Category Archives: abuse

Adultery, Prostitution and Male Sexuality

red lightAdultery, prostitution and male sexuality – it’s all down the same turgid rabbit hole I fear.

I realise that I risk being labelled a puritan, a prude, frigid even, but I am starting to realise that there is a world of sexual activities out there that are, to some, totally acceptable whereas to me they are offensive; particularly to women.  For me, my husband’s adultery has always had a sleazy, back alley, degrading, b-film aura about it.  The surprise is that I had no idea that I would find the act of adultery so disgusting until it was dropped like an eight gallon-bucket full of excrement into my life.  All, I can think is that I must have previously bought into the popular myths that portray a certain normality around the act.  For example, Douglas LaBier writing in Psychology Today (2010, a year before husband’s adultery)  suggests that “cultural attitudes have clearly shifted towards acceptance of affairs. They’re seen as a life-style choice; an option for men and women yearning for excitement or intimacy that’s lacking or has dulled during their marriage.”  So we have…”She was standing off by herself during a conference break, leaning against a wall, sipping coffee. As I walked by, our eyes met and I felt a sudden jolt — a rush of energy, real connection. Suddenly we found ourselves talking, feeling like we had known each other for years. The affair just happened.” Or… “It was a marriage stabilizer…safe and discreet, a perfect solution for me.” 

What does LaBier think that we learn from these ‘affairs’ (such a lovely romantic concept don’t you think)? Well, he thinks that some affairs are psychologically healthy.  An affair can help leverage us out of a destructive or deadened relationship that’s beyond the point of renewal. An affair can help renew our relationship with our existing partner.  An affair can spur us to confront what we really want from our existing partner and motivate us to try creating it. For LaBier, there’s always a reason for beginning an affair, and it relates to some issue in the existing relationship. As for the wife and family?  Well they’re not exactly ignored but they may well have been by his comment “there are plenty of consequences – for yourself, your children, your existing relationship”. Exactly what these consequences might be are not considered.

There you have it. One of the many non-silenced voices of adultery.  I could offer you more of this so called liberal approach that frames adultery as a form of sexual freedom, but I won’t because I don’t buy into this myth anymore.  Adultery is a moral wasteland which diminishes everyone it touches.  Instead of selfishly looking for ways to have our cake and eat it too, we need to recognise the character of long term relationships and learn how to remain monogamous and realise the long term benefits of doing so.  Make a choice to stay or leave the relationship, NOT destroy families and relationships for short term regrettable benefits.  Adultery is not a romantic affair it is abuse; a violation of trust and disrespect and contempt for the rights of the spouse.  The vocabulary used to talk about adultery needs to change to reflect the nasty truth about the experience for all concerned.  And I mean ALL.  Once the initial buzz of the new is over the real ugly shape of adultery starts to form and it takes no prisoners.

Adultery stinks. But it’s not the only smell down the rabbit hole.  Prostitution also stinks.  Also, some aspects of male sexuality are particularly fetid.  Maybe female sexuality is going down the same cess pit but at the time of writing, the sleazy world of prostitution functions only in direct response to male demand.  I also appreciate that research suggests that adultery is committed by as many women as men so this definitely has a bad smell, but for the sake of this blog and in drawing links between the three aspects in the title I do not intend to approach what I consider to be the differences in sexuality across the genders albeit a worthwhile detour no doubt.

Adultery is a new topic for me and one that I am still coming to terms with both personally and universally. Some of this investigation takes me well out of my comfort zone and just recently I was informed of a book written by a former prostituted woman Rachel Moran ‘Paid For: My journey through prostitution’.  This was well outside my comfort zone but I was overwhelmed by the profound, eye-opening narrative presented by Moran of the depressing and desensitising world of prostitution.  I found it hugely interesting to read the normally silenced words of a woman attempting to come to terms with her harrowing experiences of being a prostituted woman via the political, economic and cultural understandings that appear to function as normalisers for what is distinctly not normal (well, not normal in my eyes); the purchase of human beings for sex as an acceptable standard of human behaviour.  I found myself drawing remarkable parallels with my experience of adultery; “the nature of prostitution flavours the sexual act as far too distasteful and too sleazy and too bound up with degradation to allow any kind of wholesale enjoyment.”  I feel like this about the sex that occurred between my husband and Pig Shit.  The irregular and furtive sexual trysts all happening against the backdrop of a trusting wife mitigate against a wholesale enjoyment of the type one gets when in a one-on-one intimate relationship.  Another similarity I found between Moran’s story of prostitution and my story of adultery are my feelings of being silenced and the current prevailing discourse which seems to favour a dismantling of the foundations of monogamy, arguing for an acceptance of betrayal within marriage as an acceptable standard of human behaviour.  But, as prostitution “pollutes human interpersonal relations” so does adultery.

At the beginning of her book Moran notes that prostitution is not purely an individual experience, it is a collective and as such she writes from both a personal and a universal perspective. It is the same for adultery; we betrayed spouses share threads of experiences so common that they make up a basic shape of the adultery experience from the perspective of being betrayed.   And, as for prostitution, so for adultery, there is no glamour because it bears no resemblance to the truth.  As men who use prostitutes superimpose upon prostitution an image of it which to them is satisfactory, agreeable and pleasing, men who cheat on their wives do the very same thing to adultery.  Prostitutes themselves often superimpose an image of what they are doing in order to live with themselves.  Terms like ‘erotic dancer’, ‘escort’ or ‘call girl’ are used to paint a veneer of respectability over what they do.  Reporters are often duped into believing that some women are content and have no sense of stigma with regard to their work as a prostituted woman but Moran suggests that this is purely a defence mechanism.  I can see this happening with the other woman in adultery; they choose to see themselves in a positive light and erect a romantic fantasy to scaffold their shaky foundation.  ‘Other Woman’, ‘Affair Partner’ painting a different picture to that of ‘slut’, ‘home-wrecker’, ‘whore’.

As prostitution, contrary to any pedalled belief, is not a straightforward consensual choice the effects of the mental and physical turmoil that it engenders have been found to resemble post-traumatic stress disorder. “They don’t knock on the door of your mind, these memories; they let themselves in.”  This is so familiar to the experiences of being betrayed.  As we have no choice in being a cuckolded spouse but have to face the bitter consequences, so the prostitute has to wrestle with the slippery concept of consent in a powerless situation.  Moran entered prostitution at the age of fifteen which is not unusual; many of the prostituted are not adults.  Really, what possibility could there be of consenting to a lifestyle that cannot even be comprehended?  Reasons for entering prostitution are varied but it is a documented consequence of homelessness.  Many women enter high end prostitution out of desperation; those who enter on the streets do so out of destitution.  Equally, there is a difference between consent and reluctant submission.  “When fear and despair produce acquiescence and acquiescence is taken to mean consent, consent is not a meaningful consent” 

These are all factors that are new to my thinking and I have to question why this is the case. Just like I didn’t know about the horrors of adultery I had no idea about the horrors of prostitution.  I was probably also guilty of passing unfair judgement on the women who do this work.  I also bought into the myths about it being harmless sexual fun.  But just like adultery, there is no fun and it isn’t harmless.  There is an interplay of depravity that exists between prostitutes and their clients that can be recognised between betraying spouses and the other woman.  They both exist at the coalface of human contempt.  Moran’s perspective and vocabulary of prostitution offers a fresh lens by which to investigate the pernicious aspects of adultery.  Adultery, like prostitution “lives and grows, not just on a cultural or global level from country to country but on a micro level; in each life it touches”. We need to recognise its corruptive and corrosive character as moral codes become eroded.  “A consequence of a sense of entitlement – driven all too often by the priapic nature of male sexuality”. 

There is nothing classy about the sexual antics of a betraying spouse and their other woman. I have often thought that Pig Shit acted like a prostitute, exchanging sexual services at the convenience of my husband for false tokens of eternal love and affection.  Just like the attempt to frame prostitution as sexual self-determination simply doesn’t hold up because the prostituted women’s decisions are not sexual but economic, Pig Shit was not demonstrating sexual-determination in having sex with my husband because her decision was based on the hope of a lasting commitment not her sexual desires. However, the role of the other woman can be seen to resemble that of the prostitute; “the pornified objectified female – the subject of the sexual encounter rather than the equal participant.”  It is detrimental to intimacy and actively reduces the worth of women. This is why women who shag married men often feel cheap afterwards, once their ‘lover’ has returned to his wife.

Perhaps it’s linked to the male’s madonna/whore complexes. I begin to wonder if the sexual penchants of married men cause them to not share their desire with their wives.  Moran argues that this is one of the cornerstones that support the sex trade – “the male insistence on offloading onto another class of woman perversions they cannot reasonably expect to present to women in their lives.  Here, women are very distinctively divided into the respectable and the contemptible, the decent and the disreputable, the revered and the reviled.” 

Another interesting parallel to draw is the way in which people depict prostitution as this is reflected in what we read about adulterous affairs. “People who depict prostitution as glamourous usually view it against the backdrop of expensive hotel foyers. But what goes on is the very same thing as when lifting my skirt in a back alley.  The nature of prostitution does not change with its surrounds.  It does not morph into something else because your arse is rubbing against white linen as opposed to roughened concrete” This is the case for adultery too, no matter how it is depicted, the betrayal of the trusting wife and the trauma being inflicted upon her does not disappear no matter who the other woman and no matter how and where it took place.

Moran suggests that it is not possible for a man to use a prostitute without indulging in violation. The sexual equivalent of picking a flower in bloom and pissing on it. I would say the same about a man committing adultery.   It is certainly a violation of the wives trust but it might also be a violation of the other woman too.  Prostitution is sexual abuse, paid sexual abuse.  Adultery is also abuse. I have blogged about this previously.

Moran advises us that “the indoctrination of prostitution is very strong. It instils a sense of shame and culpability in a woman to the point where she cannot feel free to lay claim to her own feelings”.  Sound familiar?  We need to recognise the indoctrination of adultery.  See it as a struggle against how other people want us to perceive it, a struggle for our human rights.  “Where the sexual pleasure it affords men (Moran is talking prostitution – I’m talking adultery) is seen to be more important than the duty to treat women equally in humanity”, we have something going dramatically awry.    We have to be confident in our demand to have marital and human rights aligned and we have to see ourselves as women in the wider framework of male sexuality. “Non-prostituted women, many of them, have been schooled to accept prostitution along with pornography as something they dare not oppose as offensive for fear of being labelled a frigid-minded prude.”  Remember the response to people who objected to the business of Ashley Madison? A web site specially designed for people who wanted extra marital affairs, (because life is short) populated by men in the main.  It makes you wonder about the sexual liberation boasted about in the 1960s.  Are women really liberated?  Moran holds strong views about this.

“Some non-prostituted women routinely force themselves into a state of shut down in order to accommodate men’s sexual demands. Some women will go to very great lengths in order to facilitate superfluous desires which are presented as critical sexual requirements.  Many women who do these things do them not in an effort to please themselves, but in an effort to be pleasing and they are strongly encouraged by a mind-set outside of themselves which imposes a straightforward choice between being sexually liberated and puritanical.  There is no middle ground, apparently; and there is no acknowledgement of the true essence of sexual liberation which does not in any sense accord with having your sexual behaviours dictated to you.”

It makes me think about all the wives who play the ‘pick-me’ game with husbands threatening to leave for the other woman.  Believing, foolishly, that if they consent to all his sexual desires he will stay.  Like the other woman troll who informed me that if I’d been the whore my husband wanted he wouldn’t have strayed – my view is, if that’s what it takes, let the other woman have him!

How many times are we told that adultery is as old as the hills? Well the same is said of prostitution.  It is often referred to as the ‘oldest profession’ “as though, like a wise and aged individual legitimacy were conferred on it by its years”.  If something is deemed respectable it will be acceptable.  Just as prostitution is not respectable (who wants a brothel in their neighbourhood, women touting for business on the streets, their daughters or mothers selling their bodies, fathers and sons buying bodies for selfish sexual enjoyment) neither is adultery (who wants to be betrayed, have a father unfaithful to their mother, a daughter betrayed by her husband, a son cheating on his wife) and we should reject attempts to make it otherwise.

What about the defenders of adultery? The defenders of prostitution are the sex industry and they normalise the buying and selling of humans by dressing it up in a neoliberal discourse that invokes  the same concepts as those suggested by the adultery defenders;  choice, agency and empowerment. As defenders argue for the rights of prostitutes to use their bodies as they choose they overlook the fact that it is others who use the bodies of prostituted women as they so choose. As defenders argue for the rights of bored spouses to engage in extramarital sex they overlook the fact that the rights of the spouse at home are being violated.  The only ones with any real choice in these contexts are the men who buy the sex and the husbands who commit adultery.  Just as we never get to hear about the hatred, contempt and cruelty that prostituted women experience on a regular basis, so we never really get to hear about the contempt and cruelty of the betraying husband towards his wife or the pain and trauma of adultery that is experienced by the betrayed spouse.

And what about us as women? How do we react when we hear about stories like Rachel’s or we have a married man come on to us and flatter us?  Well, let Rachel answer from the prostitution perspective.  “If a woman tolerates this treatment of her fellow women, if she accepts it under the banner of ‘liberalism’ or anything else, then she must also accept that she herself is only removed from prostitution by lack of the circumstances necessary to place her there.” From an adultery perspective, if a woman tolerates being the third party in a marriage then she must accept that she may find herself in a marriage with her husband being unfaithful should the circumstances transpire. Equally, married men using prostitutes can’t be overlooked.  As Moran now notes “Every time I engaged in prostitution with a committed man I colluded in hurting some woman who had done nothing to deserve it.”  It’s a shame that more other women can’t see what they’re doing in the same light.

A tragic indication of the strength of the dominant discourse around prostitution occurred in August 2015. The well-respected human rights organization Amnesty International, voted to support the decriminalization of all parties involved in sex transactions.  Moran argues that supporting decriminalisation supports prostitution itself.  Prostitution not supressed will expand, if legalised it will explode.  “What is happening in countries that legalise prostitution is a shift away from the expectancy of decency towards the acceptance of turpitude.” Are we happy with the sort of world this creates – one we want to live in?”  There is another way.  Sweden was the first country to prohibit the purchase of sexual services in 1999.  A 2010 inquiry showed “that the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services has helped to combat prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes”.  Other countries have followed.

If combatting prostitution has such trouble where do we start with adultery? This is not a matter of virtue; it’s a matter of freedom.  The freedom to choose wisely and to understand the consequences that our actions may have on other people.  As David Foster Wallace suggested in his commencement speech to Kenyon College in 2005 “The kind of freedom, most precious, and not much talked about involves attention, awareness and discipline and being able to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways everyday”.  Marriage and long term relationships need to foster a compassion for the other NOT passion for the other woman!

Perhaps I’m getting old. Perhaps the future will contain more prostitution, more pornography, more adultery and I’m just plain old fashioned.  But if this happens we’re losing something aren’t we?  As Rachel Moran poignantly states “We, men and women, have lost each other in all this.  Is it not pitifully obvious that we have lost each other?”

Image credit: Red Night Light” by Pixomar


Adultery is Abuse

  • abuseI have been grappling with the idea of adultery as a form of abuse for a while now. The reason for this has been that I have been unable to find any definition or accurate articulation that comes close to describing the severity of what I have experienced whilst living with an unfaithful husband, either at the time whilst it was going on or after it had ended when I had to confront the consequences of what his behaviour had created.  For me, on the receiving end of his behaviour, it felt like abuse.

When my husband decided to shag Pig Shit without sharing this information with me, it wasn’t the sex, the betrayal of intimacy, which had any immediate impact upon me. Not at the time it was occurring.  Whilst this sordid little arrangement was taking place I was in complete and utter ignorance of the act, but over time I did become bereft, isolated, totally confused and lost within our relationship.  I also developed physical symptoms such as headaches, nose bleeds, pains in my legs and anxiety attacks.  What was an easy going, happy marriage became the location for arguments and tears as I desperately tried to understand what was going wrong with us.  With me!  However, my hurt and anger were dismissed as ‘unbearable’ to him.  The man who I thought I knew had become cold and distant.  He looked at me without compassion and just shrugged, saying his feelings had changed.  He was deceitful and manipulative and consciously took away my basic human right to be angry with him.  I wonder now, was he trying to defuse my anger in order to weaken my capacity to resist what was happening?  I know now that I was manipulated and deceived by my husband’s acts of disrespect for me and his coercion in the form of denial of my reality in order to get me to comply with his new and disturbing change of feelings within our marriage.   This was a terrible time for me, a lonely isolating experience which was orchestrated by my husband.  This experience, which I suspect is faced by most betrayed spouses is the underplayed, underwritten, almost ignored aspect of adultery in most current discussions and observations.  However, I believe this is denying a huge reality; the reality that committing adultery is a form of abuse towards the betrayed spouse.  I suspect that until it is recognised as such it will continue to be misrepresented and misconceived.

Having just read a book by therapist Lundy Bancroft ‘Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of bookangry and controlling men’ (recommended by Valkyrie), I have found a bridge to understand my experience as abuse. It also provides the lens with which to understand the why of my husband’s adultery differently.  Although this book is primarily concerned with domestic violence, the parallels that can be drawn are remarkable.  To me at least. And, as Lundy points out early in his book “even if your partner’s behaviour doesn’t fit the definition of abuse, it may still have a serious effect on you”.    For Lundy, the term abuse “is about power; it means that a person is taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit or control someone else.”  My husband took advantage of my trust in him and stopped his honesty with me in order to be unfaithful with another woman.  Without my knowledge or consent he changed the rules of our relationship.   There was a definite shift in power towards him during this time. Whilst the normal gamut of therapeutic solutions to adultery leaves me spitting feathers due to the outrageous blame shifting that seems to occur, Lundy’s approach is a breath of fresh air.  For me, by replacing the word abuse with adultery, his perspective provides a wonderful antidote to any victim blaming approach in adultery and provides a useful blueprint for the requirements of a marital recovery.  One that mirrors what has occurred with my husband and me since D-day, three and a half years ago.  Let me share some of his ideas with you.

Firstly, in his therapeutic program the mistreated woman is the person primarily served, listenNOT the abuser. It is believed that it is not possible to get an accurate picture of what is going on in an abusive relationship without listening carefully to the abused woman.  “The women’s accounts have taught us that abusive men present their own stories with tremendous denial, minimisation and distortion.”  How many adulterers  I wonder are guilty of this when in counselling?


Nothing prepares you for adultery and there is nothing that can alleviate the pain and grief that follows. Only betrayed spouses fully understand what the experience is.  Blogs are a wonderful way to obtain first-hand accounts of the experience of adultery but there is, in stark contrast, a developing modern mythology about committing adultery which is being created and in the main it seems to be by the betrayers themselves.  Adulterers concoct explanations for their actions which they give to their partners, therapists, relatives, clergy and social researchers and these explanations are turned into ready answers and solutions for the ‘problems’ of monogamy.   But as Lundy makes clear “it is a serious error to allow abusers to analyse and account for their own problems”.  These responses are nothing but excuses for committing adultery and are not a reliable form of insight.  A person happy to commit adultery is hardly an authority on the subject. But the myth persists bad feelings– the betrayer’s behaviour is caused by how he feels within his marriage.  For Lundy, this is absurd.  “Although our feelings can influence how we wish to act, our choices of how to behave are ultimately determined more by our attitudes and our habits.  For decades, many therapists have been attempting to help abusive men change by guiding them in identifying and expressing feelings.  Alas, this well-meaning but misguided approach actually feeds the abuser’s selfish focus on himself.”  Understanding an adulterer needs us to understand their way of thinking at that time, not what their feelings may have been at the time.


“An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside”.  In short, the core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong.right wrong  The problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his partner is justifiable.  Whether I like it or not, this reverberates around my husband’s behaviour towards me at that time.  He gave himself the green light to behave as he did.  I believe that he did not have any ‘psychological’ problems, but that it was his value system that was unhealthy.  The self-esteem myth is a red herring and mistakenly moves the focus from the thinking  of an adulterer to their  feelings.  Equally, it ignores the huge role that the sense of entitlement plays.  “Entitlement is the abuser’s belief that he has special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner”.  My husband considered himself entitled to have his cake and eat it too, without a thought for my feelings or the consequences this might hold for me and our relationship.


Constantly, throughout the year of adultery he denied it. This is common in abuse. “Of course he’s going to deny it, partly to protect himself and partly because his perceptions are distorted”.  If my husband had been ready to accept responsibility for his actions in the relationship, he wouldn’t have been committing adultery.  His adultery occurred due to his attitudes and values, not his feelings.  Committing abuse is not a product of emotional injuries or deficits in skills.  It springs from early cultural training, key role models and peer influences.  It is a problem of values.  The role of culture and its impact on our experience cannot be underestimated.  Personally I hope that cultural values around adultery can change over time if people find that individuals who cheat on their spouses are made to feel answerable rather than excused.


Interestingly, Lundy insists that “no one should ever tell an abused woman, ‘I know just what you’re going through’, because the experience of everywoman is different. Viewed from another angle, however, abuse doesn’t vary that much.  One man uses a little more of one ingredient and a little less of the other, but the overall flavour of the mistreatment has core similarities: assaults on the woman’s self-esteem, controlling behaviour, undermining her independence, disrespect.  Each abused woman has times of feeling that a riptide is dragging her under the sea, and she struggles for air.  Confusion has been part of the experience of almost every one of the hundreds of abused women I have spoken with.  Whether because of the abuser’s manipulations , his popularity, or simply the mind-bending contrast between his professions of love and his vicious psychological or physical assaults, every abused woman finds herself fighting to make sense out of what is happening”.


However, Lundy is keen to point out that the abuser is neither a monster or a victim but needs to be viewed as a human being with a complex problem that should not be underestimated or viewed as something that can be corrected in a short period of time. “An abusive man has to bury his compassion in a deep hole in order to escape the profound inherent aversion that human beings have to seeing others suffer. He has to adhere tightly to his excuses and rationalisations, develop a disturbing ability to insulate himself from the pain he is causing, and learn to enjoy power and control over his female partner.  It is unrealistic to expect such a complex structure, one that takes fifteen or twenty years to form, vanish like steam.  Yet women are often pressured by friends , family, or professionals to ‘give him a chance to change”.  It is now three and a half years since D-day and my husband has stepped up to the plate with regard to developing behaviour that  would signify the necessary change.  However, for me it remains a work in progress.  Naturally, my biggest concern is that he may commit adultery again.  I seriously doubt that he would but my confidence in him has been blown away.  What both he and I know is that should it happen again, it will mean the end of our relationship.  No matter what remorse he may show or what grief it will cause me, our marriage will end.  This is something in my control.


benefitsFor Lundy, in his analysis, we have to recognise one of the most important dynamics of abuse; “the benefits that the abuser gets that makes his behaviour desirable to him.” For me, I have to think in what ways were my husband’s adultery and treatment of me rewarding to him?  Apparently, “the feeling that he rules is where the pleasure lies.”  The benefits of adultery are a major social secret, rarely mentioned anywhere.  “If we want [adulterers] to change, we will have to require them to give up the luxury of exploitation.”


What was particularly valuable in Lundy’s book was his discussion around neutrality. Something I feel very strongly about and have blogged about previously.   I have always considered it impossible to sit on the fence when considering adultery and the betrayed spouse.  The ‘it’s none of my business’ approach to abuse of a domestic kind. The parallel with abuse victims is telling.  “It is not possible to be truly balanced in one’s view of an abuser and an abused woman.  Neutrality actually serves the interests of the perpetrator much more than those of the victim and so is not neutral.”


“In reality, to remain neutral is to collude with the abusive man, whether or not that is your goal. If you are aware of chronic or severe mistreatment and do not speak out against it, your silence communicates implicitly that you see nothing unacceptable taking place.  Abusers interpret silence as approval, or at least as forgiveness… Anyone who chooses to quietly look the other way therefore unwittingly becomes the abuser’s ally.”


“Protecting or enabling an abuser is as morally repugnant as the abuse itself”. This is an issue I feel very strongly about.  For adultery I include the participating individual who agrees to a relationship knowing there is a wife and possibly children in the life of their ‘lover’.  It is not something to be proud of, something to flaunt aka Elizabeth Gilbert but an act which centrally and specifically targets abuse at the unsuspecting spouse.  Equally, so called friends who collude need to rethink their actions in the light of abuse.   This critical concept needs to become firmly embedded in our culture.  “Colluding with abuse abandons the abused woman and her children, and ultimately abandons the abuser as well, since it keeps him from ever dealing with his problem.”


Since D-day I have not had to deal with any further adultery issues in my marriage. Pig Shit was unceremoniously dumped and from that day to this my husband has worked very hard to be the man he needs to be in order to regain and restore the marriage that we had built between us.  As Lundy rightly says “There are no shortcuts to change, no magical overnight transformations, no easy ways out.  Change is difficult, uncomfortable work.” However, it is something that I have insisted upon.  But then the challenge has been learning how to tell if my husband is serious about overcoming his problems.  For Lundy, the men who make significant progress in his programme are the ones who know that their partners will definitely leave them unless they change.  My husband has had no doubt that I will leave him if required.

I had asked him to leave when his behaviour became so unreasonable I feared for any future with him.  Unbeknownst to me he went to live with Pig Shit.  I had no idea at this stage that there was someone else involved.  During the following week, I had locks changed, visited a solicitor and put the house on the market.  I really thought that it was me that he was running away from so I would not want a man who didn’t want me.  It took ten days for him to be begging to come home, but it would take a further twenty odd days for me to accept any reconciliation.  He had to convince me of his desire to be married to me.  Also, I thought that he was having a nervous breakdown as he was acting so very strange.  The rest is history.  Pig Shit was outraged that her 12 shags had not secured my husband in the bosom of her own home and family so she texted me to let me know the truth about her and my husband and their sexual antics.  By this time he was back and desperate , DESPERATE to remain married.  He had suffered the consequences of his selfish behaviour and I think that this has made all the difference in our subsequent recovery.


I hadn’t realised it before reading this book, but we have taken steps, at my behest, that have got my husband to accept responsibility for what he did. These steps that have supported our marital recovery are reminiscent of the steps proposed by Lundy.  They are:

  • He had to admit fully to his adultery, providing me with answers to my questions.
  • He had to acknowledge that the adultery was wrong, unconditionally.
  • He had to recognise the effects his behaviour has had on me and show empathy for those.
  • He identified his pattern of controlling behaviours and entitled attitudes.
  • He has developed respectful behaviours and attitudes to replace the abusive ones he has stopped.
  • He has re-evaluated his distorted image of me and replaced it with a more positive and empathic view.
  • He has made amends for the damage he has done.
  • He has accepted the consequences of his actions.
  • He has committed to not repeating the adultery and honours that commitment.
  • He has accepted that overcoming adultery is likely to be a lifelong process.
  • He is willing to be accountable for his actions, both past and future.


Do these expectations seem too demanding? I don’t believe they are, as Lundy so rightly states “when you are attempting to preserve a relationship with a man who has abused you, you need to some extent to hold him to an even higher standard than you would a non-abusive partner”.


I personally, am so glad that we didn’t attend any couples therapy. Fortunately, my arrogance towards therapy has held me in good stead.  Whilst it may benefit others, for us it has not played any part in our recovery.  Naturally, the bottom line is our circumstances and our personalities but I am highly sceptical of some claims made about the efficacy of it all.  I don’t approve of considering adultery a ‘mutual’ problem.  It’s the betrayer’s problem.  Shifting the blame, in any way,  on to the betrayed partner just adds to the abuse in my opinion.


“Attempting to address abuse through couple’s therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way; it just gets even harder to undo than it was before. Couples therapy is designed to tackle issues that are mutual.  It can be effective for overcoming barriers to communication, for untangling the childhood issues that each partner brings to a relationship, or for building intimacy.  But you can’t accomplish any of these goals in the context of abuse.  “Couples counselling sends both the abuser and the abused woman the wrong message.  The abuser learns that his partner is pushing his buttons and that she needs to adjust her behaviour to avoid him getting upset.  Change in abusers comes only from the reverse process, from completely stepping out of the notion that his partner plays ANY role in causing his abuse of her.”


I realise that I cannot make or even help my husband to change. All I can do is create the context for change, and the rest is up to him.  Adultery is wrong.  He is responsible for his own actions; no excuse is acceptable; the damage he has done is incalculable; his problem is his and his alone to solve.chess


“Abuse doesn’t come from people’s inability to resolve conflicts but from one person’s decision to claim a higher status than another.”


There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to shift away from the modern myths around adultery but for the future, maybe “once we tear the cover of excuses, distortions, and manipulations off of the [adulterers], they might suddenly find adultery much harder to get away with”


My husband has not ‘got away’ with his adultery but then neither have I. The carnage has been difficult to bear, and even after three years it still feels like a rotten smell that clings to my clothes.  Maybe it always will.  As a society we may never be able to stop adultery but we should be able to confidently condemn it rather than condone it in any way.  Exploiting your spouse, deceiving her, abusing her trust and betraying her intimacy is abuse in a relationship that is supposed to be monogamous and if someone chooses to act in this manner they need to recognise themselves as an abuser.

Image Credits: Stop Abuse Shows Warning Sign And Abusing; Listen To Me Sign Shows Notice Or Message; and Right And Wrong Switch by Stuart Miles: Coins Falling Down To The Business’s Hand by pixtawan all via