Sex and Necessity

Sex, Necessity, and the Tale:

I've been following this series of posts, and even made a sketch at a response. But today's entries have clarified what bother me about venturing into the matter with a whole heart.

What’s interesting about these public confessions—and, I suspect, what makes them so satisfying to women—is that they are utterly humiliating to husbands. Granted, Bialosky has protected her husband’s privacy by referring to him as “D.” throughout the essay—but perhaps, if her heart had really been in it, she would have written under a pseudonym. Clearly, sticking it to D. was part of her intention when she wrote and published the piece.
Yes, that's it.

The only part of the wedding vow that the courts ever attempt to enforce is the one about 'forsaking all others' who are outside of the marriage contract -- i.e., adultery. That is not less binding than the promise to 'love, honor and cherish,' which is normally included as well; yet failure to cherish is not normally punished, though it is surely at the heart of many of the problems people have.

Now, it's good that people who have fears or concerns can voice them and try to seek an answer. It is probably impossible to discuss your marriage's internal workings without embarrassing your spouse, unless you are perfectly happy. Discussing a spouse's marital failures certainly violates some part of the obligation to 'love, honor and cherish' their feelings by shaming the spouse in public.

What may be the best thing to do is to talk about the matter at angles -- for example, through literature. My favorite literature on a troubled marriage is the tale of Geraint and Enid, which is recorded in several forms. Ideally, you might read them all (with the exception of my own version, which is too modern to provide any useful insight; and in any event, was written chiefly as a lens for understanding the 9/11 attacks, and what must be done because of them).

Each of the forms offers a different view of the problem and the solution, just as a tale written by the wife may display the problem in a different light than the same tale written by the husband.

They all point to a basic problem, though: a man who begins to fail at being a man, as success and peace render him less than he was in the days of strife and war; and a wife who begins to be disappointed. In some versions she is perfectly faithful, and he scornful when reproached; in other versions, she truly does begin to be disappointed, and he is fair but determined to prove her worries unfounded.

It's worth trying to see it from all the angles, and in each light. Our ancestors knew much, and said much, though it is not always easy to hear them over the roar of what we wish to believe is true.

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