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


Men Who Cheat – What the Other Woman Needs To Know

CaptureSometimes I feel that I have arrived on a different planet. Planet Adultery.

A place where most people commit adultery and where we are led to believe that monogamy is unnatural and adultery an acceptable response to this belief.  What is happening?  Why is an expectancy of fidelity in a relationship now being considered unreasonable?  Why is the bitter truth of the emotional carnage of adultery kept secret?  Why is the sexual act of adultery flavoured with erotic undertones whilst the distasteful and often sleazy aspects of illicit sex and betrayal are ignored?

Before I discovered my husband’s adultery I knew nothing about the wasteland that people entered (by choice or by default), when an eternal triangle was created. A sexual or emotional relationship involving a couple – man and woman – and another man or woman. I think I thought adultery was committed when someone wanted to leave an unhappy marriage or wanted a bit of harmless fun. To be honest, I never really examined what I thought.  Why would I? I wasn’t aware that it was everywhere I looked.  I had no idea that the odds were stacked so high against the likelihood of me having a faithful husband.  I was so sure that my husband would be faithful and that if he wasn’t he should know that I would leave him.  There you have it – wrong on both counts!

I am constantly troubled by the enormous scale of adultery. I know we can’t ever be sure about the numbers, but from those that have been garnered the picture is grim.  However, just because there are a lot of people engaging in the behaviour does not make it acceptable.  My biggest worry is that adultery is beginning to be viewed as ‘normal’ and this will make it even more difficult for the voices of the betrayed partners and families to be heard.  As Jane Fonda said in her book My Life So Far; “It’s hardest to see what’s wrong about what seems normal” 

I have recently read a book entitled Cheat: A man’s guide to infidelity. It is written by three American male comedians who admit to having cheated: Bill Burr, Joe DeRosa and cheatRobert Kelly.  I have no idea who these men are but I got to hear about the book and was curious to see if their perspective could throw any light on the phenomenon that troubles me so much.  Overall it presents, not surprisingly, a misogynistic perspective but wives and girlfriends are hardly mentioned.  This book is about having your cake, eating it AND not getting caught.  Equally, they recognise that shame and guilt looms large in the game of cheating and they hope to wipe them out.  I’m not sure that they do. The sexual objectification of women is solely reserved for the Other Woman, the female that is referred to as the ‘mark’ aka “Choosing a Mark: Who to Fuck, Who to Flee”.   My recommendation would not be for betrayed spouses to read this book because we know what a cheater gets up to and how much of a dirt bag they’re prepared to be.  Instead I would recommend this book to any woman in or thinking about a relationship with a married man.  It would burst their fantasy bubble more effectively than I ever could.

Early in the book they make a distinction between two different types of sex. “To most guys, sex means something only if they are in love with the woman they’re having sex with. Other than that, it doesn’t mean shit.  But the rest of society begs to differ.” I do wonder if this is the case for many men.  I also wonder if some women don’t echo these sentiments. It’s possible that they do but if they do, these authors view it less than attractive.  They suggest that although it might sound awesome “she probably isn’t the most stable individual, and therefore, when she gets upset she’s capable of doing any crazy shit under the sun”. The film Fatal Attraction would be a narrative depicting just this type of scenario.

Men who cheat do not come out of this book with glowing colours or an endorsement for their proclivities and that is rather surprising. Their guide to cheating is peppered with warnings of dire consequences. “Think about it: you’re on the verge of doing something that could destroy not only your life, but also the lives of those around you”. 

The authors don’t throw much light on the why a man might want to cheat in the first place. They say that only the cheater knows but suggest it is because of one of the following: they want the rush, they want the romance, they want some extra passion, they’re a piece of shit.  They suggest the cheater asks himself the following question, “Why am I cheating? Why do I want to bang this other woman? Why is the desire to have some strange lady touch my prick overtaking my life?” I must say, this sounds like a reasonable question to me.  The important thing is timing.  This question needs to be asked before the cheating.  We all know how rationalisation after the event is a crock of shit.

Initial advice to the cheating man is to be aware of any woman who has immediate expectations of them. Expectations are not something that is desirable. However, from their experience they state that even if these expectations don’t exist at the beginning of the affair there’s a high probability that they will develop in time.  As soon as she gets strong desires to know your friends, spend holidays with you or swing by your workplace to say ‘hi’, this is the point at which the cheater must dump her.  “In the nicest possible way of course”. 

Interestingly, cheats can do a little quiz in the book to identify just what type of ‘scumbag’ (their word not mine) they might be. I was interested in the nine categories and share them here with you.

  1. Accidental Tourist – Cheats under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Likely to get caught because his guilt will be overwhelming.
  2. Rookie – Stiff, straitlaced, obsessively organised. High odds on getting caught as not relaxed enough.
  3. Addict – Lack of family structure and proper upbringing. Cheats on everywoman. Will bang anything. Odds on getting caught are high because of sloppy preparation and execution.
  4. Undercover Cop – Very private. Tries to appear faithful and mostly succeeds. His friends know but he will die before admitting it. Low odds on getting caught as he could be water boarded for days and never talk.
  5. Defensive Offensive – Sheer panic caused by insecurity thinking wife doesn’t love him and she’s cheating. Will definitely get caught. Over reaction. No strategy.
  6. Artist – Joins an art class or some such course to explore his creative side as a ruse to bang women. Won’t get caught if he’s happy to talk about the art class to wife.
  7. Co-dependent – Loves to fuck around but has no concept of independence or self-reliance. Ashamed of his infidelity he drags pals into his predicament to be comforted. Not only will he be caught but he will bring everyone else down as well.
  8. Serial killer – Demon with a million dollar smile. Senior position in the clergy or politics. High profile family man. Cons everyone into his wholesomeness. Unlikely to get caught as no one suspects him.
  9. Rock star – Good looking, powerful, unstoppable with women. High sex drive, few ethics and zero remorse.  Charms in and out of any situation.  Impossible to get caught. All blinded by his charm.  Teflon man.

I’ve pegged my husband as #7 the co-dependent.

There is sage advice when choosing who to fuck and who to flee. This is where their views of women who agree to be the cheating Other start to become clear and how the risk of entanglement with the wrong type can spell disaster.  “As a man in a relationship, you must acknowledge the immense power that you hand your OW the second you bang her.  Her ability to completely fuck over your life does not exist until you fuck her” I wonder how many men have realised this aspect of adultery far too late.  I wonder how many women have manipulated their married man so that this power is gained.  After sex, men have to be cautious not to be overly cool or callous as it is likely to make her feel cheap and she will want to exact some form of revenge.  (Don’t I know?)

“The reality is that the same way that there are a bunch of fucked up men out there, there are also a bunch of fucked up women”. Men are advised to avoid married women and to focus on divorcees.  I can only imagine that this is connected to the fact that a married woman has a husband in the background who may threaten physical violence but this is not stated.

Apparently it starts to get problematic if the OW thinks her married man cares about her but this is a fine line to tread because if they think he doesn’t care they will feel cheap. So this needs to be acknowledged.  “It can be risky to pretend you care about your cheat.  When you pretend to care, like it or not, you’ve begun a relationship.  And a side relationship is a landmine waiting to be stepped on”.  The advice is to provide some initial honesty such as ‘I’m in a relationship’.  This will make the gal feel special. “This guy is in love with another woman, but he likes me so much he can’t help himself”.  Following this he is advised to lie, to play down his relationship along the lines of it being in ‘dire straits’ or ‘damaged’.  This is to allow the mark just enough information to draw out her own fantasy about where the affair is headed. She’ll have anywhere from a glimmer to a wellspring of hope that things will eventually work out in her favour. “This guy is stuck with another woman, but he likes me so much he’ll probably leave her” Ouch! Close to the knuckle for OW’s all over the world I suspect!

The OW is presented as just as wretched as the cheating husband. “She’s no angel.  All that shit she says to you “You’re in a relationship; We shouldn’t be doing this; I want to but I can’t”, isn’t really meant for you.  She’s arguing morally with herself out loud.  Because in the end she’s just like you: a dirt ball.  It’s just that sometimes a girl needs an excuse to be dirty.  You have to give it to her.”

Then, after this manipulation, it’s time to weave “I like being with you” “Talking to you is so easy” “I haven’t felt this way in a long time.” Translation: “I want to put my penis in your mouth and then fuck you in the backseat of my Chevy and then go home to the woman I love”. Could Chump Lady’s UBT have translated any better!!!

I am left with the same feelings after reading the book as when I started. Cheating is a sorry wasteland.  Everybody is diminished by the act.

They end the book with a mention about women and cheating. This is a disturbing truth that I have trouble with.  It is clearly not a male problem.  So I have to work out why it feels like one to me? “Women fuck around.  The genius of women and their cheating is the prevalent belief that women rarely cheat.  That their main concern is not physical pleasure.  That they are more into financial security.  In reality, women are just like men: most want to have their cake and eat it too.”

Tell me; is this the legacy of the sexual revolution of the 60s?  Is this what liberated female sexuality is like?  Has sexual fidelity been removed from being a key aspect of an intimate and long lasting relationship for men and for women?  Am I the remains of an ancient species heading for extinction?

The book ends with the following:

“A good man is hard to find? A good woman is even harder to find. A woman that is 100 percent faithful is even harder to find.  A harsh fact.”









Why My Husband Committed Adultery

searchLike all of us, I thought that the answers would eventually come from my husband. The truth is, they may do but in three and a half years since D-day I’ve been unable to obtain satisfactory responses to the why he behaved as he did.  The three major responses have been: ‘I was a f**king idiot’ (accurate yes, helpful, no!); ‘I don’t remember’; and ‘It was just sex’.  It’s difficult to buy the memory answer. I suspect that he does remember, but I’m inclined to think that the motivation was so banal and basic that there aren’t the words for him to offer any meaningful comprehension.  I also don’t buy that it was just sex.  I do think that, probably, sex was all it was after a few initial shags over a few months but in the beginning I believe it was more than just sex but he’s not prepared to admit it.  Obviously I have discussed my disbeliefs with husband but it doesn’t get me very far.  He thinks I’m looking too deep and there aren’t any deep answers.  She was available for dirty sex, he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants and thought he could have his cake and eat it too.


Another big obstacle in moving through the whys is that I really cannot understand how he could do this to me.    However, I realise now that this is because I cannot imagine doing this to him.  My thinking cannot encapsulate the overwhelming idea of betraying him.  I can’t possibly understand the how because for me it would be impossible to cheat and then lie to him.  I know that I would be unable to, without immeasurable discomfort and heartache to look into his eyes, have sex with him, and tell him I loved him when behind his back I was sharing my intimacies with another man.  So, I’ve started to think along the lines that my husband might simply possess a character I had not understood fully prior to the adultery and that this character possesses a dysfunctional way of thinking not aligned to my values at all in regards to fidelity.


My own take on why husband committed adultery, without information to the contrary, has become very basic and incredibly unpleasant. Clearly, he did it because he LIKED it.  More than that, he thought Pig Shit was fan-fucking-tastic for a while.  What other reason would explain a man in a happy marriage driving over 100 miles for a first night in a hotel with a new woman, albeit a middle aged woman who I would consider to be a desperate dirt bag. There was no gun to his head.  Here was an available middle aged woman desperately seeking a man in her life.  She had gone to the same school as him and I can just imagine the “I used to really fancy you at school” dialogue.  Can’t you?  Her, looking into his eyes and smiling sweetly!  He says he doesn’t remember her at school because she was about three years below but I don’t know if I can believe this.  Pig Shit was introduced by husband’s other friends from school days – so it must have been quite a comfortable social setting.  Equally, she grew up in the same area. Husband has described her as ‘thick as two planks’!  But they got on didn’t they?  I remember him saying this in one of our very early trauma fests when I asked how he could spend a night with her.  But now, when I remind him of this, he shrugs, lifts his eyebrows and doesn’t agree with the sentiment.  He has settled into the ‘only for sex’ rationalisation.  I do think that he’s convinced himself of this but I reckon this was after a year of having her pushing into his life and her starting to want more time from him towards the latter months.


Her attraction? He says that she made it explicitly clear that she was up for sex.  I’d say it was her mediocrity.  It made him feel wonderful.  I believe that in the early days he would have even thought that she might be part of his future.  He ABSOLUTELY denies this.  I mean, it would have all been so much easier with Pig Shit wouldn’t it.  She told me that she considered him to be an ‘alpha-male’.  Go figure, that’s not how I have ever seen him. He felt entitled to this ‘adoration’ and I consider it to be an important aspect of the attraction. He says it was all about sex but he took a photograph of them both (set up his camera on timer) on a bench outside the first hotel that they shagged in.  This was a few hours BEFORE they shagged.  He kept this photo unbeknownst to me on his computer and actually got it printed off nine months later to put in a frame and give to her for her fiftieth birthday.  (Granted, it’s a shitty present but by this time he was very close to melt down).  Taking this photo means that his decision to commit adultery was more than just sex. He cannot explain why he wanted the photo but suggests that he considered her a catch!  Proof that he could still ‘do it’! Also, before arriving at this first hotel Pig Shit invited him to visit her house.  He agreed.  He thought it was for a bit of early sex.  Tell me, here is a married man en-route to a hotel he has arranged for sex, agreeing to visit her house; does this make any sense to you?


Once there, sex was not on the menu. Instead she sat him down with a cup of tea and introduced him to her two teenage kids.  My idiot husband sat there, drank his tea and obviously made himself out to be Mr Special.  I can just imagine Pig Shit telling her kids that this man was her childhood sweetheart blah, blah, blah.  Such a nice man.  Guess what, he can’t remember what they discussed.  Do you think she told her kids that he was married?  I asked husband he said he had no idea.  Then the two of them left (he says in separate cars) to go to the hotel.  But not to shag straight away.  They went for a swim and sauna.  They went for dinner (which she paid for – she paid for every meal they had because she wanted to pay her way – I guess she felt it made it a ‘proper’ relationship somehow).  My husband was doing all this on business expenses because apart from once, every time they shagged it was linked to a real work commitment.  Pig Shit is a single mother with two teenage children.  I asked why he let her pay and he just shrugs.  Then they fucked.  Husband would have had to text me during this time.  He was having a fucking ball wasn’t he?  That’s why he doesn’t want to remember.  He didn’t give a shit about any consequences.  He didn’t feel guilty or ashamed because it was all overwritten by his feeling marvellous and of his feeling of entitlement.  Nothing was going to stop husband having a shag-fest least of all any little voices of conscience.  He didn’t have any!


You think I don’t know what that newness feels like with a new person? The excitement? The physical tingling? You think husband and I didn’t have it ourselves?  We had it BIG time and that newness feeling lasted for many years. So, I know the feelings, I just wouldn’t trade my rectitude to experience it all again with someone else whilst married.  Not only do I view my marriage as something to protect and honour, the lies and deception would be too much to ask of me.  So immediately you can see I think differently.


Then, the next time, a couple of months later another hotel room but after this it was just cheap motel rooms or friends’ spare bedroom. It is clear that her expectations were low.  She must have been so easy to please.  My husband only had to text her the magic words ‘I love you’ and hey presto Pig Shit couldn’t keep her knickers on.  It was always at husband’s convenience and always linked to an overnight stay for a genuine work commitment.  This is why I never suspected what was going on.  It would be unreasonable to think that over 12 months, his staying overnight to be nearer his work on 12 occasions, signalled him being up to no good.  If he had work in Oxford, he would go up the night before, Pig Shit would drive to the location, they would eat in a pub, shag, spend the night and then both go to work.  Some relationship.  Really what do these other women say about women?  That we will accept anything as long as you say you love me and I want to believe it.  Would his actions actually demonstrate an undying love?  No, I don’t think so, but it was enough for Pig Shit!  How great for a married man?  Minimum effort – maximum gain.  Not like with me.


However, over time, he must have tired of her. Then he was trapped.  He knew how to start the adultery but he didn’t know how to stop it.  However, now Pig Shit wanted to cash in on her chips.  He had promised undying love and a future together, she had let him do all sorts of things to her genitals.  Now it was pay time for her.  But it became melt down time for husband.  Too pathetic to come clean to me and own up, too weak to break it off with Pig Shit.  You see, what do we have here?  I have to admit in the cold light of reality, this is not a nice man.  This man, who I married and thought had boyish charm was a liar, a manipulator and a coward.  He was playing me and he was playing Pig Shit which led him to become engulfed in a shitty mess of his own making.  Then things were to get even worse because of his emotional immaturity and inadequacy to deal with the problems that were a direct result of his pathetic choices.


It’s taken a while to really confront this awful truth but the truth has helped me to understand him, understand myself and understand the measures I need to take if our marriage is to recover.   At first, I was confused because his behaviour had led him to melt down.  When his melt down first started I’m not sure (he did crazy things like fill up his diesel car with petrol) but he fluctuated between on the one hand crying with desperate hugs, saying how much he loved me and on the other, making comments that he didn’t want to be here.  He would repeat his head in his hands “I don’t want to be here” “I don’t want to be here”.  Now I think the ‘here’ that he was referring to wasn’t our house or me it was his head.  He was in a living nightmare of his own making.  In the end I asked him to leave and the idiot respected my wish BUT WENT TO ACTUALLY LIVE WITH PIG SHIT!  By this time I do believe he wanted it over but he was too weak to tell her.  He has told me that his intention was to go and live with her to break it off gradually so that she didn’t get angry and tell me.  Don’t laugh, but I actually believe this.  His fucked up thinking has a lot to answer for.


His plan misfired. He didn’t expect me to move so quickly to seek a divorce immediately and explore selling our house.  He didn’t like living with Pig Shit – it wasn’t what he had intended or wanted.  Of that I am sure.  As I didn’t know he was with another woman, how he looked and behaved made me feel sorry for him.  After a few weeks I agreed to a trial reconciliation and he could not wait to return.  He just wanted it all swept away – to awaken from his nightmare, but his unceremonious dumping of Pig Shit was surprisingly ingenuous. It provoked the adulterous hornet and she set out to sting me in the worst way possible.  My husband, what a coward!  He couldn’t even protect me from Pig Shit’s revelation.  How could he think, for one minute, that it was all going to right itself?  I don’t know about you but this is even more fucked up thinking.


My husband behaved appallingly towards me. Both during the adultery and the lead up to the horrendous revelation.  We have not entertained therapy of any kind because I am quite cynical about the blooming counselling industry (that’s not to say I appreciate that for many it has proved invaluable) and have been determined to not involve anyone who may suggest that the ‘why’ of his adultery was somehow prompted by problems in our marriage.  That somehow it was our relationship and faults within that, that led to his adultery.  My husband, struggling to find answers to my questions would have been provided with the perfect rationale.  Then it would be a shared focus – not just on him and his choice to commit adultery but on me and what I might have done to make him vulnerable to having extra marital sex.  As far as I’m concerned, too much of the general understanding of adultery is based upon findings of what the adulterers themselves say. This is only one side and allows for pathetic rationalisations that get aired in public talks.  They were bored, felt empty, not alive, and/or had a longing.  Quite frankly who hasn’t felt like this at times in their lives.  But, why would betrayal of your spouse be considered a potential solution to these feelings?  It’s just too selfish and cruel for words!


SimonA book that has helped me considerably in this area is one written by George K Simon entitled ‘Character Disturbance; the Phenomenon of Our Age’. Interestingly, I came across it via Tracy Schorn’s blog Chump Lady so was late in coming across it because it took a while for me to become strong enough to accept the other side of the consequences of adultery – continued deception and manipulation until separation and divorce.  Chump Lady’s view that reconciliation is a unicorn  was troublesome whilst I had doubts about my own marital recovery but over the years I have become more confident in my choice to stay and have enjoyed reading about spouses who have got their life back on track by leaving their unfaithful partners.  Equally, I support any platform that gives voice to the trauma of infidelity and betrayal.


You see, for such a long time I was saying to husband ‘you’re thinking is fucked up’. I have already blogged about the behavioural psychology that suggests we are not rational thinkers, even though we are adamant that we are. This went some way to help me but Simon’s analysis has hit the spot in many more ways.  Although I am deeply reluctant to agree to a diagnostic label of DC to pin to my husband, (or anyone else for that matter) some of the symptoms that Simon discusses I have found in my husband and this has created another dimension in which to think about what he did to me and what needs to be considered to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  So, it’s a bit pick and mix, but not only does it describe some of my husband’s character or personality it goes someway to understanding why there is such widespread infidelity.  Fundamentally, for Simon, modern society is dominated by a ‘just do it’ culture which has produced increasing numbers of individuals who are not ‘hung-up’ enough about the things they allow themselves to do.  Adultery would fit this bill wouldn’t it? Stemming from an underdeveloped conscience these individuals end up with problems related to their dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns. These he calls disturbances of character.


Simon, whose experience is not in the field of relationship counselling or infidelity but in the study of manipulators and other disturbed characters, makes a distinct break from traditional Freudian understandings of behaviour. Considered out of date and based on understanding the neurosis of mainly upper middleclass women, he suggests that the modern demands of psychology now require a completely different perspective in order to understand this ‘just do it’ culture that divorces itself from consequences.  For Simon, neurosis is still with us but rather than being pathological as earlier thought, it now serves as an important psychological function.  We need to ensure that we possess it in a healthy measure.  It allows us to experience enough guilt or shame to restrain impulses.  “It’s what makes society work”.  With this analysis I think I would say that I am healthily neurotic! However, for some individuals, where there is a lack of healthy neurosis it can lead to an underdeveloped conscience.  And this has become widespread.


Character disturbance results in individuals “whose problems are related to their dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns, their shallow, self-centred relationships, their moral immaturity and social irresponsibility, and their habitual, dysfunctional behaviour patterns.” I believe that before we met, my husband was the epitome of this description but I never saw it.  Did he hide it or did his relationship with me foster better character traits? We spent nine years together in a good relationship but something seemed to have triggered off a return to his past behaviour patterns that he developed with all his ex-school friends.  Interestingly, when one of these friends (who had socialised with H and Pig Shit) rang me to find out why my H was not communicating with any of them he informed me that what I had experienced (infidelity) was what H always did.


As well as our personality, our distinctive way of relating to people and the choices that we make about how to cope best with life’s challenges also play a role. For Simon, character is an individual’s positive personality aspects – those that are socially desirable; self–control, ethics, loyalty and fortitude.   Characters that don’t develop such aspects often fail to experience the potential pangs of guilt or shame upon their decisions and are therefore able to act in socially irresponsible ways. “Anxiety is minimally present or plays a negligible role in the Disturbed Character’s problems”.  I would say this sums up my husband’s character in the early stages of his adultery.  It is clear from what he has told me that initially he felt no anxiety whatsoever about what he was doing!


“The DC’s conscience is remarkably under-developed and impaired. DCs don’t hear that little voice that urges most of us to do right, or admonishes us when we’re contemplating doing wrong.  Or, if they do hear it, they can easily ignore it, or put it in a lock box (i.e. compartmentalise it)”.


“Shame is the emotional state we experience when we feel badly about who we are. Guilt is when we feel badly about what we’ve done.”  For my husband, both of these emotions were absent until it all started to go terribly wrong for him and he could no longer continue with his behaviour.  However these two emotions are fundamental to him being able to change his character.  From his experience, Simon states “I’ve known many individuals who made significant changes in their characters.  But when they did so, it was not only because they regretted their irresponsible behaviours, but also because they became unsettled enough with the person they had allowed themselves to become (I.e. became too ashamed of themselves) that they decided to change course.  So it appears that one must have the capacity to experience both guilt and shame in order to forge a sound character.”  He goes on to point out that “being embarrassed at being uncovered or found out is not the same as genuine shame.”  So it is clear, from this perspective that any recovery from adultery will demand both guilt and shame to be experienced by the betrayer if change in them is what is required


I have blogged elsewhere about why and how people lie.  Lying it seems is one of the more common problem behaviours of DCs.  “Sometimes this lying is done so automatically that the DC finds himself lying without thinking much about it and even when the truth would have done just fine.”  I experienced this with husband and it’s something I am now conscious of all the time and regularly make checks about the most simplest of statements.  Just to ensure that there is no slippage.


DCs, in keeping with my husband’s responses, say ‘I don’t know’ a lot but for Simon this probably means one of the following.

I never really think about it that much.

I don’t like to think about it.

I don’t want to talk to you about it.

I know very well why I did it but I certainly don’t want you to know.

I hope you’ll buy the notion that I’m basically a good person whose intentions were benign.


Sounds about right!


In traditional counselling or therapy it is believed that there is a different reality undermining the façade that we see; a pitiable reality i.e. low self-esteem. The therapy acts to dig deep into someone’s emotions in order to access this reality.  However, whilst this might be true for someone with neurosis this is not the case for a DC.  Instead, what you see is what you get.  “No feelings of inferiority.  But a deeply rooted sense of entitlement”.  In fact DCs have an inflated sense of self-worth and often feel entitled to use and exploit others as they see fit.  They often ignore the reality of their circumstances and act indifferently to the truth about themselves and their behaviours.  This was my H’s behaviour during the time of the adultery.  He made my life very difficult. “For the most part DCs act first and think later and when a person lacks apprehension about what he’s about to do, he’s less likely to engage in any meaningful contemplation before he acts”.  Sums up H.  “This impulsive thinking promotes a devil may care, lackadaisical attitude and attitudes of indifference, uncaring or nonchalance”.  This was my experience of my husband whilst he was engaged in adultery.


The clarity for me, of the difference between my H’s thinking and mine can be summed up by this; “DCs are largely unaffected and undeterred by adverse consequences. Typically not unnerved by situations that would upset the neurotic.” So, my H, in the context of our marriage and his blatant disregard for my feelings, needs not help and insight to discover more about his feelings about himself but firm benign confrontation, limit setting and most especially correction.


“They need an encounter which directly confronts and challenges their dysfunctional beliefs, destructive attitudes and distorted ways of thinking which stymies their typical attempts at manipulation and impression management.” Whilst Simon is suggesting a particular type of therapy here (and this is in direct opposition to traditional psychology’s belief that personality and character disorders are untreatable) I feel that my H experienced an encounter of this kind when he left me without any acceptable reason and went to live secretly with Pig Shit.   He was absolutely lost, exhausted by the manipulation and impression management, with nobody to turn to.  Except, he wanted to return to me.  He DESPERATELY wanted to come home and have everything ‘back to normal’.


The way I responded to the knowledge of his adultery once I had agreed to a possible reconciliation matches (without my prior knowing) Simon’s suggestion of firm limits set on maladaptive behaviour, and a structuring of the terms of our engagement in a manner that prompts him to try out alternative, more pro-social ways of interrelating that I can reinforce.   Once we identified his problem behaviours and got them out into the open, our attention could be paid to the erroneous ways of thinking that had led to those behaviours.  For H to experience genuine empathy-based remorse for the injury he caused, rather than just regret, two things needed to occur.  1.  He needed to feel genuinely bad about what he’d done (guilt) – he does.  2. He must be internally unnerved about the kind of person he became (shame) through acting so irresponsibly – he is.  It is his shame and guilt which can propel him to make amends to the best of his ability and work very hard not to engage in the same misconduct again – he is working hard – to want to make himself a better person – he says this himself!


“When people have true contrition, their greatest pain is for the injury they caused someone else, and their actions reflect a sincere effort, not only to repair the damage, but also change their ways.”


“None of us is born civilised. We are not naturally predisposed to be socially conscientious or responsible beings.  No matter how one is biologically predisposed and regardless of one’s environment, certain crucial lessons must be learned at various stages if one is to develop a balanced personality and healthy character.”  We have to be “ever mindful of man’s incredible capacity to deceive himself as well as others and the temptation we all face to secure what we want and avoid what we don’t want through deception, cheating and conniving.”


Unfortunately, society doesn’t really recognise or reward those who display integrity of character. It has always been easier to cheat, lie and steal rather than take the honest path.  For most part, lying is simply easier than accepting and dealing with the truth.  And truth is a cornerstone here.  We know it as betrayed spouses and Simon knows about it through his work with DCs.  He has found “incredible power in the truth.  It’s the basis of the genuine human connection that can facilitate positive change.  “The truth is rarely pretty but it is almost always redemptive and transformative”  Don’t we just know it!


An additional understanding for me of H’s behaviour when it all got out of control has been provided by Simon and his suggestion of circumstantial thinking – the belief that one thing leads to another.  “They see their behaviour and its consequences as the inevitable result of a snowball rolling out of control and becoming too massive to stop.  Not as a result of their choices.  Circumstantial thinking means not thinking about one’s motives for engaging in behaviour, one’s internal decision-making process, and the consequences of one’s choices, but rather telling oneself that things simply happen.  That is the thinking error most responsible for the development of a socially irresponsible attitude”


Finally, returning to me and the difficulties that I have experienced in trying to understand H’s motives for what he did I’d like to return to Simon’s suggestion that I am healthily neurotic . “Neurotic individuals’ main vulnerability is that they simply can’t imagine that everyone isn’t at least to some degree like them.  They also can’t imagine that people aren’t motivated in their actions by the same kinds of issues that motivate them”.


The bottom line is our recovery from H’s adultery is all about H and how he values his own efforts to be a better person. Like it or not, for me, character matters.  You cannot legislate for morality.  H’s behaviour might not have been illegal but it was reprehensible.


Image Credit: Online Search by renjith Krishnan

Trust is a Big Ticket Item

big-ticket-item-ss-1920-800x517Understanding trust as a big ticket item.  A bit far fetched I know even by my standards but I do love a metaphor or analogy and sometimes the more bizarre the clearer the insight.  Maybe? This particular idea came to me as I was drifting off to sleep last night.  I was wondering how I could emphasise the gigantic proportions of trust needed for a marriage to survive in any meaningful way; most especially if the trust has actually gone; destroyed at the root by the act of adultery. So I explored the above metaphor to see where it took me and found some interesting analogies for marriage recovery within the techniques that are considered to be essential when buying and selling any big ticket item.

A colloquial expression, ‘big ticket’ describes items that are of high monetary value such as houses or cars. For most people these are the most expensive purchases that they make during their lifetime.  Whilst I appreciate that trust has no monetary value (although this could be argued), over the last few years I have come to realise that its value is beyond compare to anything else I know.  The cornerstone of every and any relationship, but especially so in a marriage.  So what happens when it is lost?  Can it be rediscovered?  Can trust be ‘purchased’ in any way?  Well, not really because the important aspect of trust is that it is given freely if the basic building block of honesty is in place.  Therefore, if my husband seeks the big ticket purchase of trust he first has to ‘sell’ me the promise of renewed honesty.  To have my trust return (his trust in me remains constant) I have to believe that he will not lie to me or deceive me in any way.

He has to consider what he would have to ‘put on the table’ to make me prepared to buy his promise that he can be trusted, that he will be honest with me. The stakes are high for both sellers and potential customers when it comes to big ticket purchases. It will need a lot of patience and understanding on behalf of my husband without any guarantees of success and the price that I have to pay for this transaction of granting my trust is my vulnerability, something that I am keen to protect and conserve. So, husband needs to understand that buying his promise of honesty is a big ticket item for me and apparently, when considering a big ticket item, people follow a more in-depth information gathering cycle.  They don’t just look for information about the desired product, (honesty) but also for a 360-degree view  and validation that this purchase won’t end in buyer’s remorse. You could say that the past three years or so I have been doing just this and my blog is testimony to this.

What’s interesting is that customers unconsciously adopt a “fight or flight” stance when thinking about making a large investment. Our brains are much faster at identifying a threat than anticipating a reward, so the possibility of making a bad investment can literally put us into a panic mode. Therefore husband needs to understand that I will need a lot of reassuring in order to move toward trust again. The very real fear of trusting my husband only to end up with regret is paralyzing, and therefore he requires a deep understanding of these specific anxieties so that he can address them. This means that on top of the basic trust-building required for any relationship he also needs to constantly reassure me that I won’t be making a costly mistake when I decide to trust him again.  To effectively sell his promise of honesty to me he must anticipate all possible sources of resistance and develop tools that chip away at these psychological barriers.  If I retain any doubts about his whereabouts or his activities the barriers to trust will not go away.

Big ticket consumer purchases have a relatively long sales cycle. This is because the purchaser has an eye for the long term so is not prepared to make a quick decision. My eye is towards us making old bones together and sharing our later years.  I’m sixty years of age and this later stage in my life is just as important as any other.  Perhaps more so.  This means that husband has to be ready to put up with some period of decision-making, I will not be rushed. However, this doesn’t mean that he can’t and shouldn’t do anything to nudge me closer to a speedier conversion. If he can provide opportunities for micro-conversions as we progress it might be possible for me to make a series of smaller commitments to him which will lay the groundwork for the bigger conversion later.

It is crucial, however, that I feel in control of the entire process. No one likes to be rushed into making a decision, and this is especially true when it comes to big-ticket purchases. I have made a series of small commitments over the past three years that are comfortable to me. I need to make more of these before I’ll be prepared to commit fully.

If I am viewed as a big ticket purchaser it must be realised that I will expect higher levels of attention and service in exchange for my premium spending. This is why the focus needs to be on experience. For me to consider believing his honesty I must feel special and valued.

When I married husband I assumed that trust and honesty would be respected for the value that they hold in a meaningful relationship. I hadn’t realised that for my husband it could be a negotiable transaction.  However, he didn’t realise what he was throwing away in order to be dishonest with me.  Hopefully he has learned that, as understood in economic terms, big ticket items are durable goods, this means that they last a relatively long time and provide utility to the user.

For me, trust really is the big ticket item of a successful marriage. I hope my husband learns how to pay the high price for its return whilst valuing its essential, non-negotiable role in our future together.


Infidelity: Two Blog Posts – Two Perspectives

chalk and cheeseCHALK AND CHEESE

 I have recently read two blog posts and want to note my responses to both. They are not related to each other, or to my blog, but in content they have, at the core, the OW and as I have just posted on this very topic, subsequent to being harangued by an OW trying to tell me what an idiot I was to attempt to reconcile with my husband, my feelings are close to the surface. Both blog perspectives are from Betrayed Spouses but they have starkly contrasting approaches to the OW.  One verges on the sympathetic and the other on the damned outrage.  Chalk and cheese.


Firstly, I came across Elle’s latest blog posting on the Betrayed Wives Club Blog. A brilliant blog I follow which is a wonderfully soft landing place for people new to theElle devastation of betrayal and deceit and of their world turning inside out and upside down.  The post was entitled “Warrior Post: What You Really Need to Know About the Other Woman” and was a reposting of an anonymous  story posted on another part of the site in response to what a reader had noticed was a lot of talk and concern and obsession with the Other Woman.  (Note the word obsession – sounds judgemental, something abnormal. Wrong?) Whilst Elle points out that nobody is to blame for their husband’s cheating (something I’ve always been encouraged by) and that happy marriages can experience infidelity – unless I’ve got it wrong – she seems to want to admit here that some marriages are bad and if so, changes how the BS might respond to the adultery and the OW. Elle believes that Anonymous has “taken a clear-eyed look at her marriage and the role she played in the breakdown of it”.  I was surprised by this. Maybe I’m not ready to hear such an understanding and maybe it is helpful for some women but I find that it sticks in my throat.  Does admitting to having difficulties in your marriage really help to understand or to cope with infidelity?


BSs are not dealing with a broken heart they are dealing with a stress disorder caused by infidelity. What we experience has been likened to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with the symptoms of anxiety, irritability, rage, emotional numbing and flashbacks. This can last for years.  Who’s to say that hating and vilifying the OW is not just part of this response?  In my opinion it is the betraying spouse who wants to remain in the marriage that should be doing all they can to help their partner to heal.  Focusing on what they can do to support their deceived spouse through the trauma of adultery. It is not for the BS to discover what they might do to make their spouse more content in their marriage. Too late I say.  The adultery has somewhat blotted the copy book of their spouse.   Discussing what may or may not have been right or wrong in their marriage is irrelevant.  And if they are back, wanting to return, the marriage couldn’t have been that bad anyway! For a marriage to recover after betrayal, the betraying spouse has to work to CHANGE their responses to life’s challenges.  They have to accept their role in a committed relationship.  I don’t expect anyone to stay in a marriage that makes them unhappy but rather than abuse their spouse with the act of adultery, (to gain what – attention?) they should discuss the problems they find in remaining in a monogamous relationship. However, many BSs (me included) are with spouses who never intended to leave.  Knew they had a good marriage.  They just wanted to have their cake and eat it at the same time. So, what’s to discuss exactly?  One OW informed me that if I’d been the whore I accused the OW of being my husband would not have strayed!!!!!!  Well sister, he may not have strayed but I wouldn’t want to remain in the marriage if that was what it took.


For Anonymous, one of the reasons behind her husband’s adultery she believes was their crumpling marriage.  However, her understanding of her husband’s adultery, also included a belief that her husband was not to blame for his committing adultery.  Post D-day, one day in therapy, she was raging about how the OW seduced him and an epiphany occurred when he replied “I did this to you! I DID! You think I’m so weak and feeble minded that I’m just nothing, that I could be so blindly tricked into doing this awful thing, that I wasn’t even capable of making this f&@king decision either?” 


Well, as I never for one moment thought Pig Shit seduced my husband, it was a revelation to me to hear a wife directly blaming the OW for her husband’s adulterous behaviour. This is something OWs are saying we are doing!  This saddens me.  However, even though I blame my husband completely, this does not detract me from my disgust at Pig Shit’s behaviour and her poor choices.  Anonymous however, has taken a much softer line. “I can’t vilify this OW any more than I vilify him because he was the one who was supposed to cherish me and forsake others”.  Here, I am at complete odds.  I feel entitled to vilify both my husband and the OW for the adulterous scrap heap they created between them and dumped on my doorstep!


I don’t know the time scale here but Anonymous has forgiven her husband, (I struggle deeply with the concept of forgiveness and have blogged elsewhere about this) understands his flaws and has thought about how the OW probably has her own demons that she’s struggling with. Although she still has mean and nasty thoughts towards her they are fading every day and sometimes Anonymous hopes she gets the help she needs so that she can have a second chance at life, too, just like she has given her husband. Wow! This is such a different landscape to the one I inhabit.  Anonymous says that at times she still “wishes that the OW would lose all her hair overnight, gain 100 pounds and get horrible adult acne”. I’m with you here sister! There’s nothing wrong with that sentiment!


It’s clear that Anonymous has actually acted out some of her venom and it maybe this that has made her more cautious and prone to offering kind responses. I have withheld from giving Pig Shit any attention, so I don’t have any of those memories to contend with, but my hatred for her remains a constant.  What I find most difficult in this post is the end where Anonymous gives advice.  Albeit well-meaning it makes me cringe because of the focus on the betraying spouse rather than on herself. I’m surprised that with this message Elle selected it as a blog post.  It would suggest an endorsement.


“For all these reasons, I say let it go with obsession with the OW. I’ve read some stories on here of BS who admitted they were an OW long ago and we still support them because of their pain! And we do that because we are good and compassionate people on here. Take your energy and focus on him. Focus on learning why he did what he did. You have to understand why HE did this in order to move forward. It doesn’t matter why she did, it only matters why he participated. Focus on what you have done to hurt him. And then solely focus on you getting stronger as a couple. Don’t let thoughts of her continue to ruin any progress you are making as a couple. It’s easier said than done but don’t let her continue to be a part of your marriage, she didn’t belong in it before and she doesn’t belong in it now either”.

 I’m clearly neither good nor compassionate. I refuse to focus on my H.  He fucked up a really good relationship and he has to help me heal AND rebuild my trust in him.  There is no excuse for adultery.  I doubt that I will ever understand why my husband willingly chose to lie and deceive me and make a mockery of our marriage but I don’t believe that this is stopping us from moving forward in any way.  The act of reconciliation in itself is part of the healing and being together, rebuilding our relationship is something we are proud of.  But we still have a way to go.  Many BSs do not feel they have hurt their husband in any way.  Why would they?  I can’t imagine any hurt qualifying for a dose of adultery in retaliation. Marriages have their ups and downs and some of those downs can be crippling BUT adultery is not a solution.  It should not even be considered an option! Not everyone wants to behave the way a moral coward would.  The focus needs to be on the BS getting stronger.  Marital recovery after adultery is very hard work and it’s not for sissies.  There are no guarantees and trust has to be rebuilt if possible.  But we all fear it might happen again.  We fear this because we know that for many women it does happen again.  Whether we work on staying in our marriages or leaving, the betrayed partner is the one who has to heal.  If ranting and vilifying the OWs makes you feel better – go for it.  If you take any time to read what OWs say about themselves it will make you want to vilify them even more.  They seek neither our pity or our forgiveness.  They just seek other women’s husbands!


For individuals who have been unable to reconcile with their unfaithful spouses because chump ladythe betraying spouse wasn’t prepared to stop their adulterous ways – there is another web site. Chump Lady,  with the strap line; leave a cheater gain a life.   Here, where marital reconciliation is viewed to be a unicorn (although in all fairness it is not considered impossible) the posts are scathing towards spouses who do not do the necessary work of recovery.  It is a hugely popular site and is populated with a remarkable array of BSs looking to support each other as they build independent lives without their husbands.  You will not find a good word here about unfaithful spouses.  They are vilified for all their different ploys to deceive their spouses in order to get their ‘kibbles’ and all attempts at recovery are viewed with suspicion, cynicism and doubt.  So, very much at odds with my site which claims to have found its unicorn.  Ha! The site also vilifies OWs.  This warms the cockles of my heart!


It was on this site that I read Tracy’s latest blog post entitled “UBT: In Defence of Dating a Married Man”. UBT is her Universal Bullshit Translator  and here it is used to examine an article which is referred to as “a fluffy little piece of sociopathy by Shannon Boodram, sexologist, entitled In Defence of Dating a Married Man.”  It’s a piece which explores whether dating someone who is married to someone else is wrong.  Their answer is, basically, NO! It says “my answer to this popular query is always the same: If it occurs in nature, then yes, it is natural. And since extra-marital affairs have been in existence for just as long as the institution of marriage, I think it is time we stopped looking at affairs as heinous crimes and instead as a natural occurrences”.


Are you spitting feathers yet? Mine were the size of an ostrich’s.  Is our trauma not directly due to our husbands’ heinous moral crime? It goes on… “The beauty in seeing things as natural vs. deviant is it allows you to exercise understanding. The more we understand and can identify patterns, the better we can cope and even evade the trauma associated with them”.


Tracy’s response to this, after running it through the UBT was “It’s not your partner fucking other people that’s traumatic, it’s your inability to identify patterns. Avoid polka dots. And plaid.” Don’t you just love it?  Already I am calming down because someone is addressing this piece of garbage from the silenced perspective of us BSs. And she is cutting through the crap with a razor sharp acerbic wit.


And if there is a further way of seeing an OW as a legitimate third wheel whilst stroking the selfish ego of the married man the article goes on to announce “a married man is a living example of the qualities women naturally seek out: Some women simply appreciate their attraction while respecting the family unit, others compete to have those qualities for themselves. On the flipside, not all women who date married men are in competition with the wife. Some prefer the mistress-relationship-model, since it provides them with the fun side of companionship minus any of the traditional obligations of partnership.”


What I find most disturbing about this piece (prior to its UBT translation) are the statements that would suggest that we have to accept and accommodate our husband’s desires. There is nothing to suggest that the individual needs to learn how to exercise personal self-control or develop qualities such as ethics, loyalty, kindness and fortitude.


“I strongly believe that keeping an open dialogue with your partner about their temptations, desires and natural drives is very important. Not only can you help your partner effectively manage these natural urges through counsel, but you can also create healthy alternatives in the event that the desire is too strong to curb. Betrayal, not compromise, is the biggest offense in any relationship, but if you don’t create an environment of open communication, you leave your partner to their own devices and vices.”


Here we have it. Compromise your desire for monogamy. Poor husband needs more than wife is giving him.  She now needs to take a trip to Ann Summers, watch a few porn videos, cook him his favourite dishes, do his laundry and ironing, listen to him airing his ‘feelings’, get a Brazilian, and shut up nagging.  Oh, and see to the kids of course!  Feel like you can’t keep him happy?  Then just go a bit monogamish.  But, let’s be realistic here – the biggest thrill of adultery for the cheater is the lies and secrecy – an open marriage just doesn’t offer this frisson.


We must stop the onslaught of opinion that is peddled out by the Esther Perels and Elizabeth Gilberts of this world. This article is a perfect example of such opinion.  Together, no matter how quiet our voices, we BSs must move the attention of adultery from the act in itself and the marriage in which it occurred to the effects that such behaviour has on the cuckolded partner.  Stop basing all theory on the evidence supplied by adulterers themselves – the information is biased, not to say just a rationalisation for the act.


I keep saying this, it’s becoming a mantra… Adultery is WRONG.  The OW is not a bit-player in all this.  She is as much a part of the adultery as the deceiving spouse.  An adult.  The consequences of having the wife hate her doesn’t seem to have any effect on her whatsoever.  I say, carry on hating the other person who was in your marital triangle.  It’s normal.  If you don’t or if you feel the need to fight the urge, fine,  but just appreciate that we all get to our destinations following different paths, and if we’re not careful the OW walks away with a truck load of sympathy and we get Jack Shit!

The Other Woman: More deluded than I thought!

scorpionI have gained an interesting insight over the last couple of days from OWs who have chosen to respond to some of my blog posts. I realise that I have underestimated their capacity to be delusional.

I had previously thought that their delusions occurred whilst they were shagging their married man. You know the stuff: I love him so much; I tried to end it but he wouldn’t let me go; I didn’t intend any harm to the wife and family; he loves me; his wife doesn’t understand him; he lies to his wife but not to me; I tried to help fix things with his wife; really he wants to be with me; and so on ad-boring-infinitum.  However, what I had yet to comprehend was how they deluded themselves after they’d been dumped!

Oh boy, then all hell breaks loose. Their married lover is a liar, a cheat, a coward.  Then it is just a short step to tarring all adulterous men with the same brush.  They believe that wives who stay in their marriage think that they have an improved man but as far as the OW is now concerned they just have a better liar.  Of course, if the married man had left his wife and gone to be with the OW then of course he would have retained his halo.  He would be ‘Her Man’ and everything else would just evaporate in the midst of the heat of their love.  Pass the sick bag.

So has their delusion gone or has it just changed track? Trust me, it hasn’t gone! They’re still on the cognitive train of justification for revolting behaviour but now their married lover is at fault.  Not themselves of course.  Of course not, stupid! They did nothing wrong.  Poor sisters! Then, the irony is, they want to visit the blogs of wives who have chosen marital reconciliation after adultery and here the vomit they write in response to the pain of betrayal is telling of the continued delusion.

There seems to be a firmly held belief amongst OWs, akin to a religious fervour, which holds that we as betrayed wives simply BLAME the OW for our husband’s adultery and don’t think our husband’s are at fault in any way. Because of this, they feel that they need to educate us and advise us that the OW is not to blame.  P-L-E-A-S-E!  Hello!!!!!  I blame my husband 100% for his choice to commit adultery and have said so innumerable times within my blog.  So let’s make it clear so that there is no further misunderstanding by any dumped OWs trawling around my blog.





Can I make it any clearer?

What I would also like to add, just in case anyone thinks I’m going soft around here…



Whether my marriage stands the test of time or doesn’t (personally I’m confident it will) this will never change. Adultery is wrong.  It devastates lives.  It is a wasteland of despair.  It exists in a moral vacuum without any reference to personal responsibility or duty.  On a positive note, what I am encouraged by, three years post D-day,  is the realisation that being the betrayed wife is, although devastatingly painful, a far more respectable and honourable position to hold when compared to that of the OW.

Is my thinking about adultery an obsession?

obsessedWell, it’s an interesting proposition. Am I obsessed by thoughts of my husband’s betrayal?  You might think so, especially if you have never been at the receiving end of infidelity, but I’m not so sure.  Of course, I have moments when I ponder on ‘why’ I continue to have unwanted thoughts, three and half years post D-day, but I have never considered myself to be obsessional.  Nevertheless, in my usual style, I decided to focus on the topic to see if I could enlighten myself on the possibility that I might be wrong and in so doing found a book written by the late Daniel M Wegner, an American social psychologist, entitled: ‘White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts; Suppression, obsession, and the psychology of mental control‘.  His insight is based on a wide range of psychological research and I found his conclusions to be congruous with my experiences and helpful in understanding what might be obsessional.  It would appear that I simply have what would be considered to be ‘normal’ obsessions.

The first thing to put on the proverbial table is my wish not to have these thoughts.table Thoughts about the unbelievable attitude of my husband; thoughts about my naivety; thoughts about the deceit that shattered my reality; thoughts about never being able to trust again; thoughts about the sordid sexual antics that my husband got up to with Pig Shit; thoughts about the risks he took with my health; thoughts about Pig Shit and my desired unhappiness for her; thoughts about the ‘friends’ that encouraged and facilitated the adultery; thoughts about how I found out; and all the other myriad thoughts about his betrayal that arrive uninvited to attract my attention. This is not to mention the unfortunate moments when somehow, my brain becomes aware that I’m not thinking about the adultery, and hey presto there I go again…


Secondly, I need to explain that although I continue to get these unwanted thoughts, they have become somewhat easier to cope with over time. After reading Wegner’s book I am beginning to fully understand why this might be.  And, thirdly, I believe that anyone who practices mindful awareness will find resonance with some of the main concepts that he presents.


It appears to be unequivocal in psychological circles – we cannot succeed in avoiding an unwanted thought. Actually, the research suggests that the actual desire to suppress thought is the cause of obsession! Any advice to ‘just not think about it’ is both futile and misleading. “The irony, then, is not only that people find it hard to suppress a thought in the first place, but that the attempt to do this made them especially inclined to become absorbed with the thought later on.” And as he so rightly states, if we cannot get over something that happened a while ago, we will probably have unwanted thoughts lurking about.  Hello!  How many betrayed spouses fit THIS bill?


“Suppression in a short while can settle us down. It puts the unwanted thoughts out of conscious awareness and so stops the normal tendency of such thoughts to charge us with anxiousness.  But when the suppression is complete, we have then made ourselves into sitting ducks, oblivious to the very thoughts that will surely disturb us if we are reminded of them by any random idea or cues.”


worryInterestingly, what I might have, (should it turn out that I do obsess in some way), is ‘normal’ obsessions which parallel ‘abnormal’ obsessions in several ways.  So not unreasonable to think about obsessions as such. Unwanted thoughts are a general symptom of mental distress and a painful intrusion for anyone but it’s not the thought that’s actually the problem.  It is the emotional reaction attached to the unwanted thought that causes the mental turmoil.


However, an unwanted thought stops us in our tracks and it is natural to want to get on with our thinking – hence the desire to suppress the thought. But the very nature of consciousness works against suppression.  Consciousness can grasp at once both the unwanted thought and the meta-thought (metacognition – the ability to think about our thinking) that wishes it away.  We get caught in this cognitive paradox.  So what we often do, after finding it impossible to suppress the thought, is to distract ourselves.  Think about something else.  As we cannot wish a thought away we look towards other things to capture our attention and draw ourselves away from the unwanted thought. This strategy would appear better than suppression but unfortunately it also does not offer any long term solution. “Although self-distraction can be used to escape unwanted thoughts in the short run, it is probably not the strategy of choice for reaching a satisfying and effective solution to the problem that created the unwanted thoughts in the first place.  Reaching that solution will require, at least as a first step, a return to thinking about the unwanted thought.  Such confrontation is rarely all that is needed, however, since just thinking the thought over and over is likely to produce nothing but distress.” Intuitively, I think I have known this.  I had a sense that putting the thought of the adultery out of my mind was not the same as putting the adultery out of existence. Equally, I knew that just chewing on the thoughts themselves in isolation of doing anything else was a toxic exercise. 

Equally, we mustn’t forget about the triggers we experience, the cues that prompt our unwanted thoughts. Wegner suggests that we try to organise these outside influences wherever and whenever we can. He calls this a form of remote control thinking.  If possible, being in a position to make them closer when we want to be reminded of them and further away when we want to suppress them.  Husband and I have thrown away a lottrash of items that were triggers, including replacing both our cars.  We avoid certain places still.  But, I have placed all my stuff/records of the time in one certain place in a type of quarantine.  It means that I can go to them if I want to but they aren’t easily accessible or visible on a day to day basis.  Of course, for us handling adultery we mustn’t forget the major cue that we live with – our betraying husbands!  This is where I believe that leaving betraying partners might assist in the process of moving on.  However, changing the external world is extreme and is so final and we risk losing so much.  There are some triggers that I have chosen to keep because they are too beautiful and I treasure them too much to let the adultery allow me to trash them.


What I would prefer to think about is where are we now, how far we have come, what we have achieved and our future together. In essence I want to convert my unwanted thoughts into wanted thoughts and this can be done with a form of remote control. Converting my unwanted thinking about adultery into thoughts about our current situation and our future together has been helped by the accompaniment of significant changes in our marital situation that have promoted continued thinking in this direction. “The reformed smoker cannot continue to carry tobacco, keep ashtrays around, sit in the smoking section, or even spend time with people who smoke without risking a return to the old ways” In desiring us to be different we have arranged our social and physical circumstances to aid our efforts. “The provision of an environment for change is the cornerstone of any new life we are attempting to construct”.  So, exercising a little remote control (changing the world that our minds think about) can aid us in getting rid of unwanted thoughts.


Another key aspect to dealing with unwanted thoughts is the recognition that we believe them. In fact, the desire to believe something could create the belief.  Initially I had unwanted thoughts about myself in all this.  There was something wrong with me that made him stray.  There must have been problems in our marriage.  Pig Shit was better than me.  Once a cheater, always a cheater. I should not stay in the marriage.  Divorce is the sensible option. But that was because initially I had an impoverished store of information on the topic of adultery.  I wanted to disbelieve my thoughts but that will was booksnot sufficient to clear my mind of my thoughts or their implications.  However, finding out more knowledge of what is true seems to be doing the trick.  “We cannot ignore information that is available to us, no matter how strong our wills. The key to disbelieving is having something to believe.  If we wish to deny one idea, we must have another that we can put in its place.”


All of this work, all of this thinking about our experiences of adultery and attempting to make sense for ourselves of our marriages, of our decision to stay, of what adultery is, seems to work in our favour in the long term. It seems to be a universal psychological rule that we can get used to negative emotions by a process of habituation. We get used to emotion-producing ideas and eventually find that less and less emotion is produced by them.  W experience something and although we think it’s over, we discover that we must live with mental replays of the experience.  This is because trauma etches a deep psychological scar in us.  However, it is possible for the trauma itself to start in motion a natural process of self-healing or self-correction “in which the individual repeatedly reviews the trauma as a way of coming to terms with it and getting used to it.” 

“Rethinking the trauma might help us by allowing the time to see that the trauma is NOT related to everything else in our lives”


So why does reversing suppression work?


Let Wegner speak for himself here…


“Some theorists say that when we look at our unwanted thoughts closely and turn them all around, we will finally be able to fit meaning into our lives. This was Frankl’s view and is shared by many.  The idea is that understanding our problems, thinking them through and finding out how they are linked to all our other thoughts is our common and natural approach to most of life’s challenges.  The tendency to suppress a thought gets in the way of this and so blocks us from achieving a meaningful life.  There is some part of us that we don’t understand, or refuse to understand, and until this is fully resolved, we will have no peace.” 

wish“Unwanted thoughts, in many cases, arise from unwanted realities. When we cannot change our realities, we turn to our minds and hope that we can control what goes on there from the inside. But this control process is a swindler, a charlatan that runs off with our minds and gives us nothing in return.  The suppression we crave does not save us, and instead can energise the obsessions we wish to avoid.  All too soon, we realise that the unwanted thoughts won’t go away so easily.  We try again.  And it comes back again.  If only we could realise that it will go away only when we welcome it back.  It is only then, that like any child with a toy, we will soon tire of dragging it around with us and lose track of it quite naturally”. 

Interestingly, I have blogged  earlier from a philosophical perspective about the concept of keeping my mind in hell but not despairing.  For Gillian Rose, denial and unexamined suffering are the two main reasons for unhappiness.  “It is the unhappiness of one who refuses to dwell in hell and who lives, therefore, in the most static despair”.

Me obsessed? No.  Just working my way through the mess.

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