Is Cheating Always Bad?
Q: I'm sorry to disagree with some of the comments concerning married couples, but about 99% of married people have had extracurricular activities. Even the best marriages run out of steam. While the couple still loves each other, the sexual attractions have gone to the wayside. A little secret sideline sexual activity actually brings the married couple closer. There is less arguing, less stress and less tension in the household. While many marriages are focused around the kids, many people who are married for 20+ years, became the best of friends. It is unfortunate that we can't all stay in the bodies we had when we were teenagers, but just because we are not sexually turned on by each other, that doesn't mean we should, or would end our lifetime together. Why can't there be a way for married people to have sex, or another relationship, and keep it private? and where would one go to do this? We all know that a couple that's been married for over 20 years really doesn't care to know if their mate is cheating, as long as it's not costing, and things are going smooth at home. Does every couple have to be divorced in order to start living again? Why is all the fun centralized around singles? What did we do wrong? All we did is get married, because we loved each other, and frankly, still do.
Dr. Susan: Let me get this straight: You're asking me where you should go to cheat on your wife without getting caught so you can get your jollies with someone whose body is more like the teenage one your wife had when you initially fell in love with her? Harumph. If I knew, I wouldn't tell you. If you're genuinely intent on opening up your marriage, you need to open it up for your wife too. Why not make it a joint project to find suitable healthy lovers for both of you? Just because you don't find your wife attractive anymore, doesn't mean that another man won't, nor that she won't find sex enticing again if she only found a man who valued her a little more than you do.
But let's back up: you're resorting to inflated statistics to make your case. The most credible sources have found that a much smaller percentage than "99%" of couples have affairs. At most, even if you believe the surveys put out by less reputable magazines, it's still only a half or so of people who indulge in extramarital sex in any one marriage -- but the figures I believe are much lower. And many of those are one-time slip-ups that aren't repeated once the horrible consequences have been suffered by all concerned. Someone almost always gets very hurt, and sometimes it's all three of those involved.
I totally disagree with you that "a little secret sideline sexual activity" brings anyone closer. Do you really get off on having major secrets from the one who thinks she knows you best of anyone in the world, and who trusts you with her life? How creepy! Your contention that after twenty years, no one cares if their mate has sex with someone else is utterly wrong. I've done a lot of research and discovered that jealousy and possessiveness don't just stop. If the relationship is alive, both parties still care where spouses spend their sexual -- and emotional -- energy. Of course, if you're so sure your wife won't mind, then why be secretive about it? Tell her you don't find her arousing anymore, that it's not worth the effort of finding ways to have a good time together in bed with her anymore, and that you want to venture out and find new lovers. See if she's relieved, whether she'd prefer you keep the details secret from then on, or whether she says NO WAY. The ethical thing to do is work this out with her, one way or another.
And be aware that the reason a lot of men don't find their wives of many years arousing is because their own libido is slipping as they get older, and it takes much more stimulation to get them going now. That's hardly the loyal wife's fault. Some mature couples keep the sparks going long after those teenage bodies are a distant memory, but it does take a certain wisdom and motivation. It's so much easier to chase fresh skirt.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.