Archive | July, 2011

“So, Fred, When You Gonna Make Me A Grandma?”

So now young gay couples are feeling the heat from their parents:   One friend of mine, a man who has been a couple with another man for years, got more than “So, when are you and Fred getting married?” He got a whispered, “So, when will your dad and I be grandparents?” My friend said, Mom! Stop! Just ‘cause I can doesn’t mean I want to! And a BABY? Whoever said I want a kid? Are you insane?”

While the parents of gay men and Lesbian women are ecstatically pushing marriage and children on their kids, these same kids are finding themselves under a startling new kind of societal pressure, not always welcome. “Just as I got my parents used to the idea that I was a societal flop, a cultural bad girl, a institutional drop-out,” says a young woman friend of mine who has been living with another woman for a few years, “along comes my eligibility into the most sanctified status of all, the one state-of-being the culture worships: marriage. And my parents have gone into deranged White Picket Fence mode. They asked me—really—if Samantha and I wanted a Dalmatian puppy after we were married.

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Surprise! Websites for The Unfaithful!

Years ago it was thought that husbands had affairs and wives did not. Really. I was thrown off several radio shows for insisting that the legions of men having affairs across the globe were not, as these talk-show hosts thought, sleeping only with a small pool of unmarried women, but with other wives as well.  That I had spoken with these wives and reported on their feelings about affairs, as I did for my first book, The Erotic Silence of the American Wife, made me almost as evil on these shows as the wives themselves. (I was called “a witch” on the Larry King show.)

In a piece in The Times Style section last Sunday about sexting, a study revealed that yes, online dalliances occur. And women, the study showed, sext more than men do. Women also send naked pictures of themselves to men. One of the study’s researchers, Dr. Kholos Wysocki, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at the Universityof Nebraska at Kearney  said she didn’t feel the internet was causing infidelity, but that “something is going on with marriage that’s the bigger social issue. Before, people would just get a divorce. For some reason, people are staying and cheating instead.”

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Honesty about Infidelity? Not on Your Life!

Last week, a Portland, Oregan documentarist interviewed me about my feelings about open marriage. He’s making a documentary about marriage, and he wants to share his idea that couples should ditch sexual exclusivity and, moreover, be open and honest about it.  A few days later I read Mark Oppenheimer’s article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (“Married with Infidelities,” July 3, 2011) quoting Seattle-based sex columnist Dan Savage, also a married man who believes in both sexual nonexclusivity and openness about it.  I’ve spoken with hundreds and hundreds of people about infidelity, and I want to point out something I’ve learned over the years from women who tried being open about their infidelity:  The “openness” playing field is not level. However free men feel to tell their wives about their indiscretions, wives should—and I mean this—shut up about theirs.

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One Reason Gay Marriage is Great for Straight Marriage

Gay marriage is not only good for gay men and women, it is brilliantly good for wives.

That traditional marriage has been sensational for men but not for women cannot have escaped notice. Year after year, studies consistently show that men thrive—emotionally, physically, spiritually—inside the very same institution in which women tend to languish, become depressed, and lose themselves. This counterintuitive truth, that so many wives become less themselves in marriage, as if the very walls of the institution contract their souls, goes against our deepest assumption: that women want marriage more than men and that, moreover, it is the most natural place in which a woman might flourish. Not so. If it were, and if wives were thriving, then over two thirds of divorces wouldn’t be initiated by wives.

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“Honey, I want some…SPACE!”

More evidence that women’s attitudes toward  marriage have changed dramatically: The Pew  Research Center, which analyzes census data,  confirms what I’ve been hearing from  women:  the desire to make their own self-expansion as important as it has always been for men and children.

Women want more space in their relationships. Yes, I know, we used to mock men for saying they wanted more “space”– because it was such a cowardly euphemism for  “I’m outtahere.”  But women mean it differently: They don’t necessarily want to leave their relationships,  but they definitely want to expand; to flourish inside their relationships, just as men always have.  Hearing the word “space,” though, men tend to hear the worst: they hear the ambivalence; they  hear what they call women’s  “commitmentphobia.” Funny: That’s the very word women once used to describe their ambivalent, skittish boyfriends, the men who didn’t want to get married. 

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