Posts Tagged ‘Living News’
In her Wall Street Journal article “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?” Jennifer Moses argues that the reason we mothers let our daughters “dress like prostitutes” is largely due to our own sexual regrets. She goes on to speculate that mothers who came of age in what she considers a post-feminist society were perhaps too free with their sexual experimenting.
As a part of the solution to this problem, she subtly advocates abstinence until marriage.
I wanted to piggyback on David Brooks’ Op-Ed in The New York Times earlier this week. In “Amy Chua Is a Wimp” he appraises Chua’s critique in her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” of the way Americans raise their children to be entitled. However, Brooks takes her to task for not respecting the cognitive learning children and adults bring to bear in their emotional and social lives.
Brooks outs a rarely validated reality: Living our emotional lives as they’re played out in the social arena is the most difficult, lifelong learning curve humans face.
The most important woman in my life is a woman I only met for a couple of minutes.
My sweet daughter Olivia is 14 now, and I’m still so madly in love with her that several times each day I wish I could inhale her. I often think about the young woman known in my household as Angel Cate, whose egg made this child possible, and I send up little agnostic prayers of gratitude to whatever force in the universe brought her life to sit forever next to ours.
I went off birth control when I was 24 and gave birth when I was 33. They never did diagnose why my body didn’t work, but I spent that decade of my life building to a crescendo of desperation in trying to figure it out and fix it and have it be over, so I could meet my baby. I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a woman who’s naturally drawn to children. But I always knew I wanted a shot at living out the clean love I fantasized a mother might feel toward her child.
When we began sliding into infertility treatment, the science was new and labor intensive. Every stage of it, as it unfolded in my body and my marriage, demanded a physical diligence and a consuming emotional preoccupation that I thought at times would take me down. It strung together mercilessly, making us not believe we were in our third year of trying, then our fourth … well surely it’ll happen this cycle … yet there we were in our eighth year, then approaching our tenth. I stopped counting surgeries and procedures after the seventh in vitro. And still, 104 times, my period came. Each month, more hope rinsing out of my body.
As my chances of conceiving continued to fade, I spent a couple of those years reluctantly contemplating the idea of donor eggs, and weighing my ambivalence about carrying another woman’s baby against never having the chance to carry one at all. I’d grown up in a family in which there were always stop orders being placed on what was thought of as love, so I’d learned early on that genetic connections guarantee nothing, but that understanding wasn’t enough to disconnect me from wondering if I could love a baby that wasn’t my own.
When my last in vitro failed, we decided we would try one more time with a donor, if we could find one we agreed on. Through a friend I found a psychologist who advertised for, and screened potential donors. She mailed us a chart of available women, each of them accompanied by the standard descriptive terms: height, ethnicity, eye color, IQ and so on. We selected three from that list and requested the full packet on each of those women, which would include a lengthy questionnaire, completed in the donor’s own handwriting, and Xeroxed photographs.
The afternoon the three packets arrived in the mail, I was home alone. I was scared to open the white 8 1/2 x 11 envelope they came in, because I felt like it contained the prognosis for my future, so I laid it on the table and sat next to it for a little while. When I was as ready as I was capable of being, I opened the first one. Before I could even engage in reading the woman’s questionnaire I was overcome by the fact that it was peppered with bubble exclamation points and “i”s dotted with smiley faces, and I became immediately uncomfortable. People from that stratosphere of perkiness make me edgy. I feel badly about this, but it’s true. The second packet stirred almost no reaction in me, and then I started to feel flat and numb — a sign my emotional rheostat was dimming off to protect me from the pain of what it would mean if I didn’t connect with the last donor profile laying on the table.
But when I opened Angel Cate’s packet and saw the warmth in her eyes, all my ambivalence fell away. I read her thoughtful responses to the questions about being an egg donor, and said to myself: I can do this with this woman.
My husband felt exactly the same.
I didn’t want to meet Angel Cate when the three of us were trying to conceive my daughter. We were in the same hospital at the same time, but after so many years of what felt to me like the loss of baby after baby, I was irrationally afraid that if we met her, and I did get pregnant, she would somehow be more inclined to take the infant back. I also felt protective of the positive reaction I’d had to seeing her on paper, and didn’t want anything to mess that up.
Instead, we passed along to her a gift, with a note containing feelings drawn all the way up from my toes. I knew if I were to get pregnant, I wasn’t opposed to having our child meet Angel Cate, if that’s what the child wanted, but I was certain I didn’t want to start out on that foot. When we learned the pregnancy had taken hold, we asked the psychologist to please share this miraculous news and our profound appreciation with Angel Cate, who then sent her congratulations back to us.
The pregnancy was a joy. A joy. But by noon on the day Olivia was due to be born, not having had any symptoms of labor yet, a part of me couldn’t help but go back to that dark psychological place we’d been living in for so long, and I asked my husband, “What if she’s not coming? What if all of this has been a dream, and we wake up and never meet her?”
Olivia was born a week later, and it didn’t at all feel like I was meeting her. It felt like I had known her my whole life.
When Olivia was 16 months old, we contacted the psychologist to see if Angel Cate, who had said she’d be open to a second donation, was willing to try again. She was. Once again we took drugs to coordinate our menstrual cycles, and once again we were in the same hospital in separate rooms.
During the surgery to have her eggs harvested, there was a glitch. The HCG injection that causes the release of the eggs had apparently shot blanks; the eggs weren’t retrievable, and the procedure was stopped. Afterward, the doctor gave her the choice to consider this the end, or to take a second injection of HCG and return in 36 hours to undergo another surgery. The chances of the eggs being viable had dropped significantly due to the inability to retrieve them at their ripest point, but she chose to do it again anyway, and this second time, I could not leave the hospital without meeting her.
While Angel Cate was in recovery, lying on a gurney and coming out from under the anesthesia, she’d given her permission for me to come in. I had no idea how to begin to tell her what she meant to us, and as I was hoping to say something to her to do her justice, she looked up at me with a calm smile and asked, “How’s your baby?”
My eyes had been full of tears before I’d even walked into the room, and the generosity she held out to me in her choice of those three words, and all that they revealed about this young woman, made them crest and fall. I told her she had given us an amazing little person and I handed her the silver box I’d gotten her with a lock of Olivia’s hair inside its velvet lining.
She thanked me and said she’d been happy to do it, and told me how sorry she was that the HCG hadn’t worked. I told her we had worked as hard to have a life as we would have to save a life, and that she had given us life. Then I kissed her on the cheek and said what you say to someone who has given you a gift you can never possibly repay: Thank you.
The three of us did conceive again, but I lost the baby. Shortly after the miscarriage, I wrote Olivia a fairy tale about Angel Cate, and my husband illustrated it. I wanted her to know that in this world such dimensions of humanity exist. They are out there; and they are in her. We read it to her at bedtime as often as we read Goodnight Moon.
Once upon a time,
in a kingdom deep, deep in the center of two hearts,
there lived a King and a Queen.
The kingdom was safe and warm,
with soft cool breezes,
and the King and Queen were quite happy there.
The only problem was that this kingdom was dimly lighted,
and the King and Queen longed for a brightness
to illuminate the land.
and each night
they dreamt of brightness,
but it did not come.
Now it just so happened
that there was a distant star
way above the kingdom.
And this star
was governed by a third heart,
the heart of Angel Cate.
One magical night,
after nine years of dreaming,
the synchronized pulsing
of the King and Queen’s hearts
propelled the dream
up into the sky.
As the beating of their hearts
Angel Cate’s heart
began to beat in exactly the same rhythm,
and it pulled their dream
all the way up to her star.
The sound of the hearts beating together
was so powerful
that the star began to sparkle.
Angel Cate reached into the
and sprinkled it onto the dream,
and floated it gently back down
to the King and Queen.
As soon as the stardust was
absorbed by the King and Queen,
the kingdom began to glow.
And from the love
in each of the three hearts,
of the King, the Queen, and Angel Cate,
a fourth heart
brighter than the King and Queen
began to beat.
This was the heart of
The Baby of Light.
And from that day forward,
the tempo of Olivia’s heart
set the sun
to wash golden over the day,
and the moon
to wash white over the night.
What began as my ambivalence about having another woman’s baby has alchemized into a purity of love for both Olivia and Angel Cate, and I realize the longer I love Olivia, the more indebted to Angel Cate I become.
My daughter has a capacity for empathy that blows me away. She is smart and true to herself, and she has a wicked sense of humor. The privilege of loving her has been my resurrection.
To this day, she will occasionally take her fairy tale off the book shelf and we’ll snuggle together and read it, just as we will occasionally go to the desk drawer and carefully take out Angel Cate’s packet and read her words, and touch the picture of her face.
This is our love story.
Last week was the 37th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision.
It’s a time in our history when the emotional support of a woman’s right to choose is still uneasy and unsettled, and insurance coverage for abortion is an active battle fraught with contention.
In many ways politics have removed us from women’s personal experience.
In the Abortion Questionnaire of my Women’s Realities Study women are making clear the individualized seriousness with which they contemplated their decision to end a pregnancy. They also reveal how personal a decision it is to live with. The choice can be heartbreaking, but if we lived in a society without the ability to make that choice, imagine how much more heartbreak there would be. Here is a representative sample of the range of responses to the question:
What do you want others to understand about your experience of abortion?
- That women do not have abortions out of carelessness or because we enjoy them. We have them to get out of the trap that our own body sometimes sets us. If society valued women and children more, we might not feel as if motherhood would back us into a corner.
- That it was OK. I don’t regret it and it doesn’t haunt me. It helped me make some hard choices which have ultimately improved my life tremendously.
- It’s a horrible, degrading, stupid thing to do.
- I want others to realize that many women have had an abortion. I want people to realize that just because I support abortion, that just because I had an abortion, does not mean that I am proud of my decision. I want people to realize that they should not talk about abortion indiscriminately, because they don’t know who is in the room. Several times since then it has come up in conversation with people who do not know that I have had an abortion, and each time, I want to ask them, “How do you know I haven’t had one?” I don’t, of course…
- Birth control failures can happen, even to well-educated and well-off individuals. When they occur, pregnancy is a natural consequence. Ending a pregnancy is a very personal decision. Reasons for doing so are not something that can be fully understood by anyone but the woman involved. It is MY body and therefore I should decide what to do with it. I decided to have sex before marriage, and I decided how to deal with the consequences. Better to have two less babies in the world than to have three miserable people now. Being a mother is not all about raising children – it is about the emotional and physical bond that forms during pregnancy. I didn’t want that bond.
To that end, I am ashamed at myself when I think about the shame I felt going through the procedure. I should have held my head up high. It’s just so hard when you feel like everyone around you is judging you.
- That not everyone who has an abortion is an unwed teenager. That one out of every couple hundred pregnancies involves a chromosome abnormality and that no one takes lightly the decision to end a pregnancy.
- It is not something that any women I know take lightly or use as a form of birth control. It is a major tragic decision that no one wants to make, but some of us are forced to. I never thought I would be someone who had three abortions. I did not have sex until I was 18, I used birth control always except one weekend (yes it is true), I did not want to watch my child live in pain only to ultimately die a painful death from a severe heart defect, I also did not want my older daughter to watch her sister die, I did not want to bring a sick child into this world that would be in chronic pain and fight an illness for the rest of his life, I did not want my other children to loose their mother because I was off caring for a sick child all of the time. I made these choices out of careful thought and love. I do not regret my choices.
- It sucks! You never fully heal. It is so much better to go through the hassle of safe sex than to live with the feelings.
I went to confession about 25 years later and the priest, who was a very good man, asked me if I had ever thought of a name for the baby. And I said yes, I thought I would have named him Michael. He said that was the name he was thinking at that moment as well. This brought me some level of peace.
- Even if it is a choice we can make, it is an extremely difficult one. Seek the support you need.
- I am a bright, college-educated woman and found myself pregnant. It was an agonizing choice, but a choice that my mother helped me make.
And to remind us that this isn’t a always a decision women make alone, in my entire study of over 1,200 questions, the only question to receive 100% unanimity was this:
Q: If married or in a committed relationship, was your partner supportive of the abortion?
Living in a culture in which women can carry shame or feel vilified for having an abortion, it would serve us well to remember this is very often a decision made in concert with men. The silent partners of abortion.
This summer one of my clients and one of my girlfriends gave birth. As they approached their due dates they described the same familiar upset other girlfriends and women in my practice had reported at the end of their pregnancies.
Well meaning women — family members, girlfriends, colleagues or strangers — would freely inform them of the right way to deliver and the right way to feed the baby.
Here are some of the things women actually say to each other:
- You cannot have a Caesarean!
- It’s not a true birth experience if you don’t deliver vaginally
- Don’t have a vaginal delivery; it’ll be a nightmare
- You should demand a C-Section and make it fit your schedule
- If you want what’s best for your baby you’ll breastfeed
- Bottle feeding is wrong, I don’t understand why anyone would do it
- Breastfeeding in public is disgusting
- You’ll never sleep and get saggy breasts if you breastfeed
Over the years mothers-to-be have confided in me their reaction to these words, ranging from, “What she said really bothered me.” or “Where does she get off?” to “I wanted to punch her in the fucking face!”
Even confident, well-informed, headstrong women are affected by these comments. If a man were to make statements like this women might brush them off as sexist, thinking he has no right. But women often listen to other women with a different ear, curious to hear their perspectives on things they have in common.
Sometimes even if a woman defends herself against the offending comment in the moment, she still finds it lurks in her mind afterward, because she’s about to become a new mother and she too feels pressure to do it right. She may secretly feel guilty or question herself and her judgment … because she has been judged.
Sexism plays a major part in this pressure to fit all mothering into a box labeled ‘The Right Way. Since our history is rife with rules designed by men to keep women in line under male authority there’s a psychological reasoning that if women do it the right way they’ll be safe and above reproach.
When women unintentionally carry on this tradition of restriction it eliminates the variable of uniqueness in every childbirth and mother/infant relationship. And in those cases in which a woman is unable to deliver vaginally when she desperately wanted to, or can’t breastfeed when she desperately wanted to, these comments from other women can contribute to her feeling faulty and broken.
There are women out there who have wonderful easy birth stories; there are women who feel breastfeeding is blissful; and there are women who love bottle feeding. But there are also stories of frightening and bumpy beginnings.
To go through a planned Caesarean based on safety and well-being, or to end up having one at the end of labor for the same reason aren’t issues of mothering to be judged. The same is true for bonding around feeding. If a woman knows she’ll be incredibly uncomfortable nursing, the tension it would create for her and the baby makes bottle feeding right for them. And if a woman tries to breastfeed and finds either she or the baby cannot due to issues of pain, milk production, latching or sleep deprivation, then the peace a bottle will bring is right for them.
Women shouldn’t impose strictures on other women’s individuality and choice when we wouldn’t want that from men. Making room for mothers and babies to go through the beginning of their lives together in whatever way they feel is best is the right way for them.
So be generous with each other and reduce the risk of getting clocked.
There’s always a spike in mother/daughter material in my practice every year at this time when adult daughters are ready to pull their hair out because their mothers have hurt them over the holidays.
A season unto itself, the barreling intensity around food and body image starts with the on-ramp to Thanksgiving and ends with brake-slamming remorse and subsequent resolutions for the New Year.
From comments mothers make about themselves, like “Oh my God, I’m so fat” to ones they make to their daughters, like “You’d be so much prettier if you lost some weight” or “Are you sure you really want to eat that?” mothers hand down their obsession with body image throughout the calendar year, but the holidays bring it out in full force. And mothers and daughters struggle with this issue regardless of whether they’re a size 2 or 20.
A pressure on women that began outside our gender has seeped into our mother/daughter relationships to such an extent that its damaging self loathing has become the standard. Mothers need to be much more conscious of the fact that they’re role models for their daughters’ self-perception, and they need to limit the destructive messages they send them — whether their daughters are little girls or middle aged women.
As adult daughters of all ages in my practice and my Women’s Realities Study have taught me, if their mothers raised them with an unhealthy focus on weight and perfection, they became women who judge, and feel consistently uncomfortable in, their bodies and this undermines their general sense of confidence, their relationships and their sexual expression.
If mothers want to process their feelings about body image they can do it outside the mother/daughter relationship. Speak, without veering into body bashing, to adult girlfriends; watch Oprah; or go on-line to sites like Something-Fishy or First Ourselves to hear women’s experiences and struggles in dealing with how they see themselves.
An occasional reference to our imperfection is one thing; an ongoing commentary is different. You might think that these little remarks are harmless, but they add up.
Look at it through a financial metaphor: every time you critique your daughter’s body you make a contribution to her Unrealistic Body Image Fund. And when you put yourself down in front of her, the Mother Company makes a matching corporate donation. You’re efficiently funding twice the self-loathing.
Unlike a college fund, your daughter won’t be able to put it toward something that will enhance her life. She’ll use it to fund things like this, pulled directly from women in my practice:
• Not wearing what she dreams of wearing to a party because she feels she’s not pretty enough to pull it off.
• Covering her breasts whenever she’s naked in front of her lover
• Not wanting to have sex because her cellulite makes her feel ugly
• Despite thinking of it every minute, trying really, really hard to only weigh herself three times a day
• Binging and purging for almost two decades without anyone, not her best friends or her husband knowing
• Hating going home for holidays because her mother will critique her weight
• Dreading phone calls with her mother for the same reason
• Feeling the shame of a loser when, yet again, she hasn’t lived up to expectations her mother set
• Years of yo-yo dieting that have screwed up her metabolism
• An inability to enjoy the pleasures of food
• An obsessive focus on numbers: dress size, weight, age
• A fear of pregnancy because she’ll gain weight
• Deep and longstanding resentment toward her mother, but more importantly,
• Deep and longstanding self loathing that she will never be enough
Like you, your daughter already has to live under the pressures of cultural sexism and the media warping her worth, and this is a huge, nebulous problem to tackle. Having a positive maternal impact on her worth in the way you relate to each other is a far easier way to address the problem. And it will make her more likely to want to hang out with you, holiday or not.
We as mothers are putting our own fears ahead of our daughters’ well being, and we have to confront this crisis of confidence in order to offer our girls more grounding in sexual vitality than we were given by our own mothers.
In not giving them the sexual information they need, and offering them that life long emotional connection to us, we do them a broader disservice than we imagine.
Yesterday on Oprah sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman did an excellent and long overdue episode on helping mothers talk to their daughters about sexuality. Therapists, sex educators and researchers including myself find that, shockingly, our level of anxiety as mothers still keeps us from really educating our daughters about their bodies, desire and relationships. Although we tend to disguise it with rationalizations like “she’s too young” or “it will overwhelm her” the main deterrent to our being there for our girls in this way is often that we’re simply too uncomfortable to do it.
My research has shown me how far we haven’t come. It’s the beginning of the 21st Century and many mothers aren’t even teaching their daughters about menstruation, let alone sexuality. Just like our mothers did, we’re passing off their education to Judy Blume or the school nurse. And now, the internet.
But we, as modern mothers, have the opportunity to truly break through to the dimension of mothering we thought we’d broken through to decades ago — one not permeated with unnecessary shame-driven ignorance.
The easiest way to do this is to appreciate that our daughters’ sexuality exists on the very same continuum as our own. Remember when you were curious about how babies were made, and when you didn’t know where a tampon went? Remember when you felt like an idiot with your friends because everyone else seemed to know what oral sex was and you were afraid to ask? Remember the first time you felt yearning, and the first time you felt so swept away sexually you thought if you were to die right then and there, your life would be complete? Now remember the negative stuff. Did you feel naughty or dirty when you first began your own sexual exploration? Did you feel alone and separate from your mother? Did you worry she’d judge you? Do you even today feel guilty around masturbation? In your life now, do you feel disconnected or unfulfilled when you’re having sex?
Whether we actually have them or whether we do not, women crave full and happy sex lives because we know we feel more alive when we do. So how can we want this vibrancy for ourselves and not for our daughters? If we want our daughters to feel sexually comfortable as women, we need to help them feel comfortable along the entire journey, and our awkward avoidance and judgment won’t get them there.
Women in my study and practice routinely feel let down and abandoned by their mother’s silence or lack of support. It undermines how they feel in their bodies, and not just with regard to sex – it influences what they feel entitled to do, think, say and wear. If we implicitly encourage our daughters to forsake their sexuality that sense of shame infects every other area of their self esteem. And the opposite is also true. If we raise our daughters to feel a healthy entitlement to their sexuality it will enhance their self esteem in every way because they’ll have the freedom to be whole.
The little 10 year old girl on Oprah, who must surely be the most delightful child to ever appear on television, had the most poignant and concise message in the show. She’d been asking her mother twice a week for the past eight months to please teach her about sex, and her wonderful yet anxious mother was scared to death she’d say the wrong thing. In their session with Dr. Berman the girl said (italics her emphasis):
Little girl: “What is sex?”
Dr. Berman: “Do you have any idea what sex is?”
Little girl: “It’s not like I have the confidence to think about that, but I want my mom to have the confidence to talk to me about it.”
Both hope and fear are great motivators, and they both have the capacity to promote growth in us, but hope creates space in the mind and heart. Fear, more often than not, restricts it.
Just think of how you feel in your own body when you’re afraid – you tense up and go on vigilant alert, like an animal bracing to fight or flee. Let’s say you’re walking down a dark deserted street and you hear someone following you. The instant you become aware of it your body and your mind go into hyper drive and all your energy is devoted to “Am I in danger? What do I do? Do I turn and confront? Do I run? If I confront, then what? If I run, where do I go?” Your entire world constricts to focus on the situation.
When you feel hopeful, your body’s relaxed. You feel generous and open, not only with others, but with yourself too. Your world expands with ideas for how the hope could gather even more momentum. You feel motivated forward.
If fear takes too much hold of a personality, rigidity of thought and paranoia enter. When this happens on a national level the same trend is seen. You end up with things like racism, sexism and hate. When hope is experienced in the extreme in a personality, a sense of being un-tethered to reality allows delusion to enter, and on a national level this puts a culture in danger of complacency and unprepared-ness.
Obama inspired our country to make history by realizing that we need in our country the very same thing we need in our personal lives. When we use the better part of hope and fear together we’re in the best position we can be in. The best part of fear is that it teaches us what we’re afraid to lose, and the best part of hope is that once we know what we’re afraid of losing we can set about nurturing it and keeping it strong and safe. And hope should be by far the greater force in this equation.
Fear is the prompt. Hope is the way. Fear is about trying to survive something. Hope is about knowing why you want to.
I’ve never felt more female than the day I gave birth to my daughter. And I have never felt more human than the day I stood with my neighbors and watched the Twin Towers across the street from our homes burn and fall.
I never thought I would be in a position to feel the level of powerlessness someone feels as they watch thousands of lives end.
I never thought I would feel lucky to have my family survive an international incident on my block. I never imagined I would experience the sensation of running for my life with my daughter in my arms. I never thought I would be evacuated from my home or that my daughter’s school would turn into an Emergency Command Center, and the school beside hers a morgue.
I never dreamed that the opening of The Wonderful World of Disney show when Tinkerbell flies over the Magic Kingdom and sets off fireworks with her wand would be the only visual paradigm to capture the exploding silver façade of the second tower as it slowly came down glistening in the sun.
I never thought I would see fighter jets screaming over my head and wondering with thousands of others looking up at them, if they were ours.
I never thought I would have cause to feel so profoundly connected to my city and to my country.
And I never thought my leaders would squander the internationally unifying power of those moments.
The same dynamic is at play in our national and private yearnings. We want the same illusion of moral constancy in our politicians as we do in our marriages.
But we inevitably find our leaders have feet of clay. And it’s common for couples to not even know what’s going on in their very own relationships.
I’ve heard these sexual secrets with regularity in my 20 years of practice as a psychoanalyst; I can reflect on stories of infidelity from my small puritanical home town that have dribbled in over the last 40 years, long after the fact, often after somebody who’d be affected by the secret has died (just like with Deep Throat); I know of their existence in the family in which I was raised; and they’ve been repeatedly disclosed to me by my friends as they’ve grappled with it. Naturally, I also see it played out in media coverage whenever a story breaks.
It’s omnipresent and we don’t want it to be.
We can consider the sexual acts of others so stupid and hubristic we can’t even believe they were undertaken, and we think that would certainly never happen to us. Or we try to keep our concerns at bay by joking our partner has no time to have an affair, or we ask them if they’ve been untrue and they say “No, honey”. Sexual love over time can be tricky. I don’t know who said it first, God or Bono, but this line comes to mind: “Love is a temple; love the higher law. You ask for me to enter but then you make me crawl.”
No matter what we do to try and protect ourselves, this is the problem: rationality plays no role in desire. They operate in separate spheres.
To prove we’re all susceptible, here’s a list of just some of the jumpstarts to affairs:
Too much narcissism
Not enough narcissism
Wanting to ride the wave of happiness by riding someone’s curves
Augmenting great sex at home
The absence of great sex at home
Falling in love with someone else
Wanting compartmentalized un-emotional sex with someone else
Too much money and grandiosity
The absence of money and the wish to not feel it
Not having children
Because you’re young and don’t know better
Because you’re old and know too much
Because your partner’s your best friend
Because you can no longer stand your partner
To get back at your partner for betraying you
To get your partner’s attention
Because the couple steers into danger consciously
Because the couple drifts into danger unconsciously
Because it’s so not what people believe you’re capable of that no one would suspect you
Because it’s what everyone expects of you
Because the Madonna/Whore split is alive and well
Because you’re human.
Our trust doesn’t extinguish our partner’s sexual desire; and their trust doesn’t extinguish ours. In fact, our wish for trustworthiness exists in part because we have such a well-earned fear for the power of desire. The same is true of those we vote into national power. Our hope for true leadership guides us in our search, but it doesn’t guarantee finding it.
I believe we’d have a better chance of weathering the foibles of our own humanity if we’d reconceptualize intimacy in a way that plans for the high possibility of infidelity. I suggest this because betrayal is hard enough without the additional shame we heap on it with our clanging response of shock each time we hear of another couple in crisis.
The same could be true for how we see our leaders.
There should be no cause for shock in the case of something that happens with great regularity. What?! A politician lied to cover up hypocrisy? What?! Someone strayed? What?! You ordered the chicken again?