I noticed the other day that the Ashley Madison website is now advertising on television. The ad I saw invites a woman who’s burdened with an, um, inattentive husband to consider an affair with a soulful-looking customer… or maybe waiter.
I wonder about all the websites and alt-weekly personals that are designed to facilitate adultery. I’m not personally opposed to people having relationships outside of their primary partnerships. Although I do think they ought to be conducted as responsibly as, well, any other kind of social relationship ought to be.
Thing is? The tagline for that ad is “When divorce is not an option.”
The common assumption, as expressed in that ad, that one pursues an affair to escape one’s main relationship. When it seems like a much better idea to seek affairs that enhance one’s primary relationships by, say, providing outlets for expression and activity that aren’t otherwise available. In other words, instead of when divorce is not an option how about when divorce is the last thing you’re even interested in.
Note: Obviously I’m not limiting this notion to sexual affairs. The kind of “outside” intimacy I’m thinking about, the kind that gives one perspective, say, rather than distraction, appreciation rather than relief, and re-creation rather than neglect or abandonment is larger than that.
Note #2: Neither am I proposing that those inclined to relationship-affirming affairs attempt to bring in the entire infrastructure of polyamory. (As Sigourny Weaver’s character said to Kevin Klein’s in Ang Lee’s “how-not-to” The Ice Storm – Criterion Collection, “I’ve already got a husband.”)
Oh, and note #3: given that 50% of relationships that make it to marriage end in divorce it’s not like the present model of 100%-investment-till-failure-or-nothing is so durable all we need to do is just clap louder to make it all better.