I think sometimes it is easy to forget that despite all that is wrong with the world in terms of the “isms” that many of us face, that there truly has been more progress than most of us realize. It wasn’t that long ago, that the idea of a Black man as president was absolutely laughable to most of us. Not because we didn’t like the idea but because it just seemed impossible. Now we are raising a generation that is growing up for whom a Black man as president is normal.
It wasn’t that long ago that gay marriage was also seen as laughable but in this most recent election, it’s become clear that the gay marriage issue is not going away and that frankly more and more Americans are perfectly comfortable with the idea and support it. The thing is it really wasn’t that long ago when being gay was a very big issue, when gays and lesbians lived in fear and while sadly there are still pockets of intolerance in the US, I think we are on the road where one day homophobia will be something our grandkids will simply think…wow, what was wrong with them?
Change is part of life, personal change and cultural change. Yet for some reason at least in American culture, there are some areas where we fight against change despite the fact that all signs point to a need for change.
Late last week the story broke that General David Petraeus had engaged in an extra-marital affair and well long story short, his career is over, just like my last attempt at dieting. Now I have heard many with experience in both the defense and military industries tell me that this affair was not just an affair but a major lapse in judgment where he made himself vulnerable to blackmail and a whole slew of other issues. There is also the fact that military codes tend to frown upon adultery.
I agree that based off the fact that affairs are typically conducted in secrecy , that yes, he did leave himself wide open…but what if he had told his wife and others from the get-go. Yep, what if folks knew up front that he was stepping out on his wife; wouldn’t that pretty much kill the whole idea of being vulnerable to blackmail, etc.? Look, I am not saying his wife had to like it or accept it, but secrets tend to only be powerful because they are just that…secret.
In the United States, half of all marriages end in divorce, so clearly the lifetime thing we agree to when we marry isn’t working for half of us. Having weathered my own marital storms in recent years, I know that no one reaches 15, 20, 30 years of marriage without hitting a rocky place, it is inevitable. We know this intellectually but few of us truly talk about it, it goes against the marriage as fairy tale myth that keeps wedding planners doing a brisk business even when the economy is in shambles.
I find it interesting that despite the fact that half of Americans really don’t do marriage very well, that any alternatives to straight ahead monogamous relationships is met with incredulous looks and comments. Yet we continue to believe the powerful fairy tale that we will meet this perfect person who will be our one and only and life will be grand, yet years down the road when the love glow has worm off, we are absolutely stunned.
Now I will be the first to admit that for most of us including myself, visualizing anything other than straight ahead monogamy is difficult, after all there is that human tendency to not want to share our humans. However in recent years as I have seen most of my friends divorce and having almost found myself back on the divorce block, I do wonder why there aren’t any viable relationship alternatives. Inevitably it often comes back to societal views, the truth is most us think that anything other than monogamy seems wrong, yet just a few short years ago, many things that are now normal were seen as wrong. Funny thing is most of us are not truly monogamous, at best we are serial monogamists, ending one relationship and moving on to another.
In the end, it gets tiring watching public figures fall from grace because of their personal relationships, as far as the good General goes, no one knows how this situation will turn out but the reality is why do we get so vested in the relationships of others? The older I get it is hard enough just to manage my own, so rather than judgment, I hope all parties in this sordid mess are able to heal and move on.
PS: I am aware that there might be more than just an affair going on with this situation but once again, wondering if this relationship hadn’t operated under the cover of secrecy, how much of this would even be an issue now?