Cheating in a Marriage: Is Monogamy Impossible?

Posted on September 19, 2011 by

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monogomy or cheating

Reaching for each other, and maybe reaching for someone else?

In more news about your cheatin’ heart—or his, is more like it—moral majority and Gwyneth Paltrow announced last week in an interview that you don’t have to worry about a cheating husband because, like, everyone’s doing it. Says the Goopess:

“Life is complicated and long and I know people that I respect and admire and look up to who have had extra-marital affairs. If death by virus was a punishment for extra-martial affairs there would be only three dudes left in this world right now.”

There’s a big picture here on cheating that I’d like to get to, but first, let’s get to the smut. Is Gwyneth telling us that yes, her husband did indeed cheat with a lesser-than starlet a few years ago? I’m not one to judge. I don’t really care what Gwyneth Paltrow does with her husband, or what he does with other women unless I’m obsessing over her, which I normally am. (My Gwyneth obsession will be covered in another post.)

So the big picture. Gwyneth is just one more person to tell us that men cheat and that we ladies have to just uh, suck it up.  The fascination about monogamy and if we’re capable as humans to maintain a marriage without cheating, isn’t a new conversation, especially when it comes to politicians, which I wrote about here. In fact, this month, David Greenberg covers “Sex and The Married Politician” for the Atlantic Monthly, explaining that it male politicians have always cheated—the media just never covered it. Kennedy being the most famous of all cheaters, until Clinton came along, natch, was a man to be respected. He wasn’t known best for his multiple affairs long after he was in the White House. As a journalism student 20 years ago, I always wondered why his affair with Marilyn wasn’t objectified in the press. Greenberg writes:

“Reporters weren’t covering up for [President] Kennedy so much as they were abiding by their era’s social and professional codes, which regarded their politician’ personal lives as privileged realms.”

These guys have always cheated—we just never spoke about it. Of course, this has changed in the past few decades, and man, we haven’t stopped chattering about it, and Twittering about it since. Weiner. Schwarzenegger. Edwards. Too many to list. Okay, so let’s say that this has always been an acceptable premise. And maybe there’s actual hard-wired body chemistry leading to our politicians cheating. A New York Times article a month ago presented the science of politicians who cheat. In “Ambition + Desire = Trouble” Stephanie Rosenbloom interviews a biological anthropologist who says:

“Most people who got as far as he’s gotten are high-testosterone people…Along with that ambition comes a high sex drive. Testosterone’s linked with both of them.”

Does this apply to rock stars too? Anyone willing to get up on stage and lead a crowd of 20,000 to their feet has to have some sort of megalomaniacal personality, right? Let’s go through the rumored list. Bruce Springsteen. Jon Bon Jovi. Of course there’s Gene Simmons. I mean, good luck Shannon Tweed. And then, circling back to the beginning of my post, there’s also Chris Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband. Of course, there’s the polyamorous folks. Which, what the hell?

What about us regular folks? Is it possible that we’re moving into the decade of open marriages? That wives are finding it acceptable and more—they’re willing to talk about it (even if the only purpose is to save face) i.e., Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes, yes, she’s not your average person, and yes, cheating seems to be more prevalent in the entertainment industry, and yes, she’s married to a rock star, BUT a therapist friend of mine recently told me that she has two clients who are in open marriages. That’s a lot for one small practice, no? I’m asking you. And look at Tristan Taormino’s popular book on open marriages–Opening Up. 44 positive reviews!
Is this a trend?

If you define the rules and if you agree that you’re both allowed to stray as long as the sanctity of the marriage stays in tact—and by sanctity I mean love, respect, commitment to family—then can you also fuck someone else? And can you separate the two? For me—nope. But what Gwyneth is telling us, I think, is that people stray. And more, that we should expect it. Again, I should probably take this from the source. This is also coming from a woman who sends out a newsletter about buying a Stella McCartney blazer as a realistic option for your fall wardrobe. 

What are your thoughts on the topic?

(Image:  rogiro)

Posted in: Celebrities, Marriage, Sex