Shifting Ideals On Infidelity

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

“It can feel like my husband and I are running a family corporation together and that our emotional intimacy consists of gossiping about our friends and watching Game of Thrones. Sometimes I wonder if when the kids leave I should either (a) have a passionate affair or (b) find another husband. I may do neither, but it seems like (a) is more likely than (b). I don’t have any illusions that marrying someone else will make me happy, not anymore.” The above narrative is something to be muttered by an increasing number of women across the United States.

Psychoanalyst and writer, Esther Perel, notes in her new book State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity that since 1990 that the number of women who have reported being unfaithful in marriage has increased by forty percent, while the rate among men has remained the same. She explains that more and more, women are being unfaithful and are willing to admit the fact.

Over the past twenty-eight years, marriage values have shifted across the country. Some women describe their infidelity not as a transgression but as a protest against the institution of marriage, which they’ve come to find suffocating and oppressive. In generations past, these women may have separated or divorced, but in present times they are not willing to give up the family and marriage they’ve built over time. They are using extramarital affairs not to break apart their marriage, but stay in it. Many of these women admit they are kinder to their husbands and more pleasant in general when they have something going “on the side.”

In The Secret Life of the Cheating Wife: Power, Pragmatism, and Pleasure in Women’s Infidelity, author Alicia Walker further elaborates on the concept of women and infidelity. Walker finds that many women engaging in affairs weren’t trying to escape a miserable marriage- they like their husbands, they are raising children together, and are living as traditional American families. Most women that Walker interviewed stated that they found married life dull and constraining. They also felt overwhelmed by the amount of labor they had to put in to keep their household functioning. One woman said, “The inequality of it all is such an annoying factor that I am usually in a bad mood when my spouse is in my presence.”

Sociologist Lisa Wade explains that there is a deep resentment for women in America about divisions of labor, stating “It’s such a precarious balance keeping everyone happy that, for many women, to start a long conversation about her own sexual satisfaction seems like a bad idea. We now tell women that they can have it all; that they can work and have a family and deserve to be sexually satisfied. And then when having it all is miserable and overwhelming, or they realize marriage isn’t all it’s cracked it up to be, maybe having affairs is the new plan B.”

In the past, these women would likely turn to divorce, but as times change so do feelings about divorce. Some of the women mentioned above are children of divorce and have said they don’t want to impose the difficulties they faced growing up onto their children. They explain that they are valuing the institution of marriage for the things it offers and outsourcing the rest.

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John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

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