It’s a terrible habit. I can’t sleep reading in bed. But I do I fall asleep watching TV. I love watching re-reruns of Law & Order: SVU, or Modern Family. In one episode of Modern Family in season 2 about Valentine’s Day, Gloria Pritchett portrayed by the beautiful and equally funny Sofia Vergara, hysterically says to her husband who drives her crazy, “I am the second wife Jay, why do you treat me like I’m the first?” And I perked up in bed.
I sometimes wondered something similar along these lines too: That men are nicer to their second wives. That the first wife has to deal with the difficult stuff earlier in life, and then the second wife is there to reap the rewards, in all senses. I see many cases where men who roared like lions in their first marriages become mere lambs in their second. I felt like as if they learned their lessons, men didn’t take their wives for granted the second time around.
But it’s not as simple as it is. I have so many girlfriends who are second, third or fourth wives. And it is not very easy for them either. Not all men become lambs so to speak. They also sometimes become untrusting. They have to deal with stuff that are just not there when all are younger. There is always the “issue” of the first wife. Both the first wife herself and in some cases her issue—the kids—too, I guess. In the end, more often than not there is resentment among these women, the wives.
There is a painting by Rossetti in the Delaware Art Museum. It is called “Lady Lilith”. Now in my study of the Bible back when I was in college and from later studies I knew Lilith to be the evil snake/serpent who convinced Eve to eat the Apple and seduce Adam. Hence their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
Turns out, it is not so: Adam was created together with Lilith, his first wife! Of the same material: Dust. And as equals. But Lilith was a free spirit. Independent. Adam said, “I’ll be on the top”. Lilith said, “No. I’ll be the top”. There was no controlling Lilith to submission. (And neither did Adam cede). So Lilith left. And a new woman was created, not from the same material but Adam’s rib itself, namely Eve.
Eve is nice. The whole world descends from her. (I mean, she even has to bed her sons for further procreation). She is docile. Even then she is the culpable one for convincing Adam to eat the Apple. (Come on! Couldn’t have Adam just said, “No”?) But no. It’s all Eve’s doing. Or rather wrong-doing.
Adam is never at fault. First it is Lilith. Then Eve. So much so that Lilith is assigned to being the dark force, the source of evil. To being the snake/serpent, forever condemned to crawl on her belly for her disobedience. She is supposed to have long hair resembling snakes, like in the myth of the Medusa. She is depicted even in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo in the Original Sin with Adam and Eve, as the serpent. (Curiously Michelangelo depicts Adam and Eve as having belly buttons; something else to think about). Take a look:
Original Sin and the Banishment from the Garden of Eden, 1508-1512, by Michelangelo
The system is in place for hundreds of years. Women shouldn’t listen to the snake/serpent, the other women. The terrible first wife: The independent woman who is not for submission. And the terrible second wife: The curious woman who wants to try different things. I have never heard any interpretation where Adam is faulty. And then the women become all jaded.
On this International Women’s Day. I hope women more likely think about stories, myths and archetypes. Question everything. And see that life has difficulties for all, but in different ways. Don’t let the system continue to make enemies of each other.