Several weeks ago, someone named Ashley Madison exploded through my Facebook news feed. Like everyone else on the planet, I read the stories of hacks and leaks with interest. There was a seedy, tabloid trash element that drew me in…I’m not ashamed to admit that.
But my reaction was “Ashley who?”
Before the infamous list was made public, I had never heard of the site. I left my adventures in online dating a long time ago, thankyouverymuch. I am a (mostly) happily married woman. I drive a minivan. I wear granny panties because they are comfortable. I am a goddamn room mother, for crying out loud. A dating site to connect people who wanted to cheat on their spouses? Just no -- not on my radar of sites to check out.
But what if it had been?
I love my husband. I even like him most of the time. We’ve had our rough patches. We fight about money, our aging parents, how to raise our kids… typical stuff. We’ve both threatened divorce but I know in my heart of hearts that won’t happen and that neither of us really wants that.
Sex is okay. It’s vanilla. Predictable. Mostly satisfying. It’s not very frequent and that’s my fault. If I suddenly wanted to get it on daily, my husband would not object. We have sex about every other week. I blame perimenopause and my steady diet of antidepressants on my lukewarm sex drive. My husband says he understands although the frequency of our between-the-sheets sessions is not what he’d choose, if he got to do the choosing.
I was sitting at my desk last week, writing an article for a magazine that touched on the subject of sex and modern-day dating -- not the type of thing I’m usually commissioned to write. As I researched, developed my story and wrote, I started to get that feeling. You know… that feeling.
My husband was home. My children were not. I could have walked out of my office, dragged him into the bedroom or whatever room I fancied because no kids, and indulged in what I believe is still referred to as a nooner. He would have appreciated it, I’m sure. The sex would have probably been good.
But I didn’t do that.
When I started thinking about getting up and going to find my husband, I started thinking about property taxes and the half-ass, half-done landscaping project that has become my backyard. I started thinking about what I was going to make for dinner and how to get out of driving the kids to soccer.
That stuff isn’t sexy.
The desire to have sex went away. The reality of it is, I don’t want to have sex with my husband. We have sex when I know he wants to and when I know putting it off again will cause tension. It doesn’t mean I don’t love him or that I don’t have a good time with him in bed (I do.) I don’t know why I’m not very tuned into him sexually right now. Blaming perimenopause and meds seems to be working.
I don’t see myself as a cheater. I mean, who wants to think of themselves like that? But here’s the thing: although I can sit here on my high horse and say stuff like “I’d never cheat,” I have never been faced with a situation where I’ve been tempted to actually do it.
My husband doesn’t make me feel desirable or sexy. There, I said it. Maybe it’s the “seven year itch” or “seven year funk.” Maybe we’re just going through something that all couples go through. Maybe it really is my meds. Maybe I just don't feel desirable or sexy. I don't know what it is.
But this whole Ashley Madison scandal got me thinking and what-iffing.
What if I’d have seen an online ad for Ashley Madison six months ago? Would I have been tempted? Would the lure of hush-hush, no-strings-attached sex with someone I didn’t have to nag to take out the garbage win? Would I break my marriage vows to spend a few stolen minutes with someone who didn’t go on and on about the crazy-ass rules of our homeowner’s association?
I don’t know.
The Ashley Madison leak hurt a lot of people. Some say that the cheaters deserved what they got. I’m not one to judge so harshly because it’s kind of given me a wake-up call. Shaken me up, even. What would I have done if an Ashley Madison ad would have popped up on my screen while I was working or scouring Pinterest for crock-pot recipes?
I think I would have been tempted and I can’t say I’d have resisted. The hack of a website that has nothing to do with me or anyone I know has given me quite the jolt and caused me to examine my conscience and the state of my marriage. I wonder if I have a character flaw, or if I’m the only one who sees things this way.
The movie Pinocchio comes to mind. I can hear Jiminy Cricket singing “always let your conscience be your guide,” and it makes me wonder just how good of a guide my conscience is.
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