Monday, February 14, 2011

Post No. 158a: Re-posting of "There Has to be Something More"

© 2009 and 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

This post was originally published in 2009. Since today is Valentine's Day, we thought that we should re-visit some relationship issues.

Today, we have some Common Sense thoughts about choosing a spouse - the first, and hopefully only, time.

When we sit down at the keyboard, we’ve often just watched a series of movies on TCM, some cartoons, C-Span, and the news.

John Edwards, the Democratic presidential contender who cheated on his wife, is back in the news, due to the recent death of his wife, from cancer. So are the timeless issues of sex, power, and breach of trust.

As we watched the Edwardses, we asked, “What are people thinking when they pair up?”

Some suggest that very little thinking goes on, at least north of the equator, and that’s where the cartoons come in. We’ve long argued that transient, hard-wired blood flow and chemical (whether hormonal or self-administered) factors play far too large a role.

We're not being prudish; we've just been there; and, on far too frequent an occasion.

It’s not difficult to find some element of errant temptation in most Hollywood products. Some even suggest that Tinseltown bears some responsibility.

But history is replete with evidence that hanky-panky predated Hollywood. A recent History Channel program discussed the long trips between American colonial farms where brief “stops” were made (by members of both sexes) to, let’s say, regain one’s energy.

Modern couples are often shocked to find that sex is a reoccurring complicating factor. Last evening, we watched a program on the mythological god Zeus. It was noted that all of the ancient gods, in addition to their immense power, had human frailties.

Zeus’ flaw? An insatiable sexual appetite. (Even without Viagra.)

While we’ve never quite figured out why the male member (or even the female member) of a couple might have an interest in prolonging the event (particularly those otherwise incompatible), we do find the spate of competing commercials entertaining.

The description of the potential side effects is almost as humorous as the cartoons we watch. “Anyone experiencing an erection longer than 4 hours should consult a physician.” Add to that the warning that someone experiencing a decrease in hearing or sight should discontinue using the product, and we’re really confused. Aren’t those parts of the deal?

In an earlier piece, we suggested that people considering, or stumbling toward, infidelity recognize the early warning signs. We proposed nipping the impulse in the bud while they still had some degree of control, before “Nature” took over.

That didn’t go over very well. Many apparently feel that Nature has no role, and it is all about pure selfishness, and a lack of Personal Responsibility. When we tried to clarify our position, we made little progress, even with the assistance of another Institute Fellow.

However, let's face it: the real issue is how one wants to occupy one's time.

We saw the movie Outbreak for the first time last week. In it, members of a divorced couple, both of whom are infectious disease doctors, join forces to fight a deadly virus. Watching them place their personal differences aside, and focus on their mutual goals, prompted us to write this piece.

TCM recently aired a collection of Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney. As Rooney got older, he began to take an interest in members of the opposite sex. In some of his other movies, he was paired with Liz Taylor. In real life, Rooney and Taylor married 8 times each, and to them we dedicate this piece.

From what we’ve seen, young people considering hooking up long-term might look for something else apart from the transient. (Children are obviously not a very strong motivation to stay together these days.)

We’re neither apologizing for, nor condoning cheating. Nor are we suggesting that cheating is a minor issue to be glanced over. We’re just suggesting that marriage might have a better chance of survival, whatever the problems encountered, if there is something else going on apart from physical attraction.

The following appeared in our earlier, controversial piece:

“Probably the best line about love... is..., ‘Love is not two people staring into the eyes of one another, but rather both of them staring in the same direction together at the same time focused on the same goal.’ [I]f a relationship is primarily [physical] attraction... based, the decrease in the stimulation and intensity will occur about as quickly as the increase, if not faster.

“When men and women... realize there are issues in society larger and more significant than themselves, their children, and the physical structures in which they live (and where one places his appendage), then we will have made some progress as a society. When couples feel that their relationship is about to disintegrate, they might consider jointly volunteering their time to the AIDS Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, or a similar organization. That’ll place things into perspective.”

Earlier this week, we saw another couple in the news – the Clintons. The former Prez brought home two detained American journalists who made missteps in North Korea. His previously humiliated wife, now Secretary of State, beamed with pride. Moving on beyond his peccadilloes, they, together, pulled something off which they felt mattered.

For all the criticism their relationship received in the past, perhaps they have figured out the formula to a long-term marriage, or another type of "Stay Pow'R." (It remains to be seen whether the marriages of Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign will survive.)

We strongly suspect that at some point during or following the Lewinsky scandal, at least one of them said, “There’s still work to be done, which best be done by the two of us.”


  1. I love my cats - more than many people would think appropriate. I never forget they are cats and expect them to pull the chain after going to the toilet, or not to steal anything tasty if I am daft enough to leave it around.

    In return they give me any affection they are capable of, and it varies from cat to cat.

    Selfish, ruthless, egocentrics - the only kind of people who can really get on the political world should be married for what they are, and not for what they pretend to expect from the competition (impeccable 'morals') Hilary's public forgiveness was the action of a great person.

    Marital cheating is neither a big issue nor a small one. Does it not depend on the situation in which it occurs? When someone has the ego to lead a great nation, and perhaps the skill to do enormous good in the world, this potential should not be wrecked by the political opposition for a mistake of microscopic importance in comparison with this potential.

    Cats are autistic, everyone of them. Human beings are capable of restraining their urges and emphasizing with others. Cheating may be natural behaviour, but it's not human,merely animal when the results damage children.

  2. CorfuBob wrote:

    "Selfish, ruthless, egocentrics - the only kind of people who can really get on the political world should be married for what they are, and not for what they pretend to expect from the competition (impeccable 'morals') Hilary's public forgiveness was the action of a great person."

    We're pretty much there with you CorfuBob. In the case of women preparing and choosing to marry professional athletes who are constantly on the road, in and out of hotels, "Caveat Emptor."

    Although we appreciate the historical complexity associated with the demonization of certain sexual acts both inside and outside of marriage, some would argue for a more pragmatic approach to ensure that society does not lose out on the value that the "offending party" can bring to the table in other areas.

    But then again, societal mores are rarely about pragmatism, or getting the most out of our human resources.

  3. Voters expect the greedy, selfish, manipulating, lawless, charismatic perverts who dominate politics and the right-wing media to behave decently?

  4. CorfuBob, you wrote: "Voters expect the greedy, selfish, manipulating, lawless, charismatic perverts who dominate politics and the right-wing media to behave decently?"

    Very interesting characterization. In only our 5th post, entitled The Triangular Box in Which American Finds Itself Circumscribed (Why We Really Don't Like Any of the Political Candidates),
    we spoke of how politicians are a different breed. They are not regular folks. They can't be.

    And the further they get from local politics, and rise to national prominence, the more different and detached from reality they potentially become.

  5. That's exactly as it appears to me in faraway Greece. Voters are greedy and self-obsessed to, and dream of being like the very theives that keep them poor. Don't you just love it...

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