Hiding versus Surviving Infidelity
Cheating is definitely in the news right now, with Elizabeth Edwards' appearance on Oprahand the Kate Gosselin infidelity denials becoming more frequent than her Octomom criticisms.
I've read lots of commentary criticizing Elizabeth and speculating if the release of her new book was motivated by a desire for revenge against John. And everyone is chattering about how snippy Kate is with Jon on their reality cable t.v. show. But who really believes that any spouse deserves infidelity? And do the cheaters deserve society's ruthless condemnation?
Affairs do not only happen when things are bad in a marriage. My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing that ever Happened to Meby Anne Bercht tells the story of a seemingly happy husband who was "helping" a female friend with her troubled marriage when things got out of hand.
In the Prologue of the book, the author's husband writes: "How can I tell my beautiful wife of eighteen years, with whom I make love almost nightly, that I am caught up in an affair. I'm not even sure how it happened. A few months ago I would have sworn I was not the unfaithful type. … I constantly ask myself, why did I accept that first invitation. I still love Anne. How can I be doing this to her? I am confused and unsure what to do."
Anne and her husband Brian Bercht are now authors, speakers, and relationship coaches. In an article on their website, Anne Bercht writes: "We think that we are above our spouse and that we would never have an affair. If we recognize ourselves for who we are and that we are all individuals and that we are all susceptible to failure and moral break down, if we recognize that about ourselves than it becomes so much easier to understand someone else."
Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Adultery: The Forgiveable Sin, wrote, "In a recent poll of Psychology Today, 92 percent of those sampled declared monogamy to be "important" or "very important". Forty-five percent of those same people, however, admitted they had had an affair." (p6)
Weil claims between 50 to 70 percent of American men and 30 to 50 percent of American women will be unfaithful at some point; one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of marriages. (p3)
Infidelity hurts, there's no doubt about it. But many marriages do survive, and some like the Bercht's even improve. While I certainly don't condone or excuse the cheating spouse, I do support 100 percent the spouse who attempts to forgive. Our society makes it doubly difficult by automatically assuming a marriage is over when infidelity is discovered. We don't realize how many couples do survive affairs, because often they have to keep it to themselves to avoid ridicule and disbelief of friends and family.
Maybe the dirty laundry airing about Elizabeth and Kate will help more than it hurts, if all of us can remember not to cast the first stone.
Five of Thirty
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