Another fall from grace…why is staying faithful so hard?

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?

 

Many Loves….say what?

I must say that as a Black woman of a certain age, I was never a big fan of Lauren Hill’s music, she had a few songs I really dug but honestly I was more an Erykah Badu gal. That said I have always found Ms. Hill’s personal life far more fascinating as far as the choices she seems to have made. Yet it seems her personal life is what causes fans and former fans to scratch their heads and frankly I think it’s because the way Ms. Hill lives her life makes us uncomfortable because for many of us when it comes to sex and love…well, we are running around believing in happily ever after. Never mind the fact that for the vast majority of us there will never be a happily ever after with one singular love partner yet we continue to believe it will happen.

Ms. Hill has five kids with Rohan Marley and it appears from reports around the twitterverse and interwebz that she is expecting baby number 6. There is nothing wrong with having a big family if you have the means to handle it. But most folks are hung up on the fact that Rohan is legally married to another woman. Now considering that Ms. Hill is a huge ass star despite the fact she has been a bit reclusive in recent years it’s safe to say that Rohan’s wife obviously knows about Ms. Hill and however they have worked out their relationship it must be working for all since Ms. Hill keeps having Rohan’s babies.

Well, folks there are words for this type of relationship, granted since I don’t personally know Hill or Marley I have to speculate but it would appear to me that they are in some type of polyamorous relationship. Polyamory or poly for short means many loves; it can also be described as consensual, ethical, non-monogamy. Now I know most of y’all are going what the…. See, most of us practice monogamy, or at least that is our intent. Yet life happens, so often one relationship ends and we move on to the next one, in essence practicing serial monogamy. Swearing or planning that each time we will be with this person forever, yet in a time when half of all marriages end in divorce it’s safe to say that monogamy is hard to do for most of us.

Oh, we have the best of intentions in most cases, but life happens, people change and because of how we are conditioned from childhood on, we believe that it simply is not possible to love more than one person at a time. Never mind if you have more than one kid, you love them all, baby #2 or #3 doesn’t take away from the first one or two. Instead we find our heart has more than enough love to accommodate all our kids. Yet when it comes to our personal love relationships we feel the heart can only one at a time. For some folks that may be very true but for poly folks, they believe it’s possible to have multiple loves; they also seem to lack the desire to have ownership of their partners that is typical in most monogamous relationships. Let’s face it; we like to think of our partners as our man or our woman. If that is your man, then he can’t be her man, never mind that the rates of adultery in this country clearly show that the chances are high that our man or woman may at some point be another’s but as long as we don’t talk about it or acknowledge it, it somehow feels better than being upfront and intentional.

If you ask the average American their thoughts on polyamorous relationships, you will be met with raised eyebrows and folks saying “that’s crazy, that’s disgusting”…I know because I used to be one of those people. Mostly because I thought such people had to be depraved then again that was my own small mindedness coming through. Yet is it any better to end up in a situation where you are cheating on a partner rather than being upfront to your current partner about your feelings and intent and seeing if you can come up with a mutually agreeable solution that works for all? Oh, I know many will say if I ever feel that way I will get a divorce. Part of my evolving thoughts on this has to do with having seen a slew of friends leave fundamentally solid relationships and end up miserable. In one case a friend now wishes she had explored a poly way of being rather than breaking up her family and the ensuing tensions. Having gone through a divorce, I can say it’s a lot easier said than done.

Now I have one friend who had a long term affair before leaving her now ex partner and in the end while she is happily with the new man, the former partner makes for a rather unpleasant person to parent with…can’t say I blame him. If I learned I had been cheated on for years, there is not much you could ever say to me. Personally I would have preferred to have known, I admit my views are different and that’s fine. I will also say that not all extra relationships involve actually being sexually intimate. We are living in a time and day where emotional affairs are on the rise, as we spend more time at the office rather than home, we often see more of our workmates than life partners and sometimes feelings happen. How many people will honestly acknowledge those feelings for their suite-mate? In many cases never but the partner at home often senses something yet we deny our feelings instead engaging in an unintentional level of deceit that sometimes has grave consequences.

Back to Ms. Hill why are we so bothered when folks choose to love and live outside the prescribed box? In the end whether or not someone has 1-2 partners, does it really matter to us? It appears that polyamorous relationships are becoming more common according to this piece though most folks who practice these types of relationships, fear coming out and dealing with the reactions of others, so there are no true figures. As far as Ms. Hill, I say congrats on the new life and figure as long as she can take care of her babies what she does is none of my business.