Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” And The Fertility Of Forgiveness

I'm at First Things, reviewing Beyoncé's visual album "Lemonade," which does a remarkable job telling a story about a marriage that is wounded, but not unmade, by betrayal. “Hold Up” is still dreamlike, more of an imagined, idealized anger than actual rage. Beyoncé doesn’t take second swings at her targets, she seems to have no particular animus for anything she smashes. In fact, when she knocks the top off of a fire hydrant, children rush forward to play in the spray; a perfect realization of “ … [Read more...]

When a Wedding Guide Leaves Out The Wedding Night

I'm at First Things, covering the unexpected gap I've found in the wedding planning books I've been reading. I became engaged at Easter, and, as I’ve started planning our wedding with my fiancé, I’ve noticed a suspicious lacuna in the wedding how-to's I’ve picked up. I would have thought, after one magazine’s handbook covered strategies for getting your pet turtle to join your wedding procession (they won’t walk down the aisle quickly enough, so you must tow its tank in a tulle-swathed wagon), t … [Read more...]

A Good Marriage Isn’t A Mutual Admiration Society

In the middle of a column on married couples ineptly supporting single friends, Sara Eckel had a weird model of what happy and healthy relationships look like:Couples are weird. Relationships — happy ones, anyway — put you a strange bubble, a closed loop of positive reinforcement. “I love you!” “I love you, too!” “You’re the best!” “No, you’re the best.” And so forth. It’s like Fox News, except in this case, the propaganda re-circulates between your party of two. The mutual adoration ca … [Read more...]

Can’t I Love You Into Being Happy?

When Ellery Weil guest posted yesterday on The Last 5 Years and the demanding kind of support that Jamie offers Cathy, I realized that Jaime could have benefited from internalizing a meme I've seen floating around on tumblr.Golbats for Equality spun up a quote from Nidoqueen into this image:In the musical, Jaime doesn't know how to coexist with Cathy's misery and exhaustion.  He does try to help, in good faith, but I think Ellery is right that Jaime needs to feel like his help is wo … [Read more...]

Asking a Lover for Too-Limited Support

When I hosted a party to watch The Last 5 Years, one of my guests tried to play diagnose-the-heresy with the two leads and claimed that they were both Pelagians, seeing happiness/success/virtue as simply a result of their own efforts.  I disagreed for several reasons, the most important being that I think Pelagians think that a good life is harder to achieve than either Jamie or Cathy does, and that Pelagians see their own weakness as the primary obstacle to their salvation, while Jamie and Ca … [Read more...]

When Discerning, Fewer Relationships are “Failed” Ones

Ilana Yurkiewicz explained, as a doctor, how she has to make an active effort to avoid learning callousness from the occasional deceptions of her patients.  Meanwhile, in the Federalist, Teresa Mull is tackling a similar problem in modern dating.  She's worried about the danger of being emotionally overextended, and would like to see folks engage in fewer high-turnover, emotionally-intense assignations. The practice of bonding and staying close until one partner arbitrarily changes his or her mi … [Read more...]

Throwing Spaghetti at the Modern Dating Wall

I've been seeing a fair amount in my feeds (both RSS and social media) about the Perils Of Flirting, and how to navigate them of late.Everything from a married friend mentioning that she gives positive feedback to the people who flirt with her well without noticing her ring, because she wants to encourage positive public flirting to a lot of internet discussion of the professor who shared how his anxiety about having any appropriate way to approach women drove him to (a) consider suicide and … [Read more...]