(Dedicated to my friends on the verge of divorce.)
What if, just for today, I loved you for exactly who you are?
What if, just for today, I decided that my joy was my own to create, and not connected to you at all. Today, my joy does not depend on your mood, your smile, your behavior, or you doing the dishes, or any other chore for me. Just for today, my joy, my bliss, is independent of you.
What if, just for today, I decided my job wasn’t to fix you, control you, or try to get you to be more like me.
What if, just for today, I asked for help, but without any conditions or any criticism.
What if, just for today, I decided to give myself to you, with such reckless abandon, that it leaves you breathless and without a clue as to what you did to deserve it.
What if, just for today, I decided that you didn’t need to ‘do’ anything, or ‘be’ a certain way, to deserve some reckless, playful love.
What if, just for today, I remember what drew me to you, what I adore about you, and I tell you what I still see, what I still respect, and what still drives me crazy about you.
What if, just for today, I don’t interrupt you, correct you, or keep record of any past wrongs.
What if, just for today, I let myself be vulnerable and raw? Instead of getting mad, shutting down, turning away or stomping off, I will pause, breathe and say: “I need you. Hold me. I’m sorry. I love you.”
Today, I will not fight with you.
Today, I will focus on being a better me and let you figure out your own journey.
Today, I will respect you enough to make your own choices.
Today, I will love you without worrying about tomorrow, or what ifs.
Today I will breathe deeply and be present.
Today I will be patient.
Today I will listen to my heart and quiet my mind so that I do not feel the need to ‘do’ anything, or react, or panic.
Today I will be grateful for you, for this journey, and for all that we have created: the good, the bad, the frustrating, the joyful, because it is teaching me something valuable.
Today I will try to realize that I chose you, I chose this journey, this lesson, this experience so that I can grow. You loved me so much that you let us have this, have all of this.
Today, I will hug you because no matter what, we are blessed.
A social researcher confirmed some beliefs I’ve held for a long time now. First, that women are almost always premeditated cheaters who justify their decisions by blaming their husbands. Second, that, unlike men, in their premeditated schemes, women demand to have their cake and eat it too—right from the start. What I mean, is that women who cheat expect their paramours to only cheat with them, i.e. be faithful to them, when ironically, they are married, or both are. Women’s innate desire for attachment and emotional connection, makes cheating almost always a dangerous situation that will inevitably destroy families.
Since Dr. Anderson only interviewed men last year in his study regarding monogamy, I asked whether or not he’d ever conduct studies about women. His research is just about concluded and he found, by following hundreds of women on the Ashley Madison website, that women plan, while men often fall into cheating. After reading thousands of conversations from women, he saw a pattern of most seeking someone to have an affair with—while blaming their husbands for their decisions to cheat.
“So I can’t say how many cheated. I can say that of the 100, 35-45 year old women on the site, they basically all blamed their husbands for a lack of passion, but none wanted to leave their husbands,” Anderson explained.
“Instead, they scapegoated their husbands ‘lack of passion’ as a euphemissm to correctly and politely say that they were desiring some sex, but that they wanted some emotion with it.”
Many of you may say that men do the same thing. And I’m not saying that they don’t. TRUST ME. But more often then not, Anderson says, men will just happen upon the opportunity. They don’t think for months ahead of time, about the justifications for wanting to cheat. In fact, most men, will just start to crave variety, even if happy in their marriages and even if religious or highly value keeping the family intact. (I surmise that all the justifications for the cheating and continued lying by men come afterwards if they continue to cheat with one person and it develops into an affair.)
As mentioned, women, more often then not, make the opportunity. So, by that I mean, many men that cheat do not have an unhappy marriage. In fact, they may be having sex with their wives, whom they love, three times a week. But the chance of having sex with a new, attractive person, is just hard to pass up if the opportunity presents itself. It’s rarely a love-at-first-sight kind of thing for men.
Another big difference, according to Anderson, is that men don’t desire a long-term, restrictive affair if they are going to cheat. In fact, an anonymous one-night stand would be their preference. The hard part about that, is that woman who cheat, often have claws. Many just refuse to let go after the first roll in the hay—or even before they have sex. Most women that Anderson studied on Ashley Madison, stated—before having an affair—that they didn’t want the other person they cheat with to have sex with anyone else.
“Interesting, however, unlike men who want sex without emotion and with many others, they (women) wanted ONE person to be a serial cheater with. They wanted monogamy with their non-monogamy! Fascinating,” Anderson said via email this week.
So it seems that men’s need for variety often makes them vulnerable to becoming ensnarled in the arms of a paramour, who just won’t let go—risking their marriages and the welfare of their children. If most men could see the end results before going into a situation like that, I think many would likely walk away. Since men are wired for sexual variety, according to Anderson, open relationships could save many a marriage. But, I imagine that it’s a hard subject to bring up with wives, isn’t it? It’s far easier to have a one-night-stand. Sadly, women who cheat, want much more than that. And, there lies the rub.
Now that I’m clear about the reasons women cheat—and what they want from the person they cheat with—I’m not sure how an open relationship would work within a heterosexual marriage. Wouldn’t the other women in the dynamic become a potential problem for a couple if she became attached to your husband? Or, what if the wife began to prefer another man over her husband? It’s a risk isn’t it? And the idea of only having sex, occasionally with strangers is a bit scary too, especially for women. So that same dynamic within women who crave emotional attachment, just gets in the way. Perhaps successful open marriages are easier to achieve within same-sex male couples? What do you think? How many traditional married couples would welcome occasional, non-emotional sex, periodically, with strangers? Would it be exciting? Would it make both in the marriage less likely to cheat? Would it strengthen the marriage or erode it’s intimacy? Watch Anderson’s interview this week on HuffPostLive where he outlines his case for open marriages and get back me. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I was intrigued, more than dismissive, when reading the recent Huff Post column “Is Cheating a Rational Choice?” by Eric Anderson, Ph.D. The sociologist, professor and author of The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and The Reality of Cheating reported his conclusion (based on his research of men only) that cheating in marriage is the “only rational choice” for men to obtain their two basic goals:
1. to keep their emotional relationship with their wives and family intact and
2. to fulfill their strong sexual desire to have more sex with a variety of partners.
Anderson’s idea that cheating allows men to have a bit of fun without their wives knowing, doesn’t seem grounded in reality. Before I launch into why, let me first say that I waited to post a reply to this hotly contested column because I really wanted to chat with Anderson first, whom I interviewed via email this week. Before launching into any response, I need to remind my readers that Anderson is a sociologist and anthropologist who conducts research studies and reports his findings. He reiterated that he is not a psychologist or marriage and family therapist and that he does not, in any way, “give advice” to married couples. He responded this way to me when I asked him for advice regarding how women and men can come to terms with the problems that arise once affairs are discovered. I explained that the lies and cheating erode the trust and friendship that is critical for women to let go and explore in the bedroom. Most women (of course, this is not based on formal research, but just on my own experience and what girlfriends and therapists have told me) become more adventurous in the bedroom when they feel loved and trust their man. When the trust is gone, they often have a hard time turning on that switch that lets them light a fire in bed. So, my premise is that men risk great sex at home—and their marriage and kid’s welfare—when they explore outside and lie about it.
Anderson declined to comment other than to say that he will be conducting research about why women cheat later this summer—and I’m very glad to hear it. For many reasons. First, I wonder how many wives of the married men in Anderson’s studies were also bored with their sex lives? Sure, perhaps men, in general, do have stronger libidos than women, as Anderson explained. But many women are bored at home as well. If a man isn’t helping out with the kids or isn’t offering any nights out that stimulate a woman like foreplay with an infusion of romance, it’s easy to shut down. Perhaps the husband isn’t making much of an effort? Perhaps he’s drinking too much (inhibiting his sexual performance), working too much, and isn’t adventuresome with his wife. If that man then rushes out to have sex with another woman—doesn’t this mean that he feels his needs are more important than his wife’s and his actions are justified? WHAT about his wife’s needs?
And the idea that the other woman won’t become attached and will allow the married man to have noncommittal sex that doesn’t endanger his marriage and children is a bit naive. Women fall prey to oxytocin bonding with men during sex, experts say. That’s why it’s so hard for women to just pull away emotionally or have anonymous sex unless they are sex addicts. This was explained to me in previous interviews and sessions with Pat Allen, Ph.D., of Millionaire Matchmaker fame and author of several best-selling booksThe Trust About Men Will Set You Free (but First It Will Piss You Off!) She warns women of sleeping with men too quickly as they will become bonded and ignore any red flags and their own intuition about whether the guy is right for them. (See more of my interview in my article “Relationship Guru Dr. Pat Allen Sets Me Straight!”.)
As mentioned, Anderson’s idea that cheating allows men to have a bit of fun without their wives knowing, isn’t realistic. In fact, oftentimes, the “other woman” will pick up the phone or send an email anonymously to their paramour’s wife—even if she said in the beginning that she understood the situation. (I’ve heard about incidents such as this from several readers.) Does a man who loves his wife and kids really want to risk that?
I do, however, agree with Dr. Anderson on quite a few points that he made. The first being that society refuses to look at the problems with monogamy when only pointing a judgmental finger at those who cheat. He also said that cheating makes more sense because society also doesn’t accept open marriages and most wives would balk at the idea if their husbands broached the subject.
Sure, he has a point. Open marriages are frowned upon. And if Dr. Anderson is correct that most men, when first married, are so in love that they assure their wives they can be faithful and that sex with just her, is all that he’ll ever want. Once a man says that, it’s very hard to take it back with a line such as: “Honey, I know I said I only needed you for the rest of my life, but, (cough) I kind of crave being with more women than you. Do you mind?”
Dr. Anderson justifies cheating (or the men in his study do) because of this. They are terrified that if they are completely honest about their needs, they’ll lose their wives. But isn’t there something implicitly wrong with then leaving your beloved wife at home with the kiddos while you then romance, spend joint money on, and have wild sex with random women? Isn’t this just called having your cake and eating it too?
When I asked Professor Anderson to respond to how women could then navigate open marriages or open arrangements, such as discussing rules that might be involved, he responded:
“You ask me a few times about my advice, and I’m really just a sociologist whose more interested in finding out ‘what is’ rather than saying what individuals should do. I’m not big on advice giving. I do say in the book, however, that monogamism will not decrease until open sexual relationships are held in social parity with monogamous relationships. Only then will couples (or triads) be able to make decisions. I suggest in the conclusion that we need a variety of sexual relationship types (celibacy, polyamory, swingers, open sexual, and others perhaps not yet invented) without heirachy or hegemony.”
Okay, Dr. Anderson. I understand that people may have needs that society doesn’t approve of. But wow, doesn’t a man marry his best friend? And as a best friend, can’t these men take a risk and open up to them about their desires? And this is the problem. It takes courage to be honest, doesn’t it? In fact, it takes guts. And while most men reading this might not believe me, I don’t think I’m in the minority of women who would rather have a private conversation with her husband about his desires and his growing need to be with another person sexually. That’s a whole lot better than learning two years later that he was out having sex every Wednesday “poker night” while you’re at home taking care of the kiddos solo. Or that his business trips to exotic locales had additional days tacked on so he could lie on the beach with a mistress while you were up to your ears in diapers. Seriously, the behavior is just selfish and takes advantage of the wife.
I wonder how many women might even become a bit turned on by their hubby’s confession? (It’s a whole lot better than being treated like crap, right?) Can you imagine what type of conversations could spurn from that initial confession? Maybe the two would become more honest about their fantasies? Dr. Allen suggests in couple therapy, especially to couples recovering from infidelity, to start fantasy journals. She says it’s a way for even the shiest couples to take turns writing down their fantasies in the journal and then leaving it in a drawer by the bed. When the other isn’t there, the husband or wife can then take turns reading what the other wrote down. She claims it’s an eyeopener for most couples and sparks flames in the bedroom. In the book The Kosher Sutra by Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi Boteach encourages couples to be open about their desires and warns the men reading the book how women “are like onions” with layers and layers of depth. This depth gives them much more vivid and erotic fantasies that most husbands rarely know anything about—something that will reignite a couple’s sex life. A husband misses out on this opportunity if he slinks out the door and into bed with multiple other women behind his wife’s back.
And as I mentioned, once the trust is gone, it’s very hard to stay together—let alone become a sexual diva in the bedroom. So, I challenge the married men who are craving sex with gals at the office or at the gym, to first talk with their wives about their fantasies. Go crazy and write them down if necessary. Maybe even sign up for a tantric retreat. Start exercising together if attraction is diminishing from weight gain. If you love your wife, treat her with respect and re-ignite what you have first. And who knows? Maybe your wife might even surprise you by entertaining the idea of private tryst? You’ll never know if you don’t try.
What do you think my readers? Would you balk if your husband came to you with a confession such as this? Please chime in!!
AloneTogether: Single Moms Support Group (This is a closed group, please say you found their site from me, Laura Roe Stevens, when requesting to join.)
The UCLA Family Commons: http://www.uclacommons.com/
Single Parent Housing: www.SPAOA.org
Pell Grants For Mothers: PellGrants.ClassesAndCareers.com