Monday, August 2, 2010


We've had a big crop of famous unfaithful guys -- Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Sandra Bullock's Jesse, Mel Gibson, maybe Al Gore, and others ...

I don't think Erin Woods should have divorced Tiger; I wish Elizabeth hadn't needed to write her book. I think John Edwards still has good things to contribute to society. Though they're divorced I wouldn't be surprised if Sandra B. got back together with Jesse. Al Gore's troubles seem media invented. Mel Gibson's a talented man who is deliberately destroying himself. (And I have much more to say about each of them, but right now I am talking to you about YOU.)

Our hunger to know more and more ... Well, gossip is fun, an absorbing distraction, and also it's a way of sorting out your own fears, unpleasant thoughts, and insecurities.

While being fascinated with the story behind the gossip headlines, remember that you're being entertained, diverted from important things that may have more to do with you -- it's got nothing to do with you.

Beware of what's said about infidelity -- the words are potholes in the road. There's lots of advice on the subject -- psychiatrists, family therapists, ministers, friends, books, and a rash of articles right now -- commentators, doctors, people with statistics, and probabilities about marriage, divorce, and playing around that are based on your age, gender, career, education, where you live, what you earn, your family history... and your actual sex life.

If infidelity becomes a suspicion, a shock in YOUR life, my advice is: DON'T DO ANYTHING. If you have to do something because you're crying, because you can't get through the day, sure -- talk about it, spill it to whomever is there. But avoid opinions and conclusions about what to do.

Mull it over -- over and over and over -- asking any of the questions, all of the questions that are flooding your mind. It's a shock, intolerable, impossible to live with. But live with it.

If you're suicidal, write a note. Put the note away and look at it in a week, a month, six months or so. Or never.

Marriage, love, even passionate love can be reignited. The pain takes time to diminish and can become something you can deal with. If you've been together for a year, it can take a year to diminish -- five years, it can take five years to fade. The pain equation is, I think, however long you've been together, that much time it will take until the infidelity is part of you, but not painful.

Do talk, or don't talk with your unfaithful mate. Talk about sex very specifically if you can. And ask the nagging killer questions about the lover, the love affair -- get answers or perhaps you won't get answers, and you'll ask again.

I am saying don't break up because of infidelity. You owe it to yourself, the self who fell in love. Instead of destroying what the two of you made, live with it, weave it into your understanding of who you are and who your mate is. It's possible to make it part of the love that you share, the love you and your mate created.

Hey, if you don't agree with me, just take what I say with a grain of salt. But salt is a seasoning that improves the flavor. I'm putting the thought out for you to taste -- infidelity is not a life and death disaster. It doesn't end love.


Carola said...

I agree with you completely on this one. I have always wondered that my friends are such absolutists on this subject--any infidelity and they say they would be out the door.

Linda Phillips said...

Em, you are the most forgiving woman I know! Most of those men were dreadful to their wives and significant others.

I don’t know anything about the Gores, but the rest of them treated their women like dirt! Of course we only know one side to each story, so who knows for certain, but if I were Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Edwards, or Elan Woods,given what I do know, I would not stick around either.

Jesse cheated on Sandra multiple times as did Tiger (Elan). Elizabeth is going to die at some point of cancer. How do you treat a woman that way and expect forgiveness????

Mel Gibson is apparently a rather disturbed and hateful man…so any woman who takes up with him has to know, by all of the previous publicity, what she is getting into. But those others were presumably duped.

Serial cheaters are serial cheaters and won't change. They are troubled people and it would take years of treatment (if that would even work) to change those people.

On the other hand a one time act of infidelity is something that can be dealt with and there I agree with you completely. There are any number of reason why this might happen once or maybe even twice, that can very possibly be worked out if both of the partners agree to deal with it.


Paul said...

Em - I really like your non-judgmental, common sense approach to a problem many partnerships and marriages face. I believe that some "norms" about what to do and how to do it are due to be updated and there are almost always more than just two alternatives solutions to any problem. At the end of the day, the journey through infidelity is a very personal and lonely one. Lily Tomlin once said, "we're all in this together, all by ourselves" and I think that gets to the core pretty directly. And with that said, I think that we each need to work through this in ways that make sense to us - hopefully after we've been given an expanded list of options!

Assuming that the relationship is worth saving - and there are many that are not... I agree that throwing in the towel prematurely would be a big mistake. Infidelity is a betrayal and the road back to an honest, trusting, effective relationship will take a lot of work. An otherwise significant relationship is worth the effort - assuming both parties are willing to roll up their sleeves and make the effort. I enjoyed your thought provoking and helpful essay. Paul

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