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the slightly pink letter
black-eyed views on adultery
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

After twelve years together, my husband and I have a long-standing joke. If Joe Elliott of Def Leppard were to whisper to me in a come hither fashion, I would, indeed, come hither.

I always apologize. “Honey, you know I love you,” I say, “but it’s Joe Elliott! My one consistent fantasy since the age of fourteen! I’ll write from Dublin. Kisses.”

And we both laugh.

I've met many celebrities in my career, but there hasn’t been a modicum of opportunity to get up close to the voice of the hearing-impaired predatory cat. Combined with my complete lack of artistic ability when it comes to plaster casting, a serious stalking skill deficit, and the wee fact that my desired object would have to actually consent to a liaison, my chances of a dalliance with Joe Elliott are nonexistent.

But what if, after being zapped by lightning and transported to an alternate universe, one of those variables tilted in my favor?

Would I crest the wave of thrilling spontaneity to body surf with my manifested image of unbridled lust? Would I seek to pen my own sordid Silhouette Romance in the shadowy room of a Holiday Inn? And if I reentered the current time/space continuum unsatisfied, would I, caught in a blazing moment of passion as tangled as kudzu, remotely consider a clandestine coupling with the UPS deliveryman who, on Tuesdays and Thursdays and in good light, sometimes resembles Joe Elliott?

No. No I wouldn’t. That’s not the agreement I have with my husband.

Recent news stories demonstrate that others’ marital agreements contain more loopholes. It’s easy for some to say that Kobe Bryant - wealthy, famous, powerful - has women literally lying down for him, so what’s a poor boy to do? And if his wife pulls a Hillary by accepting enough sparkling bling-bling to power the Northeast in exchange for compliance, that must be what they feel is best for them, right?

Douglas Cone/Donald Carlson was also wealthy and powerful, and obviously felt entitled to his two nearly identical families twenty miles apart. But Douglas Cone can not bare the blame alone: the woman who posed as Donald Carlson’s wife, having once been a secretary in Douglas Cone’s company, was well aware that her “husband” Carlson was really Cone, and yet continued to air-kiss Cone’s real wife at the local country club. “Mrs.” Carlson wore her entitlement as bold as a Tiffany diamond-encrusted scarf clasp. Hopefully it will slip and pierce her through the heart, just as her part in the deception did to the Cone children.

Do only the rich spoon into the extramarital honey pot? Hardly. The tragic tale of Scott and Laci Peterson demonstrates the Peyton Place that is soft-sided suburbia. If so inclined, you could almost sympathize, as all that beige clapboard and Longaberger basket collecting must clog the mind and heart like smoldering dryer lint.

I’m not going to stand tiptoe on a precipice to hurl a scroll of commandments at anyone. I’m not going to pretend to understand the stumbling ego trip that prompts this moralistic fall. I’m not going to claim that what’s good for me is therefore a mandatory requirement for everyone else.

So why am I grousing?

I’m grousing because the divorce rate is still roughly 45%. I’m grousing because some not only make bad decisions for themselves, but also often throw children into the batter and make an oversized Spunkmeyer mess. I’m grousing because adultery is glamorized in movies, music, tabloids and on television, but rarely do you hear or see a good, faithful marriage celebrated. (Well, maybe if you listen to Paul Harvey, but hardly anywhere else.)

We've come a long way since the stockades and scarlet chest markings. It's not because we're minding our own business, either. The clutch at the water cooler bubbles over with opinions on whether Ben skewed Jen with a lap goddess, or how Kobe said "in-fi-deli-dee-dee" as the maid turned down the hotel sheets. Talking treachery trash is far more titillating than discussing just how strong couples continue to entice and encourage each other. Our red rage over adultery has faded in the wash of the tide crashing upon "Temptation Island."

Does marriage automatically mean monogamy? Do those who defile marriage with an affair mock those who hold the vow sacred, like burning the flag offends the patriotic? Or is it like movie star (cough cough) Ron Jeremy says: “Your heart, your feelings and your mind can belong to one person: but your genitalia are allowed to travel elsewhere.”

I believe couples have to abide by their personal agreement. That being said, it's peculiar that there's rarely an accepted line item on perfidy.

Experts cite an orgy of reasons why people cheat. Boredom. Passion. To build self-esteem. To demonstrate power. Curiosity. Excitement. To “fill in the gaps.” To prove attractiveness. Some therapists say women and men each have five basic needs. When these needs aren’t met, it’s a treasonous Molotov cocktail begging to be lit.

For women, the five basic needs are:

1) Affection
2) Conversation
3) Honesty and openness
4) Financial commitment
5) Family commitment

For men, the five basic needs are:

1) Sexual fulfillment
2) Recreational companionship
3) Having an attractive spouse
4) Domestic support
5) Admiration

While I agree these may be "basic" needs, what I don't understand is why they are regulated to just one gender or the other. I would think that all of these "needs" are important to every individual. It just depends on how you choose to prioritize them.

These same experts caution judging those who dilly-dally with infidelity as having a character flaw. Yet when considering the word “fidelity,” other words that share a similar definition include honesty, integrity, loyalty and faith. Wouldn't it seem that most would choose to put a higher price on painting themselves with these adjectives then debating the afternoon hourly rate at the Motel Siesta? Europeans mocked Americans for ballyhooing the indiscretion of Bill Clinton, and perhaps we did go a little too far with the impeachment. However, if someone can't keep his peccadillos private, why should we trust that he has any of the above qualities usually represented in a leader?

Those who commit adultery are cowardly. They don’t have the courage to tell their spouse anything real or meaningful, much less explain themselves and communicate their needs before entering the dark tunnel of deceit. It’s easy to say those who engage in extramarital affairs are being selfish. Perhaps they aren’t selfish enough.

If they were, they would stop for a moment and ask themselves, “How would I feel if I were the one betrayed?”

When you've had nothing but the meat, potatoes and carrots of a serious relationship for a while, temptation of another is a three-layer chocolate cake dripping with hot fudge. But long-term mates are selected for very specific reasons. Remembering why can bolster the reserves and cement the footing of trust.

The reasons why my husband and I are faithful life partners are reintroduced whenever I receive the gift of his loyalty, integrity and devotion. I believe we deserve a marriage that's honest, trustworthy, satisfying, loving, open and happy. To have a relationship like this is not only sexy, but empowering, and the thought of destroying something so true is like shattering a beautiful work of art: it just can't be done.

Now if I could just get him to speak with a British accent....


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


what, exactly, is a good thing?
examining the ethics of society
by tracey l. kelley
topic: news
published: 3.30.05

american dream 2.0
what we have in common makes all the difference
by tracey l. kelley
topic: news
published: 4.29.11


matt morin
8.25.03 @ 12:37a

Does marriage automatically mean monogamy?

No one should ever need to ask that question. Yes, without a doubt.

russ carr
8.25.03 @ 1:06a

Indeed. Otherwise, what's the point?

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 1:16a

Let's face it. Many don't consider monogamy in marriage as seriously as others do.

And this has nothing to do with those who have agreed on an "open" arrangement. But polygamy is an interesting discussion point.

matt morin
8.25.03 @ 1:25a

Look, the way marriage is set up is it's one man, one woman - forever.

If you want to make other arrangements, don't call it marriage. Make up a new name for it.

Asking if marriage automatically means monogomy is like asking if a tricycle has to have three wheels.

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 1:33a

We disagree that it's one man, one woman...but always hope the forever part holds true. Even the dictionary doesn't determine that marriage is between one man, one woman.

Apparently, asking if marriage equals monogamy is not rhetorical, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing this. That's the problem. Too often someone in the union doesn't believe that ethic applies to his or her behavior, regardless of vows repeated in the ceremony.


tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 1:33a

Another part of my anatomy hit the keyboard, and I double-posted.

I'm kind of embarrassed by this.


matt morin
8.25.03 @ 1:39a

Well, I'm just talking about the way marriage is defined now. (I don't believe it should be limited to one man, one woman - that's just how both the law and the church define it currently.)

Either way, if you're not prepared to live up to the vows - don't take them.

(Surprise! This topic is black and white to me!)

russ carr
8.25.03 @ 1:42a

I can't understand "open" marriages. If you want that kind of freedom, why get married in the first place? Like the parallel you cited in the Clinton scandal, Tracey -- if you can't be committed to your spouse on a sexual basis, that suggests to me that the potential is greater for a lack of commitment on other levels as well.

For that matter, it would be naive to say that the only infidelity one spouse can commit against another is a sexual one. If you'd rather confide to your therapist or your bartender, isn't that an infidelity of communication? Neglecting your spouse -- whether you're meeting your bowling instructor for "private lessons" or drinking every night at Moe's -- is an infidelity w/r/t the vow you took to "love, honor and cherish."

The biggest problem -- too often, "partnership" (and there's nothing wrong with it) is played up to the neglect of "union." Marriage shouldn't be brokered like a business deal, with prenups determining fair allocation of assets before the flower girl tosses the first petals. Get past "hers" and "his." Start thinking "ours." Our marriage. Our family. Our commitment.

russ carr
8.25.03 @ 1:44a

Tracey, you may be more embarrassed since we only know it's "another part of [your] anatomy" that struck the keyboard and now we are left to speculate...

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 1:44a

Either way, if you're not prepared to live up to the vows - don't take them.

And see? There's absolutely no harm in this statement, or practice.

That's why I find adulterers cowardly. I haven't met anyone yet who has an open marriage. If they do, good for them: they explored many aspects of a commited relationship and agreed, between the two of them, what they would accept from it.

Adulterers haven't done that(nor rarely will they)prior to taking the vows, otherwise the spouse wouldn't be hurt.

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 1:50a

I think people do marry for a variety of reasons. Matt* and I have chosen not to have children. Wouldn't some consider that a blasphemy of our vows?

So if a sexually adventurous couple agree that they would like to continue the adventure elsewhere and together, that's their personal preference. It's obviously a popular choice, otherwise there wouldn't be so many "Couple seeks adventurous male for threesome" personal ads.

It's when it obviously breaks a union, or a trust, that it becomes a problem.

I also agree infidelity shows itself in many ways, but chose to only focus on the obvious in the column. Discussion on the others is welcome.


russ carr
8.25.03 @ 2:04a

I don't recall anywhere in any of the marriage vows I've heard that having children was a requirement.

And you know, Trace -- the difference I see in what you just wrote and infidelity bred of an "open" marriage is, "couple seeks." It's not one person going outside the marriage bed (with or without the tacit approval of his or her spouse) it's a couple agreeing to pursue these adventures together.

robert melos
8.25.03 @ 2:37a

Matt I so disagree with you, and so would most of the married men I've slept with.

Monogamy is only one aspect of a relationship. Some relationships don't require monogamy to thrive. I used to choose monogamy in relationships before I discovered my inner capacity to love more than one person in more than one way. Sex is only one form of expression of love. I don't believe in the concept of giving yourself only to one person as a form of love, because mentally I find that limiting, confining, and distasteful to my more free spirited nature.

Also I believe giving someone the freedom to do something doesn't mean they will, but it gives them the knowledge of the depth of your love for them. If you truly love someone enough to transcend monogamy, chances are they will be monogamous out of a free choice, rather than using marriage as an excuse for not doing something they want to do in their hearts.

I'd rather be loved by someone who chooses to be with me because they want to, rather than because they feel a little piece of paper matters more than their true feelings.

I will note, I no longer feel I could ever promise monogamy to anyone, because of how much I was hurt when I tried to play by the rules of the greater society. I like my rules better.

juli mccarthy
8.25.03 @ 8:13a

Yes but, Robert. You're talking about monogamy as a separate thing from marriage, no? I mean, given your distaste for monogamy, would you enter into a marriage in the first place?

Twice in my marriage I have been given the concrete opportunity to cheat on my husband. The first time, I dismissed the potential suitor instantly. The second time, I was actually considering it - there was an amazing amount of "chemistry" and my libido slipped into overdrive. It would have been easy. My husband trusts me completely and would have taken any alibi at face value... and ultimately, it was that fact that stopped me cold. Once I mentally reviewed that trust level, it became apparent that I was a complete idiot for even giving a second thought to wandering.

matt morin
8.25.03 @ 10:32a

Robert, you have it all backwards. You don't love a single person because you're married. You get married because you love one single person.

If you know ahead of time you can't promise monogomy, then don't get married. No one's forcing you.

I agree that some relationships don't need monogamy to thrive. But marriage isn't one of those relationships. There's no rule that says you have to get married. But there is a rule that says if you're married you need to be monogamous.

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 10:35a

Russ, for some, a Christian-based marriage includes the contract of children. A breach of this contract is often viewed negatively.

Trust me on this. I've experienced the whiplash.

This is not my view, obviously, but for some, it's another important element of marriage.

Robert, your views work for you, and that's great. It's when the partners choose not to be open about their desires to each other, when they've decided to commit exclusively to each other, that it's damaging. I think general consensus is that an exclusive relationship includes monogamy. As Russ mentioned, "communication infidelity" can be just as fatal to a realtionship.

russ carr
8.25.03 @ 10:43a

RE: Children as contractual obligation. Inane! It cheapens both the marriage and the children it would create.

tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 11:05a

Tell me about it. And I have a list of about 10 other people you can say the same thing to.

Once I mentally reviewed that trust level, it became apparent that I was a complete idiot for even giving a second thought to wandering... See, Juli, this is why it would seem necessary to evaluate fidelity on the same level as honesty or loyalty. Isn't this type of trust something that we hope to always have in a marriage?

jael mchenry
8.25.03 @ 11:05a

Well, the Catholic wedding vows say it anyway.

"We will welcome children." Or something very, very close to that.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 12:22p

Hey Matt & Russ -- marriage isn't defined by the church, but by the laws of the state; many of which, mind you, have been repealing adultery laws. By this evidence, marriage doesn't mean monogamy. Marriage is a contract between two people, and, by law, contracts can be negotiated as to its terms by the parties entering into the contract; terms which a court cannot alter without some criminal activity, duress, or fraud. Therefore, if two people agree to a non-monogamous marriage, it's legal in most cases, and still a valid marriage, and is still accurately called a marriage. Shows what you idiots know.

Tracey points out that most marriages involve "cheating", rather than an agreed "open" relationship. This is a different situation in that the now offended party can sue for breach of contract (or, in this situation, divorce from the contract of marriage). This, however, has nothing to do with a couple's right to have an open marriage should they choose. They are simply precluded from marrying multiple parties (polygamy).

And to Russ asking, If you want that kind of freedom, why get married in the first place? - I don't know, maybe tax advantages, insurance coverage benefits, social security benefits, rights of choice, personal security and the pursuit of happiness? Or I guess that only belongs to upstanding, monogamous and dull straight couples, huh Russ?

matt morin
8.25.03 @ 12:37p

Jeff, you're right. Marriage is a contract between two people. But when you get up in front of the church (or wherever) and take vows that say you'll be faithful, that's an oral contract in itself. Just because a court wouldn't prosecute you for breaking that oral contract doesn't mean you didn't violate it.

If you think marriage is only about what the law says it is, then you, my friend, are the idiot.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 12:48p

Matt; if something goes wrong with a marriage, where do people go to alter the marriage? The court. The church cannot grant / cause a divorce. Even if you got married in church, it means NOTHING unless the laws of the state recognize it. Marriage means nothing in today's society without the law / our laws usurp any say that religion had in it a long time ago. So yes, marriage is only about the law and I've got plenty of statutes to prove my point. What do you have besides your opinion?

Not to mention, when you stand up and agree to be "faithful", that doesn't necessary imply monogamy. One definition of faithful is "Worthy of trust or belief; reliable." This can be completely adhered to while in an agreed to open marriage. Get your head out of your puritan ass.


matt morin
8.25.03 @ 12:56p

Marriage means nothing in today's society without the law...

Jeff, if you want to talk definitions, marriage is defined as "the social institution under which a man and a woman live as husband and wife by legal or religious commitments.

Personally, what matters to me is what marriage means between those two people. I couldn't give a shit what the state thinks.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 1:31p

Matt Morin at 1 am:
Look, the way marriage is set up is it's one man, one woman - forever. If you want to make other arrangements, don't call it marriage. Make up a new name for it.

Matt Morin just before 1 P.M.:
Personally, what matters to me is what marriage means between those two people.

So can people have an open marriage and call it a marriage now? That was my whole problem with your argument in the first place, you idiot, notwithstanding your non-cited, non-legal, non-enforcible "or" clause above. Social meaning have no value. Only what the state says applies. Thanks for playing.


matt morin
8.25.03 @ 1:41p

It's really sad and pathetic that you think that something originally based on love and commitment has no meaning whatsoever unless some random state politicians say it's ok.

Social meaning has no value? Jeff, people who believe that are called sociopaths.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 2:09p

What's sad are your debate skills. You first disagree with someone being calling an "open" marriage a marriage, because you say that doesn't fit the religious definition. Then, when faced with the fact that the church has no say in the definition of marriage anymore, you back off and say that "what matters to me is what marriage means between those two people." But rather than learn from your ignorance, you continue with the absolute nonsense of "It's really sad and pathetic that you think that something originally based on love and commitment has no meaning whatsoever unless some random state politicians say it's ok." It doesn't, stupid. Marriage is a term defined by state law, and if you don't do what the state says in order to be called "married", you aren't married.

And another thing - read your history: marriage was based on PROPERTY RIGHTS; namely, a woman was the property of her husband. Marriage had no basis in love, it had a basis in male control over females, and usually through arranged situations far removed from love. Get over yourself and your antiquated, fictional notions about the world.

matt morin
8.25.03 @ 2:30p

I could continue to explain my point, seeing as Jeff is too obtuse to get it, but really, what's the point?

Jeff, back in slavery days, the states said black people were not human. Just because a state says something, it doesn't make it true.

So if I go get married and never file the paperwork, just because the state doesn't recognize me as married, it doesn't mean I'm not.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 2:39p

So if I go get married and never file the paperwork, just because the state doesn't recognize me as married, it doesn't mean I'm not. Yes it does, Matt. You're a fucking moron.

Face it Matt, you don't have a point, and that's why you can't explain it. You're just trying to save face at this point, but you've failed. You're outmatched this time, and clearly the only obtuse person in this conversation.

matt morin
8.25.03 @ 2:52p

Yes it does, Matt.

So I take it you think that black slaves weren't human until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed?

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 3:05p

Not by law.

Now go have your marriage ceremony, but don't fill in the paperwork and then try to say that you're "married" on your tax return, insurance information, job applications, bank account applications, loan applications, school applications, rent application, welfare application or anywhere else and see just how married you are.

juli mccarthy
8.25.03 @ 3:18p

Jesus, Walker. This is not about legal definitions. You're not standing in a courtroom, ferchrissakes, get the fuck over your "I'm a lawyer so I have a clue" fantasy and stick your soapbox in your ear. Christ almighty, you make me want to send you to your room without dinner.

Yes - marriage entails filing some paperwork. So does being born, dying, and so on. You're still born, or dead, whether the paperwork says so or not. Tracey's column is essentially asking - is your paperwork more or less binding then your word?

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 4:05p

The debate here is not over Tracey's column (which I liked very much, by the way), it's over Matt saying that someone with a open marriage shouldn't be called a marriage (something he now seems to have backed off of).

But since you are now wrong also, I might as well point it out. Unlike being born or dead which are states of life that exist subjectively whether the state has ruled so or not, you are not married in the United States unless the state says you are.

And, getting back to the only reason I care, an open marriage is still a marriage even if Matt and Russ and whomever else doesn't like it. That's the fucking clue, Juli - that's the fucking clue. Funny how you're going to tell me to stop mentioning the law when that is THE RULES WE LIVE UNDER. They are the laws not because I know them, but because that is how it is. That's the point.

On the other hand, I do not live under your roof. So shove your dinner in your mommy soapbox and save it for someone who cares.


juli mccarthy
8.25.03 @ 4:20p

Actually, the point of the discussion area is to DISCUSS THE COLUMN, but whatever.

Matt's opinion has exactly as much validity as your legal fictions do. There's the letter of the law, and there's the spirit. Tracey's column is definitely about the latter.

And for your information, filing paperwork to be legally recognized as married is NOT the "rule we live under." 13 states currently recognize common law marriage.

jael mchenry
8.25.03 @ 4:36p

Juli's right: whether or not a "marriage" is "legal" (I feel like I have to put quotation marks around everything now) is totally beside the point of this column. Cheating on someone in a committed relationship, marriage or no, is bad enough. In a marriage, you're in it for the long haul, not for the occasional chemical surge. This is about much more than legal definitions and rights: it's about finding a love that's so powerful, so perfect, that it's the only one you want for the rest of your life.

(And by "the only one you want" I don't mean that you won't occasionally lust after someone else other than your spouse, only that you'll weigh those attractions when they happen and remember that they pale in comparison to the love you have in a marriage.)

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 4:58p

As I've said before, I only am discussing the small topic of "open" marriage, and whether it can be called a marriage or not. "Open" marriage is not "cheating", Jael, because an open marriage would have contemplated outside sexual partners.

And Juli, you should say "13 states left" - these laws are being done away with, dear, and only exist in states where there hasn't been any family law revamping. And these aren't people who have had a ceremony and say "we're married" -- common law marriages were created to enforce women's property rights, not create marriages, and take at least a couple of years for these rights to occur, and still are not the full embodiment of rights of true "married" couples.

brian anderson
8.25.03 @ 5:05p

While I'm not going to leap into the fray, I will note that (note: I Am Not A Lawyer) in Pennsylvania, there is no required time on common law marriage: the most important thing is attested "words of intent in the present tense." The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania considers this a legal binding marriage, even without the certificate, and a legal divorce is necessary before either partner marries again. If it can be legally proved, all laws regarding marriage and property apply.

Whether or not that was the "intent" of common law marriage, to my understanding, that's how it stands.


sloan bayles
8.25.03 @ 7:36p

Well, without getting involved in the whole legal aspect of this discussion, it appears the basic premise of Tracey's column is the emotional commitment two people make to each other. Whether that be in a traditional holy union, or commitment ceremony in front of God, family and friends or a private personal understanding between the couple. Regardless of the manner in which the union is "ordained" the fact remains it is a life long promise you make to another person to be true, faithful, and honorable. Ater almost 20 years with my husband, I can certainly attest to the saying that marriage is work. Anything worth having takes work. I feel that their are certainly good reasons for ending a commited relationship, but physical/mental abuse, in any form aside, the whole point of marriage is the fact two people are supposed to understand what a huge commitment it is, and should not be entered into lightly.

jeffrey walker
8.25.03 @ 8:01p

Okay - all I have to say is this. I was talking about marriage, not:

1. Courtesy of sappy queen, Jael: finding a love that's so powerful, so perfect, that it's the only one you want for the rest of your life.

That's not marriage. That is a search for a mate.

2. Courtesy of mom, Juli: There's the letter of the law, and there's the spirit. Tracey's column is definitely about the latter.

Marriage has a meaning when discussed here in the "real world." Take the "spirit" of marriage sans the certificate and a bus ticket, and all you can prove you've got is a bus trip.

3: Courtesy of doofas, Matt:
So if I go get married and never file the paperwork, just because the state doesn't recognize me as married, it doesn't mean I'm not.

Be my guest. I suppose you can live in a fictional world if you want, and Matt already does as far as I can tell. Even if your married "common law,” that only means that when you get divorced, you'll get some stuff. Isn't that in the spirit of marriage, you bastards?

As one of the two guys everyone loves to hate here an Intrepid, I am not offended at the line of people who live to take exception to what I say. I know it's a fun activity. Maybe I could have avoided all the drama by saying this:

I take offense to "black and white issue" Matt say, quote, "If you want to make other arrangements, don't call it marriage. Make up a new name for it." Fuck you, Matt. Fuck you.

There – that's what I meant. Carry on.


tracey kelley
8.25.03 @ 9:34p

Okay, now that the verbal Fight Club is over, and my mother-in-law is shaking her head over the multitude of unnecessary "idiot" rams and f-bombs used as weapons of mass destruction, thereby diluting valuable points of discussion, shall we pick up, perhaps, with a new point of discussion?

Five basic needs of men and women. Go.

robert melos
8.26.03 @ 1:40a

Tracey, you're right about monogamy in the context of the column. If I meet someone I love enough to promise monogamy, then I would honor my promise, or ask to be release from my promise if I could no longer honor it. However monogamy and marriage are two seperate issues.

Marriage is a legally binding contract, not just a ceremony with a really expensive party following. There was a interesting idea from a science fiction novel, where the members of the society entered into limited marriage contracts with options to renew after (I'm stretching to remember here) I think two years. Of course there was a renewal fee, but it was minimal.

The point I'm going for is, a system where you have a contract should have an out option with minimal penalties. This is getting way off the topic, and a whole other column.

Personally I think monogamy could be a wonderful thing, and I don't fear it, I just don't think I could trust another person enough to promise them my fidelity, because if I found they broke their promise to me I'd go ballistic in a Machiavellian way. Kind of a giving back what I got thing.

I dearly wish I could trust someone, but the negative examples you cited in this column are the very reasons I can't allow myself to trust.

Now, 5 basic needs. Male perspective.
1: Honesty
2: Companionship
3: Emotional support
4: Sharing of finances
5: Sexual fulfillment

[edited to add the 5 basic needs]


juli mccarthy
8.26.03 @ 2:11a

Well, obviously I can't speak for all women, but my basic needs are simple:

1. Talk to me.
2. Bring me coffee and lots of it.

jael mchenry
8.26.03 @ 11:53a

I'm just now looking at Tracey's lists of needs in the column. Where did these come from? How does "having an attractive spouse" rank so high? Who are these men? That's what I want to know.

As for my own needs, honesty and cuddles really cover most of 'em.

stella starr
8.26.03 @ 1:54p

Well, I don't care if they want to love and honor each other forever, as long as I can prevent people I don't know from getting married.

Forget all that nonsense about love and honor and the most intimate personal commitment a devoted adult can make. If they are allowed to make a legal arrangement based on their lifelong commitment and ensure they're allowed things like sharing a mortgage-interest deduction on their home and being allowed to be at their partner's deathbed, it'll take away the validity of my own marriage, if I ever have one, if they were allowed to get married they happen to be gay. Or of different races.

Oh, skip that last, I guess we changed that one. Well, if their parents wanted them to grow up going to churches that aren't the same, they should be prevented. And if they grew up in a different country. And any other condition I can think up to rally my fellow meddlers to try and prevent people from doing something suspicious like pledging and formalizing a lifelong union. You can't just let people do that.

jael mchenry
8.26.03 @ 1:56p

Which all reminds me of the Jon Stewart gambit: "Okay, here's what I don't understand about the gay marriage controversy: are they going to make us marry gay? Cuz if not... I mean, why do we care?"

jeffrey walker
8.26.03 @ 2:48p

Either Stella is joking (I hope), or she's worse than Matt. How does someone else having a marriage somehow take away the validity of your own? It seems you and Matt just don't want "other" people to enjoy the same privileges you have. What a couple of bigots.

matt morin
8.26.03 @ 3:27p

Walker, if you want to see a bigot - look in the mirror. I'm not the one who has the narrow-minded belief that marriage is only what the state says it is.

Oh, and fuck you, you little bastard.

jeffrey walker
8.26.03 @ 3:42p

Yeah - the legal definition is narrow minded. What exactly are you calling it??

Oh yeah: Only one man, one woman are allowed to call themselves married and everyone else can make up a new name for it.

Matt Morin: B-I-G-O-T.

matt morin
8.26.03 @ 3:50p

Well, I'm just talking about the way marriage is defined now. (I don't believe it should be limited to one man, one woman - that's just how both the law and the church define it currently.

Maybe when you learn to read you'll be able to make a real argument.

jeffrey walker
8.26.03 @ 3:57p

You also said they should call it something else. I can't help it if you choose to talk out of both sides of your bigot mouth. You can't even make a consistent argument - floundering when someone calls you out. Why be a pussy? Just go with you FIRST STATEMENT Look, the way marriage is set up is it's one man, one woman - forever, and admit you're a bigot.


matt morin
8.26.03 @ 4:25p

And Jeff, where in that sentence did I say that I believe marriage should be one man, one woman forever? I was just pointing out that is the current way it's set up. And then a whole 14 minutes after that, I clarified my position.

Jeff, go back and finish 3rd grade reading comprehension and then come back, ok? Buh-bye.

jeffrey walker
8.26.03 @ 4:47p

clarified? More like floundered. I can read exactly what you think - right between your floundering lines, attempting to hide that you're a bigot - it's "black and white to me."


matt morin
8.26.03 @ 4:57p

Jeff, speaking of floundering, do you even have a point anymore? Seems like all you can do is call people names and misread simple sentences.

Now go run along and quit yapping like a puppy who just got smacked with a newspaper.

jael mchenry
8.26.03 @ 5:52p

Stella was definitely joking.

russ carr
8.26.03 @ 11:23p

Basic overriding need for either sex: acceptance. Call it "Need 0." A relationship without mutual acceptance is not a relationship. All other needs are secondary. You can affect any of the other needs Tracey (and others) cited. Not attractive enough? Plastic surgery and exercise. Poor conversationalist? Join Toastmasters. Honesty and openness? Talk to a counselor. It can all be fixed. But without a willingness to accept others -- and without their mutual willingness to accept you -- there can be no harmony.

tracey kelley
8.27.03 @ 8:17a

A therapist by the name of Hartley has actually outlined and explained the 5 basic needs, based on his research.

I'm not saying I agree with them, but it does make you wonder if most people really express what's important to them when they enter into a serious relationship. Pass along a few "I love yous" and that seems to cover everything, right?

Ironically, I noticed in a Dear Abby column yesterday that she has apparently put together a list of "important questions that should be asked and discussed before marriage to ensure a happy union." Among those listed: monogamy, emotional and financial independence, child-rearing and disipline, compatible career goals, sex, religion and politics.

Yeah. Sounds like a great start. People may change, but their basic principles usually stay the same.

juli mccarthy
8.27.03 @ 10:09a

I dunno about that research. That list of needs really sounds like the results of a Cosmo quiz, and it adds to my own personal belief that men are more honest than women in general.

About principles: my husband and I have almost nothing superficial in common. People who know either of us from before marriage are completely baffled. We even differ strongly in religion and politics. What we do have in common is an underlying "moral code" for lack of a better term.

jael mchenry
8.27.03 @ 10:16a

I think you can differ on important issues as long as you respect the other person's right to disagree. If you're an ardent Catholic who thinks your atheist girlfriend's going to Hell, you probably shouldn't propose.

adam kraemer
8.27.03 @ 12:08p

Just for fun: I'm an instigator.

Touching on a few topics; a) I agree that an open marriage is still a marriage in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, why bother getting married if you're going to continue sleeping with other people? Unless the couple is sharing the experience. Beats me.

b) On the topic of the "5 without reprocussions," a guy I know was recently asked to make that list by his girlfriend. He thought it was dumb, but she nagged him 'til he finally agreed. When they compared lists, hers were Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. His were her two sisters and three best friends.

c) I can't decide which cheapens the value of marriage more: cheating or divorce. Anyone?

russ carr
8.27.03 @ 12:32p

Adam, I'm dying to know what that guy's girlfriend said when he named his 5.

My initial thought is that cheating cheapens the marriage more. It's essentially one spouse saying, "Rather than tell you what I'm missing in our relationship, I'll just get it somewhere else and pretend nothing's wrong at home." Divorce, which has become a too-easy way out, doesn't rank much higher in my book, but it at least offers an end to a bad situation.

juli mccarthy
8.27.03 @ 12:38p

Adam, if my husband and I were to make the "5 without repercussions" list, I strongly suspect his list would be unattainable celebrities and mine would be people I know personally. Probably a good reason not to make such lists.

I honestly do not think monogamy is a natural state of being for humans (unlike swans.) However, humans (unlike swans) have a tendency to declare their intentions out loud and on paper.

adam kraemer
8.27.03 @ 1:47p

I think the answer to Russ' question is that the relationship was not long for this world.

I have a friend whose parents divorced when she was 3, but still live together. The pressure from being married was too much, so they chose the middle-route. I don't know if it's an open relationship, but apparently they get along much better not being legally and morally bound.

tracey kelley
8.27.03 @ 3:56p

That is very peculiar, but whatever. It's true some people are better off as friends and companions...

...but then again, that is a good base for marriage in general. That couple must have wanted a more open relationship overall.

I have known a few couples who divorced, only after adultery was involved. One couple has since remarried each other, which is kind of nice. They overcame the adversity and decided they really did want to be with each other.

In most of the situations I know of, one member of the union couldn't express their needs, desires and dislikes to the other, and went off to seek comfort elsewhere.

Because trust is such an issue, I think cheating does the most severe damage to a relationship. With divorce, there's that initial discomfort of who says what first, but if two people aren't right for each other, they just aren't. Depending on what they want in a committed relationship, maybe divorce - painful as it is - is the best thing.

I would never do a list of 5. That's just inviting trouble.

robert melos
8.27.03 @ 10:11p

Cheating cheapens the relationship, divorce cheapens the overall meaning of marriage (divorce for reasons of abuse excluded from the cheapening).

Most of my friends parents were divorced by the time I was in 3rd grade. There were only a handful of kids I grew up with, myself included, who had both original parents. Now I look at my friends and most of them are on their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th marriages.

Cheating did come into play in most of their divorces, although two divorced because of money (in both cases the women wanted and got a man who earned more than their 1st husbands).

I don't believe in divorce, and definitely not annulment, unless there are definite life threatening issues. Getting bored with your SO isn't life threatening.

My list of 5 would probably be 1 unattainable and 4 I knew I could have if I wanted. The thing is, once you start cheating it's like potato chips. You can't stop at just one.

michelle von euw
8.29.03 @ 12:37a

We stick to the original list of 5 rules, which means that they all have to be unobtainable/99.9% unlikely to ever wander into our lives. Safer that way, I guess, than including the hot guy at Starbucks or the 10th grade girlfriend. Because I'm sure you are all dying to know, the list is:

1. Orlando Bloom
2. Orlando Bloom
3. Orlando Bloom
4. Justin Leonard
5. Orlando Bloom

sarah ficke
9.5.03 @ 1:54p

At the risk of igniting another pigfight, here's a review of an interesting-sounding book about marriage/monogamy: Against Love by Laura Kipnis.



tracey kelley
9.5.03 @ 5:43p

Wow. I'll have to read that just for the laughs.

I love how these types of people strain frantically against the ropes of society's "entrapment", when they forget one primary principle:

Long-term commitment is a choice.
Having children is a choice.
The types of sexual escapades you get involved with in and out of relationships are a choice.

What you choose to do is your business. When it hurts someone else, then it becomes someone else's problem, and you've lost your individual rights.

russ carr
9.5.03 @ 10:00p

Also at the risk of igniting another pigfight, Tracey, that's the same logic I use when I tell people I'm anti-abortion. When someone is "pro-choice," I wonder if they realize that, in addition to the three points you make, that:

Having unprotected sex is a choice.
Having sex without birth control is a choice.

Like the choices regarding marriage, those choices come with a lot of potential baggage -- unwanted diseases, unwanted children. That people would make those choices casually ("Oh, we can just get a divorce/abortion/shot o' penicillin") stupefies me.

robert melos
9.6.03 @ 1:45a

There are always consequences for your actions, but not having the choice, taking away the choice of abortion for a woman (I personally think only women should have a say in what they do with their bodies, in spite of the fact it sometimes takes a man to get them pregnant), or taking away the marriage choice if they divorce isn't going to stop people from being stupid and irresponsible. What is best for humanity is for people to learn from their mistakes. The sad truth is that some do learn, and some don't.

As the book review mentions, in spite of the failed marriages, people still keep doing it over again. Some try until they get it right, and some never get it right. I personally feel marrying because of sexual attraction is wrong. But marrying without sexual attraction is also wrong. The happy medium is to find the perfect partner. Their in lies the problem. Either we don't know what we want, or what is perfect for us, or we go with what's good for the moment, knowing that nothing is permanent.

I witnessed some massive manipulations of emotions by people in order to get what they wanted, only to see them unhappy once they got what they wanted. I think the trick is to be happy with yourself first, and then accept others as they are next.

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