A friend of mine (who knows I am blogging about this) announced a couple of days ago that she had recently caught her husband having an affair with a work colleague.
He claimed it was just a 'one night stand'.
She asked me what I thought.
Well, to be honest, I was sitting there thinking how much easier it would have been if President Elect Obama had asked for my opinion on the world economic crisis.
I could have answered that question.
I hate these kinds of conversations.
I hate relationship questions. Full stop. Particularly when I am being asked about someone else's relationship.
But she's my friend. I wanted to say something meaningful. I felt her pain but...
I suggested she have a big piece of cheesecake and change the subject. "What about handbags and shoes instead?" I suggested. No, I guess not. I told her that I was very sorry and that she alone knows what’s right for her and maybe she and her husband are better talking to a counsellor. And then I ordered the cheesecake. It's always better to handle these moments with your mouth full, don't you think?
Of course, other people she confided in are all abuzz. Why would she put up with it? What a cheat he is. How could she take him back? How could he do that to her?
She told me she wasn't interested in counselling as she had already forgiven him - without much hesitation either. She was over it really.
She said that "everyone knows these things can happen in a relationship," and she felt it was behind them. She said that they loved each other as much now as they did when they had married and he promised “not to let it happen again”.
So, why did she ask me I wonder? I think that perhaps she wasn't really asking for my opinion or advice but she was trying to work out how common this is. The Extramarital Fling.
I don't really know as it's not the kind of thing people go around bragging about is it?
I admire her though. I am not sure if I could forgive so easily. She is being either incredibly mature and sensible or incredibly naive. I guess only time will tell.
To me, the deal breaker is always the level of deceit involved. He didn't tell her, she had to 'find out'. I guess you can only learn that the hard way. The betrayal is the worst. I would always rather know the truth no matter how painful it may be. Unmasking lies is an easier task when the liar is no more than a casual acquaintance. On the other hand close relationships provide a great camouflage for lies and intimacy provides a heavily-fortressed breeding ground. I have experienced this too, although not quite in this context.
If Alfred Kinsey's 1948 findings - that 50 per cent of all married males and 26 per cent of married women have some form of extra-marital sex - are anything to go by, I guess it's no wonder people choose to forgive and forget. Kinsey was a Professor of Zoology which made me wonder about his findings but apparently recent research indicates that his numbers were accurate. Women are now fast closing the gap and the numbers are growing.
Many claim that a one-night stand is only there to boost a person's ego, fulfill a void in a relationship, or that it's "just sex" and means nothing. Others believe that breaking the solemn vow of holy matrimony is unforgivable, no matter what the circumstances. Others say it’s all about breaching trust and once that is broken you can never easily recover.
I guess forgiving a one-night stand can either be seen as a courageous act in an attempt to allow a relationship to continue and a family to remain intact, or a short sighted decision that will only lead to continued heartbreak. For those who've attempted to forgive a cheater, you'll know what I'm talking about. For the rest, being judgemental is an easy response, until you're in the same position that is ...
What do you think? Could you forgive? Do you think Kinsey's statistics are accurate?
PS. For those people who think they have enough problems handling real world relationships, read this story about a couple in the UK who are divorcing because of a virtual affair - there is a point where staying on the computer for any length of time is entirely unhealthy....