Alexis on the Sexes: Just say no

Updated 11/8/2012

An affair lends a twist to the marriage issue.

Q: The question from the guy who was happily married but still yearning for more sexual freedom ("Open Sesame," Oct. 4) really bothered me because it hit close to home. I recently had a short-term affair with an older, married co-worker. When I asked him to leave his wife for me, he casually explained to me how he was happy with her and still in love with her. Apparently I was just a sexual fix for him. Of course, this hurt me, but the wound cuts deeper. I can't help but wonder why anyone -- especially a woman -- gets married. Why go through life wondering if you're ever "enough" for your partner? I have many friends with whom I can find companionship, so how could marriage ever be worth the cost of the constant doubting? P.S. Don't play the kids card with me. I'm a single mom and quite happy raising my wonderful son on my own.

A: If you're asking me why people get married, you might be asking the wrong person. Not because I've never been married -- I have, stupidly, and I regret it -- but because I disagree with the way marriage is governed in this country. When two people pledge their lifelong love and devotion in the presence of their gods and their loved ones, it shouldn't have anything to do with filling out forms at the DMV or changing your taxpayer status with the IRS. It shouldn't have anything to do with some nosy blue-hair behind a service counter asking why you didn't abandon your family name and replace it with the groom's (you know, like slave brides were forced to do back when they were chattel). And it sure as hell shouldn't have to do with being afraid that your partner won't be recognized as your closest living relative in the event of a medical emergency or untimely death.

Many people get married for the wrong reasons. Among my friends who have been married and divorced, most have said that they took the plunge due to pressure from parents. Our family is our priority. Even in adulthood, getting the squeeze from Mom and Dad can be crippling. We spend so much of our childhood seeking their approval that it becomes a hard habit to break, but it's important to remember that we are not of our parents' generation. It's now culturally acceptable to cohabitate and rear children without going through the motions of marriage, not to mention the debilitating expenses that generally accompany a formal wedding and reception. Also, most parents ultimately want to be grandparents, and many still believe the only way to achieve that is by marrying off their children.

There are hundreds more reasons why people get married that I could list, but I won't. Your question is rhetorical. You're hurt and angry, and you want an explanation. The only one I can offer is the one you've already been given: You provided a sexual outlet for a married man for a limited amount of time, and now that time is up. His family is his priority.

Your question gives me an opportunity to chime in on the proposed constitutional amendments that Minnesotans will vote on come Tuesday. Since I feel that government should not be a party to marriage, I will be voting against the measure that would prohibit two people from forming their bond of choice. Supporters of the marriage amendment want to change our constitution for reasons of religion, a motivation I strongly oppose. Backers are also taking aim at voters' rights with the proposed voter ID amendment, which could disenfranchise thousands of Minnesotans in future elections, including disabled and elderly people and deployed soldiers -- at great expense to taxpayers. Why would you vote to take rights away from others? There is no documented evidence of voter-identity fraud in the history of Minnesota. (Please read that sentence twice.) I will vote "no" twice on Tuesday because I believe in equal rights, and I urge my beautiful, intelligent and occasionally lovelorn readers to do the same.

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Alexis McKinnis is taking your questions about sex, dating and relationships. Send them to [email protected] or submit anonymously here. Don’t leave out the juicy details!