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November 29, 2012

A Mind-Boggling Mother-in-Law Question

Cannot emphasize enough that this is not the trio addressed in this article.
Thanks to Leefur on Flickr, under Creative Commons license
I was reading the Instapundit blog on lunch yesterday, as I am wont to do, and came across this gem.

A woman writes in to Elle magazine's "Ask E. Jean" column (or maybe it's an online-only column; I'm not sure) with this question (paraphrased):

My husband of 14 years, who is now 39 years old, is off boinking my mother when he goes on business trips close to where she lives. Strangely, I'm not upset by this. Should I be?

Ok, there is a lot more detail if you go to the page itself (and it's worth going just for the many comments going back and forth on this issue). But that's the gist of it. Husband boinks Mom, Wife not unhappy. Society tells her she should be, but she's not. Is there something wrong with her?

The question's bad enough, but the answer is even worse. Is Elle considered a feminist magazine? I don't really know. But if this is what it's peddling, well, let's just say that I'm not surprised society is as damaged as it is.

E. Jean says this:
"For 20 years, the world’s most attractive idiots, unrequited lovers, and chafing milksops (including myself) have babbled in this column about “unconditional love.” You are—astoundingly—the first to live it."
Of course, she goes on to tell the woman that if it bothers her, she should ask her husband to stop (the wife claims that he's said if she wants him to, he will stop the affair, as if we haven't heard that before). But as long as it doesn't bother her, she's the ideal we should all be shooting for! She's glorious! She's something we should all aspire to!

Excuse me while I go hack up a lung.

Is she serious with this advice? It just boggles my mind.

The comments section is a war between those who see this as sick and those who are of the "it's not hurting you, so don't judge her!" mindset. I think I fall into the former category for the most part.

Affairs are betrayals to the spouse who was cheated on. When the person involved is your mother, that's a double betrayal, because that's your mother not respecting you or your boundaries. Say what you want about whether or not "open relationships" are also killing the family unit, but at least those are consensual. Evidently the wife didn't know about this until just recently.

That's betrayal! I'm sorry, but there's no other way to put it. Whether she wants to feel bad about it is her own thing, of course. Though she should look at why she doesn't feel bad about it, and not be asking for advice on whether she "should" feel bad.

Would she feel bad if it was any woman other than her mother?

My beef is less with her (we all deal with things in our own way, and while I think she needs to examine her feelings and perhaps get help if she's having trouble doing that, that's something she has to do) and more with E. Jean's answer.

This kind of situation is not something to aspire to. We should not be working towards feeling nothing when our spouses betray us, whether it's with another family member or somebody else. "Unconditional love" does not mean "doormat." It means that you love them no matter what, but that doesn't mean you put up with anything they do.

Is your husband beating you? Or cheating on you? Or whatever? You can still love them even as you get away from them because they are betraying your trust, or making you unsafe and causing you pain, or whatever. Loving them does not mean you don't remove yourself from the situation. You can forgive them for what they do, but that doesn't mean you stick around and let them do it again.

To me, that's what "unconditional love" means. The emotion is there, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be a realist.

If the woman who wrote the letter wants to put up with it, that's her decision to make, as unfortunate as that is. Shame on her mother and the husband for putting her in that position, though.

But it's the "everything is relative" and "there are no right or wrong answers" mindset that is why this society is going down the toilet.

Some things are just wrong. If you want to accept the wrongness, that's fine. But you shouldn't be forcing that opinion on everybody else. And by bringing your kids up to feel the same way, you ultimately are forcing that opinion on everybody else. Because if more and more people do that, society will crumble into an "every person for themselves" monstrosity. It may take a generation or two (though some would say we're already getting there), but it will happen.

If you truly believe there are no right or wrong answers, are you also saying that morals don't exist?

If so, that's truly sad.

For you women out there, do Elle and similar magazines reflect *any* of your viewpoints?


  1. This one is disturbing, well above and beyond the actual act being discussed. The reason I say this is that Elle magazine is read by young people in what are still their formative years - teens and 20s - and their minds are absorbing this absurdity. It is to be hoped that most rational people reading this article, children and adults alike, will see it for the absurdity that it is, but that's a dim hope.

    I'm frequently turned off by the flippant tone of the columnist behind the E. Jean content. I get that it's meant to be snarky and entertaining, but I stand firm on the premise that publications that are slanted to attract younger readers have a responsibility to not publish ridiculous content that will encourage confusion and plant seeds of dysfunction.

    Obviously, Elle doesn't reflect my viewpoint with this. I would find it hard to believe that this particular topic reflects anyone's viewpoint. Freedom of speech is a tricky thing; I support the publication from that perspective, but not to the extent that I support more of this type of nonsense.

    - Dawnie

    1. Damn, one of these days I'll actually remember the "reply to comments" function. LOL

  2. Yeah, that's kind of the impression I got, but I didn't want to come down too harshly without the actual knowledge. I'm only familiar with Elle from when I put the magazines out at the bookstore I worked at...16 years ago.

    I know these magazines seem to want to believe they are the voice of "women everywhere," but I just can't imagine that's true. Much like Cosmo.

    I'm glad (though not surprised) to hear what you said. :)

    The scary thing is that this supposed to be that "young and edgy" attitude, which I think is very harmful.


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