Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Breaking down wall between marriage and singlehood
Married Maryland Girl Again: Maybe I didn't explain myself well (in yesterday's column). My marriage is not in trouble and I'm not afraid my husband is being reminded of what it was like to be a "raging single." It's my friends themselves who bug me.
When Friend A is recounting the story of how her last date ended with making out in a cab, or men walking by are commenting on Friend B's amazing chest, it seems only natural that my husband would take a closer look at Friends A and B.
In my view, more mature people respect each other's marriages by not presenting those kinds of temptations. I wouldn't talk about my sex life with my friends' dates because only my husband should look at me in a sexual way. So I don't get why you reacted as though I'm being outrageous.
Carolyn: Because you're being outrageous. Your husband could just as well be looking at your friends during tales of their exploits and saying, wow, A and B are gross. I can assure you he already noticed B's chest and decided whether it was amazing long before your friends prattled on about it.
You have constructed a wall in your mind between marriage and singlehood that doesn't exist. Okay, you don't hit on those you know to be in life commitments — otherwise, you treat people as people.
Now, if you've outgrown your friends, that's something else. But if you'd enjoy the raunch in unmixed company and it's just having your husband there that freaks you out, then I think you're getting worked up over something that "more mature people" shrug off. Real partners are secure enough to handle real experiences and real people together.
Anonymous: Re: Maryland: It strikes me that Maryland is enforcing a lot of our bad social prejudices, too. She acknowledges that the men in her group are just as "guilty of indiscretion" (guilty?!) as the women, but it's the women who bother her more. We're not a culture that holds men and women to equal standards when it comes to expressing sexuality, and she's probably been a victim of that herself.
Also, why should their talking about their lives now be any different from before the wedding? I get the sense there's a lot going on under the surface of this woman's question, and she might want to evaluate her own assumptions about men and women.
Carolyn: Agreed. I saw it as a he's-my-man-and-vixens-be-gone reflex, but you're right that even if it were a legitimate reflex to act upon (which it isn't, said the broken record), it doesn't justify the double standard. Maybe she's just lost, and grabbing onto her old ideas of what marriage is "supposed to be."
Anonymous 2: Re: Maryland: I always assumed the married people gravitated to each other for the sole purpose of boring any unfortunate nearby singles into a coma with their talk of mortgage refis, kids and vinyl siding. I'd have killed to hang out with some fun, trampy singles.
I think the older you get, the less you think of marriage as this wormhole gate that forces you to dress, think, talk and behave like a pod person.