Sunday, March 30, 2014

Food For Thought

I was skimming through Slate magazine's online articles recently and came across an article by Hanna Rosin entitled Why We Cheat.  She quotes therapist Esther Perel, who works only with clients who are involved in affairs, as saying,

"Very often we don't go elsewhere because we are looking for another person.  We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self.  It isn't so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become."

Three days later, and I'm still processing that.  (Not that my husband has anything to worry about, I hasten to add.)

How much sense does her comment make??  Maybe your life didn't turn out the way you wanted it to; maybe it did but what you wanted then turned out to be not so great after all when you got it; maybe you are just bogged down in the day-to-day of working and money and kids and laundry and routine and wondering how you got from the idealistic kid you used to be to this grown-up but mundane place.  Maybe you want to do something that makes you feel like the reckless, crazy adventurer you used to be and not the old fart sitting on the sofa watching sitcoms on weekend nights, even if the person at the other end of the sofa is your perfect mate.  How easy would it be to cross a line if it gave you some of that old feeling back?  

Purely theoretical, again: the scientist in me is intrigued by the hypothesis.  But given the divorce statistics in the US, if this is true, how much more important then does it become to consciously focus on not growing away from your spouse while you work to change whatever about yourself or your life is bothering you??  As Ben Affleck put it, (describing his own marriage, while thanking his wife during an acceptance speech,) "It's good, it is work, but it's the best kind of work, and there's no one I'd rather work with."




  1. It is food for thought, but as I grow older, I more and more have the thought or even conviction that marriage is sort of impossible -- a tenuous bond between people that carries an impossible weight.

  2. Perel would agree with you, I think, which makes me wonder about her own marriage, I have to admit. She also commented that she finds the idea that there is one person who will fulfill all our needs "extraordinary" and that marriage is at best an imperfect arrangement.


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