Why Women Cheat on Their Husbands

It’s hard to keep up with statistics. People cherry pick the ones that make their case, and I suppose I’m no different. I instinctively abhor statistics that insinuate that men are bad, relationships are doomed, and marriage is a dying institution – probably because I consider myself a good man who is happily married.

That said, I’m always trying to challenge my own confirmation bias – having come to terms with the unfortunate facts that 1/4 of women have been sexually assaulted and that only 1/3 of all marriages are happy. This latest study is another example that flies in the face of something that seems obvious: men cheat more than women.

This latest study is another example that flies in the face of something that seems obvious: men cheat more than women.

Not so, says Esther Perel, author of “State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.”

On this very blog, I’ve reported something that seemed likely: 23% of men and 19% cheat over the course of their marriage. But Perel says that times have changed and that while men’s infidelity rate has remained constant, women’s has jumped 40% since 1990. What can we make of this statistic, if it is to be believed?

Well, according to a New York Magazine article about Perel’s new book, women have many of the same sad, mundane rationalizations for their own affairs as men.

“The fact is,” one of these friends told me, “I’m nicer to my husband when I have something special going on that’s just for me.” She found that she was kinder, more patient, less resentful, “less of a bitch.” It occurred to me as I listened that these women were describing infidelity not as a transgression but a creative or even subversive act, a protest against an institution they’d come to experience as suffocating or oppressive. In an earlier generation, this might have taken the form of separation or divorce, but now, it seemed, more and more women were unwilling to abandon the marriages and families they’d built over years or decades. They were also unwilling to bear the stigma of a publicly open marriage or to go through the effort of negotiating such a complex arrangement. These women were turning to infidelity not as a way to explode a marriage, but as a way to stay in it.

Ugh. If a man said this, he’d rightfully be skewered.

But let’s not lose sight of the big picture. Women do have a lot to complain about, as the bearers of the “emotional load” within most marriages. As the article points out, it’s hard to feel hot for your husband when you’re taking care of him like another dependent.

Some part of that is inevitable within marriage. Which opens up a much larger can of worms: are our expectations of marriage setting us up for failure?

The author of the New York piece, Kim Brooks, seems to think so.

“I confided in a friend once that, after 15 years of marriage, the institution and the relationship itself continued to mystify me. At the time I married, marriage had felt like a panacea; it was a bond that would provide security, love, friendship, stability, and romance — the chance to have children and nice dishes, to be introduced as someone’s wife. It promised to expand my circle of family and improve my credit score, to tether me to something wholesome and give my life meaning.

Could any single relationship not fall short of such expectations? Maybe these women were on to something — valuing their marriages for the things it could offer and outsourcing the rest, accepting the distance between the idealization and the actual thing, seeing marriage clearly for what it is and not what we’re all told and promised it will be.”

Personally, I think a huge part of life is having realistic expectations.

If you think you’re going to sign up for Match for a month and find your husband, you’re going to be disappointed.

If you think that your boyfriend is going to understand and intuit all of your emotional needs effortlessly and without fail, you’re going to be disappointed.

If you think that your initial chemistry (and the sex that comes with it) will continue, unabated, for the next 40 years, you’re going to be disappointed.

The problem isn’t life; it’s our expectations of what life has in store for us.

The problem isn’t life; it’s our expectations of what life has in store for us.

The strength of my marriage lies in its honesty. My wife can tease me about my foibles: my impatience in looking for lost items, my inability to fix simple things around the house, my remarkable penchant for getting injured. I can tease her about hers: her refusal to throw out any item of clothing, her insistence on taking a full week to pack for a three-day weekend, her uncanny desire to eat the least healthy item on any menu.

At the end of the day, we accept these flaws. We understand that we’re not going to have sex every time we see each other like we did in that first year. We joke about desiring other people, knowing full well that neither of us would do anything to jeopardize our marriage.

Looking at what I just wrote, it sounds like a cliche: the secret to marriage is open, honest communication.

Then again, maybe it’s no more complex than that.

Maybe cliches are cliches for a reason.

Your thoughts – specifically about women cheating on men – are greatly appreciated in the comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    ScottH

    “Your thoughts – specifically about women cheating on men – are greatly appreciated in the comments below.”

    Why genderize it?  How about unfulfilled partner seeking fulfillment?

    1. 1.1
      Emily, the original

      How about unfulfilled partner seeking fulfillment?

      Actually, another book of Perel’s, Mating in Captivity, talks about how people in happy marriages cheat. She’s claims it’s not about getting away from the spouse but about desire.

  2. 2
    Jeremy

    Interestingly, one of John Gottman’s most counter-intuitive statements in his latest book is that the secret to a healthy marriage ISN’T open, honest communication.  It seems that when we try to communicate honestly, that doesn’t necessarily create greater friendship or bonds.  It just better informs our partner of what we want and that we are open to hearing about what they want.  It says nothing about whether or not we like what we hear or are willing to DO what they want.

     

    Frankly, everything I’ve seen and read leads me to agree with Gottman.  Communication isn’t the answer.  I can only give my opinion on what the answer is.  I’ve written about comfort/arousal, meta-goals, and all kinds of things that have hopefully made people think.  But boiled down to bare bones, here it is IMHO: The key to a good marriage is a healthy degree of self-sacrifice from both partners.  A willingness to NOT get your way.  A willingness to understand and serve the prerogative of your spouse as long as they do the same sometimes.  The more independent we are, the more selfish we are, the more we stand on our own prerogatives (even as we try to communicate them honestly), the worse our relationships IMHO.

     

    As a point of interest (maybe), there is a custom among Orthodox Jews for a bridegroom to wear a white death shroud (called a Kittel) when he gets married.  And many people ask the reason why a man should wear a death-garment when he is getting married.  The answer is that death is the ultimate sublimation of a person’s desires to the universe.  When we die, everything we want for ourselves literally becomes meaningless.  Upon marrying, a man is supposed to think about the fact that now that he is married, he can no longer think about what he wants.  He needs to sublimate his desires to the desires of his wife and eventual family.  The shroud is a reminder of that.  I think it is an interesting custom.  Should be worn by the bride too, but maybe I’m being too modern.

    1. 2.1
      Marika

      Beautiful words Jeremy. I completely agree with all you said, including that women should wear the death shroud too.

      Are you talking about Improving Your Marriage without Talking About it? (I think that was the title). I loved that book. I bought it when pretty much every conversation my ex and I had about our relationship kept ending in a fight. I tried some of the techniques and while it was never going to work out for us, I did find all the tips and techniques to be great and creative. Because a person won’t necessarily remember exactly what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.

      I don’t always agree with everything you say, but I do greatly value your presence here, Jeremy. There’s so much superficialilty and nastiness on here; you are a breath of fresh air!

      1. 2.1.1
        Jeremy

        Thanks for your kind words, Marika. I think the book was Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. You know I don’t always agree with Gottman, but this was something he studied pretty exhaustively.

  3. 3
    Jennifer

    Evan,

    I am a woman who cheated at the end of my marriage. I married for security and comfort- something that I lacked in my upbringing. My marriage lacked emotional connection and attraction, and I was hanging on by my fingernails for several years. I was dying for connection and good sex! I never, ever thought I would be a cheater. Desperation will drive you to do things I never would have thought possible. I’m certainly ashamed for the decisions I made- but it reinforces some of the ideals you share in your blog. A certain amount of chemistry is so important and you should judge the relationship, not the person. My ex was a nice person and trustworthy, but together we were not compatible. I wish I would have found your blog sooner!!

  4. 4
    Tron Swanson

    I’m not surprised to hear that some women are happier when they’re cheating. I think that’s true of people in general, personally: when we’re only getting sex from one source, there’s a certain amount of tension, there. We know that we can be held hostage, in a sense, so we have to walk on eggshells, as everything we say and do can have larger implications. But if you’re getting it from multiple sources, you don’t feel as dependent, so you feel more secure. I’ve only been in a few short-lived situations where women had a sexual monopoly over me (commonly referred to as “relationships”), and I found them to be tense and miserable. I was always glad when I found a second or third source for sex.

    I’ve hooked up with a number of separated and married women, so this is one of the few relationship things that I’m sort of an expert on. It’s the best of both worlds, really: I get what I want, and some other idiot has to pay for her and do all the social stuff she wants to do.

  5. 5
    Adrian

    As a person who has been approached to join threesomes, or to let the husband watch while I sleep with the wife, or who has just been approached about starting something on the side with a married woman. Of course I never acted upon any of this.

    I can say that most of the things people believe about the reasons, moralities, and differences between men and women cheating is just propaganda. Honestly I found no real difference, a woman who cheats is like a man who cheats. A woman who doesn’t cheat is like a man who doesn’t cheat. And of course there is NO profile of a cheater! Many times it happens unplanned.

    Though I will say that 99% of the women who I know that cheat will always find some kind of justification for their actions and it almost always has something to do with what they are not getting from their husbands. I always look at it as something they need to do in order to continue to tell themselves that they are good people whereas the men I know who actively cheat admit to being scummy.

    Basically cheating men blame themselves and cheating women blame their husbands.

    Another difference I noticed with women and men is that with a man most of the women he cheats with are random women. Sure he may know them but he never thought about cheating he just took advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself. But the women who I know of that cheat it was always with a guy who they marked as hot, or had a crush on, or who they allowed to flirt with them. In other words she desired him before they began the affair she just restrained herself because at the time her marriage was happy. When women cheat in real life unlike the movies it is very seldomly with some random hot stranger that said hi to her at the supermarket.

    Single women who I know of that allow themselves to fall in love or enter an affair with a married man are usually women that in same way admired or saw the man in an elevated position compared to her own. It’s never planned but his attention or flirting is usually a huge ego boost (at this point she is not thinking about cheating-though he probably is-she is just enjoying the attention and intimate conversations from a high value/status man) and before she knows it she is emotionally attached. So when he gives her some sob story about his wife and they are alone together then it is easier for her to allow her hormones to take over.

    The married or older woman with the young or younger hot guy. These types or affairs are strictly for her ego and the pleasure of sex. They seldom involve any type of emotional connection on her part. In fact if the guy becomes too clingy or too emotionally attached she usually drops him, lets things cool off and then go back out and finds another young stud. Most of these women feel old, or not as attractive, or like a mom and not a sexy woman. This is why the guy she cheated with has to be young and hot to reaffirm that she can get a hot and therefore reestablish her sexual market value. And sometimes like I said it is just about the sex, the athletic body, the stamina, and the ease at which she can manipulate the younger guy.

    There is a subcategory to this and that is the women who just flirted with the young guy because she was bored and somehow it keeps escalating and even though she knew she should stop it the emotions she was getting from the whole thing felt too good and the next thing she knew she had sex with this guy. So she regrets it and ends it at a one time thing.

    …   …   …

    Alcohol.

    So I put this in a sub section because I think it doesn’t deal with cheating directly but I do notice that it is the #1 excuse for a woman to justify not stopping herself from allowing a guy to kiss her, or make out with her, or to have sex with another guy.

    I don’t really drink so I am not an expert but from my observations it appears that the women know they are going to cheat way before the guy makes a move, way before she even drinks. The alcohol is just a well placed alibi, something to soften the blow back to her moral character if she is ever caught: “I was drinking I wasn’t in my right mind? I would not have done it if I was sober.”

    I am not saying this is all women just the ones who I observe cheating.

    1. 5.1
      Marika

      There’s a lot of bias on this blog. People speak from their own experience and translate it to the broader universe, or they are biased towards being overly focused on what the opposite sex is doing wrong because that is more likely to affect them.

      I’ve been cheated on and my ex (a man) didn’t blame himself and admit to being scum, he blamed me. My brother cheated and blamed his wife at the time for her coldness. I went and got some help to deal with it and try to save my marriage and and met a group of other people who’d been cheated on. All of them (men and women) said that their partner tried to somehow blame them (or some other factor, work etc). I’m not sure where you get this idea that men who cheat take responsibility (um, hello, Tiger Woods, Clinton..), but it’s not something I’ve ever come across. It may exist, but I am unaware of it and it’s certainly not a blanket rule. I also don’t get the part about a random woman, every man I’ve known who’s cheated did so with a co-worker or woman close to him in his life who showed him care and interest he wasn’t getting with his partner.

      1. 5.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Marika,

        To be fair (and I did go back and re-read what I wrote to be sure I said it) I did say “not all women just the ones I observed.”

        If it appeared that I was somehow making men who cheat out to be virtuous then I need to apologize and correct that.

        Hmmm… I guess I could have included hearsay and stories I’ve heard from 3rd and 9th person point of views but in my original comment I only included examples where I had 1st hand knowledge of what was going on.

        All the guys who I know that cheat admit that they are scummy boyfriends and husbands. All the women who I know that cheat always justify it or blame the husband.

        Also every guy who I knew that cheated did randomly end up in bed with the woman, he did not plan anything. Now when I say random I don’t mean he didn’t know how he got their and I am not saying that he did not flirt or lie or whatever-I just mean that he perhaps set out that night to have fun and when an opportunity presented itself (she could have been a girl he met at the bar or a co-worker he was just working late on a project with) he took it. This is different from the women who I know that cheat, they always vett the guy in advance. Even if it’s not his looks the guys still have to meet some kind of standard for the women to cheat with him.

        Again I can’t speak for all women but I have never personally seen or heard of a women cheating with a stranger she just met while I have heard of guys doing it. Like Barb said it’s more common to hear of a guy giving his faithful girlfriend or wife an STD than it is for a woman to give her faithful husband or boyfriend an STD… At least in my circles.

  6. 6
    Nissa

    I think cheaters are people of poor character, whether it’s a man or a woman. Period.

    I also am astounded by Perel’s ideas about marriage. Getting married so that you have a special label of ‘wife’ and have dishes? Those are the most insane reasons for marriage I’ve ever heard.

    1. 6.1
      Adrian

      Hi Nissa,

      You said, “I think cheaters are people of poor character, whether it’s a man or a woman. Period.

      Emotionally I want to agree with you but logically I can’t. Again all the research I have read on the subject and all the testimonies I have read all show that “most” people who cheated (singular) did not do it intentionally.

      For example some people never do anything physical but they cheat emotionally (some consider that cheating some don’t). Some people only “briefly” kiss someone then stop themselves and feel horrible for getting caught up in the moment.

      Many people who cheat don’t set out to and many are telling the truth when they say they love their partner or their relationship is happy. And they DO fear losing it.

      1. 6.1.1
        Clare

        Adrian,

        “Emotionally I want to agree with you but logically I can’t. Again all the research I have read on the subject and all the testimonies I have read all show that “most” people who cheated (singular) did not do it intentionally.”

        I’m sure this is true, but I still agree with Nissa. Doing something unintentionally is not the same as having no responsibility. There is a reason the courts recognise lack of intention as a less serious crime, but it doesn’t mean no crime was committed.

        I see it the same way in relationships. Lack of foresight is a mitigating factor, but I still see it as a character failing. People who cheat “unintentionally” are thoughtless, perhaps self-involved, they lack the willpower or the judgment to foresee how a situation might turn out and remove themselves from a potentially dangerous one.

        The guy I’m seeing now talked about being on a business trip once when he was married. One of the women also on the trip had taken a liking to him. He specifically took pains to avoid her on the Saturday night when everyone was going out by approaching one of the other team members who was going out in a different part of the city. To me, this is what a person of genuinely good character does. They don’t just randomly fall into situations where cheating might happen; they actively avoid them. This is what I do.
        Although people may not cheat intentionally, I find it hard to think that they don’t foresee the possibility that it may happen when they are in a particular mindset, have been drinking, or are spending time with people they’re attracted to in a particular setting. Does this make them bad people? No. But it is nevertheless a character flaw, because the right and honourable thing to do is to try and work it out with your spouse. And if you can’t, to leave.
        “Many people who cheat don’t set out to and many are telling the truth when they say they love their partner or their relationship is happy. And they DO fear losing it.”

        Evidently they don’t love their partner enough, aren’t happy enough, or don’t fear losing the relationship enough, or they wouldn’t cheat. Cheating is breaking your vow to your partner – that is no small thing. It’s simply not good enough to say that it just happened or was unintentional. If that is truly the case, you still have an obligation to your partner to try and make it right and acknowledge what it is in you that made you do it in the first place.

        1. Jeremy

          @Clare, totally agree with this comment.

      2. 6.1.2
        Nissa

        Exactly right, Clare. My husband used to like to go out drinking with a female coworker who had a little crush on him and who used to send him messages on MySpace. He felt there was nothing wrong with this. To which I replied: “I’m not saying you are doing something wrong per se. I am saying, you are creating opportunity with this person. If you do that often enough, something will happen. And when it does, you won’t be able to say ‘it just happened’, because you made a plan to spend time with this person, to share friendship and intimacy, in a setting that made it more likely that inappropriate actions were going to take place.  An accident is when you trip and your penis falls into someone else. Anything else is a choice to satisfy yourself at the cost of pain for someone you claim to care about.”

        1. Adrian

          Hi Nissa, Clare, and Jeremy

          Nissa said, “I’m not saying you are doing something wrong per se.”

          So do you three feel it is okay to tell your spouse who they can and can not be friends with if that person has a sexual interest in them? Do you feel that a spouse “should” have the power to tell their partner who they can and cannot spend time with alone?

          Also when a woman says “I trust him I just don’t trust her.” Isn’t that the same as saying that she doesn’t really trust that guy (unless she believes the woman will rape him)?

          …   …   …

          There is a reason I asked those two question together but I’ll wait for your answers…

        2. Nissa

          Adrian – please notice, I never said, “You can’t be friends with her”. For example, I have male friends that are married. I mostly spend time with them, in the presence of their spouse (perhaps in another room with other people, but not alone, and not when one of us is drunk). That’s my integrity, and how I would prefer to be treated. I care more about not hurting people that I care about and love, than I do about exerting my ‘right’ to do whatever pleases me. Most of the time there is a very reasonable compromise, such as ‘don’t be alone with them’. Such as meeting for  lunch in a public place with an ex-girlfriend once every few years vs driving places together, arriving and leaving together, and being in private. This may be the only point ever on which I agree with Mike Pence.

          Should spouse A tell spouse B what to do? Of course not. Notice, I never told my husband what to do. I simply pointed out that the choice he was making, was very likely to end in a particular outcome. The choice to do it, or not do it, was always his. It is not effective to tell people (both genders) what to do. It is effective to observe what they do, decide if you can live with it, and make choices based on that decision.

          I do feel that it is important for both spouses to speak up when something hurts them and advise their partner that he or she is crossing a boundary. It’s important to speak up when you feel your partner has violated the agreements you have made as a couple. This might mean discussing feelings, reasons, beliefs and desires. It might mean nothing changes, or it might mean your relationship gets renegotiated. But it’s fair to both parties.

          I agree with your remark about, “I trust him but not her”. If I can’t count on your integrity, then I can’t count on you. Again, not a gendered statement. To me that means that you feel the man in question might not seek something out, but fails to have the moral fortitude to reject those advances. That’s still a failure on his part in my eyes. A third party is not responsible for a contract in which they did not take part, only the couple who consented to voluntary restraints can be accountable for the violation of that contract.

        3. Clare

          Adrian,

          I can’t add too much more to what Nissa has said. But I will say that your comments and questions, in my opinion, betray a naivete about the way the world works. Of course two grown adults get to be friends with who they want and don’t get to tell each other what to do, but seeing it only from that limited perspective is very one-dimensional and short-sighted, in my opinion.

          A healthy relationship is about so much more than exercising your rights to do whatever you please, whenever you please. It’s about making choices that nurture the relationship and keep it safe and don’t jeopardise it. If a partner consistently puts him or herself in a compromising position, based on their right to do what they want and associate with who they want, it is only a matter of time before they invite trouble into the relationship. Like I said before, claiming lack of intention is simply not good enough. It’s also about reasonable foreseeability. If you’re not willing to be cautious around the opposite sex, you shouldn’t make a vow of lifelong fidelity. Just like if you’re not willing to watch your alcohol intake before you get behind the wheel of a car, you shouldn’t drive.

          As to your comment about “I trust you, but I don’t trust her,” here again, I agree with Nissa. I have learned that what Evan says really is true. If you can’t trust a guy, you shouldn’t be with him. For me, part of what makes up the bouquet of trustworthy qualities is the ability of a guy to turn down invitations to situations that are potentially compromising and to manage his behaviour in such a way that he doesn’t put himself at risk for cheating. I have seen men behave in this trustworthy way many times, and so I know what to look for in a partner. There is definitely a manner you can develop which is friendly, even charming, but which keeps the appropriate distance between you and members of the opposite sex, and people of genuinely strong character know this. They don’t need their friendships and associations policed by their spouses.

    2. 6.2
      Adrian

      Hi Nissa and Clare,

      Very well I’ll yield if you want to call me naive.

      But it just seems like a contradiction to me for a person (man or woman) to say, “hey I trust you and know you are a person of integrity who would not cheat… but don’t let yourself be alone with a single attractive person of the opposite sex that wants you.”

      Some men can be alone for hours with a beautiful women that wants him and he still will not cheat. His girlfriend/wife’s faith in him only strengthens his reasons not to betray her trust-at least in my naive world it does (^_^).

      1. 6.2.1
        Clare

        Adrian,

        I think you might not realise it, but I for one (and I think it’s what Nissa is saying too) actually agree with you.

        I specifically said that a man of integrity doesn’t need his wife to police his behaviour and vice versa. I know this because I am a woman of strong character, and I have dated men of strong character too. I don’t need my partner to tell me who I can and can’t spend time with; I already know that I won’t cheat.

        The example I gave of the guy I’m dating who avoided the woman on his business trip is further reinforcement of this. His wife didn’t need to tell him not to put himself in a compromising situation, he did it of his own accord.

        This is the point I was making which you may have missed: a person of strong character knows him/herself. They know what situations are safe to spend time in and what situations are not, and they DON’T need their spouse to tell them what to do and not do.

        As an example: I have guy friends in whose company I can spend hours and hours, even one on one, and the threat of cheating will never come up. On the other hand, I would not invite certain exes over to my house for a drink, just the two of us. I don’t need my boyfriend to tell me this. Likewise, I don’t need to tell him what situations he can and can’t be in, he already knows.

        If I ever did need to deliver the line which you mentioned above: “hey I trust you and know you are a person of integrity who would not cheat… but don’t let yourself be alone with a single attractive person of the opposite sex that wants you,”  I would know right there that I had a trust problem on my hands and would probably end the relationship.

  7. 7
    Barb

    A cheater reflects lack of control and poor moral character. Do they ever think about the STD they can give their partner and change their life forever mentally and physically? No matter how you slice and dice it we are in control of ourselves and we make choices. There are no excuses when it comes to cheating. You can damage somebody forever by making that kind of a choice. The woman who marries for security is insecure and weak.   Marriages are for the realistic and levelheaded. If you cannot bring those two things to the table you were doomed before you started.

  8. 8
    CaliforniaGirl

    Women cheat because they forgot when they felt desired and sexy with their husbands, because he would rather give a compliment to a stranger woman than to his wife, because last time he went down on her was 3 years ago, because he gained 30lb and looks far from attractive and you bust your ass in the gym. Because of his weight gain, he is borderline diabetic and sex is the last thing he wants at the end of the day. Because you see how he is drooling over his friend’s new 25 year old girlfriend and he makes some insulting comment to you, like your boobs are not the same or something along the lines. I don’t think many women cheat because they want a novelty, they cheat because they want to feel desired and beautiful again.

  9. 9
    Yet Another Guy

    I do not have much to add other than after surviving a loveless/sexless marriage, I seriously doubt that I could remain faithful to a woman who withheld sex for whatever reason she so deemed.  I am no longer willing to play the “sex as a weapon of control” game.

  10. 10
    Gala

    I have no idea how married people cheat. To me the experience of being in a relationship, let alone marriage, is so emotionally draining that i can’t comprehend how one can find energy to go procure a lover and then deal with HIM and his emotions and egos and issues on top of one’s husband’s. I just don’t get it. No one man at a time is more than enough for me.

    1. 10.1
      D_M

      Gala,

      There isn’t a whole lot of “dealing” going on. The side piece is the escape.  The place where you go to live in the moment. What time we should leave for Aunt Na Na or who’s turn is it for after school pick up isn’t an agenda item.

      1. 10.1.1
        Gala

        I wouldn’t know having never have cheated, but i kind of imagine that it wouldn’t be as nice as you’re saying. May be if it was a truly a one night stand it would be, otherwise I am not sure. Yeah, whose turn it is to pick up the kids wouldn’t be on an agenda, but wouldn’t there still be a lot of whining  “how come you didn’t call” and demands on your emotional resources that way? Wouldn’t the ongoing lover want your emotional support, attention, the shoulder to cry on and what not? Wouldn’t that create even more drama to deal with if they god forbid get caught by their spouse? Or threaten to tell yours? Yeah, thanks but no thanks me thinks. Who needs that crap?? Isn’t there enough in the primary relationship? No, my dream affair would be the one where only MY needs are considered and the person disappears when I am bored/done with them and reappears when I want/need them. No human being will ever meet this criteria 🙂 May be we should all wait  for sex robots to get here.

        1. D_M

          Gala,

          Affairs come in all flavors. See Tron’s last couple of sentences from post 4:

          “I’ve hooked up with a number of separated and married women, so this is one of the few relationship things that I’m sort of an expert on. It’s the best of both worlds, really: I get what I want, and some other idiot has to pay for her and do all the social stuff she wants to do.with a relationship”

          Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But he’s down, if you down, so hold off on ordering the Charlie 3000.

    2. 10.2
      Evan Marc Katz

      “To me the experience of being in a relationship, let alone marriage, is so emotionally draining…” says everything about your previous choice of men and NOTHING about relationships themselves. MY relationship is the complete opposite: positive, supportive, nourishing, fun, sustaining…

      Perhaps once you let go of your feelings about relationships, you can join Love U and see how you get find a relationship that GIVES instead of DRAINS.

  11. 11
    Stacy

    infidelity for ‘women’s has jumped 40% since 1990.’ 

    I always wonder how it is even possible to figure this out…how do you do the analysis? Most statistics are done within a certain geographic location within a certain age group, race, etc.  And how many people did she ask to figure this out/how broad was the study?

    Don’t get me wrong, of course women cheat. In fact, I don’t think cheating is based on a certain gender although common sense tells me that men do it way more. But that is beside the point. I tend to take these ‘stats’ with a grain of salt.

    But for argument’s sake, I think women just have more opportunities to cheat than they did before. Also, I personally believe that on average, women cheat because of a serious unfulfillment/emotional need that is not being met. Doesn’t make it better but on the other hand, I think men cheat for more superficial reasons (she was available and hot for instance). I was a tomboy  growing up and have been friends with more men than I can count so that is just my perception. After all, there is a reason why there isn’t a female Hugh Heffner.

    1. 11.1
      Jeremy

      Hi Stacy. I think that both men and women cheat because of unfulfilled emotional needs. And frankly, I don’t think the emotions are all that different. I just think that men have been socialized not to talk about their emotions, so they just cheat without the justifications and self righteousness. Women justify it, often before they do it.

       

      You wrote that a man might cheat because a woman was available and hot…. But you omitted the other reason – he feels like he is missing something. But what? Answer – either a sexual goal that is unrealized in his marriage, or an emotional goal. There is a reason why the girlfriend experience is so popular in spite of the fact that all wives were once  girlfriends. Once being the key word.

  12. 12
    D_M

    I think the last part of the original article highlights an interesting anecdote. Quite often folks find it difficult not to succumb to the little ankle biters every whim. If we have ballet during the week and some travel team activity every other weekend, of course there is no adult time. One of the ladies in the article recalls her parent’s marriage:

    “She said that she used to compare her marriage to her parents’, who always seemed totally in love. “Until the end of my mom’s life they were spooning together every night in a double bed … not even a queen. But,” she added, “they were awful and narcissistic, with very little to give to their children.””

    Maybe the truth about what type of parents they were lies in the middle. My armchair analysis is they put the adults before the kids. Kids grow-up and have their own lives. Being all about the kids is admirable, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your spouse.

    1. 12.1
      Adrian

      Hi D_M

      Your comment just reminded me of a debate that I got the opportunity to be a nice comfy fly on the wall to as a child.  When I was young one of my favorite pastimes was to sneak and listen to my dad and all his friends discuss topics.

      That particular night there was a guy who wanted to cheat on his wife because after the kids came into their lives the sex disappeared. There was another guy who was very religious in the group and his whole thing was help her out, relieve her stress, make time away from the kids. Which the other guy said he was doing.

      It was too long ago for me to remember the entire conversation but some of the main topics I believe were:

      Who should a woman’s first responsibility be to or who should she love more her kids or her husband?

      Is sex a duty of marriage? Or is it a gift that a woman chooses to give?

      If sex is her gift then does a man have the right to complain about if the wife turns him down for a year?

      If a wife refuses to give her husband sex after months of him pleading is it cheating if he goes out and finds what she refused to give him? Or does her needs for fidelity trump his needs for sex?

      Finally I will end with something my mother told me when I first started babysitting my newborn niece. “That is a child and not a pet or a toy.” Now that I am older I know what she meant. A lot of people what children because they see them as some type of accessory to complete their image of a family without fulling understanding just how much a child entering the picture affects a couple’s interaction with each other… especially their sex life.

      Another thing we have to remember is that back when I heard this debate the internet wasn’t really around and things like women’s sexual desires were not as talked about or even heard of. Now we know that women too can suffer inside of sexless marriages and that even with children women can still want sex but their husbands are the ones who turn them down.

      1. 12.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Adrian,

        I don’t think it matters who a woman “should” love more, because ranking loved ones cannot be forced.  I.e. you don’t love your mother because you “should”.  She doesn’t love her kids more than anyone because she “should”, it just happens. In my experience, you can’t control who you love 1st versus 8th.

        I’ve read that more opportunity for women over the last 1-2 generations (e.g. working outside the home, travelling for work) increases cheating rates, and this makes lots of sense to me.

        The other point of the article that resonated, was these womens’ experiences of being children of divorce, thus not wanting that for their own children.  Our society completely underestimates trauma experienced by kids via divorce.  False ideas like “kids are resilient” sees parents behave selfishly.  Even the basic fact of children having to move house every week becomes the norm – can you imagine the upheaval and lack of stability? And that’s quite apart from having one of your main life people, a parent, just not there every day any more.  Devastating for a young child.  Realistically, from the childrens’ point of view, a nice quiet affair for a parent is probably preferable to a divorce and total family breakdown. So then looking at the ethics from a justice (greatest good for the greatest number) numbers-only sense, the affair when compared with divorce is good for the parent doing it, and all the kids, and bad for the parent being cheated on.  An affair is selfish but maybe divorce is worse.

        1. KK

          “An affair is selfish but maybe divorce is worse”.

          A divorce is not worse than an affair. Many people are faced with the decision to either stay or divorce after discovering a spouse’s affair. Each choice will have negative consequences for everyone involved, including the children. But let’s not forget who is ultimately responsible; the cheater. The cheater is the one who has created the situation.

          Also, there’s a world of difference between selfishness and self preservation. When someone refuses to stay married to a cheater, it’s about self preservation, self respect, and not allowing yourself to be a victim.

      2. 12.1.2
        D_M

        Adrian,

        Based on your observation and experiences, what say you on the questions you pose? They may exist, but I highly doubt a large number of husbands believe it’s a gift. Some probably fall in the old school duty camp. While quite a few have a aspirational unbridled memory of yesteryears. You know, where has all the sweaty nights and spontaneity gone. Our resident blog whisper, recollects times of insatiability. Most guys marry the woman that also checks their arousal boxes. Old axioms survive for a reason. “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change.”

        1. Chris

          As Adrian points out, in a significant number of marriages its the husband who’s the low libido one, so its the wife is the one who has to suffer from the husband not wanting to give his wife the “gift” of his sexuality.

          But the idea of sex within marriage as a duty is a more sophisticated one than simply saying each partner must give the other sex on demand. Its more like saying each partner must make a genuine effort to compromise and meet each other halfway. If there is to be no compromise, if sex is only possible when both partners are absolutely lusting after each other, then this is probably incompatible with the traditional concept of marriage.

        2. Adrian

          Hi D_M

          You said, ” They may exist, but I highly doubt a large number of husbands believe it’s <sex> a gift <from his wife>.

          If I may ask, why do you believe this?

          Perhaps it’s just me but I could not live with myself or a woman if I knew that she only had sex with me because “I” wanted it but she was not in the mood or she did not want it.

          I feel that sex should be a gift from her NOT a duty. And if I end up in a relationship where we go over a month without her willingly wanting sex then I would just divorce her-no counseling, no bleeding.

          Better to be with a woman who wants you than to be with someone who fakes wanting you.

          I don’t know about you but to me a woman wanting me sexually is a sign of her desire of me; the value she places on me.

      3. 12.1.3
        GoWiththeFlow

        Adrian,

        The question on whether a woman loves her husband or children more is one I see asked a lot, but is this really a realistic question?  The love a woman has for their minor child is completely different than the love a woman has for a grown man.  Not only is their a sexual component to the latter, but you are talking about the difference between love for a child who is vulnerable and dependent upon their adults, and love for an adult peer.  My heart is full of love for my kids, yet I really miss and crave a loving relationship with an adult man.  If humans could easily substitute love for a child for love for a partner, then wouldn’t I have all my love needs met by my kids?

        I think what is happening is that people are using the “love more” question as a substitute for discussing what truly is limited:  Time.  A married woman can fully love both her kids and her husband, but she only has 24 hours in a day to see to everyone’s needs.  Children do take up a lot of time and energy.  For some couples this draws them apart.  Other couples find a shared joy and common goal in parenting together.

        I have relatives and friends who have been married for long spans of time.  All of them have children.  In all the situations where I have knowledge of their sex lives (usually through the wife) they do have sex on a regular basis.  The only times there were significant stretches of time when  they didn’t have sex it was due to illness/injury or being physically apart due to a job or military service.

        I don’t think these wives see sex as either a duty or a gift.  They enjoy the sex they have with their husbands, and they also acknowledge and act on a belief they have that a marriage relationship means having regular sex.  And they have some vigilance in working to keep their sex lives satisfying.  They will make the time and devote effort to course correcting when it’s needed.  It’s kind of like if you are on an exercise program and circumstances in your life lead to you missing ten days worth of workouts.  You notice it, then come up with a plan to correct that, and muster up the determination to do it.  Because you know in the long run, it’s what is best for you.

        I have known a few women who’s marriages ended after stints of sexlessness, as well as other problems.  I would say that when the sex started to lag off or wane, at the beginning, they typically assumed it was a phase that would pass, so they didn’t work to fix it.  Then they are in a rut and they don’t know how to fix it.  It’s a form of taking things for granted.  Using the workout example above, not worrying about not exercising because, well, they’re thin and healthy, and they will focus on eating right, and eventually they’ll get back into it.  Except they don’t.

        I think the difference between the two groups of women is in having vigilance in the care taking aspect of their relationship.  Also there is the belief that they aren’t just having sex for the husband.  They believe it’s good for them, and good for the relationship.  It keeps their marriages strong, and that is good for their kids as well.

         

  13. 13
    Marika

    I agree, KK. My suspicion is that Mrs Happy has not been cheated on. Or at least by someone she really loved. And who would most likely do it again.

    1. 13.1
      Mrs Happy

      KK and Marika,

      you’re speaking from the adult’s point of view when you say divorce won’t be worse than an affair.

      For children I think divorce is worse.  Would kids rather i) their world break apart, dad move away, mum and dad be more stressed, move house weekly or fortnightly with shared custody, suffer financial decline, maybe have to change homes, suburbs and schools, lose their sense of security, experience parents dating others with all the priority repositioning of them that occurs then, and in worst cases abuse, see grandparents less, not be part of extended family gatherings in the same way, have the 2 people they love more than anything distant or angry with one another,…  or ii) mum put up with dad being unfaithful? I think most kids would prefer the latter.

      The article Evan referenced above notes that adult women who were children of divorced families are choosing affairs over putting their own kids through a divorce.

      1. 13.1.1
        KK

        “you’re speaking from the adult’s point of view when you say divorce won’t be worse than an affair”.

        Yes, Mrs Happy, I am. And as an adult and parent, it’s my duty to consider what’s best for my children, or in this case, the least bad of two bad options; the only options I had due to someone else’s decisions that either didn’t consider or didn’t care how those decisions would affect anyone else.

        I discovered my husband had been having an affair for two years. My initial reaction was that I wanted him to leave. He refused. He begged for forgiveness and asked if we could go to counseling. I agreed for the kid’s sake. But finding out the person that I trusted most in the world had deceived me broke our bond for me. Up until the day before finding out, I would’ve gladly taken a bullet for that man. That changed when I found out how he really felt about me. I was done. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. All the good thoughts and loving feelings I had for him just died that day.

        Anyway, I tried really hard to save our marriage for about 6 months. The marriage counselor knew I was only trying to save it for our kids. He was okay with that, hoping that after some time had passed, my feelings would change and I could eventually forgive and trust him again. However, every week or so, I would find out about another lie. The rabbit hole was very deep. Eventually, our marriage counselor became concerned for my safety. It became apparent that my ex was a pathological liar with a double life, a covert narcissist, and had many sociopathic tendencies. Lucky me!

        Amongst all the deceptions, he had an apartment with this woman that he would stay at when I thought he was at work. He had installed spyware on all of our computers, a tracking device on my car, was allowing the girlfriend to read my emails and social media. She was cyber stalking me and sending me threats. I had to get a restraining order against her. I learned that the affair never ended while we were in counseling. When confronted, he became violent and attacked me. This man had never raised a hand to me before. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

        So you tell me, Mrs Happy, does this sound like a healthy situation for two impressionable young children to be a part of? Do you think I’m solely responsible for saving my family after my husband has turned our lives into some kind of low brow Jerry Springer bullshit?

        I did consider my children. I decided it would be best for them to be with me; a sane, stable parent, that put their needs first over continuing some charade of a marriage where I was becoming more and more concerned for my safety.

        “The article Evan referenced above notes that adult women who were children of divorced families are choosing affairs over putting their own kids through a divorce”.

        Yes. And those women are idiots. Their primary relationship is with their husbands. They have failed and need to move on. Because most likely their affairs will become known, and not only will they end up losing their marriages but the respect of their children also.

        1. Jeremy

          KK, I mostly agree with you.  And far be it from me to defend a cheater.  Yet…once upon a time I could not imagine a justification for cheating.  Reading about Esther Perel’s notions of cheating as a way to seek something missing from a marriage just made me see her POV as extremely selfish (which it is).  Idealists are not my favourite type.  But life eventually taught me that there are many shades of grey.  Some people are in stable unions but are missing the emotion or sex from their marriages.  They have tried to talk to their spouse about this, but the spouse is unwilling/unable to change.  So what should they do?  Should they blow up what is otherwise a happy and stable marriage?  Should they traumatize their kids?  Remember, we’re not talking about a bad or abusive marriage here.

           

          Years ago I met a man whose wife was in a car accident and was paralyzed from the waist down.  He stayed married to her for decades before she eventually died.  Decades of taking care of her and catering to her in spite of the crippling depression she developed and the mean way she responded to him.  He admitted to me that he did not want to leave her – he still loved her and felt guilty about thinking of leaving her.  So he would not allow himself to cheat emotionally, in spite of his craving for affection.  The compromise he reached with himself was to occasionally visit a prostitute.  Occasional physical touch, physical release, no emotional attachment.  Is it what I would have done?  I hope to never know.

           

          I realize this is an extreme post – but one need not look as far as paralysis to see marriages where one spouse will simply not meet the needs of the other, yet the marriage is good in every other way.  In that regard, I think Mrs. Happy has a point.  Do you blow up your marriage and put your kids through the trauma of divorce?  Or is it better to have a discreet affair?  Both options suck.  The happy medium is hard to achieve.

        2. KK

          I don’t know, Jeremy. My wedding vows were pretty black & white. There were no gray areas, ie. special clauses that included infidelity being acceptable under exceptions a, b, or c. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have compassion for anyone who is in a situation like you described. But I also have compassion for the other spouse as well.

        3. Jeremy

          There are more ways to violate the spirit of a marriage than just cheating, KK.

           

          My wife hates her father.  When she was a teenager, her dad “went crazy.”  He had an affair, left the house for weeks without telling anyone where he went, summarily divorced his wife and left her with 2 adolescent kids and half of the debt he’d accumulated.  My wife sees the entire situation through the eyes of her mother who believes that she was blamelessly caught in a vortex of his developing psychosis.  Yet over the years, I’ve heard his side of the story.  He told my mother-in-law that he was unhappy in his job while they were married, but while she was happy to lend an empathetic ear, she told him that he had responsibilities to keep the job to support the family.  He told her that he hated the city they lived in and wanted to move.  She listened and told him that she was happy where she was.  He told her that he wasn’t happy with certain elements of their relationship – she suggested he see a psychiatrist.  All of the empathy and “compromise” that she offered was contextual – there was no willingness for any fundamental compromise in the content of their lives.  And eventually he snapped.

           

          Does that excuse the way he behaved?  No.  Not at all.  But it does indicate that it took 2 to tango.  That the behavior was not due to psychosis, but rather to misery and lack of compromise.  Whom should we blame for their divorce?  Both of them.  Not just the cheater.

        4. KK

          Jeremy,

          So… once he abandoned his family, did he find happiness or was he still miserable?

        5. Emily, the original

          KK,

          When confronted, he became violent and attacked me. This man had never raised a hand to me before. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

          When you confront a narcissist, they go ballistic. My best friend in my 20s was a narcissist (I didn’t know it then) and when a mutual friend called him on something, which challenged this image he had created of himself, he became angry in a way I had never witnessed in our seven years of friendship. And he never spoke to the mutual friend again.

        6. Jeremy

          No, he didn’t. Because he thought that the path to happiness was through Meaning, as his Idealist personality predisposed him to believe. He forgot about positive affect, engagement, achievement, and especially relationships. My point wasn’t that his behaviour was wise. It was that his wasn’t the only unwise behaviour.

        7. KK

          The reason I asked, Jeremy, is because I’ve known a handful of people who always blame everyone else for their unhappiness. And interestingly, they always end up unhappy. Regardless of the job, the relationship, the family, it’s always the other person’s fault for their misery. Therefore, I don’t think there’s anything your mother in law could’ve done to prevent him from doing what he did. Even if one was to blame her for not being accommodating enough (which I’m not too sure of), it would be like comparing someone who ran out of gas on the highway (an unwitting mistake) to someone willfully setting a car on fire and watching it blow up. In short, I see it from your wife’s perspective. I’ll assign 5% blame on the wife and 95% on the husband. It is in no way equal, in my opinion.

        8. KK

          Yes, Emily, as one of my friends said, : Good grief, that man doesn’t have issues, he has subscriptions!

        9. Kitty

          Jeremy,

          No, he didn’t. Because he thought that the path to happiness was through Meaning, as his Idealist personality predisposed him to believe.

          Does his other grown child hate him?  Does he consider his daughter’s permanent loss of respect for him to be an acceptable price to pay for freedom from his difficult wife?  And, since you know him, does he accept responsibility for the role that his behavior caused in the estrangement from his daughter or does he blame it all on his evil ex-wife “turning the kids against me”?

        10. Emily, the original

          Yes, Emily, as one of my friends said, : Good grief, that man doesn’t have issues, he has subscriptions!

          LOL! He might have had npd. I’m not a psychiatrist, of course, but when I looked at the questions in the DSM for npd, my friend fit ALL of them. Charismatic, witty as shit, completely his own person, loud, rude, a real trip, and manipulative like no none I’ve known before or since. I had convinced myself he was using everybody but me.

        11. Jeremy

          KK, I agree with your quantification of their responsibilities, more or less.  Again, my point was not to equate their roles in the dissolution of the marriage – he is an idealistic narcissist with other budding personality disorders, while she over-valued her own priorities and under-valued his (which is common).  He ended up extremely unhappy – married and divorced twice more since then, adopted a child and had a falling out with her, and now lives alone trying to write books.  She remarried and is quite happy, and the man she married is one of the most selfless, giving souls I’ve ever met.  He has no issue with her over-valuing her own priorities, she is ok with his extreme Beta tendencies.

           

          Kitty – the other child doesn’t like him either.  He is NOT ok with his lack of relationship with his kids, but being a narcissist he only wants a relationship on his terms with appropriate amounts of admiration and praise (which he doesn’t get).  He does not accept responsibility or perceive his role.  Again, I’m not defending him.  I’m only trying to express that even in an extreme case like this, it is NEVER 100% one spouse’s fault.  There are always failings on both parts, if only identification of these tendencies in a partner.

      2. 13.1.2
        Marika

        In theory and perhaps if the spouse is truly sorry and it was a one night lapse in judgement. But if you’re dealing with a chronic cheater / narcissist, a child living in fear of continual fights between parents and with the other parent falling into depression or an anxious mess wondering where the cheating partner is..yeah I think kids are better off out of that situation.

        You truly believe cheating has no significant flow on effects to parenting, child mental health, trust etc?

        1. Mrs Happy

          Marika and KK,

          some people who cheat are psychopathic, sociopathic, violent, severely narcissistic, horribly manipulative.  Most people who cheat are not any of these things.

          Children with a parent of the first list might be better off living away from that parent, i.e. better off if their parents divorce.

          I think cheating has many negative consequences. In most cases, I think divorce has more negative consequences, for the children.  Because in most cases the parent who cheated is not pathologically dangerous; they might be a suboptimal partner, but a reasonable parent.  KK’s experience is extreme.

          Adults divorce because one of them (at least) wants to.  Few young kids want their parents to divorce, unless something terrible is happening at home (e.g. abuse, incessant arguments, etc). In general, children would prefer their parents stay together.

          Women know this.  That’s why so many try to stay ‘for the children’.

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Mrs. Happy,

          The huge flaw in studies (or in anecdotal stories) that show divorce to be damaging to children, is that children of divorce are being compared to children in happy, well functioning homes.  People who divorce are unhappy in their marriage, no matter what the source of the unhappiness is.

          More recent studies have been done where the outcomes of children of divorced parents are compared to children in two-parent high conflict (i.e. unhappy) homes.  The children in the single parent/divorced parent homes do better than those in high conflict nuclear families.

          Children in high conflict homes have a dysfunctional relationship model as their basis for what “normal” looks like.  They carry this into their own relationships as they enter adulthood and they often repeat the dysfunctional dynamics.  Girls of fathers who are serial philanderers often grow up to be women who have affairs with married or otherwise unavailable men.  They may not take fidelity seriously, because there weren’t consequences for cheating in their parent’s marriage, so they cheat then are floored when their partner or spouse leaves them for it.  Others may have been so stressed out by a high conflict home that they become cynical and vow not to ever marry.

  14. 14
    Persephone

    I’m an attorney and therefore I hear a lot of divorce stories about cheating spouses. Sometimes my client is the spouse that cheated, sometimes my client is as fast that got cheated on.

    The largest reason that I see women cheat is because the emotional bond and the commitment to the marriage is over anyway. I’ll sprinkle in a little anecdotal evidence about myself, as well. I could never even dreamed of cheating on my husband until the time when things got really bad. I had to flee out of my house  at 1 a.m. numerous times, having to hide my keys and purse  in the garage outside  in case it was yet another night where I was required to flee for my physical safety. When I got tired of getting a hotel, I would just sleep in my vehicle. My friends would text me to see if I was okay. I had extreme emotional pain, so therefore it was very difficult to not respond to one who was sympathetic. Technically, it would be cheating, for me to have an affair when the divorce had not been signed by the judge yet.

    In situations similar to what I described above, oftentimes the husband will try to coax his wife back, saying he’ll do better. Then secretly  he will  put a GPS tracker on her vehicle and he’ll start using the so-called cheating against her in a divorce, in order to keep sole custody of the children. I used to make this to be about 2/3 of cheating women.

    In other situations, I see where a darned good man works his rear off, and sincerely loves his wife. But while he’s off working two jobs busting his rear on weekend night shifts, she’s out at the club playing with her little boyfriends that she never gave up once they got married. She she only got married for the free ride, but she uses the excuse that her man was off at work too much, and ignored her. She just married the guy that would give her the best deal financially, because  none of her other boyfriends who she really wanted would actually step up to the plate and commit to her. I estimate this to be about 1/3 of cheating women.

    Men do it, too. With my first ex-husband, we both looked like models, but it wasn’t intentionally. We were both in physical shape. However while I was off working 12-hour night shifts on the weekends, he would be off at the clubs, picking up women, or getting phone numbers. I was kind, hard-working, a good cook, and raised his child from a previous relationship. And I never bitched.  I think he just married me because  I had a great job and offered him the best financial deal. After my second husband and I got a divorce my first ex-husband tried to date me again. No. Just no.

    1. 14.1
      S.

      <i> After my second husband and I got a divorce my first ex-husband tried to date me again. No. Just no.</i>

      Gosh, Persephone. Ew.

      I’d be happy to sign a pre-nup if I got married. I want him to know I don’t want what he had before we met. If we build something together . . . that’s different.  But I’m not marrying the best financial deal.  I don’t want alimony or anything, either. If I made it to my mid-forties on my own financially, I don’t want marriage to change that.

      How many of your clients signed pre-nups? Though signing one is no guarantee that someone won’t cheat.

  15. 15
    Marika

    In theory and perhaps if the spouse is truly sorry Mrs Happy and it was a one night lapse in judgement. But if you’re dealing with a chronic cheater / narcissist, a child living in fear of continual fights between parents and with the other parent falling into depression or an anxious mess wondering where the cheating partner is..yeah I think kids are better off out of that situation.

    You truly believe cheating has no significant flow on effects to parenting, child mental health, trust etc?

  16. 16
    Marika

    Your response was far better than mine KK (which I accidentally posted twice). That’s how I know Mrs Happy you haven’t been there. Anyone who had gone through an experience like KKs (or mine) would never be so flippant about affairs and their impact on the entire family.

    So sorry you had to deal with that KK. I personally think you made the only possible decision you could under the circumstances.

    1. 16.1
      Mrs Happy

      Marika,

      I’m not being flippant, I’m stating my opinion.  My opinion is different to yours and KK’s.

      You’ll also note I am not assuming anything about your past experiences.

      Extreme examples do not an argument make.  Of course if a partner is violently abusive, a woman should take the kids and leave the marriage.

    2. 16.2
      KK

      Thank you, Marika. I’m sorry you want through that as well.

  17. 17
    AdaGrace

    I’ve never had the urge to be unfaithful in my monogamous relationships; in my polyamorous ones, never felt the slightest inclination to jump the gun and sleep with someone before we got the STI test results back (i.e. following the agreement my main partner and I had made).

    It’s as if even the idea of dishonesty or breaking a promise completely ruins my lady-boner, and not in a way that feels conscious.  I don’t have to make an effort to “resist”… “resistance” implies fighting against an actual urge.

    I wonder how many people are wired the way I am?

  18. 18
    D_M

    Adrian,

    In the context of marriage, intimacy is the expression of the bond between husband and wife. It’s more than the act of pressing two bodies against each other. Every touch should transmit the warmth and affection they have for each other. I suspect that we are probably saying the same thing in our own individual way. For some reason, “gift” has an imbalance connotation for me. It’s as if the husband should be greatful for his wife’s acquiescence and is incapable of keeping her captivated. I disassociate intimacy and value. The things that you do for me, when you could otherwise be doing something else with your time, is how I perceive value.

    1. 18.1
      Jeremy

      @D_M, I agree.  With the conversation around the issue of “duty sex” I couldn’t help but shake my head slightly.  Imagine if spouses everywhere started discussing “duty conversation.”  You don’t want to talk with your spouse, but do you have a *duty* to talk with them every day?  Or is your conversation with them a *gift*?  It is neither.  It should be your pleasure, or else why are you married to that person?  It is much the same with sex.  If you see sex as a gift or as a duty, the problem is with your attitude.  It is not a deep philosophical issue.

    2. 18.2
      Adrian

      Hi D_M and Jeremy,

      The reason that the duty sex question popped in my head is for 3 reasons

      1. I recently read Helen Fisher’s “Anatomy of Love” the updated 2016 version.

      In it she states that according to new research worldwide the #1 reason for cheating in a marriage is lack of sex. This honestly surprised me since like most of the commenters on here I had always heard that the main reason people cheated was to seek emotionally what they weren’t getting at home.

      2. Every older married woman I’ve ever talked to about the subject of sex within a marriage have all said that their husbands usually want more sex than they do. So even if she is not in the mood for sex she will have sex with him to make “HIM” happy.

      3. On the post before the  in the comments section Jeremy, Mrs Happy and a few other married commenters were speaking about how most of the wives they knew would be happy with only having sex with their husbands a few times a month but to keep him from leaving or cheating she had sex with him at least twice a week.

       

      So yeah guys I know the thought of a wife having sex with her husband because she wants to shut him up, keep him from leaving, or keep him from cheating sucks! All men want their wife to desire him sexually and have her wanting to have as much sex with him as she can but that is not the reality.

      And yes the thought that a woman treating sex like treat and the man like a dog that has to beg for it is upsetting (thanks D_M I never thought of it like that). Though when I said sex is a gift from a woman I meant that her body is her body and anytime she allows her husband to have access to it is her gift to give not his right because of marriage.

      This is alway why I said that if a wife has a man go longer than a month without sex while he begs everyday, he should not get upset just divorce her and find someone else. Believe it or not this is something I have heard countless times from married men and women.

      It seems sometimes that people allow marriage to trap them in unhealthy relationships

       

       

      1. 18.2.1
        Jeremy

        Adrian, your comment made me smile a bit because it seems logical to a relatively young person who has never been married.  It is the sort of opinion I might have offered in my late 20s.  But here’s the thing – divorce is not something that most people can think of in such a glib manner – “if she doesn’t want sex in a month and you have to beg, don’t get angry, just divorce her.”

         

        Adrian, I had a very unstable sex life for almost a decade.  Perhaps twice per month, on average, with a partner who very clearly saw it as a “gift.”  Did I think about divorce?  Yes.  But here’s what divorce would have cost me – it would have cost me most of my time with my children.  It would cost me my spouse who, in spite of her lack of sex drive, I loved.  She was still my primary emotional support, took care of me in other ways, planned my social calendar and gave me access to a social and family life that I sacrificed myself when I became the primary breadwinner (I know, people only think about what the primary caregiver sacrifices).  Would have cost me my house and everything I’ve saved for.  And would have cost me, financially, somewhere between $20,000- $30,000 per month for the rest of my life.  All so that I could have the opportunity to move into a small apartment, start over alone, and try for someone who was more sexual without sacrificing all the other stuff I also needed/wanted.  Or I could try to fix my marriage.

         

        Helen Fisher might have found a lack of sex as being a big reason for infidelity, but what was the reason for the lack of sex?  That is important!  Sex is all tied up into a person’s attitude.  As I wrote before regarding Mrs. Happy’s comments, the problem with a lack of sex isn’t just the lack of sex, it’s the partner’s ATTITUDE!  I can come home from work with a headache and just want to zone out, but if my wife wants to talk I talk with her!  Because if I didn’t, I’d be a shitty husband.  Talking to her IS my duty, but it’s also a pleasure.  A person who makes their partner beg for sex is someone whose attitude toward their spouse is not loving.  But here’s the other side – the unwilling spouse might still genuinely LOVE the spouse they always reject.  They just have a completely different love language.  As my wife rejected me sexually, she would tell me verbally that she loved me.  Words of affirmation is her love language – she’d rather receive a card than a gift – and she could not understand why her words of love should not mean more to me than sex.  “Love is love,” she’d say, “sex is just sex.”  Love languages should be taught in elementary school.

         

        Marriage is commitment, Adrian, it isn’t disposed of so glibly.  That’s why I laugh when I read about what people call “commitment” today.  “He committed to me after 1 month” – meaning he told me that he wouldn’t date anyone else.  That ain’t commitment.

        1. Kitty

          Adrian, from what I have read childbirth and infant care are extremely demanding on a woman’s time and energy, both physical and emotional.  It is also a huge adjustment from a childless lifestyle.  The reality is that it can be very very hard for most women to be there sexually fro their husbands, in the first years of an infant’s life, to the same degree as they were before.  It can be ameliorated with more family support for the new mother (from both the husband and other relatives) but many men just end up accepting that they will have to put up with a few years of exhausted and infrequent sex while their wives recover and adjust to new motherhood.  If the men are paternally inclined they may be able to reframe it as a temporary price they pay for having children.  Of course increasing numbers of modern men don’t value children and aren’t willing to make that sacrifice.  This is one reason among many that childbirth and marriage are increasingly decoupled from one another.

        2. Jeremy

          Again, Kitty, please understand that often times there is nothing “temporary” about it.  The issue is not just exhaustion.  It is attitude.  It does not “get better” after a few years on its own.  If all it was was a temporary dip in sex which recovers, no one would be talking about it.

        3. Emily, the original

          Hi Jeremy,

          It does not “get better” after a few years on its own.  If all it was was a temporary dip in sex which recovers, no one would be talking about it.

          I’m not being snarky when I ask — how much sex is enough sex FOR YOU?  Your answer to Adrian implied twice a month was too little. Is it a matter of quality or quantity? Would twice monthly smokin’ hot sessions be better than eight sessions a month that were perfunctory?

        4. Kitty

          Jeremy,

          I definitely acknowledge, if my comment was unclear, that some women can’t manage to combine motherhood with genuinely supportive and sexual relationships with their husbands even years after the children leave infancy.  And some don’t want to.  I suspect that Mayim Bialik’s extreme devotion to attachment parenting, i.e. breast feeding her three year old etc. contributed at least in part to the breakup of her marriage.  It certainly made me wonder how long it would be before her husband could touch her breasts sexually.  Anyway I think it’s tragic when a woman who’s lucky enough to get a good, family oriented husband – especially one who is understanding about the difficulties that new mothers face – doesn’t do her best to make his happiness and sexual satisfaction a priority.

        5. Jeremy

          Thank you, Kitty, I agree. And the same is true of how a man should take the needs  of his wife into consideration as well. Both need to make sacrifices for each other. The point of the marriage can’t just be the kids.

      2. 18.2.2
        Chris

        If your view of marriage is correct Adrian, then what is the point of getting married at all? Look at the traditional marriage vows, which strongly imply each partner should compromise with regards to sex. And marriage is still supposed to be for life, which is why divorce is still such a dramatic event.

         

        1. Alicia Wood

          The Bible doesn’t say to compromise regarding sex. It says to fork it over, plain & simple.

          Kitty, “extreme” attachment parenting doesn’t interfere with sex at all. That’s nonsense. I’ve done same with my 5 children & never wanted sex less than at least once a week.

      3. 18.2.3
        D_M

        Adrian,

        There is a very emotional component to intimacy as well. I am consciously using the term intimacy in an effort to distinguish it from sex. Married couples have sex as well, but it can lack intimacy sometimes. I highly suspect that is what was partially missing for some of the respondents in the study. Some spouses are very attuned to their partner’s various expressions of elation. The “make them happy” session, while admirable, can be disheartening.

        In the picture I’m trying to paint for you, the disaffected spouse has seen the various expressions that are brought about by life’s other pleasures. It’s akin to witnessing them enjoy their favorite dessert. With a spouse having those points of reference, you are not fooling anyone. Adrian, your last couple of sentences appear to be implying something in regards to a couple’s union. You might not be directly saying it, but your grouping of words convey a certain expectation.

      4. 18.2.4
        Persephone

        Maybe our roles were reversed when I was married to my ex-husband. I was always the one begging for sex, as a woman. I would be lucky if I got it once a month. Then he would yell at me, claiming that I was secretly on birth control because I wasn’t getting pregnant. You have to have sex in order to get pregnant!

  19. 19
    Henriette

    For those of you who are interested in a refreshing alternative to Perel’s narrative of cheating, please check out chumplady.com.

    1. 19.1
      Jeremy

      I checked out that link, Henriette, but I’ve go to admit that I really disagree with this blogger.  The way she conflates adultery with harassment.  Her refusal to understand that while harassment can exist due to a power imbalance, its etiology is often an over-compensation for a history of perceived sexual powerlessness.  To quote Warren Farrell, just because a woman feels powerless does not mean that a man feels powerful. Has no one else noticed that the vast majority of men who are being exposed for harassment are physically unimpressive?  Men who would not be able to achieve what they wanted sexually without the power they accumulated, but very adept at accumulating power?  And who, once they did accumulated power, might want to use it to overcompensate for their history of powerlessness?  Why don’t we see male underwear models harassing women?  Maybe because they never felt powerless?

       

      I’ve written before that Esther Perel’s stuff doesn’t resonate with me, though I can acknowledge that it does for many others.  I think the best approach to it is not negation (as per this blogger), but rather asking “who might this be true of, or under what circumstances might this thinking be useful.”  Because while Perel’s stuff comes off as selfish to me, it doesn’t make claims to apply to all people and situations.  Whereas this blogger is very absolute in her opinions and seems very closed to opinions that don’t match hers.

      1. 19.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Jeremy,

        Has no one else noticed that the vast majority of men who are being exposed for harassment are physically unimpressive?  Men who would not be able to achieve what they wanted sexually without the power they accumulated, but very adept at accumulating power?  And who, once they did accumulated power, might want to use it to overcompensate for their history of powerlessness?  

        Yes, I agree with you. But once they get the power … why the harassment? Take Kevin Spacey. He’s famous. That fact alone will get him sexual partners, and he doesn’t even have to try. If he couldn’t get them before he was famous and had power, he can now. He doesn’t need to overcompensate.

        Also, I wonder what women do when they feel powerless? What does the woman who didn’t get much male attention do when she’s running the company? Harass the hell out of the cute interns? I don’t have an answer. I’m wondering.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy and Emily,

          Emily asked, “He’s famous. That fact alone will get him sexual partners, and he doesn’t even have to try. If he couldn’t get them before he was famous and had power, he can now. He doesn’t need to overcompensate… Also, I wonder what women do when they feel powerless? What does the woman who didn’t get much male attention do when she’s running the company? Harass the hell out of the cute interns?

          Emily you thought of some great questions that I can’t wait to hear Jeremy’s answer to them?

          Emily what are your thoughts on two types of cheater, the cheater who will never get caught and the cheater who you meet like 10 years later and they want to date you again?

          We have talked so much on this thread about cheating, breakups and divorce but when if ever does forgiveness come into play? If you will never be caught as long as you stop should you take what you done to the grave and allow your spouse to be happily ignorant?

        2. Jeremy

          Hi Emily.  I don’t have definitive answers, obviously, but my conjecture is that it is about over-compensation in a personality-type that places extreme value on getting what it wants.

           

          The child who was never loved by his parents has a hole in his soul that wants to be filled.  But how does he fill it?  What will satisfy him?  When my wife felt betrayed by her father’s adultery and abandonment, she became imprinted with a desire for a stable husband and loving family.  She needed it.  All desire for romance and excitement became secondary to a deep need for stability to fill the hole in her soul.  And when the time came to have children, she wanted the more the better – love to fill the hole her father left in her soul.

           

          My grandfather survived the Holocaust, surviving years of hardship and watching his family die of murder or starvation in front of his eyes.  The hole in his soul lasted for the rest of his life.  He over-compensated by always having too much food – the more food the better – because the years of deprivation resulted in a desire to over-compensate.

           

          Each of us who feels a hole in our soul will try to fill that hole differently – based on what we feel we need and how much will satisfy us.  The men who harass are, by my observation, men who are driven to over-compensate.  That’s why they keep harassing in spite of having everything a reasonable person could want.  They collect validational experiences like a squirrel hoards nuts in Fall.  They make the ones they perceived as powerful (women, especially attractive women) feel powerless to confirm in their minds that their own time of powerlessness is over.  Because while they have the power now, they didn’t always.  This does not excuse their behavior one bit.  But it informs the understanding of why it is happening (IMHO), and how we can hopefully prevent such behavior in our own children – not by making boys feel even more sexually powerless, but by creating channels to hopefully prevent those holes of psychological deprivation from forming.

        3. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,

           If you will never be caught as long as you stop should you take what you done to the grave and allow your spouse to be happily ignorant?

          For me personally, if I with someone for a long time and he has some random hookup with someone he just met (maybe out of town on business) and he feels bad about it and won’t do it again, I wouldn’t want to know.  I’m not advocating that he has this one-off hookup, but I wouldn’t want to blow up a good situation over that. However, if he is doing this repeatedly or if he’s having an affair with someone he has feeling for (or is on the precipice of it), then, yes, I would want to know. How about you?

        4. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          hat’s why they keep harassing in spite of having everything a reasonable person could want.  They collect validational experiences like a squirrel hoards nuts in Fall.  They make the ones they perceived as powerful (women, especially attractive women) feel powerless to confirm in their minds that their own time of powerlessness is over

          But how is someone validated by lording power over an uninterested party? If a woman does give in to the harasser’s sexual advances, it’s not as if she’s having a good time. She’s not validating his attractiveness as a man, only his power as a harasser and perhaps power over her career. It’s not much different than a man who attracts a woman with his money.

          When my wife felt betrayed by her father’s adultery and abandonment, she became imprinted with a desire for a stable husband and loving family.  She needed it.  All desire for romance and excitement became secondary to a deep need for stability to fill the hole in her soul.  

          Ah, that gives me more insight in why she doesn’t prioritize sex. My father’s parenting also was … very lacking, to say the least, but it’s funny that I don’t feel the same need for stability.

        5. chance

          Hi Emily,

           

          “Also, I wonder what women do when they feel powerless? What does the woman who didn’t get much male attention do when she’s running the company? Harass the hell out of the cute interns? I don’t have an answer. I’m wondering.”

           

          I think one needs to broaden the question in order to get the answer you seek (i.e., take it out of the context of it having to be a female who is running a company).  In general, some men who’ve acquired power and status will inappropriately use it to gain access to sex while some women who’ve realized their sexual agency will inappropriately use it to gain access to power and status.  If such men and women experienced prior feelings of powerlessness in these areas (e.g., lack of sex or lack of status), it’s reasonable to assume that they may feel even more compelled to capitalize on their new-found agencies.

           

          Come to think of it, a lot of the women who became infamous for inappropriately utilizing their sexual agency to gain access to high-status/high-power men weren’t that attractive, either.

        6. Jeremy

          Emily, the validation isn’t the kind I seek.  The validation is, I think, the knowledge that what these formerly powerful people want is now irrelevant, and all that matters is what the guy wants. It’s a twisted sort of validation.

           

          And your personality type is diametrically opposite from my wife’s, so I wouldn’t expect both of you to have the same reaction to inconsistent parenting.  From what I observe, the men who harass seem to have similar personality types as well.

        7. Emily, the original

          Hi Chance,

          In general, some men who’ve acquired power and status will inappropriately use it to gain access to sex while some women who’ve realized their sexual agency will inappropriately use it to gain access to power and status. 

          I guess there’s some correlation, but the women who gain power and status by using their sexual agency are choosing to do so. It’s a quid pro quo — sex for fame or status. Like the women who slept with Hugh Hefner. They hoped being in the magazine would help their careers. The women being harassed at a job aren’t choosing to be harassed. It’s a completely different story if the woman is choosing to sleep with the CEO, hoping it will move her career along.

        8. Emily, the original

          And your personality type is diametrically opposite from my wife’s, so I wouldn’t expect both of you to have the same reaction to inconsistent parenting. 

          Are you saying she’s more stable? 🙂

          Oh, forgot to mention; I have a Jewish background, too. My great-grandfather on my father’s side was Jewish. I never met him and my great-grandmother wasn’t Jewish, so the religion wasn’t passed down to my grandfather. But most people assume I’m Jewish because of my last name.

        9. Chance

          Hi Emily,

           

          “I guess there’s some correlation, but the women who gain power and status by using their sexual agency are choosing to do so. It’s a quid pro quo — sex for fame or status. Like the women who slept with Hugh Hefner. They hoped being in the magazine would help their careers. The women being harassed at a job aren’t choosing to be harassed. It’s a completely different story if the woman is choosing to sleep with the CEO, hoping it will move her career along.”

           

          Three points:  1.) Your examples above essentially compare all women who use their sexual agency to gain access to status to men who abuse their status to obtain sex, but this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.  One must compare these men to women who also abuse their sexual agency to gain access to status.  2.) Men, of course, are generally expected/required to make the first move so the manner in which a woman abuses her sexual agency to obtain status is often going to be more passive and insidious.  Most women who abuse their power aren’t going to make an overt pass because it isn’t the nature or culture of intersexual relations.  3.)  In the rare instance when the woman in question is being overt, her attentions are also unwanted as most men strive to steer clear of these types of women (especially in the workplace).

        10. Emily, the original

          Chance,

          I’m not sure what you mean by “abuse their sexual agency.” I don’t really care if a woman wants to use her beauty and sex to attract a rich man. Surely they both know they are exchanging commodities, and it’s their business.

           

        11. Jeremy

          I didn’t necessarily mean more stable, nor more Jewish 🙂 just that you seem to be a combination of artisan/Idealist and she is mostly a guardian type. Again, these are just broad descriptors, but a guardian tends to view the world in concrete, rather than abstract, terms, and trends to internalize roles from society over internally derived emotions as a basis for judgments. Whereas an artisan abhors external roles and prioritizes emotion, and the Idealist further prioritizes emotion to form meaning and identity – and uses that to make judgments. Very different.

           

          Are guardians more stable? Well, they tend to be happier in the role of married wife and mother and less happy while single. Less apt to pine for the days of adventurous singlehood. Is that ‘better’? Depends what one is looking for…

        12. Emily, the original

          Hi Jeremy,
           Whereas an artisan abhors external roles and prioritizes emotion, and the Idealist further prioritizes emotion to form meaning and identity – and uses that to make judgments. Very different.
          This is true. Although I am a liberal politically, I also abhor group think. Get me in a room of “mass opinion” and I want to start shouting the opposite.
            Less apt to pine for the days of adventurous singlehood.
          I do miss my 20s, not so much because I was happier but because it was a time before everyone else got “responsible.” My best friend in my 20s was a gay man who was in his 30s. I couldn’t figure out why all his friends were also in their 20s. Now I know!

        13. Kitty

          Also, I wonder what women do when they feel powerless? What does the woman who didn’t get much male attention do when she’s running the company? Harass the hell out of the cute interns? I don’t have an answer. I’m wondering

          I think women, even if they are lonely at the top, rarely react to feeling ignored by forcing their attentions on young boys.  I have seen successful but personally unhappy women manifest their bitterness by criticizing male subordinates and (less frequently) pretty girls.  But using a position of power to sexually exploit pretty young things (whether cute girls or male twinks) seems to be a primarily male behavior.

          Of course there are those female high school teachers that chase male teens, but the teachers themselves are often young, attractive and married.  So in my view it is a different dynamic.

           

        14. Emily, the original

          Kitty,

          I think women, even if they are lonely at the top, rarely react to feeling ignored by forcing their attentions on young boys.  

          Yes, I agree. You don’t see that happening. What does female sexual power look like? For men, it’s about expending the least amount of effort possible to get hot women into bed. But for women, hooking up with hot men doesn’t mean as much because male hookup standards are lower. For a woman, is it about having a serious of sought-after men threaten to throw themselves off tall buildings if she won’t marry them? I’m serious. Idk

           

        15. chance

          @Emily – “I’m not sure what you mean by “abuse their sexual agency.” I don’t really care if a woman wants to use her beauty and sex to attract a rich man. Surely they both know they are exchanging commodities, and it’s their business.”

           

          Some women aren’t above-board in their dealings with men, and the men in question don’t always know it’s an exchange of commodities.  I would venture to guess that it’s a small minority of women, however.  Just like men who harass the hell out of women are the small minority as well.

        16. Emily, the original

          Chance,

          Some women aren’t above-board in their dealings with men, and the men in question don’t always know it’s an exchange of commodities. 

          Yes, possibly, but if you’re a man who’s dating an attractive woman several decades younger than you and you have money … does what’s going on need to be announced?

        17. Kitty

          Emily:

          What does female sexual power look like? 

          Anne Boleyn.  Seriously.  She didn’t come from a wealthy family, she wasn’t highly educated nor was she a great beauty (historians agree that her looks were average).  But she had charm, wit, sex appeal and was an expert flirt who knew how to tease and enamor men by strategically withholding her body and proclaiming her virtue.

          In terms of social status Henry the 8th was vastly higher than she was but she became his obsession and caused him to divorce his wife, change the religion in England and almost go to war with the Holy Roman Emperor.  It was her bad luck that she didn’t have a son, and if she had she may have never been executed for adultery. She may not be the best example of great female sexual power leading to happiness, since she did lose her head.  OTOH I am not sure that great male sexual power necessarily makes a man happy.

        18. Emily, the original

          Kitty,
          Anne Boleyn.  Seriously.  She didn’t come from a wealthy family, she wasn’t highly educated nor was she a great beauty (historians agree that her looks were average).  But she had charm, wit, sex appeal and was an expert flirt who knew how to tease and enamor men by strategically withholding her body and proclaiming her virtue. In terms of social status Henry the 8th was vastly higher than she was but she became his obsession and caused him to divorce his wife, change the religion in England and almost go to war with the Holy Roman Emperor.  It was her bad luck that she didn’t have a son, and if she had she may have never been executed for adultery. .
          The example of Anne Boleyn proves my point. She infected the psyche of a very powerful man and if she still had time and opportunity to have rendezvous with other men, perhaps men she found more appealing, yes, that is sexual power.

        19. Jeremy

          Examples of abusive female sexual power?  How about Amy Irving?  Married Steven Spielberg for a few years and has been collecting huge amounts of alimony since then.  We tend not to think of alimony the way we think of harassment, but sometimes we should IMHO.  Harassment is a man (usually) trying to coerce a woman’s sexuality when she is unwilling because he feels entitled to it.  Alimony is a woman (usually) coercing a man financially when he is unwilling because she feels entitled to it.  We don’t view them the same way because the one is vilified in our culture and the other is a standard of law. But IMHO they are equivalents in kind – the way one gender tries to coerce what it wants from the other while feeling entitled to that coercion.

        20. Kitty

          Examples of abusive female sexual power?  How about Amy Irving?  Married Steven Spielberg for a few years and has been collecting huge amounts of alimony since then.  We tend not to think of alimony the way we think of harassment, but sometimes we should IMHO.  

          I don’t know anything about Amy Irving, but does she get huge sums of alimony because of her wit, charm and flirtatious savvy?  Or did she get a very good lawyer and divorce during an era when huge alimony payments were the norm?  Exploiting divorce and alimony laws for financial gain may require cunning but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing as female sexual power.  Anne Boleyn did what she did without the help  of the legal system.  And that’s why she ended up getting beheaded.

        21. Jeremy

          Does harassing a woman require any sort of cunning or prowess?  Powerful men harass because they want to and believe they can get away with it.  In the same way that women take money from men after divorce because they want to and believe they are entitled to it.  The equivalence is there.  Whereas the woman using sexual prowess and cunning is, IMHO, more akin to a man adept at seduction rather than harassment.

        22. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          In the same way that women take money from men after divorce because they want to and believe they are entitled to it.

          What do you think women are entitled to after a divorce? Mary J Blige is having to cough up quite a bit during her divorce. I believe California is a 50-50 state. So Blige’s husband is legally entitled to 50% of what she made during their marriage. It would be the same if her husband had made more money during their marriage — he would owe her. I don’t know the details of the Amy Irving/Steven Speilberg split. It seems odd the he is still paying this long after the divorce. I guess if a man wants to ensure he  doesn’t lose money in the future, he shouldn’t get married and should keep your finances separate.

        23. GoWiththeFlow

          Jeremy,

          For the record, Steven Spielberg started an affair with Kate Capshaw (now Mrs. Spielberg #2) during filming of one of the Indiana Jones movies.  In California, you don’t have to prove fault to obtain a divorce but it does factor into the financial settlement.  Thus you can have wealthy couples who are legally divorced, and even remarried to other people, but they are still duking it out over the final financial settlement years later in court.  So that’s the why of that.

          As for whether this is an example of women abusing their sexual power over men in a manner equivalent to what Weinstein was doing?  Sorry, not seeing it.  In the Spielberg case you can make the argument that Irving had absolutely no sexual power over her husband at the time he left her for another woman.

          I think you can discuss the issue of negative bias against men in alimony, child support and custody in divorce settlements on it’s own merits.  By trying to somehow compare it to sexual harassment just weakens the argument.

        24. Jeremy

          @GWTF, I very much disagree.  Harassment and alimony are sister subjects because both center around entitlement. They are un-alike in substance but alike in mindset.  My point about Amy Irving is that she utilized a position of power to coerce what she wanted from her ex-husband.  Her position of power is the law.  The law applies to her because a man married her – a man whose assets dwarfed her own by far.  That man married her because of her sexual power – or do we believe that he married her because she contributed in some way to his films or his ability to make an income?   The same law that used to say that women had no right to withdraw sexual consent once married still continues to say that men have no right to withdraw financial consent once married.  We do not live in a rape culture, we live in a theft culture.

           

          Harvey Weinstein put women in a position where they could not turn down his unwanted advances because of his power over their future.  Amy Irving put a man into a position where he could not refuse to pay her many tens of millions of dollars that she did not earn because she was in a position of power.  Whether or not she felt powerful after he cheated is besides the point.

        25. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          That man married her because of her sexual power – or do we believe that he married her because she contributed in some way to his films or his ability to make an income?   

          And that was the bargain they tacitly struck — her sexual power for his money. If he was so worried about his money, he shouldn’t have married her. I would be saying the same thing if the situation was reversed. You’ll notice that Madonna never marries her young boy toys. She’s smarter than that.

        26. GoWiththeFlow

          Jeremy,

          First big issue:  Consent.  Men ask women to marry them.  They voluntarily enter into the legal agreement.  They have a big say in choosing who they ask to marry them.  They have the option of asking for or insisting on a prenuptial agreement to protect themselves financially.  There are several levels where consent is an affirmative choice on the part of the man.  OTOH, no woman who’s boss attempts to stick his tongue down her throat at a work meeting, or has her boss try to bust down her hotel room door on a working trip consents to any of it.

          The second big issue for me is your framing that the individual woman in a divorce situation has a sense of entitlement.  I look at it more that it’s a systemic social and structural issue.  Divorce and alimony laws allow for or mandate a financial transfer from the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse after a divorce.

          I know of more than a few women who wound up either giving large lump sums to ex husbands, or wound up paying alimony.  The courts in my state don’t care if you are a man or a woman.  They care about the formula, and they care about making sure that no recently divorced person winds up on public assistance.

          If men want to change this they can do so by choosing different spouses.  Many years ago I read a book by Dr. David Buss where one section was all about how men can protect themselves financially from divorce.  He said to practice proactive prevention.  Pay attention to a woman’s financial status when dating.  During dating and after marriage, support her and encourage her to achieve at work and or to seek out higher education and more lucrative career opportunities.

          How many men do this?  On every single post on this blog that concerns women’s careers and higher education levels, the comments sections are littered with diatribes from men about how bitchy, stuck up, and unfeminine career women are.  I’ve known a few men who were peachy keen happy that their wife was a “traditional woman” who lived to care for him and their kids, and not one of those aggressive career types.  And then they went through a divorce.  “What!  I have to pay alimony?!  She can get off her lazy ass and get a job!”

          Warren Farrell had some interesting observations on this dynamic.  His take was that men’s resentment of financially independent career women was because they were attracted to them, but felt they had no bargaining power with them and therefore the women would reject them.  It’s psychologically safer to say I don’t like a certain group of women than to admit you fear rejection by them.

          If you feel that women feel entitled to alimony or other financial support from men, please recognize that while it may be something women want and benefit from, it’s not just an expression of women’s collective will.  Men had to want it too or it wouldn’t exist.

          Evan consistently says that women should focus less on salary, education level, and other forms of financial capital in men they choose to date, and focus more on character, kindness, and compatibility.  The flip side of that coin is that men should focus more on what a woman brings to the table financially, and what her attitudes about money and lifestyle are.

        27. Jeremy

          GWTF, I’m sure you know that consent must be ongoing to be valid.  While it is true that both spouses consent to a sharing agreement when they marry, it is nonsense to state that that consent is irrevocable.  Women were once unable, legally, to refuse sex to their husbands because the thought was that they consented in perpetuity when they married.  Thankfully, this thinking was reversed….but not for financial matters.  Yet.  It will be, because it is cognitive dissonance in the most extreme sense to continue this line of thinking.  People agree, when they marry, to share assets WHILE MARRIED.  No one I know of agreed tacitly to share assets or continue a unilateral provisioning arrangement once divorced.  And pre-nups are largely un-inforceable for monies made during marriage or for alimony arrangements.

           

          To address your second point, the fact that the issue is enshrined in a societal culture IS THE PROBLEM.  Seriously, if it involved sex, you’d call it Rape Culture.  It is Theft Culture.  It is enshrined as a societal culture because of a patriarchal and entitled mentality.  The higher income spouse continues to support the lower income spouse after divorce in exchange for….nothing….Why, exactly?  If it is because what she provided during marriage was of value, why does she not need to continue compensating her ex for those things of value that he gave up by continuing to clean his house, plan his social calendar, and have sex with him?  Oh yes, because they are DIVORCED.  The way we think about this issue is heavily coloured by entitlement.

        28. GoWiththeFlow

          Jeremy,

          When someone is sexually harassed or assaulted, there is NEVER any consent.  Not on either a one time basis or on an ongoing basis.  In many marriages where a man winds up paying alimony or support in the event of a divorce, one of the many areas of mutual consent s where the wife reduces or quits working outside the home to raise children.  There is a price to that for the woman in her ability to subsequently get a good paying job upon re-entering the workforce.  Consent was given knowing that there was a downside risk.  This doesn’t just affect both the man, the woman, and their kids in the event of a divorce.  It affects the whole family’s financial situation when the marriage remains intact.

          Nobody bats an eye when an employee is given a severance package or a golden parachute from a job where they made important contributions, but where the person/people with the money want them to leave.  Isn’t this a similar situation?

          How many of your male physician colleagues are happy and relieved that they don’t have to panic when clinic runs late because their stay at home or part time working wife is able to pick up the kids from school.  That they can assume a hot meal on the table when they get home and clean laundry in the closet.  How many of your colleagues with working wives are stressed out and resent their wives’ jobs because it puts pressure on them to participate in carpools, deal with the calls from the principal’s office, and be at the house when the HVAC repair guy shows up?

          Because one thing you didn’t address was that many men have negative feelings about financially independent women, or women who earn more than them, or who’s job has greater social capital than their’s.  Add on that many men don’t like it when a wife has a job where it means he has to pick up a lot of the domestic responsibilities.  Men are kind of schizophrenic when it comes down to this.  They don’t want to be financially beholden to a woman, yet they harbor negative feelings and stereotypes about financially independent woman, and they certainly don’t want to depend on one.

          The thing that bugs me when this issue comes up is the implication that men are just helpless victims here at the mercy and whim of women who set society up this way all on their own.  Men are getting something out of this setup, whether its financial, emotional, or psychological, or it wouldn’t have become an entrenched norm in society.  So in addition to asking women to change, they also need to take a good look in the mirror and change themselves.

        29. Jeremy

          GWTF, I had a point-by-point response to your last comment that I decided to delete.  The reason I deleted it is because I’m not trying to argue with you, I’m trying to communicate with you.  So I’m going to try a different approach.

           

          Remember when we discussed the MeToo movement, we talked about men and women’s different perspective on harassment?  The fact that many men have a hard time imagining what the problem is, because from their perspective many issues women complain about wouldn’t be a big deal?  A man who wakes up next to a woman after a night of drinking and realizes they’ve had drunk sex doesn’t think “OMG, I’ve just been raped.”  He thinks “Shit, that was a mistake.”  A man who is catcalled by women on the street doesn’t feel harassed because he isn’t afraid.  But men must realize that women see the world differently, and must try to perspective-take if they want to understand the pain women feel and try to help.  The same is true of the issue we’re discussing.

           

          Do you know that the slang term for alimony on the manosphere is “divorce rape”?  And for all that women take umbrage at the comparison between rape and alimony, it isn’t totally out to lunch IMO.  Because for men, our sexuality is wrapped up in our providership – it is how we were raised.  This is something that women, in general, don’t understand because it is not a perspective they share.  Coercing a man to write a monthly cheque to an ex-wife is, in some ways, very similar to coercing that ex-wife to have monthly sex with her ex- husband.  It was his marital role, and now they are divorced.  He consented to share his provisioning (his sexuality!) while married, not while divorced.  Consent must be ongoing to be valid!

           

          And while I understand where you’re coming from with your discussion of how men can avoid alimony by choosing different women and encouraging them to keep their careers, can you not see the similarity of this line of thinking with telling women to avoid rape by not dressing slutty?  A female dentist can still decide to drop her career to half-time after having kids, and would still be entitled to alimony if she made $150K per year, as long as her husband made more.

           

          The reason alimony exists is because of patriarchal laws that don’t benefit men, they protect men’s daughters at the expense of their sons (patriarchy!).  The solution is to change the laws (as they were changed to eliminate marital rape), not for men to overhaul their sexuality or the type of marriage they want to have.

        30. Persephone

          Go with flow, I love your post! I agree with you so much on this! And I’m a woman!

          The thing that bugs me when this issue comes up is the implication that men are just helpless victims here at the mercy and whim of women who set society up this way all on their own.  Men are getting something out of this setup, whether its financial, emotional, or psychological, or it wouldn’t have become an entrenched norm in society.  So in addition to asking women to change, they also need to take a good look in the mirror and change themselves.

  20. 20
    Paloma

    •Women cheat but is still something not as talked as men cheating – True.  Men are more prone to exhibit their sexual “conquests”, women do not behave that way because socially we are still bound to behave under certain rules.

    •High Expectations screw up with our level of happiness – Absolutely True. In marriage and in life, not only we set expectations on the marriage as an institution. We set expectations on our partners and we set high expectations on ourselves.

    •Lastly, as cowardly as it may sound, a large volume of women cheat not specifically seeking sex outside their marriage, a lot of them do it to bare staying in one they are not completely happy with – I agree with this being – Wrong – but true.  I have been married for 12 years, I had an affair for about 3 years with one person, is finished now as my husband found out, but one of the things he remarkably repeated was “these last 3 years have been the best in our marriage”… I guess is true: The happier the woman, the happier the man.

    1. 20.1
      Jeremy

      Paloma, I knew a man who made a lot of money by developing properties.  For the last 5 years he did very well, supported his wife and kids in the lifestyle they wished for, and the wife was extremely happy.
      She was far less happy when her husband had no choice but to tell her that he’d made his money by taking loans upon loans, and now could not afford to pay his employees.  He declared bankruptcy and the family had to move to another country to avoid the humiliation of the past employees picketing at his house.  But….the past 5 years were the happiest of his wife’s life.  So…..was it worth it?  How happy was she, do you think, when she found out the truth?  How happy was your husband?

       

      ”The happier the woman, the happier the man” only applies when his happiness will not be blown away by an ugly truth.

    2. 20.2
      Yet Another Guy

      @Paloma

      You husband must be a very tolerant man because infidelity is one thing that I would never tolerate.  Clearly, your marriage vows did not mean much to you, as you would still be an active adulterer had your husband not discovered your paramour. There is no justification for adultery. If anyone had a reason to cheat it was me, but I remained faithful to my vows until the end.  I remained in a marriage that was completely free of intimate contact for the last decade. We talking about not so much as holding hands. Adultery is one of the cruelest things that a man or woman can do to his/her spouse, not to mention how it affects children when the truth comes to the surface.

  21. 21
    Marika

    Re divorce laws, from what I’m reading here, they are quite different in Australia and I think it does sound fairer. My ex made 10 times more than me. I still had to move out (I couldn’t afford the mortgage alone), and lost the car (it was in his name and on my suggestion we downsized to one car to save money). There was no favoritism towards me as a woman. He offered a small amount of brief spousal support in the settlement only to protect his superannuation. Which I never intended to touch anyway. And maybe he also did it to alleviate guilt.

    I hated moving and it all felt really wrong as he’s the one who cheated, but I accept that no-fault divorce makes most sense to keep these things from dragging on and costing more in the long run.

    So America could find ways to make divorce settlements fairer.

    That being said, we didn’t have children together. If we had, different story and I personally think that’s fair. My brother pays his ex money (voluntarily more than he legally has to) for the kids. I’m sure he hates it and feels raped etc etc, but he sucks it up for their sake, both to help provide for them and to ensure that the transition was as smooth as possible and not to jeopardize the relationship with them or their mother.

    Kids are for life. I think that once you have them, the focus needs to be less on you and more on what’s best for them and the ongoing parenting dynamic. Even post-divorce.

    1. 21.1
      Jeremy

      Hi Marika.  None of what I wrote above applies to child support.  I think most reasonable men assume responsibility for their children, though we may quibble about the formula for amounts and safeguards against mis-use.

       

      From what I understand, things are fairer in Australia than North America.  I think the problem is the bias of the present.  I remember reading about the issue of organ donation – how when the questionnaire was changed from “If you agree to donate your organs, check here” to “If you DON’T agree to donate your organs, check here” the rates for organ donation went up spectacularly.  Because human perception depends on framing.  Currently in North America we start from the perspective that when a person agrees to marry they consent to a perpetual sharing agreement – when no one actually agreed to that!  If the perspective was changed to reflect that no one consents by default to such an agreement, and that if it is wanted it can be negotiated and agreed upon by the parties involved, that would be fair.  That way, GWTF would not have to assume that a man consents to alimony when his wife drops out of the workforce – the man would have ACTUALLY consented.  And if he didn’t, the woman would be wise to keep her job.  Which would be wise anyway.

      1. 21.1.1
        Marika

        Unless I’m misunderstanding, that still seems to come back to the interests of the children, though, Jeremy. I would imagine the vast majority of women (or men) who drop out the workforce do so because of children. Those children still need what their mother/father was providing (picking them up and dropping them places, cleaning, homework and projects, cooking, emotional support, shopping, advice etc etc) them post-divorce when the income from the other parent is no longer there.

        As much as my settlement sucked logistically, it was fair because I’m an adult. A highly educated one at that. Who’s never been out of the workforce. It would not have been fair if I’d been a housewife working for my family for 10 years. Who was then suddenly divorced with no income stream and a 10-year gap in my resume. And kids being raised.

        Perhaps there should be a stay-at-home parent income? In recognition that work done at home contributes to the family as a whole (including the other partner). Maybe that would make things fairer for men/women who feel as you do. So then the parent at home gets paid during the marriage, not after it ☺

        1. Jeremy

          It’s not that I don’t think the work provided by stay-at-home parents is of value, Marika – it is.  When my wife was on mat leave with our first child, she resented having to come to me for money. Didn’t like having to ask for it because it made her feel like a beggar.  I completely understood.  So I established a monthly dividend for her, calculating average monthly expenses and adding 25%, not including costs of mortgage, insurance, or nanny which I covered.  That way she’d always have more than what she needed and would never have to ask for anything.  Because I thought the work she was doing was important.

           

          But she always intended to go back to work afterward, not to give up her career.  I never consented in any way to supporting her completely forever or to her giving up her ability to have an income.  Yet she could have decided to do so at any time, with or without my consent, and the law would have treated it as if I had consented.  That is the flaw in GWTF’s argument.  The other flaw is that even if she HAD kept her career and made money, she would still be entitled to alimony in the event of divorce, not because she needed it but because I still made more.  That is the problem with Amy Irving.  Amy Irving was in no danger of poverty after her divorce with Spielberg.

           

          If a person wants to give up their career to become a full-time parent, they should obtain consent from their spouse if they want support.  Consent should not be assumed, nor should it be a prerequisite of marriage.  If it is agreed upon, it is fair.

        2. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          If a person wants to give up their career to become a full-time parent, they should obtain consent from their spouse if they want support.  Consent should not be assumed, nor should it be a prerequisite of marriage.  If it is agreed upon, it is fair.

          Is your wife working? Did she stop working after your first child was born? How old are your children?

          I used to work with a guy who, like you, had 4 kids.  He complained a lot about his marriage. She worked but made a lot less money then he did, and though he had a decent income, he was decidedly middle class. I always thought there’d be no way he could leave because he would owe so much in child support (and he’d owe her half his pension, half his 401k, half the equity in the house), he’d be living in a box.

    2. 21.2
      ScottH

      I don’t understand all of the ramifications of no-fault divorce, but when I was going through it and did some research, fault can matter in a contested divorce even if it’s in a no-fault state.   But I’ll leave that to the lawyers to deal with.  I remember finding this and pointing it out to my ex who thought that because we live in a no-fault state that she couldn’t be held at fault for anything.  I enjoyed showing her that she was wrong.

      As far as consent, I don’t know if or where it’s written but *I believe* that consent is implied when you get married.  You act as a single unit.  The actions of one are the actions of both.  I believe that if there’s something you want excluded from this arrangement, it’s called a prenup.  You might not like something s/he does but to say that it wasn’t consented upon does not matter.

      To say that alimony needs to be consented…  Huh???  When you get married, you should know that alimony is part of the deal should things not work out.  If you don’t, that’s your screwup, no consent needed for that.   There’s a lot of things in life that you don’t have the option of consent.  Try not paying taxes because you don’t consent to them.

      1. 21.2.1
        Jeremy

        ScottH, “Try not paying taxes because you don’t consent to them.”  This actually supports my point rather than refuting it.  We pay taxes because we utilize the resources of our country/city.  We don’t need to consent to pay taxes, because by living where we do and utilizing the resources we do, the consent is implicit – the transaction is implicit.  If we don’t want to pay tax, we move somewhere else.  Once we move and no longer utilize the resources of the prior city, we don’t owe further taxes to that place.  Owing further taxes to that place would be much like alimony.  

         

        When you get married, you should know that alimony is part of the deal should things not work out.”  Only because the law is what it currently is.  But that statement is kind of like saying “when you get married you should know that you can no longer refuse sex with your husband, and if you don’t like that, don’t get married.”  That used to be the law.  The law was changed.  Because it was ridiculous.

        1. ScottH

          Jeremy- we pay taxes because we have to, regardless of whether we use resources or not.  Likewise, we have to pay alimony if we qualify, regardless of whether we consent or not.  If you never want to pay alimony, get an air tight prenup or don’t get married.

          You’re right about the law, and that is exactly my point.  It’s not about consent or fairness or utilization.  It’s about the rules of our society and you can be sure that it will sometimes be unfair.  The rules are different in different parts of the country, and even in different parts of the state, hell, even in different parts of the same courthouse.  But that’s the way it is, consent or no consent.

  22. 22
    Marika

    Jeremy said

    If a person wants to give up their career to become a full-time parent, they should obtain consent from their spouse if they want support.  Consent should not be assumed, nor should it be a prerequisite of marriage.  If it is agreed upon, it is fair.

    I believe we have consensus ☺

  23. 23
    Marika

    Does Nth America have a ‘short marriage’ law? Depending on what month they were married / separated and whether they lived together before marriage, in Australia Amy Irvings don’t really happen. The idea of a short marriage is to return people to the financial state they were in (give or take) before marriage. I’m sure with rich people they negotiate a bit more than that, but only if the other party is reasonable.

    I think I’m finding this all so perplexing as there seems to be a level of entitlement in your social circle, Jeremy (and others) that doesn’t really exist in my world. I’m thinking about keeping the lower earning party and their kids off the streets. Not about people who are trying to rob their previous partner blind out of revenge/greed. There are ways to make the laws more reasonable. But there must be a reason they aren’t being passed!

    1. 23.1
      Mrs Happy

      Marika,

      as you know I’m Australian too; I was in my 30’s before I realised that in the USA, marriage is a career move for lower-wealth-than-their-partner women, and potentially as valuable as a university degree and professional job.  Divorced women are compensated in the USA/Canada in a way that just does not routinely happen in Australia.  I suppose because we are more egalitarian and less traditional in Oz?  It seems to me we just do not exchange youth and beauty, for money, in the same transactional way, as commonly as apparently occurs overseas.

      I’ve a few divorced female friends, ex-husbands earning in the top 1% of the country, kids at private schools, and the child support the ex-husband pays doesn’t even cover the school fees.  And that’s Australian child support as calculated by (in these cases male) income tables.  My nanny receives annual child support for her 2 children, from her high-income earning ex-husband, that is less than my monthly credit card bill, and I hate shopping.

      If I divorced I’d have no problem supporting my kids – all my money funnels towards them and the family anyway – but I’d be ropable if my husband expected money from me for the rest of his life (he earns much less than me – still six figures, but less).  Once the kids are adults, surely able-bodied middle-aged parents of either gender, should work full-time… even though being out of the job market for years may see people re-enter at a lowish level, they can still work, and why shouldn’t they?

      But it’s a complex calculation, looking at years spent running a home, raising kids, supporting a spouse’s career at the expense of your own (which so many women do), retirement funds and assets… really, what a mess.

      It must be sad to have to stay in an unwanted relationship because of money. First world problem though.

    2. 23.2
      Jeremy

      Gendered prerogatives.  Gendered entitlements.  Gendered fears.

       

      I don’t want to see new mothers end up on the street because of divorce.  But is it the ex-husband’s responsibility to continue paying for his ex wife after a 50/50 spit?  (again, not speaking about child support- that’s different).  Society apparently believes it is his responsibility to continue caring for her.  At least in North America.

       

      Hmmm, but aren’t men much more likely to be depressed and suicidal after divorce compared to women?  And isn’t that because women tend to be the emotional caregivers during marriage whereas men tend to be the financial caregivers?  And if so, WHY aren’t we worried about the man ending up on the proverbial “street” emotionally after divorce, and whose responsibility is it to make sure that he doesn’t?  Why, surely it is his ex-wife’s responsibility, given the man’s responsibility for continued financial caregiving.  If we believe that the ex-wife should be compensated financially because of the emotional work that she provided, MUST we not believe that the ex-husband should be compensated emotionally for the financial work he provided? He gives her a percentage of his income, she comes in a few times per week to cook, clean, plan his social calendar and have sex. EVERYONE continues their marital role to a lesser extent – not just the man.  Ah, but we can’t coerce that, because coercing sex is rape.  So….what do we call coercing financial sharing?  Oh yes, theft.  So why don’t we think about that?

       

      Cognitive dissonance.  Bias.  Misunderstanding of “patriarchy” as advantaging only men and not women, situationally.  Half of all marriages end in divorce, and men pay 95% of alimony.  If there was a male #MeToo, would women even acknowledge it?

       

       

      1. 23.2.1
        KK

        “But is it the ex-husband’s responsibility to continue paying for his ex wife after a 50/50 spit?  (again, not speaking about child support- that’s different).  Society apparently believes it is his responsibility to continue caring for her.  At least in North America”.

        Jeremy, this isn’t true. Not in the U.S., anyway. Divorce laws vary greatly from state to state. California is only one of a few states where lifetime alimony is even a possibility. Not all states award alimony. Some states do, but only under specific circumstances, and for a very limited amount of time.

        1. Emily, the original

          KK,

          Not all states award alimony. Some states do, but only under specific circumstances, and for a very limited amount of time.

          I was just going to say that. Usually, it’s a division of assets, and legally all marital assets are shared. A friend of mine had to pay his ex-wife half his 401k, half his pension and half the equity in the house. She worked, but he made more. They have split custody, so there’s no child support. There’s no alimony. He owed her money a couple of years after the divorce because he hadn’t paid her half the equity in the house yet, not because she was collecting alimony.

        2. Chance

          It’s my understanding that almost all states award alimony (if not all of them), and roughly eight states do award lifetime alimony.  However, you’re right that it varies from couple to couple, and from judge to judge, so it’s very nebulous.  For most people, alimony isn’t part of the equation because there isn’t enough money involved.  However, it’s certainly a big deal for high earners.  I agree that the best way to avoid it is to remain unmarried, which has always been my plan.

      2. 23.2.2
        Marika

        As Mrs Happy and I explained, Jeremy, it doesn’t have to be this way. Why don’t you campaign to change the laws in your area?

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          Why don’t you campaign to change the laws in your area?

          Idk. Given the current political climate, do you think any elected officials are going to want to get near changing marital asset/alimony laws?

        2. Tron Swanson

          With all due respect, Marika, I think that’s a passive-aggressive way of saying, “I’m fine with the way things are, please go try something that won’t work.”

      3. 23.2.3
        Buck25

        “Gendered prerogatives. Gendered Entitlements. Gendered fears.”

        “Cognitive dissonance. Bias. Misunderstanding of “patriarchy” as advantaging only men and not women, situationally…”

        Jeremy, welcome to America (and apparently Canada) 21st century style. Fairness and equity for men, in anything really, is not exactly a priority for the typical North American woman (let alone the militant Third Wave Feminists, who see us all as callous, oversexed, catcalling, woman-hating sexual harassers and rapists.) See the quote from Mrs Happy, above, “….in the USA, marriage is a career move for lower-wealth than-their-partner women,, and potentially as valuable as a university degree or a professional job.” Spot on, and couldn’t have said it better myself! I assume it’s that way on your side of the border as well. Now, put yourself in the mind of a female who sees in that the potential, at least, for herself to be thus advantaged, and ask yourself, whether you’d care whether it was “fair” or not. That’s about as likely as a woman admitting that the divorce was entirely her fault, even if it was. Doesn’t matter if she cheated, dozens of times, from the inception of the marriage, or (as in my first marriage), whether she tried repeatedly to literally murder you), whatever she did it, was all YOUR fault, you evil misogynist man, you; the devil didn’t make her do it, YOU did, and you must be punished! GUILTY!  GUILTY as charged! in the court of distaff opinion, you have to be…because you’re a man. Of course that’s not all women (as the sweet innocent, lovely little woman on your arm waiting for you to put that wedding ring on her finger will vehemently assure you, she would never, ever, even think of doing such a thing!). Uh huh. So said my second wife, when I married her.  She sure became a “material girl” ten years later though. Funny thing about that; when a man fails to keep his word, he’s a dishonorable cad; when a woman fails to keep hers, she is only exercising her female prerogative to simply change her mind, no further explanation necessary. The only solutions? Either (1) stay single (even that might not work in the Peoples Republic of California), or (2) Get an air-tight,  bombproof prenup (something on the order of strength of a Minuteman II silo cap should suffice; must be able to withstand anything but a direct hit from a 1 megaton or larger thermonuclear weapon), then hire the best legal pit bull you can afford to enforce it, in the event she files for divorce.

        “If there was a male #MeToo, would women even acknowledge it?”

        You ARE joking, right??? The answer is, sure…the day when pigs fly, grass grows through concrete, and all the politicians vote themselves a pay cut, before then voting themselves out of office. Otherwise, don’t hold your breath, lol!

  24. 24
    Marika

    Hahaha, Emily, probably not!

    The point is these things aren’t set in stone or natural laws like gravity, they can be changed.

    Also, Jeremy complains about this a lot…and he’s not even getting divorced! Spare a thought for those of us who’ve actually gone through it, Jeremy, rather than looking for sympathy for the potential plight of a man who hasn’t!

    1. 24.1
      Emily, the original

      Marika,
      Hahaha, Emily, probably not!
      It’s hard out here for a pimp!  🙂
      The point is these things aren’t set in stone or natural laws like gravity, they can be changed. Also, Jeremy complains about this a lot…and he’s not even getting divorced! Spare a thought for those of us who’ve actually gone through it, Jeremy, rather than looking for sympathy for the potential plight of a man who hasn’t!
      I don’t know what the laws are in each state, but I don’t think alimony is given anymore where I live. That being said, in marriage, you share the assets, regardless of who makes what. Isn’t that the whole point of getting married? Everybody’s super generous until they want out, and then they start pointing to what’s theirs alone. This is true of men and women. But if you don’t want to share your assets and are afraid that a potential divorce could hurt you financially — don’t get married. The solution is pretty simple.

      1. 24.1.1
        Marika

        Emily said:

        But if you don’t want to share your assets and are afraid that a potential divorce could hurt you financially — don’t get married. The solution is pretty simple.

        Yes, that’s an option too. I just know nothing was ever changed or fixed by complaining about it. Especially before it’s actually happened!

        1. Jeremy

          Marika and Emily, I’m not going to belabor the point.  But none of my arguments were about me, they were about the situation in general.  You would not ridicule a woman writing about harassment because she had not been harassed, nor ridicule a woman complaining about women’s issues because they did not directly affect her.

           

          My point, writing about this issue in a blog for women, is to try to have women look at this issue from a perspective not their own, just as you ask men to look at harassment from a different perspective.  My point is that most women don’t understand how this issue affects men – Emily gave the perfect example when she wrote “In marriage you share the assets.  Isn’t that the point?”  No.  That’s the point for women.  That’s the COST for men.  And that difference is the problem in perspective.  If women fail to see the other perspective, how can they be surprised when men fail to apply empathy to women’s issues?  The men who make the best partners IMHO are the ones who try to step outside their own mindset to empathize with women – and such men are uncommon.  The reverse is also true.

        2. KK

          Jeremy,

          Should men be forced to pay alimony in every divorce? No. Are there certain circumstances where it’s fair? Yes. I believe so.

          Do I have empathy for men that feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the system? In some situations, yes. In others, no.

          Using the #metoo movement greatly weakens your argument. It highlights the fact that you really don’t get it. Being raped or sexually assaulted doesn’t compare to being ordered to compensate an ex wife.

          Would I enjoy having to partially support someone the rest of my life? No. It would suck. Is it as harmful as being raped? No. Bad comparison.

        3. Jeremy

          KK, I know that you (and most of the others here) don’t agree.  But I firmly believe it IS a good comparison.  Far better of a comparison than comparing male coercion of female sexuality to female coercion of male sexuality (which hardly exists).  Women don’t generally NEED to coerce men to have sex.  Men are usually willing, and sex is not what women want from men that they need to use their wiles to get. The exchange model of sexuality – men compete for female sexuality, women compete for male “commitment” (ie. provisioning).  Women are the guardians of sex, men of commitment.  What does “commitment” mean?

        4. Chance

          Hi KK, I agree with you that having to support someone for years isn’t as bad as forcible, violent rape.  However, most of the #MeToo stories I’ve seen have been along the lines of inappropriate comments, whistling, etc., which I don’t think is nearly as bad as having to support someone and splitting assets that you earned on your own IMHO.  So, I do believe that Jeremy’s comparison is fair enough for that reason.

        5. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          My point, writing about this issue in a blog for women, is to try to have women look at this issue from a perspective not their own, just as you ask men to look at harassment from a different perspective.  

          Actually , I didn’t weigh in on the harassment issue as men on this site have written repeatedly that they wouldn’t have a problem with women ogling or harassing them. What they fail to realize, of course, is that the women ogling them wouldn’t exactly be Victoria’s Secret models.

          My point is that most women don’t understand how this issue affects men – Emily gave the perfect example when she wrote “In marriage you share the assets.  Isn’t that the point?”  No.  That’s the point for women.  That’s the COST for men.

          Wow, dude, you shouldn’t have gotten married if that’s your attitude. And I actually do have friends who either make a similar salary or more than their husbands. Are they also paying the cost, when, if single, they could spend the money on whatever they wanted? When my friend got divorced, she was belaboring the fact that she was losing the house and she had put more money into it. That’s the cost of doing business.

  25. 25
    Marika

    Jeremy

    I don’t need to try to look at this from the male perspective of losing out financially. Unlike you, I’m divorced. I lost my home. I get what it’s like because I’ve been there. I knew that would happen if we divorced. It was no surprise to me. And I don’t need to join a womanosphere to deal with it.

    Both parties lose at least something in a divorce. Whether it be financially, emotionally or otherwise. We all know that going in.

    What exactly are you trying to teach me and other women about divorce again?

    1. 25.1
      Chance

      Was the home paid for with primarily your own money earned from your job?

      1. 25.1.1
        Marika

        Yes, Chance. Why do you ask?

        1. Chance

          I ask because I believe you said that your husband made 10x what you made.  Yet, your entire salary went to pay to the house and none of his went towards it?  Then, the courts awarded him with the house?  That seems draconian.

    2. 25.2
      Emily, the original

      Marika,

      From what I’m reading on this post, it seems that women who want to get married would do well to ask very specific questions of a man she may marry in terms of how he views money, whether or not they will divide every room in the house with a line of tape so she stays on her half …  does she need a separate washer and dryer? Should she set up separate water bills? How will they determine who uses more electricity?  Will they drive separate cars to a place both are going so she isn’t using more gas?

      1. 25.2.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        I’m on vacation but I’m with Jeremy. These are straw man arguments coming from a righteous place of emotion that don’t even attempt to see the validity of his position. The dismissiveness – from regular readers no less – is astonishing.

        1. Emily, the original

          I was being sarcastic. The ungenerous nature revealed in some of the comments regarding  someone they are supposedly sharing their life with, to me, is astonishing

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          I pick up sarcasm. You don’t seem to have the ability to step outside your shoes and into Jeremy’s shoes. I guess I expect more from you.

        3. Emily, the original

          Don’t you support your whole family? If you and your wife would divorce, would you think she shouldn’t get half the equity in the house because you were the one who was working and earned the money to pay for it? Do you not think that marital assets should be split in a divorce?

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          I just asked my wife. She would not ask for half of my savings. She would not ask for half of my income. She would want to be able to continue to be a full time mom and support the kids and I would provide whatever that took. So, no, neither she nor I believe that assets should be split 50/50, but rather, fairly. By the way, she was married before and didn’t ask for anything. And she has two female friends who were breadwinners who got screwed by alimony. I am very grateful to have a partner whose outlook is about a mutually agreeable solution instead of mindlessly thinking how she can maximize her take.

        5. Emily, the original

          She would want to be able to continue to be a full time mom and support the kids and I would provide whatever that took.

          Yeah, but you’d still be paying her something. How long would she want to do that? Until your children are both in elementary school? Until they are done with high school? Because if she was a full-time mom, you’d be paying for all the children’s expenses and for her expenses. How would it be different than when you were married?

          And was the savings something you earned before you were married? Or did you save it as a married man?

          I don’t believe in alimony if both partners are able-bodied and can work. And if custody is split, at least where I live, there is no child support. But the marital assets, in my opinion, should be split 50/50 and then each partner goes their own way. I don’t that’s unreasonable.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          It’s very different. I may be able to set up my wife and kids for 10k/mo. But if I make 100k/mo, that’s far different than half.

          Long story short: It’s very easy to say you think assets should be split 50/50 if you aren’t the one who earned them. Put yourself in the shoes of a millionaire who is forced by the state to give his ex half of everything and the equation changes.

        7. Evan Marc Katz

          And that does not inherently diminish the value of full time moms. It’s an extremely important job; it’s just not one that should pay $500k per year.

        8. Emily, the original

          Long story short: It’s very easy to say you think assets should be split 50/50 if you aren’t the one who earned them. Put yourself in the shoes of a millionaire who is forced by the state to give his ex half of everything and the equation changes.
          Wouldn’t a millionaire want to set up some kind of a prenup? And please keep in mind, I’m not asking anyone to support me, nor do I want to be responsible for someone else’s support. I don’t want to be put in either position, though things are much different when people have children.
          It’s an extremely important job; it’s just not one that should pay $500k per year.
          Yes, agreed that it’s important. Some of the women on one of the celebrity gossip blogs I read were annoyed that Halle Berry’s ex-boyfriend/baby daddy got a ton of money for child support. The courts have a certain way they calculate that. If people don’t like it, I guess they should appeal to their elected officials. I don’t mean that flippantly.

        9. Evan Marc Katz

          A. Most women don’t like prenups. Not romantic. No chance of a big payout if things don’t work.
          B. Changing alimony laws is exactly what Jeremy was talking about.

        10. Emily, the original

          A. Most women don’t like prenups. Not romantic. No chance of a big payout if things don’t work

          But he learns she won’t sign one before they are married and he goes ahead with the marriage without one,  no complaining about it.  He knew from the beginning she wanted the money.

          B. Changing alimony laws is exactly what Jeremy was talking about.

          I would agree that alimony needs to be scrapped but I don’t agree that assets that were earned during the marriage shouldn’t be split. I guess people should marry their financial equal if they are really worried about that.

        11. Evan Marc Katz

          Disagree. My business makes 4x more than it did ten years ago. My assets have gone up 10x. Neither my wife nor I thinks those should be split down the middle. I find it hard for anyone to make the case as to why we are wrong, but hey, do your own thing; I’ll do mine.

  26. 26
    Marika

    You misunderstand Chance. I’m not going to explain the complexities of my financial situation, that of my ex, my local laws, and my settlement to you, but suffice to say that women and men can both lose out financially in a divorce.

    That being said, I think the way it is is probably as fair as it can be, as losing things is the very nature of divorce. I also don’t think a 50/50 split is reasonable, so one person is always going to come out better than the other.

  27. 27
    Joe

    Wife cheated on me after 10 years, we separated so it may not count.  But within a month she was shacking up with a new guy and we were still seeing each other, going to dinners, park time with the kids etc.  the fact she tried to lie about it proved she felt bad (it was on her cell phone texts).   Not sure if sex while recently separated counts – but you’re still married, seeing each other etc it prob does count

  28. 28
    Charm

    Hi, well i am a 32yr old woman who has been married for 10 years. And yes  during that 10years I cheated, not once if i may say so. For me it is very simple ( i would not want to generalize so i will just be speaking for myself the whole time) i cheated because i have this certain need that i am not getting from my husband. You see i am not trying to rationalize my behavior by implying that i would not have cheated if my husband was able to fulfil my needs , it is not that(though that may be true but that is not a statement of blame or something). i am just saying this as part of the discussion. no blaming game here. Okay so here’s what, for me i cheated because i dint feel like a woman anymore in the eyes of my husband. Not only because we haven’t had sex for years but the fact that he seem not to see me as a woman anymore (when in fact i am way past standards if i may add). So i feel so dull and lifeless i feel like i need someone who will appreciate me and would see me as a woman again. who will desire me. who will kiss me tenderly. hug me. touch me lovingly. and so on. Though many of you here might say that it is normal for a  married couple whose been together for quite awhile now to be like that. Yeah i know that, the romance will really die or subside as you go along marriage. But the issue with us is that it has been like that since we got married. We were good when we were just bf/gf, but the moment we got married we have lost it in an instant. We are more like siblings now, if you know what i mean. So there ,for me that’s it, woman like me cheat because they have this certain need for appreciation  and the need to be desired and to feel like a woman that they fail to get from their husband. And if they don’t try to find it somewhere else, they will be the one to suffer, i mean with me, i feel so dull and irritable and i feel like i’m becoming more and more unloveable the longest i don’t get into a relationship with a man who sees me as a woman.Many would ask why don’t i leave him and find someone else, oh well i once almost left him though, but then things happen and stuffs.

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