Sunday, October 05, 2008

On Cheating: Enduring Adulterers

"I do not think that there are any men who are faithful to their wives." -Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time. I'm going to attempt to take on adultery in this post. I'm going to try to avoid doing any finger pointing or assigning of blame - believe me, there's plenty of the latter to go around anyway. I'm just going to write about a pattern that I've noticed. I'm inclined toward cynicism so don't expect me support the idea that love triumphs over all. I've too much evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to the contrary.

My friend's husband is having sex with other women. She broke down and told me what was going on one day when she couldn't contain her sadness any longer. Apparently, it's been going on for years, and with a myriad of different partners. Not terribly long ago, this man suddenly became incapacitated by illness. His wife, a prayerful, loyal, long-suffering type, dedicated herself to caring for him to the point that she was literally wiping his mouth and emptying his colostomy bags. Miraculously, he recovered and, in short order, started screwing everything that moved. When my friend confronted him with evidence of his infidelity and demanded that he explain himself, he told her that, because he'd been so close to death, he felt that he owed it to himself to live each day as if it were his last (on the last day of his life, apparently, part of his agenda would be wooing and entering other women.)

Yet, from my perspective, this is only half of the tragedy. Soon after learning of her husband's cheating ways, my friend began to seek counsel from me and a mutual friend in whom she'd confided. On a number of different occasions, the three of us would spend hours discussing her husband, her options and her sanity. Based, I believe, on some combination of these discussions and her own self-motivation, she made the difficult but sensible decision to pack her things and leave the bastard. The plan was executed perfectly. She saved up enough money to relocate. She set up a job and a place to live in another state. She lulled her husband into falsely believing that she would continue to eat his shit. Then, she arranged for him to come home to a dark (the electricity was in her name) empty (she had purchased most of the furniture, except the bed - more on this later) house one day after work. She called me, and our mutual friend, after she'd gone to thank us for the sound advice and update us on her progress. Everything was going well. Then, a few weeks later, out of nowhere, she called us to let us know that she was coming back "home." According to her, she simply "missed" her husband too much to stay away and was going to attempt to work it out. But, ironically, it was too late. Her husband had already moved on - and moved another woman into 'her' house. Now, her husband was ready to divorce her and she was left to cry and rail against the fact that "that Nigga done brought home a bitch to sleep in my bed!" As she told me this, a famous Big Daddy Kane line played in my noggin like a refrain: "Put a quarter in your ass because you played yourself."

She's not alone. I know at least four women whose husbands have cheated on them, with relative impunity, for years. Each of these women has more or less confided in me regarding their situations. What invariably happens is this: They tell me and various others that their husbands are running around on them. The curse the cheating SOB's name loudly, and often publicly. They make plans to leave. They stay. Eventually, the husband grows tired of the charade and ends up leaving them.

This pattern is so pervasive that I find myself wondering why anyone feels the need to continue burdening anyone else with news of male infidelity. If a man knows he can get away with cheating he will continue to make a fool of his wife and himself. I'm familiar with the challenges that face women, especially those who have children, who attempt to leave an abusive spouse. What I don't understand is what those women who are in a good position to leave - financially, educationally, emotionally and physically - gain from staying.

Recently, a lot of media attention has been given to Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It, in an attempt to determine why men can't manage to keep it in their pants. I believe I know the answer to this and will address it in my next post, but I think a more important question to answer is why women continue to put up with it. Instead of taking exhaustive, often futile measures to try to obliterate men's adulterous inclinations, perhaps it would benefit women more to look after themselves.

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At 9:29 AM , Anonymous B said...

i'm all about letting it go, but if i emptied a dude's shit bag and he jumped up and fucked around on me, he would meet a REALLY foul end.

infidelity was part of the reason behind my divorce. for me, it wasn't just the cheating, but the fact that even with hard core proof, he still lied about it, which means he had no remorse. *shrug* that's how the ball bounces.

but here's how my ball bounces (and why i believe that if ANY woman wants to leave, or do any damn thing, she will): i packed up my 2 year old son and 3 month old daughter and sent them to my dad's crib the night before. the following morning, i pretty much left with my toothbrush. i stopped at walmart on the way home that evening and got a couple of changes of clothes. he called my cell and asked what time i was coming home. my response was "never." < / marriage>

mistakes happen. however, when you're faced with systematic lack of respect, then you really need to make moves.

i have friends that have gone through all sorts of elaborate plots to catch their men cheating. then, when they have their sought out proof, do nothing. their time would have been better spent having a fucking V8.

but at the end, it really comes down to a fear of being alone. i've been "alone" for quite some time, but the only time i truly feel lonely is when i'm in a one-sided relationship.

At 9:32 AM , Anonymous B said...

uh...that was a long ass comment.

my bad.

At 12:31 AM , Blogger Sara Rosell said...

wow, this is one heavy topic. i see it this way...for a woman who loves her husband so much as to completely devote herself to care for him through his sickness like that, simply leaving the man could not possibly erase the love that must have remained in her heart.

Women are very strong, but that strength comes from their hearts. So it's not that they aren't strong enough to leave, but rather that they can't detach themselves emotionally enough to "forget about him." The man was certainly detached enough, he was thinking selfishly, and his heart was no longer involved. So while hers was, she was alone in that respect.

Man, it also makes me so sad to hear such stories. I look forward to your follow up post, it's just crazy.

oh and hey it was nice of you to say hi!

At 5:11 PM , Blogger Another Conflict Theorist said...

b - Peace to you. Thank you for sharing your story, which didn't deserve brevity. Since I can't write from a woman's perspective I was afraid of really failing with this post (or sounding judgmental and uninformed - which I'm not sure didn't happen). As always, I appreciate your input.

Sara - Soon to be Superstar Attorney, Sara Rosell. It's good to hear from you again. You're right. I think it is a matter of detachment for these men. Detachment and, of course, selfishness - which I'm becoming more and more convinced is the root of all evil.

At 7:36 PM , Blogger Tha L said...

You are absolutely right, Conflict. Women are socialized to give so much of themselves (even at times their own dignity) for the good of their "family", their "marriage", their "whatever-the-hell-else-but-themselves", and I think that's a big part of it. But the other part of it is simple lack of self esteem. As b said above me, if a woman REALLY wants to make some shit happen, there's NOTHING that will stop her from doing so.

Next time one of your homegirls starts running off at the mouth about her cheating husband, just tell her to LEAVE or SHUT THE HELL UP. Seriously. Your time is better spent on more productive things.

At 12:11 PM , Anonymous b said...

well i don't think you sounded uninformed, etc. i believe that the male perspective is very important, and i know a LOT of males who have said, why don't you just leave? do you think that you're the only person that was confused about her course of action? do you think that she didn't have some female friends giving her the 'WTF' look?

and i TOTALLY agree with tha l! lots of women feel like they can't get anything better anyway. eh, i could go on forever on this.

excellent post for opening up dialogue.


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