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Couples

Yes. We absolutely have a right to say yes or no to each other. If we can't, what kind of a relationship do we have? About Maryville and the colorizing. I can certainly appreciate why you would feel irritated with the request. You should, of course, do what you want. But it might also be interesting to think of it as an experiment. If you did one every so often, it would stand in stark relief to the black and white stuff. And you can see how you feel about both.

(Kim: I'm feeling angry about the time I'm spending doing nonart. So I'm not in the mood for experimenting. It sounds like "give another piece of your life. Sorry. I'm not angry at you but at me.)

Up to you. This, however, would be an interesting way to reframe a request. Just a thought. I love the patterning in the lobotomy drawing. Joan

Sunday, December 4, 2005 12:10 PM


Dear Kim, Friday night, when I was at a concert at Christ Church Cathedral downtown, I talked with a woman that I have known peripherally for years, although she is part of a wider circle of friends.

She is in a committed relationship and they are raising two kids. I am not sure what I am in these days. As you know, my girlfriend and I are having problems. We are semi-separated and trying to figure out whether or not to go forward. It is a tough time.

I felt a shock of attraction go through my body as I talked with this woman. I don’t know if she experienced it with similar intensity or not. I could tell she found me attractive by the way she responded, the look on her face, way she leaned in.

It was not just the warmth of a friendly ear. There was an erotic component although nothing erotic or even mildly flirtatious was said. And it felt good. Like she got who I was on some cellular level.

She may or may not have been aware of what was going on with her. I knew what was going on with me and could also see what was happening on her end.

And I know that given who she is, her particular moral make up, and the serious commitment she has made to her life, nothing sexual would come of our interaction.

After intermission, I sat down again with my friend Tom who had been visiting with other people. We love each other and are affectionate and held hands.

I am a very physically demonstrative person, possibly in part because no one in my family is. So I enact a kind of open physicality.

I had a dream about that woman that night, about making love.

I woke up in a cold sweat and thought how sad I was that I would never get to sleep with her. I really enjoyed our exchange and thought it would be such a lovely thing to do.

Then I began to think about another woman I like. And how I would like to sleep with her. And how I know if I stay with my girlfriend that is not in the cards.

I know all of the usual arguments. That I should take my erotic energies back to my relationship. That monogamy provides boundaries so that people can feel safe. That it is rare to have open additional sexual expression outside a primary relationship without someone(s) getting hurt. That sleeping with someone else detracts from the primary relationship, siphoning off energy best placed at home. That maybe I am looking around to avoid being really intimate with my girlfriend.

Some people might say, if you really loved your girlfriend, it would not be an issue; you would not look at other women or men. She would be enough.

That is baloney. I do really love her.

(Kim: I don't think love guarantees that a good relationship can exist. I love all kinds of people, but I don't want to live with them.)

And regardless of whether or not we stay together, it does not feel like enough. I feel really conscious of my age and know I do not have unlimited time on this planet. I feel really curious and really desirous of other opportunities. I know a lot of men feel that way, including men who love their wives.

I know a lot of men sleep with women other than their wives. The one reason I would legitimately buy for not pursuing something else is that it would hurt her. And that I don’t want to do. But in some strange way, I then feel hurt. Hurt by stifling myself and by not living as fully as I want.

(Kim: Another two edged sword.)

Are any of these issues for you? You have been with the same woman for many years. What is it, 30 something? From the outside, and the way you have talked about her, it seems as if you have a wonderful relationship. But desire is its own animal. How have you dealt with this? How do you deal with this?

(Kim: Have you seen the statistics about how often we have erotic thoughts? It is pretty much predicted by our gender and age. I'm more interested in real intimacy. Some people are more intimate with their friends than they are with their mates. That is really backwards.)

Later, Joan Sunday, Dec 4, 2005 7:16 A.M.


What Artists Do When Not Suffering By SUSAN DOMINUS (NY Times) Published: December 4, 2005

The artists and poets who frequent Yaddo and MacDowell might already have predicted what two psychologists at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and the Open University in Britain announced last week: creative types of both sexes have more sexual partners than their nonartistic counterparts, according to their research, which will be posted on the Web site of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British journal.

The Marianne Moores and Joseph Cornells, private, cerebral types devoted to their mothers, are apparently the exception; Edna St. Vincent Millay, left, Pablo Picasso and Georges Simenon, voracious lovers all, are truer to the form. The two researchers interviewed 425 British male and female professional artists and poets, making careful scientific inquiry into their sexual histories, mental health and artistic output. The creatives had 4 to 10 partners in their past, compared to the mere 3 claimed by less artistic counterparts.

It is the kind of study, of course, that can give anyone trying to distinguish the correlative from the causative a major pain. The researchers cast the artists' relative promiscuity as a measure of success, a Darwinian function of their power to draw in many lovers.

But really, one doesn't have to perfect "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" in order to collect half a dozen flings. Perhaps there is some other easy explanation for the tendency toward multiple affairs. Procrastination, for example - artists and poets tend to be world-class work avoiders, and what better way to put off the empty page than an elaborate, time-consuming seduction. Or perhaps it's poverty - sex is, after all, one of the great, cheap recreational pleasures available to the penniless, if highly lauded, poet.

The researchers seemed to want to console the public by reminding them that artists also have higher rates of depression - could that be why they're seeking so much sex? Or maybe it's all that empty sex that is depressing them? Either way, the scientists' report may only strengthen public admiration for the work created by those prolific, priapic, depressed artists. With all the time that noncreative types save with monogamy, and all the energy they theoretically enjoy thanks to lower rates of depression, they really have no excuse for not creating mind-blowing masterpieces of their own.


Unhappily wed? Put off getting that divorce Study finds that waiting, working it out can pay off Karen S. Peterson 07/11/2002 USA TodayDivorce doesn't necessarily make adults happy. But toughing it out in an unhappy marriage until it turns around just might, a new study says.

The research identified happy and unhappy spouses, culled from a national database. Of the unhappy partners who divorced, about half were happy five years later. But unhappy spouses who stuck it out often did better. About two-thirds were happy five years later.

Study results contradict what seems to be common sense, says David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, a think tank on the family. The institute helped sponsor the research team, based at the University of Chicago. Findings will be presented today in Arlington, Va., at the "Smart Marriage" conference, sponsored by the Coalition for Marriage, Families and Couples Education.

"In popular discussion, in scholarly literature, the assumption has always been that if a marriage is unhappy, if you get a divorce, it is likely you will be happier than if you stayed married," Blankenhorn says. "This is the first time this has been tested empirically, and there is no evidence to support this assumption."

About 19% of the divorced had happily remarried within five years. The most troubled marriages reported the biggest turn-arounds. Of the most discontented, about 80% were happy five years later, says Linda Waite, a University of Chicago sociologist who headed the research team. The study looked at data on 5,232 married adults from the National Survey of Families and Households. It included 645 who were unhappy. The adults in the national sample were analyzed through 13 measures of psychological well-being. Within the five years, 167 of the unhappy were divorced or separated and 478 stayed married.

Divorce didn't reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem or increase a sense of mastery compared with those who stayed married, the report says. Results were controlled for factors including race, age, gender and income. Staying married did not tend to trap unhappy spouses in violent relationships.

What helped the unhappy marrieds turn things around? To supplement the formal study data, the research team asked professional firms to recruit focus groups totaling 55 adults who were "marriage survivors." All had moved from unhappy to happy marriages.

These 55 once-discontented marrieds felt their unions got better via one of three routes, the report says:

  • Marital endurance. "With time, job situations improved, children got older or better, or chronic ongoing problems got put into new perspective." Partners did not work on their marriages.
  • Marital work. Spouses actively worked "to solve problems, change behavior or improve communication."
  • Personal change. Partners found "alternative ways to improve their own happiness and build a good and happy life despite a mediocre marriage."

In effect, the unhappy partner changed.

Those who worked on their marriages rarely turned to counselors. When they did, they went to faith-based ones committed to marriage, Waite says. Men, particularly, were "very suspicious of anyone who wanted money to solve personal problems."

Those who stayed married also generally disapproved of divorce, Waite says. They cited concerns about children, religious beliefs and a fear that divorce would bring its own set of problems.

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