Diary of a Separation (Esther Perel’s Take on Infidelity)
A not very good job interview and volunteering for a food charity
Sunday 21st July 2019 — Friday 26th July 2019
I was glad to find that my The New Yorker online account had not been closed down, despite having severed ties with the magazine last year. I’d been a subscriber for many years but moving out forced me to re-asses my priorities. Magazines (plenty of subscriptions there) were not one of them.
Browsing through the weekly’s archive, I came across an article from 2017 on Esther Perel. The Belgian-born, New York-based, couples therapist and relationship guru has been on my radar for some time.
I thought Perel’s take on infidelity, the topic the feature focused on, was unusual. What she suggested was that we take a fresh look at the reasons why people stray. According to her, instead of demonising adulterers, we should acknowledge the “generative” possibilities of affairs.
Esther goes as far as to accept that it is permissible for the aggrieved partner to feel a certain amount of wild rage and sanctimony. But following that, a period of reckoning must ensue. It’s up to both partners to explore the meaning of and reasons for the affair.
All well and good, but doesn’t this approach go against our primal reaction when we’ve been wronged? Seek revenge? I’m not an advocate for vendettas, but I understand their place in a damaged relationship.
We often forget that relationships are based on love; therefore they have a degree of built-in vulnerability in them.
I’m not criticising Perel, who, as a relationship expert, is better placed than me to theorise on what works and doesn’t in unions. Also, anything that contributes to finding a humane solution to a conflict is fine by me. At the same time, though, I am a pragmatist by nature. Holistic approaches to human interactions need time and patience and yet, we live in a fast-paced world.
Jump to your own conclusions.
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