesn’t meet our admittedly unrealistic expectations, he is either blind to or conveniently dismissive altogether of one of the most practical solutions to this problem: that of polyamory.
Mr. Wonderful is very career-minded. He has been working on advancing his career throughout the years of his marriage to Girlfriend, and she has been supportive. As good Mormons, they made sacrifices so that they could live the ideal: that the husband and father would provide for the family, and the wife and mother would remain at home to nurture the children. This has been their arrangement for the decade or so since they have had children.
It only seems natural, then, that on Mother’s Day, Mr. Wonderful would take a moment to express his appreciation to his wife for her devotion to the children in particular and to the family in general. The message he actually delivered, though, was somehow wide of the mark. He essentially told her that she was an unfit mother.
I’m not sure how common it is for people to take a good hard look at monogamy and decide that they want it. My guess is that monogamy is so well ingrained into our culture that it’s almost invisible. Sure, we spend a lot of time thinking of whom we’ll marry. Some of us spend a lot of time even deciding if we’ll marry. But how many of us think about or decide between monogamy and polyamory? I mean, really think about it.
In my discussions with people, I hear a lot of arguments against polyamory and in favor of monogamy. Yet I’m not sure that they aren’t just knee-jerk reactions to something that is utterly foreign to them. “I mean, polyamory? Come on. You can’t seriously be considering that. Everyone knows….” And then I am presented with something that, to me, at least, usually doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Am I not considering the full consequences of my decisions? Or is it just hard for people to reject something that has become simply a backdrop in our culture, the fabric upon which the other choices of our life are made?
I’ve spent a lot of time with Wife in the past few days. Maybe six hours each day on both Thursday and Friday. And I have to say, I quite enjoyed the time we spent together. I was reminded once again of some of the many qualities that she has that attracted me to her. Even after this time of being separated, I found it very easy to slip back into the comfortable role of being with her.
In fact, if it weren’t for the topic of conversation and our purpose for being together, I would think it would be easy for anyone seeing us together to believe that we have a great relationship. And we do. She is amazing. She is fun to be with. In spite of that, however, our topic of conversation revolved around the D word: divorce. You see, her lawyers had completed the paperwork, and it was time to sign.
My family went camping recently. Sometimes it’s really nice to get away from it all. Connect more with nature. Breathe fresh air. Enjoy campfires and camp cooking. Sleep in the cool night air. Turn off the electronics.
Well, not all the electronics. Cell phones seem like a must, even while camping. And the spot we picked was chosen particularly because it had cell service. Cell service, but no electrical power. And that’s where the problem began.
Affair is such a dirty word. A four letter word, if you will. And such a generic word. It could be applied to almost anything. But the way we use it in our society, to mean infidelity and betrayal and all that goes along with that, makes it a slimy word, a word you never want to apply to yourself. My wife asked me to apply it to myself.
“Research ‘Emotional Affair’ on the internet,” she told me. “And ‘Recovering from an Emotional Affair’ as well.” So I did.
I’m not sure how to approach this post today. I am the one on the Frogstar. I am the one in the Partial Perspective Vortex. I can talk about myself and my flaws and weaknesses, my doubts and concerns, and I will be biased in favor of myself and present myself as favorably as possible by default. But there are other people in my life with whom I interact, and they haven’t volunteered for the Frogstar treatment. They haven’t agreed to be in the spotlight here. And they don’t even know that this blog exists.
So how do I tell a story that involves what could be seen as negative information about another person in my life? While still trying to be honest with myself and with the non-existent readership of my blog? Unfortunately I just have to stumble through this one and hope that I do okay. If I give too much information or if I give too little, I’m sorry; I’m feeling my way along in the dark here. Continue reading