It takes two to tango – cheating in marriage 5

Cheating in a marriage requires two participants – the person who cheats and the person who is cheated with. The damage from such cheating can be devastating, especially when children are involved.   There have recently been a number of male politicians and other celebrities in the news who have cheated on their wives.

Married women cheat, too.  According to the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, approximately 50 percent married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some time in their marriage.    But, judging from news stories, it seems that not as many women with high profiles cheat as their male counterpoints. I can only think of Madonna as a recent example of a high-profile woman alleged to have cheated.

Having been on many sides of this issue – as a witness, as a recipient, as a participant and as an avenger – it all comes down to this for me – either be married or be single.  You can’t be both.  (Thank goodness) divorce is legal for both men and women in the United States. I encourage people to take advantage of this legality. 

Falling out of love and commitment is unfortunate but it happens.  Even when children are involved (and the impact of divorce on them is long-lasting), I think it is ultimately better to have two parents who are living honestly separately than to have a household that is split from within by continued cheating, lies and deceptions.  This is even more critical for people in the public eye.  The media lays in wait for well-known people to mess up and will report  their transgressions more vociferously than any  laudable acts they do..

In Saturday’s Boston Globe, columnist Derrick Jackson, wrote a piece called “The Cheap collateral damage of sex scandals.” The column begins:

“FOUR BOYS for Steve McNair. Four boys for Mark Sanford. Four children for David Vitter. Three daughters for Eliot Spitzer. Three children for John Ensign. Three children for John Edwards. Three children for Kwame Kilpatrick. Those two dozen children are enough, without even reaching back a decade for Chelsea Clinton, to demonstrate the impressive swath of psychological destruction for the dalliances of dads.”

He then goes on to state ”Here we are, a human race that can peer billions of light years into space, communicate in a click with someone 12,000 miles away, and cure all kinds of diseases, yet cannot find the carnal off-switch.” (emphasis mine)

In today’s Boston Globe, a reader, Sherry Sweezey of Littleton wrote an eloquent letter to the editor addressed to the women who help men cheat.   She asks that women have the moral fortitude to refuse to participate in an affair.

(Reprinted from the Boston Globe, Letters to Editor Section, July 13, 2009)

Stand by your fellow woman

The July 9 Boston Globe had “The cheat sheet” in the “g” section with a list of the latest men in public positions who have had affairs.  Having survived a similar experience led me to a feeling of dismay that women do not have more honor and respect for one another.

It seems many even lure men into an affair with no regard for the man’s marriage and the harm it will do his wife or children or his position in life.  That is sad.

I wish women had more values, and that if they work with or encounter a man they find attractive and the attraction is mutual, they would respect and honor his marriage or commitment even if he doesn’t. Do you really want someone who would hurt the very people he has made vows and commitments to?  What kind of man is that?
Rather, be the one who says to the man, “You are not free and if you have no morals, I do and will not participate in this.”  To stand by other women, to have honor and decency – is this possible?
Sherry Sweezey of Littleton

While this letter is addressed to women, I think it should be addressed to men as well. (I am not of the opinion that men just can’t help themselves when it comes to infidelity.)  Fidelity, which happens effortlessly for some people, can be achieved with discipline by others. .Discipline can be achieved through practice and adherence to vows.  None of us has to get married and we definitely don’t have to stay married.  We have options and we should exercise them, i.e., be married or be single.  You can’t be both (unless you have an open marriage and in my opinion, those shouldn’t involve children.)

The costs of adultery are high.  They include:

dissolution of families
economic decline
long-lasting emotional problems for children
erosion of faith

Be married.  Be single.  You can’t be both.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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5 thoughts on “It takes two to tango – cheating in marriage

  • Amy M.

    I couldn’t agree with you more!!! Cheating is not something that either sex “HAS” to do. It’s not something that can’t be controlled. We are not mindless beings that fall into decisions with consequences. We are thinking, feeling beings that make choices every single day that impact the lives of countless other people. My husband and I certainly hope to never divorce but we have had candid conversations about this and simply state, don’t disrespect me, just leave me. Said especially often when we hear yet another story of someone committing murder rather than simply divorcing their mate. We live in a rather free society, as you said, where we are fortunate enough to be able to CHOOSE to not be in a marriage if it no longer fits us. I will never understand the underhanded and immoral choices some make all to avoid an unpleasant conversation about reality.

  • Candelaria

    Well-said and spot-on. We do have choices not to stay in a marriage or to play in or with a marriage.  Also, I am a bit too proud to want to hang on to someone who doesn’t want me any more.  I will cry, be sad, but I will get over it.  Thanks for your comment.

  • Nordette aka Verite

    I think some people don’t want to accept that you should be either single or married. They want to have their cake and eat it too. And they’re scared to lose something as well or to look inside when they figure out they’re attracted to someone other than their own spouse.

    I’m single and once I determine a married man’s interest is going beyond business or platonic interest, I step away. I don’t buy into the it can’t be controlled, even though I’ve experienced the “passion” and attraction that makes people think they can’t control themselves. I think we all know when we’re crossing the line of no return.

  • Candelaria

    You’re so right.  Congratulations for exercising self-control when you’ve felt attraction.  Thanks for your comments.

  • LeeAnn

    Absolutely. My neighbor ONLY dates married men, makes no bones about it. Thus, I cannot trust her in even the most normal and reasonable of things. I understand falling into the hole, I understand messing up. Acknowledge that, do your bellycrawling, get back to your commitments. period. I do not understand continued infidelity…don’t both participants know that neither one of them is to be trusted ever again?

    sad…so very sad. without honor and integrity, and absolute faithfulness to your family, what else do we have?