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One For The Road
The New York Times' Bob Morris on separate vacations:

Last weekend, when a friend offered me a chance to share her suite in a Miami hotel and be her guest for several exclusive events during the art fair there, I bit and booked a flight.

Why not get in on an opportunity for an almost-free semi-tropical bacchanal?

The only problem was that my superb spouse, Ira, wanted to be there too.

"When it's about pleasure travel," he said, "I want us to be together."

Being generous, it didn't take him long to relent and give me his blessing to go.

"I guess this is your equivalent of going on a hunting trip," he said.

Maybe it's more like nouveau riche fly-fishing. But is it also just a form of pure old unadulterated selfishness to grab at some no-cost fun, spouse-free? People traveling for business do it all the time by tacking on extra days for recreation when the work is through. In a society in which personal space is not treated so much as a luxury as a necessity, many partners in happy couples don't think twice about letting one another go off and have an unattached frolic when irresistible opportunities arise.

"Everyone needs an escape," said Janine Hock, a Manhattan wine distributor whose husband, Jeff, goes upstate to camp on his land, chop down trees, build bonfires and frequently injure himself. "My husband gets his by playing Daniel Boone."

But not everyone can detach so easily. For some it isn't about co-dependence as much as it is empathy and consideration. Stefan Campbell, a fashion stylist, often gets glamorous invitations that don't include his partner, and it becomes a dismal dilemma.

"Sometimes to be respectful I just stay home," he said. "Then I feel worse for not going and end up feeling resentful. It's a lose-lose situation and a horrible feeling when you really want to go to something and you can't bring your spouse."

And I think being at least a bit separate -- not living together, for example -- is the best way to keep it fresh. Anybody who wants to live with another person -- doesn't know people very well, or, at the very least, doesn't tell the truth about them. LIving next door, down the block, up the, that's civilized.

Posted by aalkon at December 7, 2005 7:26 AM

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Just like Woody and Mia, eh:)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at December 7, 2005 6:22 AM

Well, without the Soon Yi part.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 7, 2005 6:27 AM

I agree, Amy. It's so great when two people can't get enough of each other, but the best way to ruin it is ... to get enough of each other. I'd rather keep wanting more.

One of my friends disagrees. He says when people approach relationships the way I do, they only see each other at their best and don't get the full picture. Well what exactly is wrong with that? Is it supposed to be some kind of test, or something? Here, let me show myself at my worst and see if you still like me.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at December 7, 2005 8:21 AM

It's another sign that delayed gratification is out- I like you, so let's be together all the time. Because perish the thought that we'd have to spend two seconds apart and miss each other. Nope, better to be miserable all the time together, then miserable when apart- is this where the phrase "Misery loves company" comes from? Perhaps we should change to it "Misery will do everything in her power not to be miserable alone".

Posted by: MissPinkKate at December 7, 2005 9:49 AM

> It's another sign that delayed
> gratification is out

Interesting take. The need to graft to another at all times probably indicates undercooked personality, but so does inordinate distance. (I cop to the latter, having always admired the distance between people.)

We can be too fascinated with pop stars, but an unseen hand gives each generation the ones it deserves. Years ago this tennis player (Agassi) married this former child movie star (Shields). They went to red carpet events, and I saw the videotapes at work. His deportment was gentlemanly but his body language was transparent: He was apeshit in love with this woman and feeling the Big Throb. A couple of years later she was giving a TV interview (alone) and said (close paraphrase) "Just because you're married to someone doesn't mean you can't be your own person and have your own life." Months later they were divorced.

Who couldn't hang? I'd guess it was Shields, because she comes from a family with patterns of alcohol and parental divorce, champion destabilizers. It's not even that what she said wasn't literally true; Perhaps well-married people have such principles woven into the fabric of their mutual understanding... I wouldn't know. But they never actually SAY things like "I lead my own life". I'm sure there are boundaries, but happily marrieds build something through teamwork.

Posted by: Crid at December 7, 2005 11:51 AM

Oh yeah - then they brag about how long it lasts! Apparently some people are very proud of how long they can sustain a miserable relationship. Do they get trophies?

I was reading about some gal who had been with her boyfriend for about three years - I don't know if they lived together or not. But a friend of hers commented that there's no way SHE'd ever date a guy that long without getting a ring. (groan)

Posted by: Pirate Jo at December 7, 2005 12:10 PM

What kind of idiot wants to be around somebody when they're at their worst. That isn't love, it's stupidity. I'm honest about human nature. It's the phony saps who have the bitter divorces.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 7, 2005 12:44 PM

PS I place zero stock in how long something lasts.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 7, 2005 12:45 PM

It's wickedly cynical to assume a marriage endures because it's BAD.

Posted by: Crid at December 7, 2005 1:21 PM

No, no - that's not what I was saying. I was saying that even people who ARE in bad marriages brag about staying in them. Some people get out of them, and some people are in good ones.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at December 7, 2005 2:34 PM


Besides, you're a pirate. You probably type on one of these:

Posted by: Crid at December 7, 2005 3:21 PM

I don't think there's a gene in my code predisposed to sharing. When a mate sleeps elsewhere, there's a strange sensation, barely subconscious, like an itch that can't be scratched. It tells me that something's wrong.

...I'm sure there's nothing in my code that makes me want to think about sharing that. I guess some guys don't need much to get through the night. I'd be awake half the night thinking. ...All the achievements, what was I competing for?

...Nothing earned? ...Nothing won? ...Nothing to protect?

Posted by: Ken Shultz at December 7, 2005 5:56 PM

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