Choices, Changes and Consequences

I don’t normally comment on a book without reading it, but one of my founding values is to “never reward incompetence with your purchasing dollars” — and the lessons drawn from this one made it too good to pass up.

The story began here, and was featured in the New York Post. This led me to a book review in the Washington Post (I was tickled at the title: She took a year off from her marriage to sleep with strangers. What could go wrong?) which summarizes thusly:

  • After eighteen years of marriage, she’s bored, suddenly decides that she wants a baby
  • Her husband doesn’t, and never has.
  • He does what any self-respecting dude would do when his wife gets “baby-rabies”, and gets a vasectomy.
  • She goes off and has sex with twelve strangers over the next twelve months — two of whom were women.
  • At the end of her “year off”, their marriage falls apart (surprise!).
  • Then she writes a book about it.

Lesson 1: Women change, men don’t

Let’s start by looking for the genesis of this debacle.

Over time, Rinaldi decided a baby would add purpose to their lives, but Scott wouldn’t change his mind. “I wanted a child, but only with him,” she explains. “He didn’t want a child but wanted to keep me.” When Scott opted for a vasectomy, she demanded an open marriage.

Let’s read the salient bits out loud, shall we? She decided… he wouldn’t. “I wanted”… he didn’t. He opted… She demanded. Seeing a pattern here?

Here’s how I think it played out.: When they married, neither of them wanted children. Twelve years later, her biological clock goes BOOM! and suddenly she changes her mind and wants a baby. But that’s OK, because it’s always a lady’s prerogative to change her mind. He’s expected to go along with it, because happy wife and all that, but for some strange reason he doesn’t (consistency being a masculine virtue). But in her mind it’s his fault. Because.

But wait! There’s more! Evidently he knew or suspected that she was not above getting “accidentally” pregnant in order to get her own way regardless of his feelings, because he had a vasectomy (the bad, bad man is bad, bad, bad!) and there go her nascent dreams of mommyhood. But Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so out come the “demands” and off she goes on her “voyage of discovery”.

He supports her (like he has a choice in the matter?), but at the end of her “year off”, their marriage collapses under the strain.

Lesson 2: It’s different for girls

The biological truth is that a high number of partners is not generally good for women. It has been proven that the more partners a woman has before marriage, the less attractive she is to men and the higher the chance of divorce. One reason for this is that sexuality and emotions are more tightly integrated in women than in men, who are far more capable of separating their sexuality from their emotions. Double standard? No, two completely different standards.

Lesson 3: Sauce for the goose?

What amazes me about this is not what she did; men and women do stupid stuff for the flimsiest of reasons all the time. No, what surprises me is that instead of hanging her head in shame, she wrote a book about her stupidity and loudly trumpeted it from the rooftops.

Imagine if the situation was reversed, and it was the husband who had a mid-life crisis instead of her. Then when he couldn’t get what he wanted, decided to “take a year of to explore himself”, presumably with a dozen women who were younger and hotter than her. Somehow I don’t think that publishers would be lining up to offer him a book deal. No, men and women (but mostly women) would be lining up to call him out on his behavior and smite him with locusts and frogs.

Does that sound like equality to you?

Lesson 4: Women can rationalize anything

It is comical listening to a person trying to rationalize a mistake, but women seem to be past masters at it. I have yet to hear a woman admit that the failure of their marriage was her fault; it was either a mutual decision, or she was the long-suffering heroine and some man was the villain of the piece. But at the end of this particular day, when all is said and done, it was she who blew up a good marriage because she was bored. They will both have to live with the consequences. And I suspect — nay, hope — that she will be the one bears the brunt of those consequences.

Because, as Oprah was wont to say: “Karma’s a she-dog”

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