Rationalizing the Divorce

Call me old fashioned, but I think that if you are having an affair with the contractor, the proper way to deal with it is to be discreet, but joyful. I'm thinking Mrs. Robinson. Have a smoke and scotch and a romp in the hay.  Sandra Tsing Loh takes another path. She goes for open and bitter. She breaks up her marriage and then writes a magazine article about why people weren't really meant to be married. Hello! Creditability problems here!

Loh explains that she had an affair, which ended their marriage. However, people weren't really meant to be married for so long. Her kids wouldn't really miss having both parents at home anyway. Loh is really an explorer personality type. Her husband and her friends' husbands weren't so great in the sack. And the husbands are kind of girlie in the way they help out around the house. Why should a marriage be work? She fishes around for any explanation that will save her.

This article is an extended rationalization for why Loh wrecked her marriage. Loh comes off as angry, mean, and desperate. I find it astounding that the Atlantic published it.

25 thoughts on “Rationalizing the Divorce

  1. Ick. And, she’s committing the sin I hate most, which is to assume that if you couldn’t make something work (i.e. breastfeeding, work+family, marriage, public schools, private schools, . . . .) then it’s impossible for anyone else to make it work for them. It’s the flip side of expecting perfection from oneself — to assume that if you can’t do it, it must not be worth doing anyway, or be impossible to do.

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  2. This is horrible, but looking on the bright side, I’m sure she needed some fresh material for her one-woman show. So much for finding meaning by saving a public school and getting violins for low-income tots. What happened to that, anyway? That’s the story I want to hear.
    I think the horribleness of this move will become clearer when her girls are tweens and teens and there’s no dad around to buffer the relationship between mom and the girls. The relationship between mothers and daughters can be very rocky starting with puberty, and Loh is handing her kids a mountain of ammunition to be used later. “Why can’t I stay out as late as the other kids? You broke up your marriage with dad.” It’s a complete non sequitor, but teenage girls don’t fight fair.

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  3. thank you! i hated this article. so whiny and self-indulgent and…pointless. and you know, if you just skimmed it, you would totally miss the part where she had the affair. perhaps the marriage was bad, and perhaps divorce was the right thing for them, but why all the bizarre rationalizations?

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  4. “…the proper way to deal with it is to be discrete,”
    My modern California standards, not putting a tape on You-Tube is discrete.

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  5. I posted about this a few days back (but didn’t have the link — thanks for that). I would have respected Loh more if she’s just been honest about why they broke up, and talked about the stressors that led to their divorce. Blaming marriage itself is old and boring.

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  6. I just read it, and ugh. But this seems to be a key paragraph:
    “To work, to parent, to housekeep, to be the ones who schedule “date night,” only to be reprimanded in the home by male kitchen bitches, and then, in the bedroom, to be ignored—it’s a bum deal. And then our women’s magazines exhort us to rekindle the romance. You rarely see men’s magazines exhorting men to rekindle the romance.”
    Sort of resonates with this.

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  7. Maybe the Moso of China have it right after all – no marriage, just love affairs with the children being raised by the woman’s family.
    Not that I don’t agree that Tsing Loh’s being a selfish git and probably using this whole affair (hehe) as publishing fodder. It almost always takes two both to make and break a marriage. Loh seems narcissistic. But maybe her husband was a jerk and lousy in bed – though that doesn’t justify cheating, IMO.
    Women who have the means and the money can and often do act as selfishly as the prototypical “male.” It’s not about chromosomes or testosterone “driving” someone to adultery and/or serial divorce – women have always had the motive, now they have the means and the opportunity. Um, yay?

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  8. I had the same reaction. I mean, I’m all for exploring the fact that marriage is damn hard work…but her article just seemed a bit over the top.
    I always ask myself, “Would I want my kids to read this in 10 years” and the answer to that question, for her article would probably be, “well, no.”

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  9. Key words: Actress, performance artist, one-woman show. The narcissism shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. And no wonder life is boring. Compared to being in the spotlight? Not sharing the stage with anyone at all? Most anything would be a letdown afterward.
    And I’m tempted to think that someone who arranges her life according to what a magazine says deserves what she gets. I’m mean like that sometimes.
    So why *did* the Atlantic publish this piece? Nothing better in the slush pile?

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  10. This really reminds me of the kerfluffle let off by the Atlantic a few years back when they let Caitlin Flanagan publish her “my mom went back to work when I was 13 and I still haven’t forgiven her” pieces. Why exactly does this qualify as journalism?
    I used to think it was because the Atlantic viewed these pieces as puff, “women’s issues”, unworthy of a real editorial standard. Then again, I think, don’t they let Hitchens do this kind of self-absorbed crap all the time too?
    I hope this doesn’t ‘Woody Allen’ Tsing Loh. With Woody Allen, I used to love his work. Manhattan, for example, was formerly a big fave of mine. But after all his icky marriage stuff when I see it now all I see is the pedophilia. I really hope the same is not true of Tsing Loh. I’ve always loved her stuff.

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  11. Wendy-
    Affairs, if one is to have one, should be both discreet (not obvious) and discrete (not continuous), I’d think, if you want to get away with them and not cause trouble.

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  12. I think this whole “he’s lousy in bed” is kind of lame. If the person you love is lousy in bed, maybe you and that person need to pay more attention and try new things. Your new crush could be lousy in bed too….
    I don’t know, maybe I am not that picky. But that seems like a really bad reason to break up after 20 years. Give the guy some credit, buy some fun books and get cracking with the studying and practicing.

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  13. I’m just curious–how many of us had sex last night after reading this article, just to prove that the spark hasn’t gone out of our marriages?
    OK, you don’t have to answer that. But I can’t be the only person wondering.

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  14. “But that seems like a really bad reason to break up after 20 years. Give the guy some credit, buy some fun books and get cracking with the studying and practicing.”
    And maybe make an embarrassing doctor’s appointment or two. It’s not that unlikely that a 50-year-old guy might need some help with his hydraulics.

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  15. I don’t know, doesn’t everyone who has a recent divorce ask those questions? It’s not really a high point in most people’s lives for clear thinking. (I have never been divorced, for the record, but I have been the auditor of such musings many and many a time.)
    Why publish it is a much better question.

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  16. I have seen Tsing Loh perform. Her act grows tiresome as quickly as her neuroses in this article.

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  17. Loh has a contract with the Atlantic. Slush piles don’t exist in magazine world.
    Which comes first–uhappiness in a marriage or an affair?
    How does any first person piece not come off as self-absorbed? If you don’t like her, fine, but to complain that a writer, writing about her life, focuses too much on her own life, is to miss the point.
    So much schadenfreude here!

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  18. First-person pieces come off as not self-absorbed when the author remembers the audience, when the author presents original thoughts, when the author describes interesting experiences, when the author re-tells an old story in an engaging way, sometimes even when the author is so bugfuck crazy that you can’t help going forward.
    (“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. … And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. …
    (I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will wee them soon enough.
    (It was almost noon, and we still had more than a hundred miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. …”)
    There are probably dozens of other ways a first-person writer can come off as something other than self-absorbed. Maybe Loh managed it on the second, third or fourth page of this story. Or indeed the final third of page one. I wouldn’t know.
    ps Schadenfreude pie, from John Scalzi, whose first-person pieces are often very interesting.

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  19. Ha. Huge fan of Hunter, Doug. I used that Barstow line in a blog post years ago. Lots of people end up at 11d now, because they google that sentence.

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