Married with…Friends of the Opposite Sex?

The other night I started a book by Shannon Hale called The Actor and the Housewife.  I have read and adored many of Hale’s other novels:  The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, Austenland.  But this may be one time I actually put down a book of hers before I’ve invested even 100 pages.

the_actor_and_the_housewifeThe story has to do with the unlikely meeting and blossoming frienship between a married Mormon housewife from Utah and an (also married)attractive British movie star.  I am completely torn on how to feel about a plot that is at one turn so totally unbelievable – their witty, effortless banter is painfully contrived – and altogether too real – the dangerous emotional kalaidescope of becoming  close to a man who is not your husband.

I cannot figure out what Hale is playing at.  Her female lead continually downplays the situation by telling herself:

  • I’m just a frumpy housewife, what romantic ideas could he possibly have about me?
  • I’m not doing anything secretive, I’ve told my husband everything.
  • I love my husband and kids.

But…at the same time, she gets giddy every time the actor calls, misses him when he doesn’t, and notices things like the way he leans his thigh into hers when they are dancing together.

I believe the novel is meant to be light and humorous, with touches of sentimentality; I’ve seen it described as “chick lit” in many places online.  I feel like I should trust Hale’s talent and track-record for creating great work and finish the book.  Many women I know have, and truly enjoyed the read.

I’m just having a terrible time getting past my idea that this kind of potentially detrimental emotional entanglement isn’t something to make light of.  Married spouses becoming friends – like going out to dinner, talking frequently on the phone, confiding in each other kinds of friends – with members of the opposite sex can be a messy business.  I don’t know if I’m prepared to have a story about it handed to me with a few chuckles.

  • I have to agree. I hate to say anything is “always” a bad idea, but in my opinion, that is ALWAYS a bad idea. Any woman thinking that *any* man wouldn’t be interested in her is naive to start with – so what if you’re a frumpy housewife. Your hubby is still interested so trust that there is another man who would be also – it’s not worth the potential danger to develop ANY type of emotional ties to another man… that’s just how I feel about it. It is a breeding ground for confusion (at best) and could foster an environment rich in possibilities that aren’t intended. I’ve seen it happen and it ain’t pretty. {Yes, ain’t.} LOL

    I hope you finish the book and find that the characters realized this without any detriment coming to their respective marriages. I know it’s just a book, but … still.

  • LCM

    I read this book and I enjoyed it. But I was the same as you. I was seriously uncomfortable about how blase she was, plus she didn’t really get how spouses might be uncomfortable about it. When I worked the ladies I worked with thought I was really odd because I didn’t want to lunch with a male station rep alone. I just didn’t even want to start down that path.

  • Jen

    I also read the book and enjoyed it and then Paul read it so we could discuss it together. Maybe it’s because we met in the singles ward and were friends for a long time before we started dating, and maybe it’s because we were highly accomplished flirts, but we always said it would be fine to have friends of the opposite sex…and we both still do and are completely open and honest with each other and don’t have any problems with it. We both found the book very interesting, but found it more helpful in terms of understanding dealing with grief as discussed in the second half of the book. I’d love to hear your take on the book once you finish.