Marriages That Start As Affairs: Beyond Picasso, Feminism Changes Everything

Marriages That Start As Affairs: Beyond Picasso, Feminism Changes Everything

Picasso & Jacqueline

Picasso broke new ground in art; but, in marital relations, he was old school.

Art historian Barbara Rose sums up the old way perfectly when she describes the marriage of Picasso and Jacqueline Roque, which started as an affair. In the catalog to Pace Gallery’s new show, “Picasso & the Camera,” Ms. Rose says about Picasso and Roque, “She thought he was God and he thought he was God.  The two of them were in love with him.”  [“Master and Muse” WSJ. Oct, 2014]

Other phrases used in this article to describe Jacqueline and Pablo’s relationship are in the same vein,

  • “Jacqueline in the shadows, watching Picasso work, a dynamic both evidently enjoyed”
  • “Jacqueline blithely neglected her daughter {from a previous marriage] to run the household, monitor his social life and spend hours in the studio [i.e. Picasso’s studio]”
  • …she was slavishly reverent of him”
  • “Jacqueline created peace for him”.

It’s all about HIM.

That was then…
Today, during the affair period, the relationship might be characterized similarly because the man is usually the more powerful, the more advanced in his career, and the one with more money.  So, the woman he is having an affair with accepts that, if she wants to keep the affair going, things pretty much have to be his way.

Then, if he leaves his wife and marries his affair partner, they are, all of a sudden, in a relationship with a different power balance: a modern marriage.

The Modern Marriage Changes Everything
The change in women’s roles since the feminist revolution comes into play.  The man and the woman are equals.  There’s no need for secrecy and no need to keep quiet about being dissatisfied with everything being his way. Modern women don’t want to remain “in the shadows.”

For him, the ecstasy of the affair is diminished.  No longer is it 100% admiration, adulation, capitulation and gratification.

So, today the marriage that started as an affair might have strains that wouldn’t have been there before the feminist revolution. 

Is it also true that an affair is more likely to turn into a marriage today than it used to be? It would be very hard to get statistics on this; but it is possible that even under the pressure of secrecy, a modern woman feels she has more power to press for marriage after the affair has gone on a while than she used to.

Studying Picasso is worthwhile.  But in art, not in modern marriage.

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