Cover_WedlockedHow would you describe Wedlocked?

Wedlocked is an intimate, uncensored self-portrait of a man (once a boy) leaning towards infidelity. Perhaps that Leaning towards The Other began as I watched my older brothers and father leave my mom, our dog (a black lab named Bump), and me in the house in the woods, and perhaps that Leaning gained space-shuttle lift when I failed to cope with something as ordinary as marital loneliness. Wedlocked describes (among other things) my desire for The Other inflating my sense of self, filling my sense of self with POTENT PONTERI SELFDOM. This book is the car ride to the collision, the dark hallway to the Void, the burnt bulb dangling by wire from the ceiling.

If you don’t know who Junot Díaz is, you should. His writing stands out as startlingly original in a world that often feels crammed with literary replication. He is the author of Drown; he won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; and he is the author of the newly-released This is How You Lose Her, a story collection that centers around the charming and irresistible Yunior whose flaws only make us love him more.

Before there was Mendes’ Revolutionary Road, Allen’s Husbands and Wives, or even Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, there were two films which attempted to expose the reality behind so-called “perfect” marriages: John Cassavetes’ Faces (1968) and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973).While Bergman’s film is engagingly complex in its analysis of a marital breakdown, Cassavetes’ film is brilliant in its use of camerawork to isolate various “faces” of dissatisfied men and women. In both movies, there is a lingering dissatisfaction between the main couples that causes them to each seek love elsewhere. Throughout this search for a renewal of both happiness and excitement in one’s life, the couples succeed in doing two things: perfecting their façades and simultaneously evading any heightened level of self-discovery.

He leaves his imprint on me still, six years later.

Laundry for instance.

I still toss socks and underwear in a pile, to be folded last. I still tie long socks into a knot rather than roll them in a ball since rolling them in a ball stretches out the elastic.

Trust is an elusive thing.

It’s hard to know when to let down your guard with someone, to let them see who you really are. And when you’re hurt or betrayed by someone you love, it becomes that much harder to open up to someone else.

But what, exactly, defines betrayal?

In this particular case I’m talking about romantic relationships. What constitutes a breach of trust? Is it when your partner tells someone else one of your deep, dark secrets? When he or she makes a big decision without you? When they sleep with someone else? When they break up with you?

For me, sharing sensitive information with others is probably the biggest violation. If I tell you something that is understood to be sensitive, and you tell someone else, I will probably never again share anything important with you. And yet, there must be situations in life where sharing a piece of information like that would ultimately be the right thing. So how to know what is right?

What if someone leaves you? Breaks your heart? Does that constitute betrayal? Marriage isn’t the institution it once was. No-fault divorce makes it easier to end a legal union. Conservatives might cite the decline of marriage as damaging to society, but what is better–ending a corrosive relationship or suffering in it for years?

Why do some people claim they will never trust anyone again after being dumped? Is the person who fell out of love somehow guilty of betrayal? Is there blame to be placed when love simply dies?

And what about infidelity?

Many relationships end because a partner strays. Imagining the love of your life in the arms of another is enough to make anyone squirm.

If you found out your partner was cheating on you, would you leave them?

Based on the blogs I read, most people seem to answer “yes.” But when actually put in that situation, not every scorned lover ends their relationship.

Recently I saw a news story about spyware designed to help determine if your spouse is cheating on you. You can record every keystroke your lover makes on the computer, see every page they visit on the Internet. Read their emails.

Even before the Internet, suspicious spouses could review phone records, credit card statements, even follow their lover around in the car.

I did this sort of thing once. Read someone’s email. Listened to their voice mail.

Never have I felt so sneaky, so oily as a human being. It served no purpose except to enrage me.

If your relationship reduces you to espionage, is it worth it?

I’m not going to pass judgment on infidelity, either for or against it. Every situation is unique, and I’m uncomfortable with absolutes.

Personally, I’d rather be cheated on than play detective.

If you were in a happy, fifty-year marriage that fulfilled you in every way, and after your partner died you learned he had slept with someone else in the ninth year of your marriage, would it damage the love you’d felt for your whole life?

I mean, you’re not going to be happy about it.

But to characterize all cheaters as worthless humans misrepresents our animal ancestry. Our natural impulses. If infidelity is so wrong, why does it happen so much? Why are their web sites available to help you cheat?

Hey, you might say. If you can’t control yourself, don’t get married. I pretty much agree with this.

But if you look at the divorce rate, if you consider how many people cheat, it seems that marriage isn’t the right choice for many of us. In the U.S., 2005 marked the first year more adults were single than married.

Is marriage an institution that can’t keep up with modern society? And if so, what does that mean for children? Many of you grew up in fractured households. My parents are still together. Am I any better off than someone whose parents divorced when they were a kid?

What if you have ten five-year relationships instead of one fifty-year marriage? Are more relationships inherently worse?

I don’t know because I haven’t been in that situation. You can’t ever really know, can you?

What if medical breakthroughs allow people to live for hundreds of years? Does “‘Till death do us part” mean 150 years of marriage?

I am friends with both men and women who have cheated on their spouses. Men may be more prone to stray, but not by that much. It’s not just a disease of the man with roving eyes.

In the end, whichever side of the fence you fall on, no matter how much or little the possibility of cheating bothers you, isn’t spying on your partner kind of absurd? If you’re reduced to playing covert operative, why not just leave?