Movies and Affairs

I had not laughed so much in a movie in a long long while until yesterday when I went to see It’s Complicated. After spending two days listening to research reports, I needed to get my mind off to lighter pastures. Had a brief chat with my son, and off I was.

After literally having rolled on the floor laughing during the film, when I exited the movie house a woman about my age looks at me with that expectant inquisitive look that expresses that she would like to talk with a perfect stranger, that is, me. I smiled, and I made a remark about one needing to have gone through a divorce and found peace with it, before one can appreciate the humour in such a film. She had something else on her mind, something about lots of women alone in that showing of the movie. Strange, I thought to my surprise that there were plenty of couples. She was also feeling a bit self-conscientious because she laughed a lot and was under the impression that she had been laughing the loudest. I am sure that I had been fair competition on the laughter volume level, but the noise inside one’s head is always loudest. Then she asked me if I would have an affair with my ex-husband. I had to smirk, and smile, and laugh, because this is a question that I would love to answer, but that I was not going to elaborate on with a stranger. I just gave the diplomatically correct, although politically incorrect answer that a priori I would not exclude it.

Perception is always filtered. I had noticed that in the movie theatre there was a man alone sitting right behind me, and a quick glance over the amphitheater had given me the impression of couples being present. It’s Complicated is a touching movie, and to me, ever the over-liberal european, I still think that it propagates a few very ultra-conservative views that represent some vociferous American morality. That is, to put it in concrete terms, I just leave the morals out of judging the existence of affairs, marital, or extra-marital, or whatever affairs. Come to think of it, in some of the best marriages that I know, affairs have been part of the marriage and have benefited from the affair. Still, in spite of that moral glitch, the movie does highlight something that reflects my view. It takes a while to mend the wounds of a break-up, and that when one finally completes the relationship and knows that it has moved to the level where all conflicts are solved, then even a divorced relationship can be very satisfying.

It is that bit about marriage being for better or worse that is really difficult to get through in practical terms. I have often voiced my opinion that, if anything, I am for the abolishment of marriage and the institution of parents rights and obligations towards their progeny should be regulated otherwise. With today’s technical possibilities, filiation is easily determined. One of the major purposes of marriage was the establishment of filiation and accordingly clarifying rights and obligations that come with the blood line. Any male should be aware of where he is spreading his sperm and what consequences that brings. Needless to say that jerking off in the shower has the least consequences. Any female should also have absolute freedom to choose when she wants to carry a child or become a mother. Yes, I am that liberal, and I think it is a woman’s right and a woman’s right alone to decide how to use her body. You may add body piercing to the discourse, if it enlightens you in any way. Marriage is a quaint and antiquated social norm, and that does not mean that it does not have a place in society, or that my idea of abolishing it means either sanction it or make it illegal. Keep marriage if you may, abolish it as a the only social norm. Marriage is a choice, and a choice that is often within our present legal possibilities free of de facto coercion. Sometimes is the coercion is rather mild as it is only reflected in financial, residence or paternity reasons, but it is still a form of de facto coercion dictated by human’s eternal struggle to survive and cut corners. Obviously I feel strongly about marriage. Marriage in its present legal structure is only made bearable because of divorce, however both processes are much too complicated, and they do not need to be so. Life could be a lot easier if we could disentangle family and private life from the interference of state laws that were created by patronizing misogynous legislators and upheld by equally narrow minded so-called politicians.

Yes, and no. I am not pleading that a good marriage needs affairs, but I am not excluding affairs from a good marriage either. Reality is a funny thing, and people are strange. People are also not transparent, and it is damn difficult, if not impossible, to know what goes on in another’s mind. Still, the most satisfying aspects of life come with the ability of resolving conflicts without violence or aggression. I say conflicts, and I say life, and both of these start at home and in private life. The happiest day of my life was not the day that I got married; found that to be particularly boring. One of the nicest days of my life was when I recently paced a hallway at the university while the ex-husband was on the phone with me and we were talking as friends and parents; the wounds were healed on both sides. It was a day that I could not have predicted that it would ever happen.

It’s complicated.