I stayed up way too late last night reading Sandra Tsing Loh’s piece in the latest issue of the Atlantic — “The Case Against Marriage.” (As of now, I can’t find a link to it.) I was aghast to learn that her own marriage is over. Though I’ve never met Tsing Loh, the past five years I’ve been reading her, I’ve felt a strong kinship with her — both of us are writers (quit laughing), and, for a few years at least, both of us had two daughters and husbands we hardly saw.
Tsing Loh admits she had an affair, followed by the realization (in therapy) that she didn’t want to try to fix her marriage.
…I realized…no. Heart-shattering as this moment was — a gravestone sunk down on two decades of history — I would not be able to replace the romantic memory of my fellow transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband, which is what it would take in modern-therapy terms to knit our family’s domestic construct back together. In women’s magazine parlance, I did not have the strength to “work on” falling in love again in my marriage.
What disappoints me about Tsing Loh’s otherwise heartfelt and painfully honest essay is not her extra-marital affair, or her unwillingness to work on her marriage (to each his own). But rather, her inability to further illuminate the circumstances of her own marriage’s demise — her husband’s constant traveling schedule for work, and their lack of adequate childcare to cover the needs of two full time working parents. These two stressors are responsible for many a wayward marriage. And if her piece had pursued this path further, there would no doubt be a sea of nodding marrieds’ heads in unison.
Unfortunately, Tsing Loh’s typically witty, always original, and often brilliant writing, returns to the stale and often touted argument that it’s the institution that doesn’t work, not the individual circumstances of one’s own partnership.
[H]ere’s my final piece of advice: avoid marriage — or you too may suffer the emotional pain, the humiliation, and the logistical difficulty, not to mention the expense, of breaking up a long-term union at midlife for something as demonstrably fleeting as love.
Whether this is, or isn’t the truth is irrelevant. I just wished she’d stayed the course of examining her own marriage — which was infinitely more interesting and relatable. Regardless, I’m pulling for her and the new form her family is taking.
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I’m making out, over at skirt! Have a great weekend.