Posts Tagged ‘annoyance

25
Aug
09

unfaithfully yours

Today at work, I picked up a Time magazine. The cover article was titled, “Unfaithfully Yours” and underneath the headline was a picture of a bride and groom sinking into a big white wedding cake. They were up to their heads, drowning in a quicksand of icing, and they looked nervous. I would too if I were about to suffocate on sugary goo. “Infidelity is eroding our most sacred institution,” it said on the cover. “How to make marriage matter again.”

I picked up the magazine partly because I’m always curious to read articles about marriage and divorce, coming from a family of many marriages, divorces, and re-marriages. But mostly I picked it up because I’ve read a lot of books and articles recently — Susan Sontag’s journals, an article by Sandra Tsing Loh about her recent divorce, parts of Ana Fel’s Necessary Dreams — that paint marriage in sad, dark, weary colors. I was hoping, a little bit, for some balance, to be reassured of marriage’s sacredness or importance. So my guards were down.

It was really disappointing. The article was by Caitlin Flanagan, a well-known (though I didn’t know her) and controversial essayist. A google search returned this extremely bizarre Colbert Report appearance, along with reviews of her books and various articles she’s written in support of traditional family values, whatever those are.

Her main point in “Unfaithfully Yours” seems to be that couples need to suck it up and stick together for the sake of the kids. I’m not outright opposed to that idea, of course, I just don’t think it’s very subtle or that it applies in all cases. In the end, her argument is too oversimplified, too heteronormative, too dependent on research by partisan think tanks and anecdotes from reality TV shows, and too dismissive of all the ways that American families are changing, evolving, and assuming new shapes and structures (often without messing up the kids too badly), to be worth breaking down point-by-point. But it is a good read if you want to get a little bit annoyed.

So what I’d really like to know is this: what are some good books you’ve read recently (fiction or non) about long-term relationships and what they mean, in all their complexity, good and bad? Could be marriage or could be something else entirely…

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