Within popular culture, the viewpoint on marriage is that it’s something women intensely desire and something men have to be dragged into reluctantly. In this mindset, marriage enables women to raise children with a stable helpmate and source of income while men give up their “freedom” and money while being forced into a life of monogamy, then monotony, then celibacy.

While the culture of marriage has changed over the past fifty years–single motherhood less vilified; men more willing to handle household and parenting tasks (although still rarely on an equal basis); women earning a greater share of the couple’s total income–it is still almost solely men doing the proposing and women doing the accepting (or rejecting). The question “when is he going to ask her [to marry him]?” is commonly heard. I’ve yet to hear anyone ask, “when is she going to ask him?”

Yet, as a great moral philosopher Jane Austin noted two centuries ago, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  Myriad social science studies demonstrate that marriage is a tremendous boon for men.   This is one of the few things that both liberal and conservative media agree upon. For men, marriage means bigger income, better health, less depression and substance abuse, greater longevity, and more and better sex. For women, not so much. Yet the cultural belief continues to be the opposite.

One advantage of marriage for men is so obvious that it is rarely noted: a man who is married to the mother of his children is likely to interact with his children on a daily basis. I’ve previously written about why women are more likely to get custody. However men who have lived with their children since birth are much better candidates for custody–and if they don’t get custody, are much better candidates for very generous visitation–than men who did not. A sizable portion of my unmarried male custody clients complain about settling on a 30-70, or even 46-60, division of custodial time. However it’s hard to get them more time when the child is more closely bonded to the mother–a normal consequence of the child primarily living with the mother during infancy. To these men I quote a great contemporary moral philosopher Beyoncé, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.”

It’s time to stop treating marriage as something men should enter warily and as a boon to women. As most happily married men know, we get the better end of the marriage bargain. On this Valentine’s Day I urge all my single male friends, if you like it, put a ring on it.

I went to a top tier liberal arts college to obtain my undergraduate degree. Many of my classes there involved reading and discussion on the concepts of truth, beauty and honor. It was assumed that the study of liberal arts was training us for a life of public service and intellectual pursuit. Very little focus was on love and family.

Thirty years later I see most parents of young adults encouraging their children to devote their energies to scholarship and career development. This is especially true of parents whose children are high academic achievers. The basic idea is that love and pair bonding should wait until education is completed and career is established. In an era of cohabitation without wedlock and high divorce rates, it is assumed that favoring love and family over career and financial stability is a sucker’s game. I find such guidance a sad commentary on our culture. I also believe it to be misguided.

A few years ago, I represented a man who may have been one of my smartest clients ever. He was relatively young but already highly accomplished in his profession, and his scholarship was gaining him some renown. He had been married for a few years to an almost equally accomplished women in his same profession. When the time had come to start having children, he realized that this was not the person with whom he wanted to raise children. He came to me seeking a divorce.

To say his wife was displeased with his realization understates the matter. He literally paid a high price to get out of his marriage but he did so gladly. A few years later he remarried and a few years after that he had a daughter. If you looked at his Facebook feed it would look quite similar to mine: numerous posts of him out with his wife but even more posts of him and a beaming daughter luxuriating in his company. Acknowledging that most people use social media to project a positive persona, he still seems genuinely happy and genuinely happy with his life choices.

I’ve practiced family law for almost a quarter century and I greatly enjoy my career. However, I treasure the love of my family, and my time with my family, vastly more than I value that career. If you ask most people what they value more: “family and love” or “career and money,” few will tell you “career and money.” A few folks will be lying when they give you the socially acceptable answer but most folks won’t. We do our children a disservice when we encourage them to focus on career and financial success to the detriment of learning to love and become lovable. While much of popular culture celebrates financial success and power, and much of academia celebrates intellect and scholarship, it is love and family that sustains us and gives our lives meaning.

The smartest client I ever had was smart enough to know this.

1732 Philadelphia: A gentlemen’s boating club on the Schuylkill River is planning its annual Christmas party. For the first time in its history ladies will be welcome. Colonial America is a drinking culture and cocktails are a mid-19th century invention. Punch will be served. To commemorate the occasion these gentlemen decide to invent a new punch. Per the minutes of the meeting, the goal was “to make the ladies more convivial than is their usual wont.” Thus, the Fish House Punch–an excellent (or disgusting) combination of rum, Cognac, peach brandy, lemon juice, sugar water, and cold strong black tea.

2016 Charleston: A few weeks ago a colleague and I were double dating with our wives. After seeing a show at the Charleston Music Hall, we headed to the Darling Oyster for snacks and drinks. My colleague just celebrated his fifth anniversary–which, by my old-married standards, makes him a newlywed. Still both of us were plying our wives with alcohol. The goal: get them sufficiently liquored-up to lower inhibitions but not so intoxicated that they fall asleep immediately upon arriving home. Thus I introduced my friend’s wife to the Fish House Punch.

I’d prefer to think that there is a big difference between a gentleman plying his spouse with a bit of alcohol and a stranger roofieing a woman’s drink at a bar; however, I admit it could simply be a matter of degree. Every time I order Fish House Punch, or convince a female colleague to drink one, I reflect upon those Colonial Philadelphia gentleman. Attempts to “make the ladies more convivial than is their usual wont” have probably existed since man first discovered alcohol.  After 25+ years of marriage, I still understand the impulse. Couch this desire in florid language and aristocratic dress and it comes off as charming and a bit rakish. Antics that were vaguely comic almost three hundred years ago are possibly criminal today. The culture evolves rapidly; biology much more slowly.

A friend and colleague of mine suggested I blog about Angelina Jolie’s recent filing for divorce from Brad Pitt on the ground of “irreconcilable differences,” noting that South Carolina does not allow divorce on that ground. Instead, South Carolina allows a “no fault” divorce after one year’s continuous separation along with three fault grounds for divorce (there is actually a fourth fault ground, one year’s desertion, that fell into disuse after South Carolina reduced the waiting period for a no-fault divorce from three years to one year).

Many states have a divorce ground of irreconcilable differences. One assumes legislators from these states believe that if spouses cannot reconcile their differences they should be allowed to divorce. The culture, especially the therapeutic culture, believes that all differences are reconcilable through mutual understanding and compromise. Thus, if differences cannot be reconciled, spouses must be incompatible.

That belief is mistaken. For a marriage to succeed many differences must be finessed or ignored rather than reconciled. Perhaps a wife overlooks a husband’s occasional crazy boys-night-out and a husband overlooks a wife’s occasional “unnecessary” shoe purchase. Neither has to like–let alone approve of–the other’s behavior, they merely need to tolerate it.

Most folks enter marriage with the belief that, if they are truly in love and their marriage is meant-to-be, they will be able to resolve all their differences. Many folks enter marriage with a list of “intolerables,” things they simply cannot accept in their spouse. “I cannot stay with him if he resumes smoking marijuana.” “I cannot stay with her if she cannot stay within the budget.” Within a few years most marriages have shredded that list. We learn to tolerate what we didn’t believe we could tolerate. Some of us even manage to forgive the occasional adultery or domestic violence.

Perhaps the most common irreconcilable difference regards sex. So long as couples have mismatched libidos, and so long as the culture sees monogamy as a defining feature of marriage, there will be conflicts over sexual frequency within marriage. The counseling industry would have folks believe such conflicts can be resolved through compassion and compromise. They’re half right. Compassion can ameliorate the problem. Compromise cannot resolve it–often it can exacerbate it. Asking the low desire spouse to have sex more often than he or she feels desire leaves neither partner happy. The low desire spouse now sees sex as a chore–something to be avoided. Unless the high desire spouse is oblivious, he or she cannot help but see that his or her partner is coming to the marital bed less-than-enthusiastically–which, in itself, can be a real libido killer.

The irreconcilable difference of sexual desire is a paradox to be managed, not a problem to be solved. A low desire spouse might ignore his or her partner’s mastabatory habits. The high desire partner might remember to clear the browser history. The low desire partner might approach the other when he or she isn’t in the mood and make an effort to be fully present. The high desire partner might appreciate such effort rather than focus on the low desire partner’s lack of response.

A culture that tells us that a successful marriage will resolve all differences is a culture that is lying to married couples. Marriage is unsustainable if all differences must be reconciled. Living with irreconcilable differences is the gravamen of successful marriage. This may be a paradox but it remains a truth.

Clint Eastwood’s just-released Sully clearly admires its titular character, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks. It presents Sully as an icon of competence, integrity, and calm under pressure. Like most such movies lionizing competent men, it relegates the wife, here played by the thrice-Oscar-nominated, Laura Linney to a background role. Yet, wittingly or not, Eastwood’s take on their marital relationship is either highly misogynistic or a sad reflection of how such masculinity distorts marital intimacy.

The movie is set in the days after Sully successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, after the aircraft was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out of LaGuardia Airport on January 15, 2009. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived. The movie is framed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the cause of the crash, which the NTSB initially believes may be due to Sully’s poor judgment.

The movie uses flashbacks to show the actual flight’s assent, landing, and rescue. Through nightmare scenarios, it envisions Sully’s fear that he might have endangered his passengers and crew by attempting the water landing (rather than attempting to return to Laguardia or land at another airport), and his alternate fear that attempting such a landing might have resulted into the plane crashing into densely populated sections of Manhattan (shades of 9/11 echo through those scenes).

Because of this framing device, Hanks and Linney never appear together. She remains ensconced in their generic suburban cul-de-sac with what appear to be two daughters (their roles so limited that I don’t recall them having any speaking lines), while he and his co-pilot, played by Aaron Eckhart, are housed in a Manhattan Marriott, celebrated by the media and public, but challenged by the NTSB for failing to attempt to land the plane at nearby airports. Spousal interactions are limited to phone conversations (Sully’s archaic flip phone demonstrating how rapidly technology changes) and their exchanges uniformly hit the same note: Sully calls his wife; she proceeds to bombard him with her worries; he assures her everything will be fine.

These conversations end abruptly as Sully shifts his attention to what he perceives as pressing work duties (first insuring that all his passengers and crew were rescued; later addressing the NTSB investigation). His wife rarely (never?) asks how he’s handling the fear of almost dying, the pressure of being in the media spotlight, or the scrutiny of his decision to attempt a water landing. Meanwhile Sully does his (emotionally limited) best to assure her that he’s fine, and to empathize with her own media onslaught. He listens patiently, but briefly, while she expresses anxieties over his potential job loss and household bills. There’s no indication she understands, or even acknowledges, the tremendous stress of his situation. Similarly, there’s no indication that Sully is annoyed by her clueless self-absorption.

Rather than burden his wife with his fears, Sully saves such conversations for his (male) co-pilot, with whom he second guesses his decision and worries about his future. Perhaps, not ironically, it is the competence of Sully and his co-pilot that enabled the safe water landing and the rescue of all passengers and crew. In contrast, one senses that Sully obtains no emotional support from his wife, but sees his role in their marriage as being the stoic provider of safety–or, rather, the illusion of safety: Sully is fully aware of his inability to guarantee anyone’s safety no matter his level of competence.

At the end of the movie, Sully demonstrates to the NTSB that his decision to attempt the water landing not only saved his passengers and crew but prevented the much greater disaster of a crash into densely populated areas. Eastwood is celebrating a notion of masculinity that combines competence, integrity, calmness under pressure, and a concern for the needs and fears of others. In the world of work, this notion of masculinity is extremely attractive–and no longer confined to members of the male gender. However, in the scenes of Sully’s marriage, Eastwood is expressing that same view of masculinity–one involving sublimation of one’s own needs and fears to assuage the needs and fears of others. That conception of masculinity is antithetical to marital intimacy–which is why Sully’s relationship with his co-pilot seems more intimate than that with his wife.

These conceptions of masculinity are parallel. As a pilot, Sully presents an image of masculinity that assures his passengers that everything will be okay–even as he understands there is always a possibility of a crash. As a husband, Sully provides similar comfort through the assurance and false promises of security. Although contemporary cosmopolitan culture pays lip service to a desire to have men be more emotionally open, doing so would require removing the illusion of safety such masculinity provides and that so many find comforting. Eastwood would appear to not find such change desirable. I’m unclear the culture-at-large would either.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice

Thus begins the greatest romantic comedy in the history of romantic comedies. With Valentine’s Day approaching, movie studios release a number of mostly banal, mostly Saccharin, mostly dim-witted romantic comedies. The whole genre of romantic comedies has acquired a reputation for stupid, escapist fantasy aimed at “foolish” women. Even the nicknames for such novels and movies–chick lit and chick flick–denigrate the concept.

But note that Jane Austin’s famous opening line is not directed at a woman in want of a husband but at a man in want of a wife. Ms. Austin understood something that even the addition of zombies cannot completely diminish: whom one chooses to spend one’s life with is one of the most consequential decisions a human will make. This was even more the case in Ms. Austin’s time, when, at least among the respectable classes, marriage and child rearing were supposed to be congruous. And it is as true for men as it is for women.

Modern social liberals may take the stance of being non-judgmental on the weakening linkage between marriage and child bearing. However, the social sciences increasingly demonstrate the importance of this linkage. Further most social liberals (present author included) hew to these traditional values in their own lives: the rate of divorce and out-of-wedlock child bearing is quite low among Blue-State college graduates.

Given the importance of finding a companionable mate and co-parent, the quest for a happy marriage is both important and explicable. That circuit court may be superior to family court in prestige and pay reflects our culture’s misjudgment about the relative importance of money and family. Certainly money and career are of some importance to human happiness, but stable and supportive relationships are vastly more important. A man with money and career success but unhappy in love is an unhappy man. A man who is beloved by family is likely happy in all but the most dire career and monetary circumstances.

To the extent romantic comedies deserve scorn it is because they treat the marriage as the ending point, rather than a starting point–assuming a “happily ever after” that even the young should recognize as a fairy tale. Further, too often, modern romantic comedies treat a woman’s search for love as a quest to be “rescued” from her circumstances as opposed to finding someone worthy of sharing her life. Marriage and child rearing are consequential and important, but they are never effortless, and rarely easy.

One of my favor recent romantic comedies ia the CW television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  It embraces musical theater to highlight emotions that the characters couldn’t realistically express through traditional narrative. I also adore its attitude towards its Golden Globe best-actress winning lead character–an Ivy League educated lawyer up for partner in a powerful New York law firm who ditches an upward mobility that is making her miserable and lonely to move to a backwater Los Angeles suburb, West Covina, to pursue an unrequited high school crush. While the series is deliberately ambiguous about whether the pursuit of this crush is delusional or heroic, it is unambiguously supportive of her decision to value happiness, specifically romantic/relationship happiness, over professional success.

One reason folks love Pride and Prejudice is that Elizabeth Bennet refuses to settle for a marriage that would rescue her from the poverty that spinsterhood would potentially entail. Instead her sparing with Fitzwilliam Darcy is (unwittingly to them) a pathway to discovering whether they are truly companionable. Something similar happens in the best of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies. Historically, marriage has been a business and breeding proposition. With these works begins the concept of a “companionate marriage,” based upon mutual regard and affection–and romance. Given that this newer model of marriage is now the ideal, romantic comedies address a vital part of contemporary culture. Denigrating individual examples as bad movies is legitimate; denigrating the whole genre as “chick flicks” is not only sexism, it’s misguided sexism.

…Of course only the truly naive believe that the wedding is the beginning of eternal unending bliss. Which is why we (especially we older marrieds) have the comedy of remarriage.

Practice family law with any degree of passion and intellectual curiosity and you will naturally turn into an amateur marriage counselor and sociologist.  One cannot understand one’s clients without understanding what makes marriages work or not work.  I continuously contemplate how our culture might be restructured to make humans happier and make the stabilizing institutions of marriage and parenting more stable.

It could be a chicken-and-the-egg thing but in twenty years of practice I have yet to see a couple going through divorce despite a strong erotic connection.  If our culture could figure out methods of sustaining this connection through decades of marriage, it would greatly increase human happiness and cultural stability.  One can read myriad women’s magazines for advice on how to do so but such advice is frequently trite and always false–clients who have put it in practice indicate it does not work.

One possible conclusion is that the very nature of marriage is antithetical to erotic charge.  The view of masculinity necessary to sustain marriage is very different than the view of masculinity necessary to sustain most women’s erotic interest.  Perhaps the best recent work of art to examine this dilemma is Wes Anderson’s animated version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

There are many who hate Mr. Anderson’s mixture of storybook whimsy, dollhouse set-design, arch dialogue, and half-recalled 1950’s and 60’s pop-rock music.  But for those who love these aspects of his work, The Fantastic Mr. Fox may be his best film.  Better than any serious modern fiction it dramatizes the desire of an aging man to remain desirable.

The movie starts with Mr. Fox (voice of George Clooney) on a squab-stealing excursion with his wife, Mrs. Fox (voice of Meryl Streep).  Anderson, using stop motion animation, sets a scene of romance and adventure, with bucolic rolling landscape and dusky evening light making the Foxes glow.  Mr. Fox exhibits a tic of wolf whistling and clicking his tongue, designed to evoke Rat Pack insolence and charm.  The two banter in a manner typical of 1930’s/40’s screwball comedies.  Their “date,” involving risk, food and exercise, is romantic, and, in a few broad strokes, the attraction between the two is vividly rendered.  During this excursion Mr. Fox continuously elicits but then ignores his wife’s cautious counsel and engages them in riskier but more lively acts.  The scene ends with Mr. Fox’s devil-may-care hubris leading them to become caged in a fox trap, whereupon Ms. Fox announces her pregnancy.

The movie immediately fast forwards twelve fox years and Mr. and Mrs. Fox are now settled with a sullen adolescent son whose lack of athletic prowess and lack of popularity with his peer are sources of disappointment to his father.  Mr. Fox has given up his poultry-stealing ways for the life of a newspaper columnist.  His job provides few thrills, little money and notoriety (few of his neighbors read his work), but sufficient stability to raise his family in modest means.  The masculinity Mr. Fox believes Mrs. Fox found desirable in a boyfriend is antithetical to the masculinity he believes she finds necessary in a husband/co-parent.  The former is risky, adventure seeking, and unbounded; the latter is stable, dependable and highly constrained.  However the former is sexy and the latter is not.  Mr. Fox pines for a riskier sense of self and feels hemmed-in by stability.

The plot engages through Mr. Fox’s desire to live larger. He starts by trading up housing from an underground lair to an above ground tree.  It is quickly revealed that this is part of his larger plan to engage in one last chicken, goose, and alcoholic cider stealing caper.  In outwitting the farmers and succeeding in his risky scheme, Mr. Fox feels alive and vital. Women marry stability but lust after bad boys.  Mr. Fox knows this, and risks his life and family in a quest to remain sexy.

When the farmers figure out what’s happened they engage in increasingly forceful attempts to destroy Mr. Fox and his family.  They begin by shooting up his above ground home.   Next, the Foxes’ home, and the homes of their animal friends, are destroyed by bulldozers and all the animals are forced underground.  Mrs. Fox is outraged that her husband’s behavior has endangered their family, slashing his face in a moment of anger.  Family stability is shaken to its core and the Foxes’ marriage is at risk.

The farmers then try to flood the Foxes and their animal friends out of their underground warrens.  His nephew is captured by the farmers, his son risks his own life to rescue his cousin (his bravery finally winning his father’s admiration), and Mr. Fox’s own tail is shot off in an ambush.  While Mr. Fox and his son and nephew are speeding away from the farmers, they encounter a wolf–which Mr. Fox sees as a symbol of unconstrained animal wildness in contrast to a Foxes’ life on the boundary between the animal and human worlds.  Mr. Fox gives the wolf the raised-fist “power” salute as a measure of respect and attempted solidarity.  While this scene is subject to myriad interpretations, my reading is that it symbolizes Mr. Fox’s (perhaps misguided) belief that his recent risky behavior connects him to the wolf’s virility.

The movie ends with the Fox family and their varied friends outwitting the farmers.  They remain trapped underground but are able to raid the farmers’ grocery store at whim to sustain themselves.  While both the lighting and the food in this grocery are artificial, Mr. Fox is able to provide for his family.  Further, because this providing involves an element of risk and rule breaking, Mr. Fox is able to sustain a self-image of unconstrained masculinity even though he remains imprisoned underground.

Many of the stupid husband behaviors I encounter in practicing family law stem from the male desire to remain vital and sexy despite their role as a domestic provider.  Our culture has not really figured out a way for men to engage in risk-taking masculine behaviors without endangering the stable-provider behaviors that represent another definition of masculinity.  It could be cultural, it could be biological, but it seems that male domesticity undermines female erotic attraction.  So long as men consider [I believe accurately] the stable-provider role as erotically emasculating, I expect such seemingly counterproductive behaviors to recur with comic/tragic regularity.

SPOILER ALERTS

Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, has been getting solid reviews for its portrayal of the maturation of a twenty-something, working-class Jersey guy.  Most of reviews focus on the film’s pronounced pornography aspect.  Levitt’s character, Don, and his bros are stuck at a maturity level in which women are debated and rated for their looks on a one-to-ten scale, with a “dime” being both highly elusive and most desirable.  Even when Don is “scoring” with women who rate a “nine” he still prefers masturbating and watching pornography.  These live and attractive women cannot match the scenarios and fantasies that Don gets from his porn.  Sex with live women invariably leaves him disappointed.

Then he meets two women–a “dime,” Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, and a slightly haggard, slightly unstable, middle-aged woman, Esther, played by Julianne Moore–who alter his views on romantic and sexual relationships.

Most American movies do a poor job of depicting a mature male sexuality.  Typically comedies represent women as either pliant playthings whose sole purpose is to supply easy sexual release or as stern mommies whose task is to rein-in the male id.  Sexual comedies that aim for a male audience celebrate the infantile with the dramatic arc being the male’s quest to escape mommy’s control.  Romantic comedies, aiming for a female audience, involve a similar dramatic arc but here the story involves the woman slowly, patiently, and with some setbacks, bending the man’s will until he accepts her control over his sexuality.

For the first two-thirds of Don Jon, the movie appears to be heading towards one of these two resolutions.  Hoping to have sex with a “dime,” Don allows himself to be controlled by Barbara, who employs her sexuality to bend Don towards her view of what an idealized boyfriend should be.  Don’s parents are thrilled by Barbara’s ability to manipulate Don into “mature” behavior– which in this case involves taking college classes he really isn’t interested in, showing deference to her petty whims [she objects to his cleaning his own apartment], and foregoing sexual conquests with women he’s just met.

This view of male sexuality permeates our culture: a man controls and limits his sexual desires, accepts his girlfriend’s or wife’s “nagging,” and shows ambition.  In return the woman allows the man sexual access to her.  This is considered a mature manner of male sexual behavior.  It is the sexual dynamic of many marriages.  However when one party to this dynamic stops meeting his or her end of the “bargain” they end up in divorce court.  More rarely one party will realize that this bargain isn’t really intimacy and will pursue other romantic/sexual relationships in order to obtain a sense of true intimacy.

This is where Don Jon exhibits a refeshingly mature view of male sexuality.  Don continues to be disappointed that sex with Barbara does not match the images he gets from porn.  Because they lack intimacy, sex between Don and Barbara is merely a physical act and the mere physical release continues to leave Don dissatisfied.  He reduces and hides his pornography usage but doesn’t stop using.  Meanwhile Barbara uses her sexual access to control Don’s sexuality and prevent any porn usage, getting furious when she catches him using and lying about his usage.   Further, cognizant that her extreme good looks allows her to dictate the terms of their sexual encounters, Barbara limits and scripts these encounters to a set routine that allows no spontaneity or play.  This is the seemingly mature sexuality that Don is expected by his peer and parents (and by our culture) to find satisfying.

After being dumped by Barbara, Don begins a relationship with Esther that transforms him–and not in the manner of typical comedies of sexual mores.  This relationship does not turn him into stable husband/father material, does not make him ambitious, and doesn’t appear to be long-term.  Esther is accepting, even encouraging, of Don’s use of pornography, though she encourages him to view more “women friendly” porn.  She encourages Don to see sex as less a set of scripted calisthenics and more as an emotionally intense form of play.  Finally she encourages Don to view sexual connection as not some part [reward?] of a larger transaction between two “mature” adults but as a way to meaningfully connect with another person on an intimate level.

Don Jon is ostensibly about a young man overcoming his porn addiction but it really isn’t.  By the movie’s conclusion Don still appears to be consuming porn, though his usage is no longer all-consuming.  Nor does his character arc include being “redeemed” by the love of a good woman, as his relationship with Esther seems temporary and he still lacks the ambition/direction to make a good husband or father.

Rather Don Jon is about understanding the power of sexuality to “lose oneself in another person”–a term Esther actually uses to describe great sex.  It is the most accurate description of what great sex feels like (both emotionally and physically) and it is type of sex that I believe most of my male peer and clients seek and strive for.

I was middle-aged before I came to the realization that the transactional nature of most sexual relationships was ultimately dissatisfying, and even dispiriting.  Kudos to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for obtaining this insight by age 32.  In a culture that tells men we should be looking for bimbos or mommies to satisfy our sexual desires, Don Jon’s bildungsroman is a welcome corrective.

Put Mr. Forman’s experience, knowledge, and dedication to your service for any of your South Carolina family law needs.

Recent Blog Posts

The Folly of Fighting Child Protective Services after a Merits Finding

Early in my career, when family court attorneys were still being court appointed to represent indigent parents in abuse and neglect proceedings, I

[ + ] Read More

Court of Appeals determines homosexual couples could not enter common law marriage prior to the Condon case

A July 1, 2020, Court of Appeals opinion in Swicegood v. Thomson determined that South Carolina code prohibited homosexual couples from forming the

[ + ] Read More

College related child care is not work-related child care for the purpose of setting child support

There are a number of South Carolina family court opinions that are of narrow relevance but of significant importance when relevant. Such cases

[ + ] Read More