Monday, November 20, 2023

The big peril of non-monogamy

Your partner may meet someone whom they like better than you.

"Open" relationships are often tried and seem a good idea at first but in the end a committed monogamous relationship is a better route to long term security in a relationship. The woman below found that out the hard way. She has lost her partner and is suffering badly as a result

For those of you who have been following my last few posts, you know that my relationship with my husband is tenuously holding on by a very thin thread. Four years into our non-monogamous exploration, his new, very serious, relationship with an HSV2+ partner has caused our relationship to implode.

In the nine months since he started dating his new partner, we have had to grapple with the significance of introducing someone with an STI into our sexual lives, in the face of very different views on the associated risks. We’ve also had to negotiate my husband’s request to change our non-monogamy agreement and transition to becoming non-hierarchical. And, on top of that, we’ve been navigating the contrast between his new, highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship and our long-term, relatively less sexually intense relationship involving three kids, a dog, a mortgage, bills and the other realities of married life.

Yeah… it’s been a fucking awful few months….

From my perspective, all of this started nine months ago. Right around the time — actually, to be totally exact, it was exactly at the time — that he met his new partner. Before that fateful point in time, things had been mostly humming along between us. We’d survived the roller-coaster of the first few years of the massive transition from monogamy to having sex and relationships with various new partners. We’d entered a fairly stable phase of our non-monogamy.

I was pretty confident we were kind of normal. Yes, obviously, there were some points of friction and just general blah-ness that comes with a quarter of a decade of living together, but overall I felt good about our relationship. We were talking about the future. We were going out on date nights every couple of weeks. We enjoyed our time together on vacation. And we were getting through the daily hum of family life without too many hiccups. Plus we were kind of rocking non-monogamy, with both of us having stable partners that added rather than depleted from our life.

I totally acknowledge that there were parts of our relationship and life together that weren’t perfect. There were days were we struggled with our different communication styles — I’m rapid-fire and he’s a thinker-before-speaking type of guy. There were periods when we felt a bit less connected, preferring to spend our evenings on our separate mobile devices watching our own shows rather than spending the evening compromising on watching a show together. It wasn’t shits and giggles every single minute.

But I still felt our relationship was good.

Nine months ago, it wasn’t just between us that it was good. Our family unit was strong. With three teenagers in the house, many people assumed our home life was full of teenage hormones, drama and rolling eyes. In reality, our three kids have always been fairly lovely people to be around, even during the throes of adolescence. Unlike many families in which the teenagers disappear into grungy basements to sit in front of screens all day and all night, our teens spend a lot of time with us. In fact, we spent so much time together that we would sing-song to each other “just the fiiiiive of us” as we sat down for our almost-daily family dinner.

Up until recently, I thought we were the lucky ones — lucky to have such a close, connected family. I felt lucky to have a 25+ year relationship with a man that I loved, respected and wanted to grow old with. An us against the world kind of feeling.

And then, there was this fateful day when he met her and suddenly things changed.

The shift was neither subtle nor slow to come about. It happened fast. Practically overnight my husband became distant and irritable around us, spending more and more time out of the house. He stopped coming to bed at the same time as me preferring to stay on the couch until the wee hours of the night texting with his new partner. His evening absences met fewer family dinners and those that he was physically present for, he didn’t contribute to the conversation.

I started to gripe about the situation. I even dared suggest that his new relationship was causing more harm than good and that maybe it was time to end it and get ourselves back on more stable footing. I foolishly thought that if she was out of the picture we could go back to the way things were before. I was wrong.

Instead of considering the role that this new relationship was having on us, my husband was thinking something very different. He finally told me that he’d been unhappy for years. He felt that’s why we were in the situation we were in. Whereas I completely blamed his new relationship and felt that his emotional connection with his new partner was causing havoc on our relationship and the sanctity of our family unit, he thought the havoc had nothing to do with her. I was gob-smacked — and if there was ever a time to use the word gob-smacked this is it — when he told me that the problem was our relationship. He said that he had felt our marriage had been lacking for many years and he was done with being unhappy.

Since that shocker, he has made clear that he is “digging in his heels and pushing back” on what he views as years and years of me not paying enough attention to him. The problems in our relationship, according to him, are so bad and so terrible, that we need to fix them now or he will leave.

I am totally destabilized. I feel complete dissonance between what I experienced and what he says he experienced in our marriage. I thought we were happy. Perfect? No. But happy. He says he wasn’t for years. I did not know and feel blindsided by his newly expressed version of our life together.

I admit, I have struggled to believe him. The timing is problematic. If he’d been unhappy for years why did it only come out when he met his new partner? I can’t help but think he is actively trying to rationalize his decisions about his new partner by convincing himself that he was unhappy with me. Re-writing our history and making me the bad guy may be a lot easier than taking a look at his actions.

He admits she’s been a “catalyst” but even without her, he says it was a matter of time before he was going to leave me. Seriously?

I want to scream at him: What were you doing or going to do to stop this from happening? Why didn’t you fight for us? Why didn’t you tell me before it got this bad?

We are now in a stalemate. I blame him for falling in love with someone and being blind to the impact this has had on his decisions and thought process. He blames me for not believing that there has been a big problem between us for years.

I feel like I have two choices in front of me: Either continue to believe that the problem stems from her or start to reflect on whether there were major cracks in my marriage’s foundation that I didn’t see (or didn’t want to see). Was our non-monogamous exploration an attempt to fill those cracks? Did we open up because our marriage was unhappy? If so, can we fix things before things crumble completely?

I desperately want to go back to believing we are the lucky ones. But I am not sure it will ever be “just the five of us” again.


Israeli Arab journalists show the way in reporting on the Hamas October 7 attacks

Yes. A substantial number of Israeli citizens are Arabs, not Jews

Journalists here struggling to speak with moral clarity should read the work of Israeli Arab journalists and activists to see how some Palestinians can grieve for Gaza yet react in horror to the barbaric massacre of civilian Jews in their homes on October 7 and understand Israel’s need to take military action to ensure such crimes never happen again.

Highlighting the idiocy of arguments by UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese across ABC platforms last week that Israel is an apartheid state, many Israeli Arabs have spoken passionately about the Jewish homeland in which they live as Muslims who vote and elect Arab members to the Knesset.

For heart-breaking honesty, nothing beats the live to air October 11 news broadcast of prominent journalist and Channel 13 presenter Lucy Aharish, an Arab married to popular Jewish actor Tzahi Halevi. The pair launched their own personal rescue mission, coordinated by phone as Aharish spoke with residents in Kfar Aza while terrorists were attempting to break into their safe room. Halevi and his reservist unit rescued the trapped family.

Just as confronting is the interview she did with CNN on October 13.

She concludes the almost nine-minute interview saying what is happening to Israel is an “Awful truth. A brutal truth. Catastrophic truth.” She calls on fellow journalists around the world and social media platforms to “stop the lies” she says are discounting October 7 and portraying Israel as an aggressor – even though it had not occupied Gaza since 2005.

Aharish concludes: “As a Muslim, this is not Islam. What Hamas is doing in the name of religion is not being a Muslim. This is being a monster.”

At our ABC, news and current affairs broadcasts continue to quote Hamas spokespeople denying the massacre or denying Hamas is hiding rockets under schools and hospitals. It’s like quoting a spokesman for Osama bin Laden denying al-Qa’ida flew planes into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

LGBTQ activists in effect standing with Hamas, the ideological soulmate of the ISIS fighters who threw gays from rooftops in Syria eight years ago, might care to read Tel Aviv-based queer activist Muhammad Zoabi, an Arab Israeli supporter of Palestinian rights. He wrote in Newsweek on November 1 that October 7 “made us feel more Israeli than ever – when we saw not only footage of our mass murder (100 Arab Israelis were killed in the Hamas massacre), but the celebration of it in Gaza”.

He quotes published polling showing 80 per cent of Arab Israelis reject that attack on innocent civilians and 70 per cent support Israel’s right to respond militarily. He says historically conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has created sympathy for fellow Arabs among his community. No longer.

Also worth a read is Arab Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin, who on October 22 told Globes business news, “This is Israel’s 9/11, unfortunately. When 9/11 happened, Muslim Americans were American first, so now I am Israeli first. When there is a Hitler-level event, you cannot be neutral.”

Here lies the problem with much of the media’s moral equivalence over reporting in Gaza the past six weeks. Journalists show no understanding of the existential threat Israelis of all ethnicities and political persuasions felt on October 7.

Why do so many reporters at the ABC raise the dangers of Islamophobia when it was Islamic protesters who threatened Jews at Friday Shabbat in Melbourne’s Caulfield Synagogue last Friday week and Islamic bike riders who intimidated peaceful protesters in Sydney’s heavily Jewish Coogee the following day?

Why haven’t more journalists been clear about the outrageous Sydney protesters on Monday October 9 chanting “gas the Jews” within a couple of days of the worst loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. How do journalists think that makes local Holocaust survivors and their descendants here feel?

A young journalistic generation is falling into classic anti-Semitism. By inadvertently repeating the sly lies of Islamist social media activists, journalists here are perpetuating stereotypes about Jews, a tiny group of 16 million globally compared with the world’s two billion Muslims.

Israel is not a European coloniser. More than half its Jewish citizens are Mizrahi and had always lived in the Middle East. When 700,000 Palestinians left Israel in 1948 after Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon attacked Israel and lost, another 850,000 Middle Eastern Jews were forced out of their homes in those countries to come to Israel.

Nor can any serious lawyer accuse Israel of genocide. Genocide requires a population to decline, as the Jewish world did during the Holocaust. The Palestinian population is the fastest growing in the Arab world.

When journalists compare Israel to Germany’s Nazi regime, they are slyly denying the realities of both the Holocaust and the Palestinians’ own history of allegiance with the Third Reich and the Arab anti-Semitism discussed in this column on October 14, October 29 and November 7.

When ABC reporters quote Hamas spokespeople as if they were civilian bureaucrats, they privilege a racist Islamist ideology committed in Article 7 of its own 1988 original charter to the mass murder of the Jews and destruction is Israel.

When supporters of Israel say Arab extremism is the greatest threat to Palestinians, they are correct. Had Israel’s neighbours accepted the boundaries set out by the UN, Palestinians would not have lost a series of wars that cost them land in 1948, the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. No doubt they will lose more after this war.

How can ABC journalists not know Hamas has been using Palestinians as shields in hospitals and schools for years. Even UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it last week: “Hamas and other militants use civilians as shields and continue to launch rockets indiscriminately at Israel.”

The UN’s own investigation under former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found exactly that in 2015. Why don’t ABC editorial executives know this?

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday editorialised that Human Rights Watch had admitted as far back as 2007 that Hamas was using the Al-Shifa hospital to fire rockets at Palestinian rival Fatah. The New York Times reported Hamas openly used the hospital as a base in the 2008-09 war. The Washington Post in 2014 described Al-Shifa as Hamas’s de facto headquarters.

Yet as recently as last Thursday, ABC AM was still quoting unnamed Hamas officials denying it had used the hospital to launch attacks against Israel. And despite a week of claims the hospital was under attack, AM failed to point out no patients or staff had been hurt by Israeli soldiers who took control of the largely undamaged building last Wednesday.

Israel has little choice but to ignore the useful fools of the Western media.

As Yossi Klein Halevi wrote on his blog on The Times of Israel on November 12, “The Jews of Israel must remain the ‘lonely people of history’.

“Naively we had assumed that the October 7 massacre would linger in the world’s consciousness. Surely those who played down Israel’s security fears would now understand the nature of the threat we face on our borders. No, we patiently explain, the massacre was not in response to anything Israel does but to what Israel is.”


Doctors step up calls for gender care re-examination

The battle over gender-affirmative medicine in Australia has intensified with a call to arms by two experienced psychiatrists for their fellow doctors to resist the pressure of activism that has triggered the widespread “subordination of clinical governance to social and political goals” in the rush to affirm distressed children’s chosen gender.

The psychiatrists used an academic paper in a top psychiatry journal to urge the medical profession to heed the “cautionary tale” posed by the healthcare scandal that unfolded at London’s Tavistock clinic and in British compensation cases they say are directly relevant to Australia.

Monash Medical Centre child and adolescent psychiatrist George Halasz and Andrew Amos, an academic psychiatrist who has previously held a training role with Queensland’s health department, went as far as to remind doctors of their obligation to observe the Hippocratic oath in questioning the evidence base of affirmative medicine.

In an article in the journal Australasian Psychiatry, They urged doctors to examine the ethics of a model in which powerful hormone drugs are prescribed despite a lack of evidence that the affirmation of a child’s perceived gender identity and subsequent medical transition eases teenagers’ mental distress.

“The natural history of gender dysphoria suggests two critical ethical questions: first, is the ‘transition pathway’ – social, medical or surgical – in the best interest of the child?” the two psychiatrists wrote. “Second, is that pathway consistent with the principle ‘first, do no harm’?”

But even as the explosive article was published, paediatricians and their colleagues at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne – home of the nation’s leading experts in gender-affirmative medicine and the self-appointed setters of quasi-national guidelines adopted by most of the country’s children’s hospitals – quietly published an updated version of their standards of care that endorse a radical expansion of the affirmative model.

The new guidelines endorse the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones by general practitioners, outside a multidisciplinary model led by specialist children’s hospitals – the model explicitly endorsed as of utmost importance by the Cass Review in the UK.

The review by pediatrician Hilary Cass of the Tavistock clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service began in 2022 and triggered the institution’s closure. It confirmed a limited evidence base for gender-affirming care, systemic failures of clinical governance, and unjustifiable risks of harms to children and families, amid re-examination of the affirmative model in academic literature and policy in countries throughout Europe.

Despite this, the new RCH guidelines do not reference the Tavistock fallout at all, or the fact puberty blocker drugs are only able to be prescribed in the context of a clinical trial now in England. Nor do they mention the growing caution that has prompted a rollback of the medical model in countries that had previously adopted it, including Finland, amid the recent scientific discrediting of the Dutch “affirmation model” on which Australia’s approach is still based.

“It is unrealistic that all trans and gender-diverse adolescents in Australia will be able to directly access comprehensive specialist paediatric services, especially with these specialist disciplines co-located within a public health service,” the new guidelines state. “Provision of a multidisciplinary team approach with co-ordination of care from general practitioners, private specialist practitioners and community-based clinicians can be an effective alternative in ensuring best practice and accessibility to medical intervention.”

The RCH was approached for comment and declined.

Clinicians pushing for clinical accountability and transparency said they were stunned that the new guidelines fail to consider any of the newly emerging evidence or systematic reviews post-2020 that have dismantled the credibility of the original Dutch model that underpins gender-affirmative medicine and also cast doubt on the efficacy of the approach, highlighted in Australia this year by research clinicians at the The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

In interviews with The Weekend Australian expanding upon their academic paper, Professor Halasz and Dr Amos expanded upon their concerns that there were “major risks associated with gender-affirming care”. Yet the new version of Australia’s guidelines “reads as if there is simply no controversy”.

Professor Halasz said it was beyond time for Australia’s children’s hospitals – in particular in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – to review their approach.

“I think it’s wise that any hospital that has been following what’s happened to the Tavistock to start to distance itself as much as possible, as urgently as possible, lest they suffer the same fate,” Professor Halasz said. “What I would ask is, where is the transparency? Where (are) the outcomes of the procedures, whether they are social transitioning procedures, or medical procedures of prescribing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones?

“And where is the data on the number of surgical interventions that follow after the Royal Children’s Hospital care is finished and these patients transition over to adult services? Where is the data? Or the follow-up to document detransitioners? Where is the evidence?”

The psychiatrists said the rise of gender-affirmative medicine had been heavily influenced by trans activist groups whose lobbying was aggressive and intimidatory. And that culture had flowed through into medical training. “As someone involved in the education of training psychiatrists, I am particularly concerned at how effective trans advocacy has been in training young doctors to reflexively reject any evidence that there might be negative consequences to gender-affirming care,” Dr Amos said. “Trainees appear to believe that simply acknowledging there are alternative approaches to gender dysphoria actually threatens harm to the transgender community. I would describe that as magical thinking.

“I think there’s been a failure of leadership across medicine. Individual practitioners have been able to have huge influence because medical colleges have not stepped in to provide guidance.”

Professor Halasz, who trained in the UK and was in close contact with doctors who watched the Tavistock scandal unfold, described the rise of gender-affirming medicine as taking place within a radical form of social activism. “It was a culture of intimidation, silence, and I think threat,” the professor said. “And I just thought ‘this is so outside of my understanding of what medicine is about’.”

The psychiatrists said they were concerned by the suspension of Queensland specialist child psychiatrist Jillian Spencer, who had come into conflict with hospital bosses at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane over clinical practice in treating gender-questioning children.

Dr Spencer, a vocal critic of affirmative care, has been stood down from her role as a senior staff specialist at the hospital for months following a patient complaint – a fact that concerns Dr Amos.

He said it has been very difficult to get psychiatrists to make public statements about gender dysphoria even though the majority appeared to share a more moderate, exploratory approach. Doctors were afraid for their professional reputations.

“The major reason for this fear is that trans advocates appear to be both aggressive in their rhetoric, and unwilling to engage in any discussion that does not adopt their basic viewpoint,” Dr Amos said. “While I do not know the specific details, the protracted suspension of child psychiatrist Jillian Spencer for expressing an alternative view of the approach to gender dysphoria appears to have confirmed the real threat behind such fears.”

And the overriding of parents’ frequent gut instinct for caution over affirmation had damaged psychiatry as a profession, according to Professor Halasz.

“Our profession is entrusted by parents to do what’s in the best interest of their child,” he said. “The trust that we have built up with families over years, I believe, actually has been absolutely shredded by this process.”


Argentina elects Trump-like libertarian Javier Milei as president

Like Trump, he is an economist so that augurs well for Argentina

Buenos Aires: Argentina elected libertarian outsider Javier Milei as its new president on Sunday, rolling the dice on an outsider with radical views to fix an economy battered by triple-digit inflation, a looming recession and rising poverty.

Official results have not been released, but his rival, Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa, conceded in a speech. His candidacy was hampered by the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades while he has been at the helm.

Milei, who has frequently been compared to ex-US president Donald Trump, is pledging economic shock therapy. His plans include shutting the central bank, ditching the peso, and slashing spending, potentially painful reforms that resonated with voters angry at the economic malaise, but sparked fears of austerity in others.

“Milei is the new thing, he’s a bit of an unknown and it is a little scary, but it’s time to turn over a new page,” said 31-year-old restaurant worker Cristian as he voted on Sunday.

But Milei’s challenges are enormous. He will have to deal with the empty coffers of the government and central bank, a creaking $US44 billion debt program with the International Monetary Fund, inflation nearing 150 per cent and a dizzying array of capital controls.

With many Argentines not fully convinced by either candidate, some had characterized the vote as a choice of the “lesser evil”: fear of Milei’s painful economic medicine versus anger at Massa and his Peronist party for an economic crisis that has left Argentina deeply in debt and unable to tap global credit markets.

Milei has been particularly popular among the young, who have grown up seeing their country lurch from one crisis to another.

“Our generation is pushing the presidency of Milei to stop our country being a pariah,” said Agustina Lista, 22, a student in Buenos Aires.

Milei’s win shakes up Argentina’s political landscape and economic roadmap, and could impact trade in grains, lithium and hydrocarbons. Milei has criticised China and Brazil, saying he won’t deal with “communists,” and favours stronger US ties.

The shock rise of the 53-year-old economist and former TV pundit has been the story of the election, breaking the hegemony of the two main political forces on the left and the right - the Peronists and the main Together for Change conservative bloc.

“The election marks a profound rupture in the system of political representation in Argentina,” said Julio Burdman, director of the consultancy Observatorio Electoral, ahead of the vote.

Supporters of Massa, 51, an experienced political wheeler-dealer, had sought to appeal to voter fears about Milei’s volatile character and “chainsaw” plan to cut back the size of the state.

“Milei’s policies scare me,” teacher Susana Martinez, 42, said on Sunday after she voted for Massa.

Milei is also staunchly anti-abortion, favours looser gun laws and has called Argentine Pope Francis a socialist “son of a bitch”. He used to carry a chainsaw in a symbol of his planned cuts but shelved it in recent weeks to help boost his moderate image.




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