Sunday, May 17, 2009

What I've learned

Its been four years since my marriage ended and somewhat less since I was introduced to the murky world of infidelity. At 40, I was a babe in the wood, truly. I believed that many, if not the majority of married/de facto couples had meaningful, mutually respectful relationships and regular satisfying sex. I knew that couples argued, and at times loathed each other because I was married for 16 years. In my marriage I was somewhat controlled, and my needs (for a home, a family) were disregarded in favour of his "higher" needs, but we could always trust each other.

Neil has introduced me to a whole new world, in which people are not faithful, 1 in 4 babies is born to a man who is not the partner of the woman concerned. Women and Girls who dress in a certain way literally ask for sex (as in FMBs - he believes they are in fact code). Women and Girls who ask men back to their home/hotel after a party want sex. And if, as a man you merely progress towards sex, without asking permission, 9 out of 10 girls will not stop you. Further 80% of the women are chasing 20% of the men. We are mobile breeding machines, they are alpha males, it is a jungle out there. As I have often said in this blog, I reluctantly accept this. How could I be so naive?

However, it does not appeal to my experience. As a married woman I went to literally dozens of parties/receptions/conferences dressed howsoever I wished, where people came back to rooms and that was not the agenda at all. We would drink, flirt, talk then go home. If the above were true, it is a wonder I had not been either victim or assailant in seduction/inveiglement/lure or rape on numerous occasions.

I would proffer that I gave off "Married vibes" and I was steadfastly committed to my marriage vows. I would also proffer the crowd in which I circulated, hard working, professional, men and women of integrity. But not once was I propositioned. I am only human (as we shall see) and may not have been so strong under duress.

So I learn the hard way. About a year into our relationship I learn that Neil is having sex with someone else. I am (in my naive way) shocked, nauseated, horrified, stateless, confused and.... changed.

I struggle not to blame anyone else for what happened next. This erstwhile choir girl, married woman, pillar of society quietly embraced revenge. If you can do it so can I. Not actively, not rushing out there, but alive in that world I had previously doubted existed. And in the fullness of time opportunity came my way.

For maybe a decade before he met me, Neil had no formal relationship, he had a roster of "FBs" who satisfied his needs, and they his. There were no strings, although they did sometimes show troublesome signs of wanting to commit, in which case they were kindly but firmly reminded of the terms of the relationship and if they didn't want it they could go.

So what we have is 4 or 5 women actively trying to "catch him" whilst outwardly declaring they were fine with friends with benefits status. Their role very much akin to that of the other woman (having now been one myself). They would always be dressed well, coiffed, plucked, perfumed, never nag, badger, or complain.

I have learned that living with someone who has been this kind of a "bachelor" (read SA) makes for a very hard act to follow.

I have learned that the reason I did not cheat on my husband was less iron will and more lack of opportunity/motivation.

I have learned to be careful what you wish for

Is this post feminism? One thing that would've kept me on track in my younger days is the sisterhood. How could I do that to another woman (assuming I knew about her)? Are we all just back to snaring a man by fair means or foul? Why am I jealous of my lover's wife who, at quite a mature age managed to marry him, have two kids and give up work for the forseeable future?

How could I undervalue my career so? as I lurch from near disaster, to headlice outbreak, to forgotten lunch, lost hat, board meeting, presentation, bikini wax, sales pitch in the blurry life of a near-single parent? I should remember, she gave up her freedom, her identity and her so-called husband is playing away.

One of the things Neil trotted out when he reached exasperation with my high moral stance was
"There's no law against it"

Well negotiating your way through it without rules may be an intellectual and personal challenge but it does not favour women.


Cat said...

God I hear you... I wish I did not but I get this...

FI0NA said...

I think I was trying to say... he didn't make it happen. But he did *normalize* it for me, and I need to take stock of what is indeed normal for me.