Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I'm listening to a book on CD as I drive to and from rehearsal. The book has been recommended to me, and I know it's been made into a made for cable movie, but I otherwise don't know a lot about it. I'm enjoying it, however... I'm afraid that the main character is about to have an extra marital affair.

I hate to sound all prudish and all, but I really hate it. It makes me want to chuck the CD out the window and into the lake as I drive across the bridge.

I'm hoping that's not where it's going.

I'm so sick and tired of novels and movies that all revolve around affairs. I've seen some movies and read some books I really enjoyed that have this as a central theme, but I find, particularly as I get older and become an"old married woman", that I have less and less tolerance for it. I'm tired of characters who don't value their marriage enough, I'm tired of being led to sympathize with the people who cheat, I'm tired of it being seen as romantic and daring and interesting. Show me the struggle in the relationship, show the temptation and the resistance, show the price that is paid for staying, and also the reward. Or show a woman who gets out of a bad relationship WITHOUT having an affair to do it.

Obviously there are some great works of fiction that I do, indeed, appreciate with this theme. But I'm tired of "bored wife (or battered wife, or ignored wife, or...), blah, blah, blah, has an AFFAIR! And it's hot! and interesting! and we've led you to sympathize with her, and now you can't decide if you can judge her actions or not!" (or you, know, the male version of the same story)

Anyone else feel this way?


Melissa said...

I am so there. I get really upset about it too. Although I have to say I just read "The Post Birthday World" and the subject didn't bother me so much there. Probably because she wasn't actually married, just in a "long term relationship".

I think it bothers me so much because I can see how devastating that would be in my life and to see it casually treated scares me a bit. I would hate to think that my spouse would throw away everything we have worked for so easily.

Ok, depressed now. I'll go look at some lolcats to cheer myself up..

susiej said...

First of all, don't you just love books on CD?! What a way to pass the time. About the affair; when it shows up in books, I just can't relate to it, and the whole sorted thing leaves me feeling less respect and empathy for all those involved. I like my novel characters to become my "friends" and my "friends" in real life aren't like that. So, I'm lost, just like you.

But, I do love it when you see them work through the hard times -- I'm eager to see how the struggle transforms their character and where it leaves them.

I just read Stealing Athena -- a historical novel. It shows up there; and there it is played against the backdrop of society which did not accept such behavior. Very interesting portrayal of how it could ostracize someone.

Rima said...

Yes, yes, yes! I'm so glad you wrote about this, it hit very close to home for me.

Chaotic Joy said...

I agree wholeheartedly. When THe Bridges of Madison County was crazy popular years ago I read it and thought, what an awful story. And then again with Little Children I felt the same way. A bunch of miserable people in miserable marriages making their lives more miserable by cheating instead of trying to fix the problem.

But I am an old married prude too.

Anonymous said...

short answer: yes.

"Show me the struggle in the relationship, show the temptation and the resistance, show the price that is paid for staying, and also the reward." - now here is a good plot.

jen said...

yes. and exactly what De said.

painted maypole said...

joy - when I read Little Children I didn't feel like I sympathized with any of the characters, really, and so I could read it without getting all upset about it - It was disturbing and I think it was SUPPOSED to be disturbing. I never felt like I was led to think "oh how nice, these unhappy people found each other"

Bridges of Madison County, though, is an excellent example

or the movie Waitress. Why did she have to have an affair to get out of her wretched marriage? why couldn't she be strong enough to do it all on her own?

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...



Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving.

Mary G said...

Yes. In fact the whole mess where sex is seen to be the Only Answer, whether he takes her to bed and she relents or whether she finds out he is married or ............! Boring. Sorry, but that's the worst of it. You don't need plot or character development, just throw in the sex.
Why I read the same books over and over.

Furrow said...

Yep. I recently read The World According to Garp after a long-held, irrational aversion to John Irving. It's now rational.

Aunt Becky said...

Totally agree. I've been cheated on more times that I care to admit, and I just can't stomach hearing other people have the same issues.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm so sick of that theme. And I agree with you - if they have to get out of the marriage - get OUT! Don't have an affair to do it. So... huh? Your new relationship is going to be built on mistrust?


Anonymous said...

"Show me the struggle in the relationship, show the temptation and the resistance, show the price that is paid for staying, and also the reward"

Hmm. I have thought about trying my hand at fiction writing, and that might be a good topic for me.

Genevieve said...

Yes, I absolutely agree.
Try reading some Laurie Colwin - A Big Storm Knocked It Over or Happy All The Time - for stories that don't involve affairs. Though I had trouble with her Family Happiness because of the affair, but at least there it wasn't written just to spice up the story.

Christine said...

you know movie i HATED b/c of this: the movie "unfaithful" with richard gere and diane lane. yuck. poor little rich wife has an affair with a french dude. i'm supposed to care about that?

Bea said...

The only cheating-themed book that comes to mind is The Post-Birthday World and, like Melissa, I thought that novel was pretty good - it treated the complexity of the subject rather than exploiting it for cheap thrills. I stayed away from The Bridges of Madison County for exactly that reason.

blooming desertpea said...

"Show me the struggle in the relationship, show the temptation and the resistance, show the price that is paid for staying, and also the reward."

I liked too ... because it's so bloody real - and true!