Tonight I'm hosting author Jane Green for a Happier Hour literary salon in my home. Jane has penned many internationally bestselling novels and her latest bestseller Tempting Fate will be the focus of this evening's conversation in the yellow room. In this book, the forty-three-year old protagonist Gabby, who has been happily married for 18 years, is suddenly tempted by a younger man. Enter confusion, intrigue, and consequences.
The book is downright delicious and compulsively readable, but it also asks some big and important questions about modern marriage and infidelity. After I turned its final page, I found myself asking an interesting, and somewhat harrowing question:
Why do married people - and seemingly happily married people - cheat?
I have no real answers. Ideas, yes, but no answers. Ideas: Maybe people stray when they feel lost or unseen or bored or numb or they meet someone who seems to represent something that they feel is missing from their marriage? Maybe people stray as a means to end a marriage or to get the attention of an inattentive spouse? Maybe people stray because this is an example that's been set for them? Maybe people stray because they don't believe in monogamy or find themselves unable to honor their vows? Maybe people stray because of some pathology, inborn or acquired, an addiction to sex or infidelity or danger maybe? Maybe people stray because of intervening challenges or a lack of sexual or emotional connection or some kind of biological wiring? Maybe people stray for no real reason at all, because an opportunity simply presents itself and people are human and flawed and sometimes make mistakes?
Goodness, I don't know. I do know that if you'd asked me about infidelity 10-15 years ago, I would have taken a hard, righteous, bright line on the matter. I would have said that anyone who cheats is a terrible person who deserves to lose his/her marriage. These days, my stance is less harsh. I know people who have had emotional and physical affairs and I know people who've been cheated on. I know marriages that have survived infidelity and those that have fallen apart because of it. I know how complicated and murky all of this can be.
Anyway, I will not ramble any more than I have, but I am so curious to hear what you all think about this topic. Oh, and if you are looking for a good, thought-provoking summer read, pick up Jane's book.
If you have any experience with, or specific thoughts on, infidelity and marriage, I'd love to hear from you. Anonymous comments are fine as I know this is a sensitive topic. Why do you think married people cheat? Why do you think ostensibly happily married people cheat?
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