Jon, Kate and Henry Miller walk into a bar, have an emotional affair

1. I never got around to posting the following Momversation, mainly because I wasn't in the mood to be controversial but I do want to say this: Jealousy has become status quo when it comes to relationships and I don't think its healthy. There's a reason so many marriages end in divorce and I believe a great deal of that comes from the pressure one feels to exist as someone's everything. I feel very strongly that the article that sparked this episode perpetuates paranoia, guilt and "omg I touched my friend's knee and he was a dude and I'm a chick and it totally turned me on I SHOULD CONFESS TO MY HUSBAND because I'm an awful CHEATING CHEATER!"

Come on, really? Is that what it's come to? We're afraid of making eye-contact at the risk of falling in love? I'm sorry but that's just sad. Flirting IS NOT evil. Neither is fantasizing about fucking the UPS guy.

I personally stand by the following when it comes to marriage and monogamy be it physical, emotional et al: Animals stray because they feel caged. People cheat because they feel trapped. There is nothing more attractive to a caged bird* than an open sky. Remove the cage? There's no need to fly away. (*Please pardon the cliche)



Hal will never fulfill my every need as a woman just like I will never fulfill his every need as a man. (I'm his wife, not his life.) We live in a social society. Therefore connecting with people OUTSIDE of the home should be celebrated, not shamed.

Psh. No wonder we all feel so alone, geez.

2. As with the Emotional Affair episode, I got so caught up in last week's vacation that I forgot to post the following episode, discussing books that changed our lives.



My first take was ten minutes long because I couldn't stop talking about Henry Miller and how I quit college to be his bitch. So consumed and affected by Miller's work, specifically Tropic of Cancer, was I.

I used to sit in my car outside Miller's old house in Pacific Palisades with my laptop and write, stalking his ghost like the paparazzi, hoping for a glimpse of what I don't know. From there I took day trips to the Library in Big Sur. Befriended Magnus, keeper of the library, met my literary agent at the Henry Miller writer's workshop where I spent a long weekend workshopping a novel that has since been rejected into retirement. RIP, ye piece of my soul.

But I digress... Any writer who has never read Miller should. He's a writer's writer like no other and his ability to turn sand into pearls has been the motivation behind my optimism as a person and openness as a writer. Miller taught me that in order to be extraordinary as a writer you must write fearlessly and truthfully. I'm far away from mastering this art but I've made it my life mission to try.

Other books that changed my life that were edited out for time:

The Cities of the Interiors books by: Anais Nin** - They're genius. They're raw. They're true stories tucked behind a fictional curtain with holes in it.

A Woman Speaks by: Anais Nin - Nin was the first person I read who spoke of "humanism" ... This book gave voice to thoughts I didn't know I had and helped me identify who I was and am as a thinking woman, human being.

Written on the Body by: Jeanette Winterson - Written by my favorite living author, Winterson writes with her entire body. Her books are like a dance. The best ones always are.

Fear of Flying: Erica Jong - this book was the coming out party of my sexuality. I read it in High School and it was the first time I felt comfortable with myself as a sexual person and writer (good writing not unlike good sex is about being uninhibited and, well, open.)

**much like Miller, I have read practically everything Anais Nin has written. I have a tattoo around my hip based on a passage from her book, House of Incest.

3. It used to be about talent and beauty. Now its about what people are willing to expose. We salute and also curse those whose lives have become our entertainment, shallow blondes seemingly happy to film themselves having sex via webcam, weird dudes with anger management issues. The current reality stars du jour just happen to be a mediocre looking couple living with a bunch of kids.

And yet we care about them? Of course we do! They're exposed! And fascinating, now more than ever because they know they've gone too far! So we get to pity them, salute them, take mercy on their poor, unfortunate souls!

The truth is? We put them where they are. We are the mistress in their marriage, the reason for their divorce as much as they are. By tuning in every week we have lined their pockets, but also stripped them of pants.

And now? We get to watch them scramble to get dressed. That's entertainment?

You tell me.


Soon enough, they will disappear from the headlines along with Paris and the stars of Big Brother and Rock of Love. In the meantime, we mourn and scorn, roll our eyes at the tabloids and then, quietly, when no one's looking, slip a copy of US Weekly into our grocery carts.

GGC

****

Thank you all for your comments on my last post. Your support and ability to open yourselves to me and each other is inspiring and so helpful. Fable has been amazing these last two days. It's almost as if she's tuned into my frustration and is kindly adapting to my needs. She's napped twice and although she's still struggling to sleep in her crib has been very understanding about the boobs. The plan is to slowly wean her. For now, I'm cutting down to two feedings daily. Putting her to sleep in our bed at night and then moving her to her crib where she sleeps until morning. Baby steps, right?

36 comments:

Christina | 1:23 PM

So true! In fact I've always been the type of girlfriend and now wife that doesn't freak when her husband comments on how another chick looks ans I never freaked when he had t attend a bachelor party. In fact, i planned his bachelor party complete with strippers and beef! LOL.


It seems to me if we spend a lot of time worrying about whether our partner is cheating emotionally or physically, we either are with the wrong person or we have to take a SERIOUS SERIOUS look at ourselves. My very gruff motto is, "If I can't trust you, I have no business being with you". I just dont have the time, energy or head-space to fill with that kind of sickening worry. It strips you of your freedom to be a person and a couple. You are trapped in one of the ugliest andparalyzing emotions ever-Jealousy!

I was cheated on once when i was a teenager and it hurt, REALLY BAD! But for some reason I just wouldn't let that make me a jealousy monster.

I know it is easier said than done but I know for me, it's the only way to live.

-Christina
www.takebackthetable.com

Christina | 1:25 PM

Oh and I am usually commenting on the chicks frist before he even sees them. LOL

Baby in Broad | 1:34 PM

"Emotional affair?" Really? The phrase itself kind of sounds ridiculous to me. I'm supposed to get all of my emotional fulfillment from one person, and that has to be the person I'm married to? Puh-lease.

I think flirting with (and fantasizing about) other people makes me a better wife. It reminds me that I have made a choice to be with the person I'm with, and makes me appreciate that choice. Wanting a life (even a sexually-charged life) outside of your marriage doesn't mean you don't want to be married. So I'll flirt with a cute dad at the pool occasionally and then come home and jump on top of my husband in bed. And it seems to work out pretty well for us.

Adrianne | 1:36 PM

Huh, well admittedly I only read the first page of the article--will probably go back and finish-- but I didn't really take away from it that you should confess everything to your husband or fear falling in love with someone by making eye contact. (wow that was a really long sentence! probably a run-on)
I know you said you didn't want to get controversial, but are you saying that you don't really believe in "emotional affairs"? I absolutely agree with you that having relationships outside of your marriage is not only a good idea but a necessity! But I also think when a relationship goes too far, it can be a form of "cheating" without any physical indiscretions. Basically, I completely agree with this line from the article, and it kind of sums up my thoughts on it:

"And even if you never so much as touch him, this emotional attachment has just as much potential as a sexual fling to damage your marriage."

Now before I go making myself look any dumber by not finishing the article, I'll go do that. Perhaps I missed the bigger picture, and just haven't realized that yet:)

Paul | 1:44 PM

So true, so true, so true. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (I don't always write in triplicate, but here it is warranted.)

idigress | 1:55 PM

I always think that the girls that are the most "restrictive" are the ones that might as well wear a cloak proclaiming their insecurity. My brother-in-law just married a girl who got mad at him for laughing when someone joked that there would be strippers at his bachelor party. I mean, just for laughing. He didn't even actually lay eyes on an actual stripper.

That being said, I don't believe I am quite as evolved as you are. I fall somewhere in between, not jealous, but not as comfortable in my own body. Perhaps I need to read Fear of Flying?

Amy | 2:00 PM

i think flirting should not be considered an emotional affair.

I consider an emotional affair talking to someone claiming you love them, and are talking about how much you want to be together

Flirting though? Come on. I LOVE to flirt with other guys, it makes me feel sexy.

If my husband thinks I am sexy, well. Duh I know that. Some random co worker thinks I am hot my self esteem sky rockets.

Never in a million years had I ever wanted to do anything other then flip my hair and bat my eyelashes(No I am not that bad)

Miss C | 2:18 PM

I LOVE Henry Miller and Anais Nin, so my girl crush on you has just gotten a little bigger. I am curious which words from House of Incest you turned into a tattoo, but I understand if it's personal. :-)

Jeni Angel | 2:19 PM

Apparently, it just all depends on what you consider an emotional affair. The stuff you are talking about, both here and in the video, are things that I would agree are not emotional affairs.

However, if my significant other was investing more time, more feelings-feelings that are romantic relationship feelings-and more energy into another person, I would have a problem. When a friendship or flirtation gets to the point where, say, they feel they have to hide it from you or they share parts of their life they shut you out of or they express thoughts of taking the next step-that to me, is an emotional affair.

Ameya | 2:20 PM

MMm, I love Nin. I want to read everything I can, but I have a long way to go. I haven't read any of Miller's stuff yet though :-o

And a million trillion Dittos & Amens to "Jealousy has become status quo when it comes to relationships and I don't think its healthy. There's a reason so many marriages end in divorce and I believe a great deal of that comes from the pressure one feels to exist as someone's everything."

I see it so much and it's so frustrating, and actually pretty disgusting to watch. People have gotten serious dependency issues lately. Everyone is too afraid to know/fix themselves & everyone wants a savior. Sigh. :(

Ameya | 2:25 PM

Also, I love when my fiance flirts with other people. He doesn't lead anyone on or anything, but I love having other people seeing what a charming sucka i landed ;)

And I flirt too. He's a little more jealous about it but not to the extent that he gets mad or doesn't "let" me.. He likes other men appreciating what he has as well!

Amanda | 3:11 PM

It's amazing how the older I become the more I agree with your sentiments.

I used to be insecure about my relationship with my now husband. Mainly because I was cheated a year before that when I was at my most vulnerable (18, just getting into sex, getting out of high school, dealing with my parents divorce) by my first real boyfriend. Now, we've grown into ourselves and each other. We know were we stand. I support him and he supports me, even now as I parlay my love for vintage naughtiness (hello Henry Miller!) into burlesque. Is he worried that I'm going to sleep with the audience just because I'm teasing them? Hell no! Just the same as I know he can resist women who want him (Scientists are pretty hot in their white lab coats and big ol' brains).

Flirting is natural, mammalian, and sometimes necessary to stoke your fire. But respect and trust is also equally important. If you can balance the two in a relationship, then you're pretty much golden!

Julia | 3:46 PM

I'm confused- did the phrase 'emotional affair' even EXIST before the whole brad-angelina-jenniffer aniston triangle?
How did this pop psych phenomenon gain such legitimacy??

Sara | 4:24 PM

When you say Hal will never fulfill your every need as a woman and you will never fulfill his every need as a man, do you mean sexually or emotionally? Emotionally - I agree. Men and woman have too many emotional needs to have them met by one person. But if you mean sexually, I don't really get that. My spouse meets all of my sexual needs and then some, and I know that no one could do it better. I know people still fantasize, but I don't think it's because their sexual needs aren't being met by their partner.

bookishpenguin | 4:40 PM

The hubby and I check out girls together. I would get so turned on if I caught him flirting with another girl - it reminds both of us that he's desirable. It just takes trust - I trust 100% that he won't sleep with (or even kiss) someone else and it's that trust that gives us the room to breathe and enjoy life.

I started reading Tropic of Cancer this week after hearing/seeing you mention it so often. I'll have to add Anais Nin to my list since I consider myself a humanist.

Girlbert | 4:54 PM

Such a good point. Many, many good points.

I was married at nineteen, never straying once during 11 years of marriage. I didn't realize how undesirable, unhappy, and unworthy I felt until I had myself an "emotional affair" after thinking one person was supposed to do it for me. In every way.


So on the other hand, an emotional affair can point out just how unhappy you are, and be a catalyst for change that you would otherwise never make. To the detriment of everyone.

That's What She Said | 4:59 PM

PLEASE tell me you've seen the Seinfeld, Tropic of Cancer episode!!

Aisha | 9:37 PM

Not being jealous of my boyfriend's relationships has been a challenge for me, a mountain I've had to scale many times now. He is four and a half years older than me; he is my first boyfriend, I am his I-don't-know-what. Even though I've gotten to the point of accepting that he has a past and I'm not part of that past for a reason, there are still times where my old feelings of anger and frustration emerge.

We live three hours apart, so my issues usually flare up over something stupid, like him confusing his roomie's preferences with mine (she hates root beer, I love it; I got very upset with him after he got this confused). It's not that I'm afraid of him getting involved with someone else emotionally, ironically, it's that I'm afraid he will find someone he is both physically AND mentally attracted to - 3 hours is a large distance, especially when you're both poor college students. Many of his friends are women, some of them former 'whatever you care to call it,' and it is very hard to not be threatened by that sometimes.

That being said, I don't expect to be his everything. I don't WANT to be his everything. I've seen too many couples try to do that to think that it can ever work out (or, at least, be truly happy). I used to think that relationships were supposed to function that way, but I've learned with Jon that no relationship can be that way and thrive. We are at our best when our days do not revolve around the nightly phone call.

Chiyiyite | 9:53 PM

"By tuning in every week we have lined their pockets, but also stripped them of pants."

Lines like this are the reason I subscribe to your blog. Thank you.

The Girl | 3:56 AM

Yes.

To all of it.

Just, yes.

Silvy | 4:27 AM

great post. great post. great discussion. thanks for your blog :)

Misty | 6:44 AM

I'm totally with you here. Just the other day my brother in law was over talking with us about how badly he wants to be married and my husband says, I know this girl, she's a total fox and can actually hold a conversation. At which point b-i-l looks at me, then glances back at my husband and says, "You can't call another girl a fox when you're married." And I say, "why not? He's not going anywhere."

There is sooo much truth in the caged bird theory. If you don't feel trapped, there is simply no need to run.

HOWEVER, I do think there is a point where an emotional involvement can go too far. I have a dear friend whose family was destroyed because her mom became so emotionally attached to a man she worked with (who was married) that she decided to divorce her husband in some insane hope that the other man would do the same for her. He didn't. Because for him it was never anything more than friendship, but she let emotion get the better of her.

On another note. Lined their pockets, stripped their pants. Seriously? Genius.

Jessica | 6:46 AM

tropic on cancer is what made me fall in love with Miller. and reading. and writing.

Karina | 7:33 AM

Your "emotional affair" comments on the momversation completely reminded me of this new wilco featuring feist song you and i. One of the parts in it goes
"Oh, I don’t need to know
Everything about you.
Oh, I don’t wanna know
And you don’t need to know
That much about me"

figleaf | 7:52 AM

As long as we're contemplating cliches there's also "don't let yourself drown in knee-deep water." I'm pretty sure distancing driven by guilt on the one hand or suspicion on the other has ended more relationships than have actual affairs (emotional or otherwise.)

Over the years I've noticed that agreeing to be "open" in a relationship removes most of the pressure to actually do anything about it. Or, maybe putting the emphasis where it belongs, there seem to be no fewer affairs in "closed" relationships than in "open" ones.

Cool post, Rebecca.

figleaf

Anonymous | 5:57 PM

okay, unless any of you have been married for 17 years and have been in a situation of when your husband has had an actual "emotional affair" then I really do not think that you should make a comment, like it is necessary, blah, blah....
Six months ago, I found out that my husband was having an emotional affair with our bookkeeper, (we have our business), and she is still working for us. how sick is that? we have 3 children and I feel that I have been taken advantage of, i cook, clean, take care of the kids and am his personal slave... I feel cheated on and used, too boot she is married too.
It really hurts and I do not think that anybody should have emotional affairs on anybody!!!

Summer | 12:07 AM

Oh my word....I am so in love with books and I adore finding the ones that are gems to other people. I have a mile long list on Amazon of aspiring reads....and now I can't wait to add in these!

Thanks girl...

kipker | 11:14 AM

I know this is totally off subject, but do you have a list of your favorite children's books your read with your kids somewhere on your blog? I think you have excellent taste and style in just about everything, including opinions on marriage (getting back on subject)

Jill Pilgrim | 12:48 PM

I couldn't agree with you more on the emotional affair issue- I want my husband to maintain his identity outside of our marriage in the same way that I do. We both feel free to be ourselves in our marriage, and we both feel free. I think that freedom makes our marriage strong.

Anonymous | 4:45 PM

I am 50 years old, and I read your blog b/c of the truthfulness with which you write.

As old as I am, and for as long as I've been reading, there are but a handful of people that write with such vulnerability as transparency as you do.

I often find myself thinking of how much MORE you will be gifting us as you grow older.

As your children grow up on you, and your marriage changes, as your body changes with age, all these things lend to such introspection and perspectives from the other side.

I KNOW there will be more great stuff coming this way. I read your book, and I finished it within one night: I did not want it to stop. And I thought of a compliment I once heard from someone after finishing a book, "I missed everyone in the book so much." I missed you so much when I finished your book. Your writing was so real, I felt I had lived inside you for that entire time in your life.

That, Rebecca, is an extraordinary gift..to place your reader in that moment in time.

Can't wait to see all that is coming our way from you.

RGSMOM | 5:04 PM

I can't believe your doctor lets you nurse with an IUD .

Meagan J. | 5:46 PM

Oh, I am so with you on the Henry Miller/Anais Nin train. Those books seem to come at the best times (every time).

Based on your affection for those two writers, I'm going to check out the other two and see what it does for me.

Thank you.

Katy | 8:45 AM

Rebeca,

I watched the emotional affair episode, and I don't think you know what an emotional affair is... It's not just about a confidante, it's way deeper.

I don't share everything with the Little Honey, nor do I expect him to share everything with me. HOWEVER, I do expect him to monitor the level of emotional intimacy he extends towards other women.

We went thru this with his ex whom he shares two children with. She could not understand why he and I both felt that our co-parenting status did not include her calling him to vent about her day, co-workers, family, or to have him be her "shoulder" to cry on. It was extremely inappropriate. What she did not understand was that even though they still shared children, their lives were separate now, and she needed to find a new place to get the support she would expect from a partner.

I struggled with that for a long time, and feeling guilty about drawing up that boundary, but then I realized that the Little Honey is MY ROCK and MY PARTNER. He would become emotionally exhausted dealing with her "crazy" (for the sake of the kids) and would not have enough energy to even have a pleasant conversation with me.

She was trying to keep him as her emotional partner, and leave me with just the physical, and it was so not okay. It's still a boundary she continues to push.

But during this time, I also began an emotional affair. I know it was a level in a friendship that was inappropriate, because I solely sought it out, because I was not getting it at home. I was dressing up to meet him for drinks, I was sending him little, funny isms and emails all day from work, and I was bashing my Honey to him, behind the Honey's back.

I found myself pushing more and more boundaries with him, until I realized that I was two clever emails away from making out with this man.

It was not okay, and I not only had to end it, I had to fess up. Luckily Honey and I got through it, but it is still tough....

I have plenty of guy friends I meet for drinks and shoot the shit with, as does TLH with his female friends.... But, having a great friendship with someone of the opposite sex, is nowhere near having an emotional affair....


SORRY FOR THE NOVEL!

Maggie May | 10:04 PM

Hi there...I love the mention of Henry Miller here, and your passion for his writing, and Anais Nin...I just mentioned them in a poem I posted 'marriage july 2009' his books changed my views on writing and helped me accept how i experience life. I'm glad you wrote about this.
ahoy.
maggie may

Anonymous | 11:55 AM

The relationships discussed in the video were not emotional affairs. An emotional affair goes way beyond confiding in someone or being friends with someone.

~

I have always been insecure about my relationship with my husband. And now that he actually has had a physical affair, it's all the more impossible to get a healthy perspective on this.

kb | 10:58 AM

I go back and forth on the whole idea of emotional affairs. though I think Katy was onto something with this "But, having a great friendship with someone of the opposite sex, is nowhere near having an emotional affair..." well, swap in preferred partner sex for opposite(because it isn't always, and THEN what do you do? do bi people get no friends at all?) I expect to have male friends and expect my boyfriend to have female friends. obviously. but I am the one he is building a life with. And that is a different status. Which we both respect.