Yesterday Joyce Wadler wrote an extremely interesting article in The New York Times about the ultimate betrayal – cheating in your marital bed.
Here are a few excerpts from her article but please take a moment to read it in its entirety. Find out if men react differently than women? And what is the hidden meaning behind such an act?
A woman no longer earns a scarlet letter for having a child out of wedlock; divorce is not synonymous with scandal; and it is no surprise to find, when a marriage comes apart, that a third person was involved. But even in a sexually liberal culture, the home is still usually off-limits, as if protected by an invisible force field. And the marriage bed — a phrase that in itself seems quaintly out of date — remains a sacred object.
In an informal, unscientific survey conducted at the request of The New York Times by the Web site CafeMom.com, which draws young married women, more than half of approximately 500 respondents said their marriages would “definitely not” survive if their partner made love to another person in the marriage bed. By contrast, less than a third of approximately 700 respondents to another question said that their marriages would “definitely not” survive an affair outside the home.
“It would hurt no matter where it happened,” one anonymous respondent wrote. But “if he did it in my own home,” she added, “it would feel more like a slap in the face.”
Ask lawyers and therapists why someone might cheat in their own home and you will get a range of answers: hostility to the partner; a desire to be found out; it’s more discreet than a hotel; it’s convenient; it’s a decision made in a perfect storm of impulsivity, impunity and availability; home is where the nanny is.
All agree on one thing: Once it is discovered, it is not something the person who has been betrayed is likely to forget.
Susan Bender, of the New York firm Bender, Rosenthal, Isaacs & Richter, has been a divorce lawyer for 31 years. She estimates t hat 10 percent of her firm’s clients or their spouses have engaged in infidelity in the home. She cites a number of reasons, including an obvious, pragmatic one: in New York, hotels are expensive. Ms. Bender also noted that making love in the marital bed and being discovered was one way to force a reluctant spouse to agree to a divorce in New York before no-fault divorce was adopted by the state last fall. Another client, who learned what Ms. Bender called “the classic thing — her husband was having sex with the nanny,” did not make the visit to the divorce lawyer her first course of action.
There are cases of infidelity in the marriage bed that therapists and divorce lawyers — and partners — never find out about. “I did that,” one woman in her late 70s said when she heard about this article. “I don’t think I ever told my therapist. I’m saying ‘I don’t think,’ but I know I never told her.”
The woman was married for more than 50 years, and halfway through the marriage she had an affair. Her husband was jealous and possessive; the woman, who had married and had children when she was very young, wanted freedom and a career.
She told her husband about the affair, and she and her husband went into therapy and resolved their problems. But she did not tell her husband everything about the affair: She didn’t tell him that once, when he was out of town on business, she had made love to the other man in their bed.
I would love to hear your comments so keep reading. What would you do if you caught your spouse cheating in your bed?