Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marriage And Its Discontents

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina is the center of much unwanted attention lately for marital infidelity as well as for his attempts to cover it up. In the meantime, the brouhaha this case has engendered highlights that, even today, our culture has remarkably unsophisticated notions about the nature and realities of life inside marriage. I personally have no idea what has gone on between Mr. and Mrs. Sanford, and I don't much care. But for the sake of this discussion, which is about the realities of marital relationships, at least between a man and a woman, let's assume that Mrs. Sanford wasn't interested in sex with Mr. Sanford. And let us further assume that Mrs. Sanford's lack of interest wasn't due to finding Mr. Sanford, unattractive, let alone repulsive, she just didn't really fancy having sexual relations except very infrequently, too infrequently for Mr. Sanford. After all, some people do lose interest for perfectly healthy reasons.

What should this otherwise content couple have done? Well, of course they could have gone into marriage counseling, but to what end? They already know that they diverge in the sexual realm, and no one is suffering from depression and/or untreated neurosis of one sort or another. In short, this situation isn't really treatable as such.

Now, no one generally wants to break up an otherwise reasonably happy family because sexual relations between mom and dad are unsatisfactory, and yet, what are the alternatives sanctioned by our society? Absolutely none, zero, zilch, nada. So what to do? Well, one can slink off to the local massage parlor and/or hire a hooker, but those options have several, obvious, no pun intended, shortcomings. The other option is that one can have an affair and hopefully be successfully discrete while doing so. I hasten to add that I speak as someone with no experience in this area, and while I imagine that maintaining discretion in such a matter is always challenging, I must note that Governor Sanford was immediately on thin ice when he chose to have a dalliance with a woman who resided in Argentina.

I understand that now that he has been fully exposed, as it were, Governor Sanford is going through the ridiculous charade, or so it seems to me, of attending some sort of spiritual boot camp. To each his own, but if Mr. Sanford really believed that he was so spiritually wayward, perhaps he would have attended spiritual boot camp before he got in so deep. Pardon the double entendre. I'd give at least two to one odds that The Governor will wind up on Oprah any day now. In the meantime, residents of the U.S. who choose to tune in to the mainstream media will be treated to more pap and drivel about marriage than one can shake a stick at.

1 comment:

DED said...

Once one enters the political arena, all alternatives are off the table. There is no way to be discrete. They always (as far as we can tell) get caught. The social conservatives take such a Puritanical approach to this that they've turned the Republican party into a bunch of hypocrites (as they can't seem to "walk the walk" that the base requires of them).

I recall that European men had mistresses for some time just for this sort of thing and it seemed acceptable. I'm not sure if that's still the case, though Berlusconi seems to be weathering his controversies well.