Thursday, June 25, 2009

All Fall Down


I've gotten quite a few e-mails asking whether I'm going to comment on the not-the-least-bit-surprising revelation that Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been cheating on his wife.

Obviously, the initial gut reaction of those opposed to the judgmental politicization of sex in this country -- that coming almost exclusively from the self-appointed "family values" crowd -- is to engage in a little schadenfreude and chuckle at the governor's public implosion.

But for some reason, watching that press conference yesterday had a surprising effect on me. It didn't automatically bring any sort of smug, self-satisfied grin to my face. In fact, Sanford's shocking level of openness about his affair made me feel very, well -- sad. I truly felt sorry for him -- and for his family, whom he obviously really does love, despite his actions.

Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to say what I think I'm going to want to say about this whole thing -- and I likely won't have time tomorrow either, given that I'm leaving for New York to see Inara.

But at some point very soon, once I've digested it a little, I'll put together a piece on the Sanford affair.

And it will probably revolve around a single question: Is marriage really even worth attempting anymore -- any marriage?

55 comments:

Scribe816 said...

That’s a very interesting question. As someone who has lived through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc, I’ve seen the institute of marriage go through some radical changes. I’ll be curious to see your view in your next posting

Jason said...

I believe the tale of Pandora's box has the greatest wisdom to answer your question, Chez.

When Pandora opened the box, she let out all of the evil traits we find in humanity. However, at the bottom of the box, was hope.

Marriage isn't a solution. It's an echo of hope, at some point in your life you see the bigger picture and follow suit. This echo can disappear and can be filled with pain, but that doesn't take anything away from recognizing hope and the potential for human love within it.

gina said...

I hope you have a wonderful time snuggling Inara :)

Erica Dee said...

I honestly don't believe in marriage anymore. I've never been married but it always seems all marriages go bad.

Humans this day and age cannot survive, in a sane husband/wife relationship, I don't know if its because today people go into marriage with an end in sight or what but I've crossed it off my list for now.

slouchmonkey said...

"Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling."

Michael J. West said...

Well that's hardly fair, Erica. Only HALF of humans in this day and age can't survive in a sane husband/wife relationship.

Riles said...

And it will probably revolve around a single question: Is marriage really even worth attempting anymore -- any marriage?

I'm happily married, but I can say before even reading your thoughts that I probably agree with you.

Also, it looks like the Gov. might have to resign. This guy's political career may be over due to an affair.

Pussy is a motherfucker.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if for some people, the thrill isn't entirely in having the sexy double life.

So it's not a matter of one person not providing enough love, support, sexiness, etc. It's that one person /can't/ do it. The thrill and excitement is all in having that second, 'secret' forbidden relationship. Sending love notes, having secret trysts, being a double-agent in your own life, it sounds like a lot of fun, frankly.

I suppose no one type of relationship works for everyone, and marriage is just another type.

JB said...

Believing in a marriage that lasts forever is a little like expecting Catholic priests to be celibate. I'm twice divorced, but I really consider my first marriage a success. It lasted 10 years and produced an amazing child. Maybe the expectation of a life long relationship is just too unrealistic. Do we have to feel like a failure when two people realize they don't want to live together anymore?

Michael said...

My parents loved each other amazingly, and showed my siblings that marriage can work.
However, after growing up and having the new car smell rubbed off of me leads me to believe it takes 2 special kinds of people to make a marriage in this day and age work.
You have to put work into that shit, its not easy. And if someone gives up, then whats the point.
I think that what this world needs is people who can be rational about their sexual needs before they get into the relationship. All a relationship is, is an agreement between two people. Just be open and things tend to work out, if your not...total flame out.

Gabby said...

I like the take on the daily kos. Summed up my feelings on the political aspects of the issue brilliantly.

As for the personal side of the marriage question - I like what Jason said about the hope thing. I've been single for almost 10 million years now, so I'm in no immediate danger, but it's still something to ponder. Sometimes it certainly feels like there's no point, but other times it makes sense. And not just fiscal or logical sense, but actual emotional-sense, too.

Or maybe I'm just drunk when those moods strike ;)

Babypants said...

Doug Stanhope said it best when he said promising to love someone forever is essentially promising to be lucky.

Austin said...

Humans aren't really designed for monogamy. Marriage as an institution goes counter to our biology.

That doesn't mean it won't work for anyone - just that it doesn't work for a lot of people. What we're seeing now, with less and less stigma on divorce as well as fewer ways to hide infidelity, is the evidence of that fact.

Nancy said...

Minority voice here to say that yes, of course, it is worth attempting. But only wholeheartedly. Being willing to listen more than talk, to give more than take. Working through the tough times. Honoring a commitment and being faithful. Growing together, not drifting apart.

Celebrating 42 years this July, Near Philadelphia

PS: Hugs to Inara, friend

Anonymous said...

Okay, I admit that I had a tad bit of mercy on the guy during his presser. But damn it Chez, hypocrisy, thy name is Sanford! Let's take a walk down memory lane...

'This is "very damaging stuff," Sanford declared at one point, when details of Clinton's conduct became known. "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side," he said. "If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."

Sanctimonious, hypocritical, Promisekeeping prat! Fuck him.

Barbara said...

My ending marriage is not ending in the death of one of us, as I had expected, but it was deliriously happy for 15 years, and produced a lovely daughter. Best things I ever did. The man I date now is polyamorous, divorced, dating, and with no desire to make a commitment past Saturday dinner. Think I want something more than that again eventually.

Southern Fried Fatty said...

No, marriage is not worth attempting anymore.....Don't tell my husband I said that.

Susie Derkins said...

I think to answer that question you first need to ask what marriage is and what purpose does it serve?

The question is not a veiled attempt at trying to define it myself, but I think the answer to the question posed above will be significantly affected by the answer to these first two.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of self-centered cry-babies. Marriage is about sacrifice. If you don't want to commit to another person, then don't. Stop trying to say that marriage doesn't work because yours didn't.

cousinavi said...

Chez..and I say this with the utmost disdain and pointed poking...GROW A FUCKING PAIR and stop sopping around cuz you had your heart broken.
Welcome to the human condition, you simpering soggy bag of feelings.

So. It. Goes. One for my baby, and one for road. Set'em up, Joe.

And YET, here we have a cat who disappeared with no warning to those who had a perfect right to expect to see him in the office tomorrow...
On FATHER'S DAY!
Not a fucking auto mechanic - THE GOVERNOR.
Didn't even call in sick! Made people wonder if the fuck had been kidnapped!
WHERE IS THE GOVERNOR? is NOT a question that should EVER NOT have an immediate TRUE answer.

Marriages fail...and sometimes they fail quietly, and other times people demand that you LOOK and SEE and PARADE it around in ways that hurt the innocent.

It is never as simple a thing as "can marriage even work?"
Or ought it be? can it be? does it even make sense?...or any other question...
On a very real scale, appearances are important and how you manage the process of failure even more so.

Here we witness failure of principle, failure of consistency...a certain degree of schadenfreude-esque HAH! that does not obtain in the aching and longing demise of your personal ...dissembling (no matter the vagaries of your web presence).

You cannot compare your missed foul shots to Sanford's self-rejected dunk.
It just does not wash...no matter how forgiving you need to be.
(Feeling a little like Rip Torn in Dodgeball here. "...It's sterile and I like the taste!")

If you don't soon suck it up, I'm gonna come down there. I swear to god.

Ally said...

Ouch. Tough question, indeed.

It's the kind of topic that has a million different answers. Just read through these posts - everyone has their own experiences with relationships and have drawn their own conclusions. Just like the question of, "Should we bring children in a world so .... (insert your own idea here: crowded/shitty/weird/overpopulated)?" We all look at the answer differently, based on who we are and what we've been through.

The short answer for me is yes; marriage is worth it. But had you asked me ten years ago, I would've said, not no, but Hell No. - But I was in a bad marriage then, and now my marriage is much happier, healthier and better all around. So for me, it's worth it.

Btw, Riles - the end of your post was hilarious.

Janean said...

I believe it is worth it..but I think that only a small percentage of the people that get married should.

I think instead of it being the default relationship that everyone expects to have it should be something rare, and certainly not the goal of every serious relationship. I believe it is possible for a marriage to last a life time, but no one should ever count on it. I don't think a deep emotional passion or even love and friendship is anywhere near enough for the long term.

I think it is a rare personality type that can truly be happy with one person forever, and many marriages would last much longer and be healthier if couples were more honest with each other about that and willing to give one another occasional permission (under specific and safe circumstances) to have a little outside sexual contact once in a while.

As a South Carolinian I am not upset at all that he had an affair, because that is none of my business. What infuriates me is that the man was irresponsible enough to leave not just the state,but the country, and disappear like that. The governor has no business being unreachable and creating confusion about who is in charge during his absence.

blackbird said...

The news conference left me sad for all involved too.

As Woody Allen said (perhaps quoting another):
"The heart wants what it wants".

But as Mick said:
"You can't always get what you want".

And I don't believe you "get what you need" all the time either.

cousinavi said...

Hey...I didn't mean to be heartless.

Been there. KNOW. Really, brother Chez...I KNOW.

Still meant every word.

Come over to the 'Wan for some proper shao jie.
Sort your ass RIGHT out.

Never saw the east coast til I moved to the EAST.

L&MsMom said...

Well, considering all the people I know who are married to one person but fucking one or two others... I'm not sure. Wasn't marriage initially a way of preserving land and money and what not? People entered into contracts, right? I'm not especially educated on the subject but it always seemed a social institution and not a romantic one, to me.

That being said, my 10 year anniversary is next week. It's a lot of hard work but I think we enjoy ourselves. I wish it wasn't sold to people as an end means to happily ever after. Cuz it's much more easily a road to hell.

Beth said...

I'll look forward to that post Chez. I am happily married but I think the popular view on what a marriage should be is totally unrealistic. Like any friendship it will change over time and I agree that just because a marriage ended it was not necessarily a failure. Sanford is human just like the rest of us. He was in Argentina with a beautiful woman who wanted to fuck him. And he loves his wife and family.

EnriqueJ said...

Don't take it away from the gay community! They're just getting started!

Adrienne Saia said...

Here's the REAL bitch of it: I contribute to a mainstream and very popular outdoors magazine and we were all TOTALLY STOKED that a governor was hiking the AT and getting away from it all on one of the best (but most maligned) trails in the country.

THEN we find out he's fucking some chick in South America.

GodDAMNIT!

Felis Femina said...

My parents have been married for 37 years. My grandparents have been married for 71 years. So my answer is yes, marriage is worth attempting.

Riles said...

Also Chez, I hope you have a great weekend with Inara.

R said...

Have an amazing time with Inara!

Bill White said...

Chez, I wrote about this on my blog.
Just like the rest of the MSM, you'll have to put the Sanford thing on the ole backburner now that that weirdo Michael Jackson has passed. This was probably a left wing conspiracy.

cousinavi said...

You need a donair.

Hie the up to a proper Nova Scotia kitchen party. It's a good drive. Grab the ferry in Bar Harbor, MA...I'll give you phone numbers after that.

Brother....you NEED a donair...some good fiddle music sort you right out.
You need to stomp about around a pig on a spit. Can smell what ails you from Formosa.

Roasted pig mitigates many of life's bad outcomes. And until you've boogaloo'd about the singed flesh of properly sacrificed oinker, you ain;'t even started livin'...

Anonymous said...

I think Jon Stewart had the best line about Gov. Sanford
"...He's just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis"

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=231557&title=governor-mark-sanfords-affair

a.j.g. said...

I'm in the 8th year of my marriage, which in my social circle might as well be 80 years. It hasn't been easy, but we have both vowed that we will strive to put the other person first and work through our problems regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us. We've vowed to love enough to risk being hurt and to have faith in the other person. Yes, we still fight. We still hurt each other sometimes. We still have days where walking away is a very real temptation.

But when it comes down to it, we want to be here. It's cliche, but my worst day with him is still better than my best day without him.

Amy Lowell says it best for me...

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.


There is no such thing as a perfect, storybook marriage. But you can love someone enough that you wade through the shit to get to the sunshine. I don't feel that burning intensity that I felt when we first fell in love, but I do feel a warmth that has endured and seen me through life's wintry seasons. I had to learn not to mistake love evolving for love waning. What we have is so much more real that the impulsive, fiery love of our early days. It's not just exciting; it provides hope and a foundation on which we've built our home.

I sincerely hope you can find this, Chez. Everyone deserves it.

Traveling mercies for you as you visit with that beautiful little girl of yours.

Anonymous said...

In that part of the world where marriage is between a master by gender, and a servant by gender, marriage is worth attempting for the masters. They have nothing to lose. For the servants, since there's always hope your master will treat you as an equal, and will at least defend you from other masters, it's also better to marry.

In a world where genders are equals, human nature is so diverse and changing that marriage as a contract between two individuals is very risky.

Parenting is a much stronger value. I love how you deal with Jayne and Inara. Respect each other, and Inara will be happier than many children of married and fighting couples.

Flagellum said...

Call me a romantic, but I do believe in a lifelong love affair between two persons. I've been together with my wife for 12 years, and we recently celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. It takes two to tango though, so Chez, I understand your disillusion.

True love does exist. A shame sometimes sex gets in the way.

Ref said...

Don't waste much sympathy on this asshat. He is so arrogant that he has almost as many Republican enemies as Democrats. As a congressman, he voted to impeach Bill Clinton WHILE HE WAS CARRYING ON AN AFFAIR. He deserves a lot more opprobrium than he's gotten.

Tania said...

I agree with JB.
Buddhists will tell you that the nature of all relationships is change. But that doesn't mean that marriage is a bad idea, if it feels right at that time in the relationship. One just has to accept the risk that it won't necessarily be 'happy ever after'. Perhaps a few years of happy marriage is better than nothing?

Happy Inara time, Chez! Give her an extra hug from all of us.

Stephanie said...

This comment comes from someone who is getting married in a mere three months.

I can honestly say, I never thought I was a marrying kind of girl. I have never dreamed about a big wedding or playing house with a husband. That being said, I was never an activist against marriage - I thought it just wasn't in my cards.

So I found it rather alarming when my feelings started to change as my fiance and I started to get more serious. I have thought back on this: I think I started to feel that urge to get married when I realized that I did indeed want to have children with this man.

We have had a lot of discussions about this change in the definition of our relationship and what it really means to us. The past year and a half alone, his sister got divorced and my brother got divorced. Its a little scary out there for those of us taking the plunge.

Mr. Controversy said...

Oh, I can't wait to see this piece. As someone who'd like to get married themself one day, sometimes I wonder the same thing: can it ever work? Especially when people and circumstances change so fast these days, and society tends to gradually drift from the social more of one life partner. Is it the environment we're living in, or is it merely social evolution? Who knows, but in any case I look forward to the fish fry ahead.

Anonymous said...

I'm married over ten years but I've also been divorced, so I know why you're feeling the way you do.

People are quick to say marriage is hard work but really don't seem to understand that it means just that. Reading about this couples that were married for over fifty years, you hear things like we didn't have bad days, we had bad *years*.

I'll be honest, we don't believe in that monogamy thing. That helps. It strips away all of the glamor of that forbidden fruit. Then the problems of lies and sneaking around is moot. Our rule is family first, marriage first, and because we both are who we are, it works.

We also never say things we will regret. We don't make personal attacks, rather, we view life as "us against the world" rather than "you aren't doing this or that". This is hard to accomplish. Getting two people onto this same plane is nearly impossible.

So yes, some marriages are worth pursuing. And some, probably the large majority, are not.

Mack said...

After reading this post and reading what others had to say...my mind went straight to Henry Rollins and his bit about all of us taking our lives more seriously if around every corner there was an animal ready to attack and kill us. I know I'd fight with my partner a lot less and I'd never let him leave the house without a long hug and kiss if I though a python or lion might eat his ass everytime he walked out the door.

The thought of marriage is kind of terrifying for me. I only know a handful of people that have made it work and I suppose they could be filing for the big "d" as we speak.

rwiawa said...

Please tell me you read the emails...I live in Columbia, S.C.

One of my co-workers interrupted a staff meeting, Wed., with the news!

We're waiting to hear how they met, and all that - and, most importantly, what she looks like! IE, was it worth it? :P

I high recommend curling up with some pinot grigio (or whatever a good, sissy white wine is) in your Snuggy and reading the emails aloud.

He actually sounds kinda cool, talking about his farm and whatnot, but then he brings his wife and scripture into it, and it's like..."WTF?"

ANY type of commitment, when two people feel it is what is good for them, is worth it.

It is a shit ton of work and, just that: a commitment. A daily commitment to put the relationship and other person first.

Which is why, in a culture of mememefirst, marriages continue to fail.

Me, though, I'm poly, so what do I know!

RottweilerTOM said...

I find it ironic that the only ones (who aren't judgemental hypocritical pricks like the Religious Right) who care about marriage are the ones who legally can't get married, in large order.

Have a great trip Chez.

Boo said...

"Is marriage really worth attempting anymore?"

Marriage, and our society's view of marriage, leaves very little margin for error--just as people do for the others in their own lives. The smallest infraction can create cracks that, unheeded, widen into uncrossable chasms.

Marriage is a reflection of us as we like to see ourselves--dedicated, satisfied, complete, successful--and is at odds with the reality of our human selves: imperfect.

SherryB said...

As someone approaching 11 years of marriage, I've been asking myself the same thing. Two little bits keep popping up: 1) When people originally started getting married, life expectancy was, what, 30 if you lived to be really old? So it was a lifetime commitment, yes, just a shorter lifetime. And 2) "Marital" and "martial" are very closely related, just transpose two letters. A coincidence? I don't know.

winged unicorn said...

Is marriage really even worth attempting anymore -- any marriage?

well, gays and lesbians are ready to fight for their right to party down with us breeders.

seriously, what needs to change is our interpretation and expectations of marriage. and maybe, just maybe, we need to go back to leaving private lives private. are we better off knowing everything about our public figures and how does this being constantly on display effect us?

i just had an argument with my 16 year old that to expect your BF/GF/spouse to 'check in' with you constantly is an infringement of privacy and shows a lack of respect. i am NOT talking about calling when you'll be late; i'm talking about calling every hour on the hour while at work or school. this has become an accepted part of our myspace/facebook culture but it eats away at relationships, this constant looking, poking, prodding and causes resentment.

oh, i never answered your question.

yes.

Mas Triste said...

Family values attacks are to obvious and easy.

How about illicit affairs with foreign nationals is grounds for stripping you of your security clearance. That clearance is a near prerequisite for obtain intelligence briefing on threats to your state. Without it, he canot effectively be the Gov.

I did love the "I was just looking for something more exotic" comment, though.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can trust anyone enough to get married. I don't know if I can open myself up that much. I don't know if I can trust myself to be the person I know I need to be as a spouse.

Deacon Blue said...

As I type this, 50 comments have already been posted, and Lord only knows how many are in the queue right now. There aren't any new insights, quips or anything else I can offer so I'll just say: Yes, marriage is worth attempting. More importantly, it's worth succeeding in.

The question is how are we going to define success and what are we willing to do to make our marriages last?

Dianne said...

Yes. It is worth it.

My first marriage ended in divorce after ten years, but produced two wonderful boys, and even though the divorce was acrimonious, I still have moments when I remember just why I married that man.

My second marriage will reach the fifteen year mark in August, and though we are really, really struggling financially right now, I wake up every day glad to be with this man. I truly want to be with him every day.

MelodyLane said...

Marriage is like a job. The benefits are nice, but damned if the hours aren't long. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice from all sides and two very committed people to make it work. For a small percentage of people, yeah, it's worth it. Once all the initial happiness overkill leaves, you have to be sure that you are willing to be there and deal with all the other shit that follows. For the record, it's a lot of shit. If one person decides that they don't want to deal anymore, then that's it. It takes two patient, loving, and understanding people to make a marriage work.

Melissa B. said...

I come from a long line of judgmental Baptists. And I can tell you that a) yes, marriage is worth it and b) the rigid far right crowd needs to loosen up a little. Those who live in glass houses, after all...

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, the affairs of state must take precedent over the affairs of state.

Mel Brooks, "Blazing Saddles"