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It has been pretty amusing to watch the reactions this week to an off-handed comment actress Eva Mendes made about sweatpants:

 “No, no, no, no! You can’t do sweatpants. No. Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America? Sweatpants. No. Can’t do that.”  mendes_sweatpants_divorce tweet

She apologized with good humor on Instagram a few days later, blaming orange crocs instead (I’m with her on that!). Still, you think she had something really controversial about, say same-sex marriage or the Middle East or ISIS or something of real substance, but the world reacted swiftly and snarkily and the 41-year-old actress, who had a baby with boyfriend Ryan Gosling last September, had to tweet — hey, it was joke! Gosling, being the good partner, backed her up on Twitter:

“Obviously sweatpants thing was a joke. Wearing them now. That’s right, tweeting in sweatpants. Rats! Said too much! You win again Twitter.” tweet

Among the brouhaha was an article by Brian Moylan, who gave his own spin in Time magazine. There’s a message behind Eva’s comment, he says, no matter how flippantly she made it — if someone lets him/herself slide, it means trouble for the relationship:

The sweatpants could be anything. … The “sweatpants” are not bringing flowers home or not having sex regularly or gaining 20 pounds or peeing with the door open or buying your partner a present just because. … The sweatpants are familiarity and the contempt that they breed. Familiarity is one of the great things about being in a long-term relationship, the possibility to be so comfortable around another person that you can just be yourself. But it’s also dangerous territory. The problem is when your real self is sometimes a little bit less desirable than the ideal version of you that your partner saw in your first few months of courtship, when the emotion was high and those intoxicating love hormones in your brain were freely flowing. That’s why, sometimes, we have to give up our comfort and do something a little special for our significant other. tweet

I have written before about a complaint many men have — their wives have gained so much weight that they’re no longer turned on by them — or that that their wives are no longer interested in sex. And I have addressed how familiarity breeds well, not necessarily contempt as Brian states, but certainly complacency and taking each other for granted (any you don’t have to be married for that to happen, as Susan Sarandon once observed, and Eva and Ryan are not married, either).

But the problem with both Eva’s comment, no matter how much of a joke it was, and Brian’s assessment of it (because everyone took it seriously, reminding me of the reaction to my tongue-and-cheek Huffington Post article on why women shouldn’t marry hot men) is that one person is responsible for a divorce. That if the wife lets herself go, well, of course her husband is going to want out — or maybe just an affair. Thus we are inundated with well-meaning but misguided articles on how you can divorce- or affair-proof your marriage. Except you can’t — all you can do is be the best person you can be and hope that you married someone who’s also interested in being the best he/she can be. You can’t control another person’s behavior, and if wearing sweats send your partner running, well, that says more about his/her character than your own.

And — hello, peopleit isn’t just a women’s job to keep her marriage/relationship on track, despite what we’ve had shoved down our throats like the geese that are destined for foie gras.

So, does that mean you can wear sweats? I don’t see why not (although I prefer yoga pants, but whatever). There’s a wide spectrum of what “letting yourself go” means, and from my experience as a twice-married and divorced woman, I will say here’s what I’ve observed — most of us are totally capable of losing weight, exercising more and looking better once we’re divorced and perhaps looking for new love, which is why I say we should all act like we’re divorced in our marriage (again, tongue-in-cheek). If we can do that while single, why not do it when we’re married? If you don’t, it does not give your spouse carte blanche to act poorly. And if you do, it doesn’t mean your marriage will be divorce- or affair-proof — there are no guarantees in love — but at least you will feel great about yourself. You do want that, right?

Interested in learning about ways to re-create your marriage? Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press, September 2014). Order the book on Amazon, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook.



2 Responses to “Was Eva Mendes right about sweatpants?”

  1. PJay says:

    Yes, by all means, gain wait, forget about sex and wear sweatpants around the house.
    Every other American woman seems to be doing the same.

  2. Robert Cohen says:

    My ex gained more than a hundred pounds in our marriage, but that did nothing too cool my ardor. She started a bedroom boycott, either because she lost interest or became more interested in female bed partners. I did not cheat, even though I thought about it. I never found a decent honorable woman who wanted an affair with a married man.
    I filed for divorce, and the narrative about her bedroom boycott is part of the trial transcript. But the judge still ordered that my ex gets one half my paycheck for life in addition to half of all assets, even though I put her through undergraduate and graduate school and she always worked her whole life up until the divorce trial date.

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