In the July/August issue of The Atlantic performer/humorist/novelist Sandra Tsing Loh published an article in which she detailed her observations about marriage in light of her impending divorce. The last two words should tell you something about the article’s tone and conclusions. But it’s not an angry article and it’s certainly doesn’t surmount to the rantings of a deranged marriage. During this period in Loh’s life she doesn’t think marriage is all that it’s cracked up to be. I felt the same way about marriage during the first few years after my divorce and even now my feelings about the institution are ambivalent (although I am a major fan of engagements. I whole-heartedly support any reasonably legitimate exchange that involves free jewelry). I suspect Loh’s feelings about marriage will soften in the coming years even if she does decide to stay single. It’s also important to note that (as in all her pieces) she only lists her transgressions and faults, never her husband’s. In this case all we know is that he travels (as a working musician) 20 weeks out of the year and she had a brief affair, which she confessed to. In the end she decided she actually didn’t want to fight for her marriage. She wanted to move on. Obviously I think people should end the marriage before starting the affair rather than have an affair as a passive-aggressive way to end a marriage but that said I do Loh’s article was, on a whole, a logical, thoughtful and frequently funny piece. If nothing else you should read it just so you can get another perspective about marriage and the way we approach it within the borders of the United States. LA Times Blog editor, Tony Pierce posted the link on the LA Times website along with the question, “Is Sandra Tsing Loh right?”
Here is some quotes from the LA Times reader responses:
Comment #1 quote: Sandra Tsing Loh is the perfect 21st-Century media tornado. She provides virtually nothing in exchange for the privilege of sucking not only the air out of the room but everything else. Right down to the studs….I do not write that last sentence lightly. For Loh recently embarked on one of the most nauseating campaigns of self-justification since the Nuremberg Trials.
Comment #2 quote: I can't believe the editors at the Atlantic would see fit to publish such an embarrassing exhibition of a profoundly flawed character.
Comment #3 quote: She ought to stayed locked up in that storage unit for a long time, she can't be safe n the streets of la right now.
Comment #4 quote: I'm not sure I respect her opinion much anymore.
In other words that last comment was written by someone who used to respect Loh’s opinions but now feels that because she disagrees with her on this one issue she can’t respect any of her opinions ever again. What bothered me most about these comments was not that people felt the need to defend marriage but that they felt the need to do it in such an angry, hateful way. These people were SO defensive it was as if…oh, I don’t know…THEY WERE UNHAPPY WITH THEIR OWN MARRIAGES.
But again, I’m not all that concerned about the commenters marriages and to be honest I’m not even that concerned about Loh’s marriage. If she’s going to cheat her husband is clearly better off without her and apparently she agrees. It’s sad and all but it’s not uncommon. I don’t know these people and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. But I am concerned with our inability to debate without becoming insulting. I don’t understand why someone not believing in something that you believe in (even something you believe in strongly) is evidence of them being a profoundly flawed Nazi who deserved to be locked up in a storage closet. Nor do I understand why we have to shoot a doctor in the name of a “Pro-Life” campaign (I mean, come on, does anyone else see the irony in that?). I also don’t think it’s fair to say everyone who thinks abortion is wrong is ipso facto a religious fanatic who can’t think for his or herself. People who send their kids to private school are not elite segregationists. The people who homeschool are not all tie-dye wearing ideological fruitcakes. Will we ever get to a place where we can acknowledge that those who have opposing views actually have a point? It might not be a point that you will ever agree with. In fact you can fundamentally disagree with it but that doesn’t make the point itself illegitimate or unworthy of discussion. And it would also be nice if we could remember that the person who is disagreeing with your philosophy is indeed A PERSON as in he or she is a human being who should be treated as such!
Because honestly, if I had to pick a side after reading both Loh’s article and the comments on the LA Times site I’d have to side with the adulterous Loh which is sad because I don’t even fully agree with her stance and I certainly don’t condone some of her conduct but at least in her article she keeps the focus primarily on the institution she disdains rather than the individuals who embrace it.
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