DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY ANYTHING, OR HAVE EVER USED THE TERM CHAUVINISTIC IN CASUAL CONVERSATION, THIS POST IS NOT FOR YOUR EYES.
The wife and I were watching Hall Pass tonight and I had a thought. For those of you who haven’t seen it (spoiler alert) it’s about two married guys who have settled into complacency with their wives, and are dreaming about every girl they meet. Of course in the end they realize that the grass was always greenest with their wives and are more grateful than ever to have them. Touching story indeed. While I realize that it is a movie and that the characters are exaggerations of real personalities, it shines some light on some truths about marriage.
Firstly, marriage can get boring. You see the same person day in and day out, and you become comfortable with them. When you first started dating you probably wouldn’t dream of showing up to their house in your pajama pants, and an old t-shirt. A decade of being together, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Things like your hair, shaving (for both men and women), dressing nicely, and generally putting in some effort tend to go by the wayside. Men, who tend to be more visual creatures and are more interested in the physical than women seem to be, will always find something to look at. Put them in a room with 50 ugly women, and 10 attractive women, and they’ll have spotted the attractive ones like a sniper in a desert. Men are like raccoons, easily distracted by something shiny, so it is up to the wife, girlfriend, or fiance to be that something shiny.
Back to the movie. At the start of Hall Pass we see Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate looking worse than I’ve ever seen them in a movie. It’s obvious they downplayed the hair and makeup on this movie to make them look more like “real housewives” and they have them dressed fairly similar to my grandmother in the mid-80’s. Think Sarah Plain And Tall. Yet both women seemed shocked and offended to find their men staring at women in tight jeans, mini skirts, or cocktail dresses. Really? Sadly, I have come across this exact situation in the real world. I’ve seen real women get mad at men for checking out other women, while the poor guy’s wife or girlfriend looks like she’s getting ready to snuggle up on the couch with a cat, a copy of Dirty Dancing, and a Snuggy. Fortunately for most of these women they are in committed relationships and most guys are good people deep down who will not cheat. Also, love is real, and will keep a relationship together, unfortunately. Let me explain that.
Lust is based on the physical. Nice body, good hair, intoxicating aroma (imagine I said that part in a british accent), and good clothes. These are the things that drive desire in a man, and from what I gather from my wife, drive the desire in a woman as well. Love is based on the mental, and spiritual. A successful marriage requires both of these things, love and lust. Oh, and a successful marriage is not one that merely lasts. My mom and step dad have been married for 18 years and they’re completely miserable. That’s not success, it’s surrender. I didn’t ask my wife out on our first date because she looked like a nice person. I didn’t ask her because she looked smart. And I didn’t ask her because I thought she would be a good mother. I asked her out because she was hot, wearing a halter top, and looked good dancing in a club. When I found out that she was an amazing person, then lust became love, and that became the last 10 years of my life.
After 10 years I find her more attractive physically than I did when I first met her. That’s post two children, and during the third. Little one is still cooking away. Oh, and I’m not saying that in a “she looks as beautiful as a sunflower on a clear summer day” kind of way. I’m saying that in a “If I saw her in a club right now I’d totally cheat on my wife with my cloned wife from my imagination” way. Does that make any sense? It makes a ton in my head.
Sadly, many marriages are surviving on love alone, there is no lust left. I believe that is the unfortunate part. We were made to be sexual beings, and while that is not a free license to go screwing everything in sight, it’s a shame that many couples have completely denied this side of themselves. They’re propping up their marriage with love and essentially becoming best friend roommates, rather than best friend lovers.
So let’s flash forward to the end of our movie here. Both guys find their way back to their wives, and they’re all happier than ever. Here’s an interesting sidenote though. In the last happy laughing scene of the movie, Jenna Fischer is wearing an insanely low cut sun dress showing at least 3/4 of each of her boobs, and Ms. Applegate has got skin showing everywhere. Oh, and look, their husbands couldn’t be happier. Again, I know this is a movie, but the point still stands. Boobs equal happy.
My wife jokingly asked me if I wanted a hall pass after the movie was over and I told her, “Hell no.” And I don’t say this out of some chivalrous deceit, where I don’t want her to have hurt feelings. I’d rather she hated the truth, then loved a lie. I told her that I don’t need a hall pass, because I don’t need her permission to go and out and have sex with whomever I want. I’m not locked inside of some imaginary chastity belt. I don’t cheat on her because I don’t want anyone but her. The moment that stops being true, she’ll find a crisp manila envelope on the table. Inside will be our divorce papers. I won’t stay with someone if I’m not attracted to them both mentally and physically.
An intriguing point on cheating though, as that’s really what Hall Pass is about. Cheating, albeit with permission. Men who have an affair are only going after what they don’t have. Men are hunters and gatherers, we are takers. We will always seek out what we want, and don’t have. Keep in mind that most men also have it beaten into their heads at a young age that you honor your commitments. The fact is that even the most miserable of men out there probably won’t cheat on their wives, because the voices of their fathers, baseball coaches, and scout leaders ring in their heads. You don’t break a commitment. Instead, if a man isn’t getting any sex at home, he’ll turn to the wide open spaces of internet porn. If a man IS getting sex at home, but his wife isn’t a good listener, or wont’ have a conversation, he’ll befriend some woman to supplement that need. They may never touch each other, but emotionally they’ll be more intimate than he and his wife, which is another form of cheating. If a man’s wife dresses like a fat kid in gym class, you’ll find him staring at women who don’t. If his wife has no motherly affectionate air about her, you’ll find him seeking out those who do. It won’t always be so blatant as an affair either. It could be as innocent as daydreaming. Fantasizing. If I learned one thing from the book of Romans, it’s that what you think can be just as sinful as what you do.
If you’re a woman, and have managed to read to the end of this without being disgusted, annoyed, or just throwing your laptop away in frustration, then hear me when I tell you: You must be all things to your man. You must be the sinner and the saint, the ballerina and the pole dancer, Martha Stewart and Megan Fox. Fortunately ladies, that door swings both ways, so don’t put forth all of the effort to a guy who doesn’t give a damn. Your man has to be nice, but aggressive, wild, yet stable, rugged, but soft. He’s got to be Gerard Butler in 300, and Gerard Butler in PS I Love You. If you’re both EVERYTHING to the other, than what more can either of you ever want? What else is there to lust after when it’s all under your roof?
My wife and I deliberately serve to be each others fantasies. If I tell her that I’d prefer she cook dinner in a black cocktail dress, high heels, and diamonds, she goes for it. If she tells me that she prefers me in tight baby blue t-shirts (yes that was a real one), and worn jeans, rather than my normal shirt and tie, then I’m in. I tell her to grow out her hair, she tells me to cut mine. I tell her to be more spontaneous, she tells me to take the reigns on planning our dates. We are constantly changing, and adapting to fulfill the other ones’ needs, and in doing so we’re left wanting nothing that we don’t get.
Total honesty, completely uncensored, that’s love. “Yeah honey, those pants do make you look fat. So do those shoes.” Being able to say that, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that’s it not meant to be hurtful but rather an objective observation, that’s intimacy. That’s trust. That’s what has built a marriage that everyone has criticized, doubted, and questioned over the years, yet it has grown stronger than I could have ever imagined. That’s what has formed one of the most frighteningly powerful bonds I’ve ever witnessed.
Fuck a hall pass. I do what I want already, and what I want just so happens to also be what I have. Life is good.