Thursday, 3 April 2008

Narrow minded spouses

I was reading MsR's interview with Suzanne Portnoy and all the various comments.

As another woman of a certain age, I applaud Suzanne for breaking out and being totally honest about it. Like one of the other commenters I did wonder about its effect on her boys. I suspect that part of them feels immensely proud and the other part intensely embarrassed that their (in their eyes) 'elderly' mother is actually still having sex and, worse still, talking about it - that's how I like to think my own would respond in a similar situation.

I think that's part of the problem though. So many people seem to feel that women are not supposed to have sex once they get past 40 - or at least not great sex! Nor are you meant to still look vaguely attractive. That is the prerogative of celebrities with access to enough money to finance repeated lyposuction, personal trainers and plastic surgeons.

I can remember as a twenty-year-old hoping that I would be dead by the time I was 30 because my life would most assuredly be over in terms of sex and beauty and I don't think anything has changed very much as far as the youth of today are concerned either. I mean who really wants to even think about their parents humping - either each other or someone else?

But the truth is, it's not just teenagers who feel that way about those of us who are deemed to be middle-aged. It's a large group of other forty- and fifty-somethings! Those people live in a world of coupledom where neither of them is quite happy with their relationship but they are totally secure in the knowledge that it would be too much effort for either of them to break out and go in search of that missing something.

So they both repress the hunger and the need for fulfilment. If wealthy, they bow to the Money God and travel around the world in search of material pleasures. If middle-class, they have painting, raising money for the PTA/local charities and dinner parties. If not so well-off, they tuck in to cakes and junk food and embrace bingo and scratch cards. These are their replacements for good, mind-enhancing, body-shattering sex.

But, of course, if someone decides to buck the trend and step out of the mould to grab life and run with it, they become a deviant pariah.

Life in the schoolyard as a playground mum threw up one or two during my stay. One lady with four boys had a fling with the man building her extension. He was considerably older and married. Her husband discovered the deception and moved out, taking a lot of the playground sympathy with him. But the two lovers continued the affair, living their unconventional lifestyle where he spent some time with her and some time with his wife. The gossips pointed and tutted in horror but the arrangement lasted happily for several years.

On another occasion, a woman with three children left her wealthy husband and the requisite mansion lifestyle to set up in a one-bedroom flat with the young plumber who had come to fix her tap. She continued to play an active role in her children's upbringing and the school's fundraising from there. The playground mafia didn't dare say too much because she was the lynch pin of the PTA and instrumental in its organisation but their tight-lipped, buttock-clenched disapproval was hard to miss.

It's as if, having decided that they can't be arsed to change things in their own lives, they don't want anyone else having any fun either.

And I can't profess to having been innocent of this state of mind either. My anorexia was just a different type of reflection of this lassitude... this inability to face up to what was missing in my marriage. As was my addiction to punching things. I had to find a way to overcome the hunger that was eating away inside of me. A method of overcoming the incredible energy that would build up with no outlet. And I, too, tutted and looked down my nose at women who were honest enough to say 'enough is enough, I need more than this to be fulfilled'.

Too many wives suppress their instincts to be whores in the bedroom in the fear that their husbands will somehow disapprove. It is men who set these ridiculous slut/saint standards of behaviour but it is their narrow-minded spouses, who have replaced sex with indignation, that perpetuate them.


Vi said...

Very well written, cake! I totally approve of women in marriages they don't want to be in, to do something about it than to stay unhappy forever.

Akrazael said...

Well said! I too was one of those women, completely unhappy with my situation yet placing judgment on women (and men) who shared the same but did something about it. I now find myself a 40 something woman living the other side of the coin. In retrospect, it was nothing more than the fear of happiness that kept me from here. Fear, and the lack of belief that things could be different.

Suzanne Portnoy said...

Thanks for the blog post. Mostly my kids are pleased for me. They're not embarrassed about my lifestyle at all not the fact that their mom has sex. Really they just like to see me happy . The upside for both of them is that we talk about everything and they're both very open minded. In my experience there's a lot to be said for being an 'out there' mum. True, my choice of live-in guys hasn't always been great but those days are well behind me.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Maybe one day they'll invent a pill that does the same things to your brain as mind-blowing sex. Actually, I think you might get a better high from breathing in air which is 5% oxygen and 95% nitrogen. But I haven't tried it, so don't take my word as gospel.

JsTzznU said...

Women aren't the only ones who wake up on day and enough is enough!! Been there, done that!


having my cake said...

Vi - Thank you. It's easier said than done in some cases.

Akrazael - I admire your bravery and applaud your courage.

Suzanne - Hello and Welcome. I think that being open about everything, especially sexual stuff, is key. If kids learn to talk about any subject without fear of embarrassment or fobbing off, then you are on the right path to helping them form better relationships. Having found it through MsR, I shall be back to read more of your life :)

GB - You'd rather take a Pill than have sex? And there was I thinking that gorillas had more fun!

jstzznu - Sorry for the gender bias. Yup, those narrow-minded people can be just as disparaging about males who do the same.

Globus said...

globus is an advocate of upping sticks and moving on if the lay of the land makes you unhappy. he has some issues with action with his wife in the sack, namely, there ain't any. your post has given him some food for thought and a reason for him to discard the 'spanish fly' idea.

Ms Robinson said...

Good post Cake - a lot of truths without the unecessary justification that usually accompanies pieces on this theme in the media. Those who don't understand or disapprove may think it's just about sexual desire but in truth it's about a desire to enjoy ones life in total.

BBwillToLive said...

Taking it in;
the good,
as well as the bad.

a rain cloak:
Fringed-cuffs, worn well,
in dispersing the wet,

seems, destined to emerge,
~~(no longer,
as fad, or, trials, or tears)
simply, solidly,

better love,
for it's loss,

soaked, by the Sun.

Your writing,
and the writing you've written of
in your post, are inspiring.
There is much truth to be found in these posts. Love is never ending,
and always, always, possible.

PS: You've got a B-day coming up.
I haven't forgotten. See you later!

having my cake said...

globus - but before moving on, if you're happy with everything else, you need to address that issue properly...

MsR - I guess the problem with the media is that they have to toe the line and cant seen to be advocating anything that isnt in keeping with the ethos of the publication by which they are employed. That attitude is everywhere and covers every subject. Them that pays the bills, gets to set the tone...

Will - Thank you and for the poetry.

Helga Hansen said...

~Is a deviant in waiting~...

Anonymous said...

Ah yes... like you and like akrazael, I was one of those 'tut-tutting' women, too. Even then, though, I knew my disapproval was more than a little accompanied by envy and secret admiration for their bravery. And now... like you... here I am, finding my own happiness, not waiting for it to find me.

Ro said...

Wonders idly how long Helga will be waiting!

Lady in red said...

I was so totally one of those disaproving playground mums. But having now been on the otherside of the coin I have revised my disaproval to congratulations on having the nerve to follow through finding what they need to make their lives more complete than they were previously.

As always you write very eloquently vocalising thoughts that many of us have but don't manage to put into words they way that you do.

happy birthday

Anonymous said...

Is this an English thing? Loads of American women are.. subdued.. in the bedroom, but I don't think it's cos they're afraid of disapproval. I think American men are pretty obvious about what they want!! Shame so many of them suck at reciprocity. ;)

having my cake said...

Helga - LOL

Marianne - I think that's it. Envy. Thank goodness we've got ourselves straightened out now :)


LiR - Thank you.

Isa - American men really want their wife to be a whore in the bedroom and are prepared to say so?

Brian said...

Wanting to do something about an unhappy sex life regardless of age\social status or concern what others may think is a wonderfully positive thing.

Cheating on your partner however, is scummy behaviour.

Sort out your unhappy relationships first. Whether that means divorce\break up or the honesty to have an open. Then go find the sexual fulfillment we all deserve.

having my cake said...

Brian - You're absolutely right. It is scummy and I don't think I've met any adulterous bloggers who havent felt guilt - myself included. If only the solution was always that easy...

The narrow-minded spouses, however, tend to heap their opprobrium on those who have actually had the honesty to leave their marriages to continue what are considered unsuitable relationships.

Brian said...

Cake, I only just came across this blog last night and was up the whole night reading all of it. I laughed, cried and had a few tugs! Besides being incredibly envious of your sex life I fear it will all end in tears and you will lose everything.

When you confronted your husband calmly about your happiness he said: "Well, whatever happens lets stick together for the kids." Your tone suggested you were unimpressed with his reply and subsequent lapse into his typical behaviour just a few days later. An optimist however might take that as a cue that he would consider an open relationship with reasonable safeguards.

He must suspect, as perhaps does your daughter: "You are on the computer all the time and never at home". You see Ruf at least what, one weekend a month? He can't be that much of a fool. Try being honest with him, who knows maybe he has or wants a fling too. You may well find a marriage that turns towards friendship less than love and thats not a bad settlement so long as you have your home, your kids and Ruf.

What example is it to set your children? It's more important to be happy and cheating is ok so long as no one finds out? What relationships will they develop when they find out?

Worst case scenario is it all blows up. You lose your home, your children hate you and no longer speak to you and you even lose the magic of Ruf after living with him for 3 months in a crappy flat and his annoyances and foibles are all laid bare.

My God woman you have already gone through and abortion, could you take that as well?

Btw, where the f*ck was Ruf for that?? He couldn't man up and be there to hold your hand when you needed him more than ever? And he says he loves you??

Oh and as for those jealous, unfulfilled married spouses clucking their tongues at those with the courage to move on - Fuck them!

Take care and good luck to you.
Best wishes.

having my cake said...


Thank you so much for reading and getting back to me. You say some things that are kept firmly pushed to the back of my mind at all times because I dont want to think about them.

I should point out tho that Ruf wasn't there because hey wouldnt allow partners actually into the clinic. The friend who drove me had to wait outside in the car for several hours.

I will give what you have said a lot of thought because I very much fear the fruition of the outcome you have described and it is always helpful to have the input of someone who is totally impartial.

Thank you
Joanna x

Brian said...


Apologies for having a go at Ruf then, still think being there might have been a nice gesture all the same.

On an unrelated matter could you get Ruf to send Isabella Snow an email on how he lasts for so long for one of her advice columns? I've been practicing my Kegels but still - wow!

Again good luck to you, you have quite the fan base here and we're all cheering and praying for you. I'm flattered that you think the opinion of some anonymous blog-hound is worth your consideration.


PS May I take it that you are Welsh? Belated congrats on the Grand Slam. You had a bit of luck in 2005 but twas well earned this year. Well done. You might enjoy this bit of silliness.

having my cake said...

Brian, if you email me, I will give you chapter and verse on Ruf's exercise regime, the side effect of which is his amazing stamina. All my readers are important to me, but particularly in that regard :)

Just how many of you are there - is this a multiple personality disorder?

Tis true, I am of Welsh descent. I loved Taff Wars. DV could almost have been Eddie Butler. It's a shame they couldnt quite get Brian Moore for the other part.

Brian said...

Hello again Joanna,

No one and the same. The first two attempts didn't show the links to my own photo blog but you may have seen them on your end. There is now the link to it via My Webpage in the blogger link if you are bothered to look. Most recent collections at the bottom, annoyingly. It was more for being up front and honest, declaration of interests kinda thing as opposed to attention seeking.

Anyone can be an Internet hard man like, show yourself!

I may well send you a mail if you would be so kind.



having my cake said...

LOL. Yup, the third one works. You've certainly done some travelling. Love the one of the Great Wall of China.