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Flirting is Healthy for Marriage… and Divorce

Twin of the Day – Clementine: We recently took the girls from New York City to Cleveland via Amtrak to meet their extended family. Traveling across the country with 7-week-old twins is serious business. For our sake and that of the other passengers, we splurged for a sleeper car… which had just enough room for the four of us to rest our large and tiny bones. It was a long passenger train, which also included a dining car and a bar.

After dinner, Penny and I went back to the room to settle in for the night. Clementine was a little fussy, so mom took her on a soothing walk across the length of the train. Along the way, mom stopped at the bar for a night cap. Later that night, I was awakened by the stirs and cries of my darling Clementine. As I brought her in close, she said she had a secret to share. She was upset because she saw mom flirting with a man at the bar. Without knowing the details, I quickly assured her that mom was probably just making polite conversation.

“What’s the difference daddy?”

“Good question, sweetie. There’s not necessarily a difference, at least outwardly. It’s more about the intent of the parties.”

“Well, it looked like they were really hitting it off! Their chemistry was electric!”

“How could you tell?”

“Mommy was laughing at everything he said…”

“Can you give me an example?”

“He asked mommy how old I was. Mommy said 7 weeks. He guffawed, and did a literal spit-take as he sipped his vodka martini. After regaining his composure, he gently put his hand on mommy’s hand, and said that he’s never seen such an amazing transformation after a pregnancy, let alone twins!”

“Wow! That’s not even a joke.”

“I know, but mom lost her shit!”

“Well, he was definitely flirting with mom, and mom was probably playing along, but she would never cheat on daddy.”

“I’m not so sure daddy. Mom’s hands got really sweaty. I thought I was gonna slip through her fingers! They’re never sweaty when she’s talking to you daddy. —— Daddy, what’s a swinger”?

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, Mom finally told the guy that she was happily married — and had no desire for shenanigans. He quickly retorted that that he was also happily married but he and his wife were swingers.”

“Well… Clemmy, some married couples have ‘open relationships.’ In fact, mom’s good friend, Sandi, has an open relationship with her husband, Steve. They love each other very much, but when they got married, they agreed that it was okay to continue dating other people. But they laid out particular ground rules. They’re not allowed to date anyone without the other’s approval. If Sandi doesn’t like who Steve’s dating, she can veto the relationship, and vice versa.

“Rules aside, daddy — it sounds like a recipe for disaster! Too much drama!”

“I agree, sweetie. But it works for Sandi and Steve. In fact, Sandi had a year long relationship with another man. After they broke up, her ex-boyfriend called, desperately wanting to speak with Sandi. Steve took the phone call, and calmly told him that Sandi did not want to talk. The man then started weeping. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, Steve stayed on the phone, and comforted him for 30 minutes.

“Gee! That’s so silly daddy! I can imagine how that conversation went — ‘Hey buddy, I know you really miss Sandi. She’s a really great gal! That’s why I married her.'”

“Ha ha! Good one, Clemmy! Daddy would not be able to have that conversation. But I respect their honesty and candor. Some married couples pretend to be loyal, but still sleep with other people. That’s an even bigger recipe for disaster.”

“Daddy, if you and mommy ever decide to become swingers, will you tell me and Penny, or will you keep it a secret?”

“Well, I don’t think you ever have to worry about that sweetie. Mommy and daddy are certainly attracted to other people, but we’d rather avoid the drama. It just doesn’t suit us — we’d both get very jealous. Her friends don’t get jealous — and good for them. Marriage is a social convention — but it’s not for everyone. There are an infinite number ways to live your life.

“Wow! You’ve really opened my eyes, daddy. You and mommy are sooo conservative! I’m never gonna put any boundaries on MY love.”

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