Like Rachel Green in FRIENDS says (or asks, rather), “Didn’t you think you were just gonna meet someone, fall in love, and that’d be it?” I have always felt a little jealous of people who found their one true love early in life. Meeting late in our lives has been one of my biggest frustrations with my recent relationship.
This is the theme of the first conflict in the drama. A middle aged man, Professor Park Hae-ryun suddenly wanted to divorce his wife, Lee Si-eun, of 31 years. In the beginning of the series (and maybe until the end), his character is really a bit despicable.
Si-eun is the epitome of a perfect wife. She is calm and simple, she does not demand and nag. She diligently wakes up early every morning to prepare breakfast for the family and pack her husband a lunch box. She keeps the house clean and tidy, and does all the chores tirelessly, not once complaining about her sore wrists.
Hae-ryun is the epitome of a typical husband. By typical (I apologize to anyone who I might offend, and by this I mean what society thinks is normal, not my personal opinions definitely) I meant the busy breadwinner who could not be bothered by housekeeping (there was this scene where he met his wife in the elevator with the trash in her hands and he did not even offered to take them down). Annoyed yet? And he should have returned the fancy car Si-eun bought for him.
My initial reaction to Hae-ryun’s lame excuse was “yeah right, that cannot be it, you are seeing a younger woman”. I mean, they have been together for so long and he just suddenly felt guilty about not being good enough for her (though he could not have been more right)? What the heck was that?! Then he blamed his wife’s bloody wrist patches! Of course Boo Hye-ryung (and I) were right on the money!
In a relationship, the honeymoon period is estimated to be 6 months to 2 years. After the initial excitement and rush we feel when we have a new lover wears off (the first date, the first kiss, staying up late into the night getting to know the other person better, and more), how do we keep the fire burning? When the heat starts to cool down and we settle into a routine (and we hear him fart for the first time, notice how she annoyingly leaves wet towels on the bed, make us feel like I am his last priority), how do we keep it ablaze?
Men also show a much stronger desire for sexual variety. In one study, college students were asked how many sexual partners they would like to have over various time intervals. Over the next year, women said they would prefer on average to have one sexual partner, while men wanted six. Over three years, women wanted two sexual partners, compared to ten for men. And over a lifetime, the average woman wanted four or five, while the average man wanted eighteen.
The desire for variety is so extreme in men that it can lead to some bizarre behavior. In 1995, Hugh Grant was dating super-model Elizabeth Hurley, and he still felt the need to solicit oral sex with a prostitute, although his subsequent arrest had no effect on his film career (which suggests that most Hollywood moguls must have an instinctive sympathy for the occasional need to solicit a blow job). There are countless recent examples of men, ranging from Bill Clinton to Eliot Spitzer, taking mind-boggling risks for sexual variety that are almost impossible to explain according to any sort of rational calculation. I think only evolutionary psychology has a satisfying answer, which is that some deep, instinctual drive created by thousands of generations of evolution – in this case, a man’s greater desire for sexual variety – was guiding their behavior. Even the cliched idea of a man’s midlife crisis is an expression of this evolutionary urge. According to new research, a man suffers from a midlife crisis not because he is getting older but because his wife is. By coming to the end of her reproductive life, she ignites a deep-seated desire in him to attract a younger, reproductively active woman.Andrew Trees – Decoding Love
I am certainly not defending Hae-ryun and justifying what he did. In fact, I even mentioned I find his character a tad hateful. He is a professor and is known to be morally upright, trustworthy and responsible. Was he just not strong enough to not act on his animal instinct? After all, if a supermodel gets cheated on with a prostitute, what chance does the old-looking, bare-faced Si-eun have, wearing baggy clothes and smelly wrist patches? Or us, average women, in general?
Is Si-eun partly to blame too, for not taking care of herself? And not remaining attractive in her husband’s eyes? It did not help that Nam Ga-bin is tenacious enough to actually ask the smitten professor to hold her. Among the three mistresses, she sure is my least favorite.
If, according to evolutionary psychology, men are fundamentally wired to crave sexual variety, as women, how can we try to suppress, or at least keep our partners interested in us after years, and even decades, of being together?
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