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Marriage changes privacy boundaries

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Women are more likely to seek relationship advice from their girlfriends, our columnist writes.





When it comes to couples and their relationships, it’s rare when the two parties agree on their privacy boundaries. Take sex, for example. Many men I know enjoy talking about their sex life — whether fabricated or truthful. But as soon as they get married, their lips become sealed. Apparently, it’s inappropriate to talk about your wife in the same coarse way you can talk about your girlfriend — even if she’s one and the same.


Whereas women who are comfortable talking about sex (many are not) will talk about their boyfriends, lovers or husbands in the same manner. Perhaps the difference lies within the reason for having the conversation in the first place.


Men who talk about sex are often seen to be braggarts, or boasting about their escapades, whereas women who talk about their sex life are usually doing so to get advice, or share information with friends. Telling your mates you had sex with your wife three times in an evening, just for the sake of hearing yourself say it, is one thing. But to share intimate sexual secrets with a friend on how to get your man to step it up to three consecutive times is considered helpful information to those seeking it.


The same theory applies to the emotional content of many a relationship — usually the two parties feel differently about what can and cannot be aired to the public. In general, men don’t talk to their friends about what’s going on behind their own closed doors. They keep their head down, get their stress out at the gym, or through playing sports, and get on with their lives, no matter what’s bothering them.


Women are more likely to meet a friend for coffee and ask for advice on their relationship troubles. And women who are on the dating scene are more apt to discuss their troubles than women who are married and committed to their partners.


Perhaps it’s that married folk are afraid to discuss their problems out loud, which would seemingly make them real. If we keep our issues to ourselves, like a deep, dark secret, then maybe they’ll just go away.


Generally speaking, in our voyeuristic society, people seem to be more interested in the lurid details of their unmarried friends’ affairs than the troubles within their friends’ marriages. And somehow, those same people have the notion that they have full licence to comment on or criticize their single friends’ situations.


For whatever reason, it seems that intervention before marriage is acceptable, but once the vows have been exchanged, the sanctity of marriage is respected. I appreciate that. I was getting tired of hearing the unsolicited opinions of friends and family on my boyfriends, especially on the last one who subsequently became my husband.


If you’re having a problem with your partner, be careful to let it out only to a friend who won’t judge, but who’ll hopefully give you some sound advice.



relating@metronews.ca

 
 
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