Tending Your Garden

Could an affair help you grow?

Issue #56

By Vivienne Arkell

Relationships are like gardens, constantly in the state of flux and hopefully growth over the course of multiple seasons and years. But what happens when we don’t tend to them? Exactly what transpires in The Affair, Showtime’s television series co-created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi.

Helen’s full life, raising four children while managing work and the home, gets disrupted during summer vacation when her husband Noah starts an affair with a married waitress named Alison. The tale unfolds with each episode exploring two versions of the story. Depending on the viewpoint of the narrator, perspective and memory bias fluctuate wildly, exposing the effects of this extramarital relationship on everyone involved.

While most women will instantly despise Noah for his selfish behavior, The Affair’s creative storytelling, both somber and riveting, is a complex exploration of desire. While it’s easy to take sides and criticize Noah for sowing his seeds and stepping outside conventional boundaries, wasn’t it Helen who let weeds and wildflowers into her garden by not paying complete attention?

As multiple relationships unfold, Noah and Helen go their separate ways while staying partially entwined due to joint custody of the kids. After the anger and denial phase wanes a bit, Helen finally starts paying attention to her own sensual garden. For a few seasons we doubt that her mind is really into it, but eventually she is able to let loose with a desirable stud for pleasure and intimacy.

The show is not void of cliché. But seeing how easy it is to slip into patterns, such as not tending to our entire garden, is revelatory. Without spoiling the ending, what can be learned from The Affair about relationships?

A continuance of sexual attraction and temptation is a must if our sensual garden at home is to thrive. When Helen starts to look hot again, Noah likes what he sees and questions his judgement. Devotion to her family is undeniable. Yet only when she devotes time and intention to her personal garden of self-exploration and growth does she bring energy and eroticism into her bedroom.

Maintaining mystery and a sense of adventure is what attracts all lovers in this drama. Familiarity breeds boredom and brings stagnation. Therapist and author Esther Perel delves at length into this paradox of more love less sex in her writings on keeping relationships alive.

While perennials are the basis and architecture of any garden or relationship, fresh input and discovery grab our attention and help everyone flourish. New blossoms are always enticing and lurking in the garden of life. Make sure you continue to redefine and grow your sensual allure.

Nurture yourself as well as any loved ones with fresh seeds and blooms. Tend to your feminine energy and live out your relationship with the excitement and freshness of an affair.


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