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A truly fascinating post here recently from Rhia got me thinking – potentially dangerous, I know but what the heck – sometimes you just have to go for it, don’t you?
Anyway, I was reminded of an occasion, just over a year ago when a friend of mine was distraught on behalf of one of her closest friends. She herself was days away from going to work abroad for some time and shared her friend’s sorry tale with me, partly, I think because, not knowing any of the individuals involved, I was a fairly “safe” confidante; and partly because she was at her wits’ end wondering how she could be of any help.
It was the (somewhat fairytale) story of a good looking, well educated, well-off devoted couple with two daughters in their early teens doing well at a good school; wife not having worked (or needed to) since marriage; perfect hostess for successful husband; great mother; kept herself in trim and looking good; was a lady who occasionally lunched… well, that’s probably enough to give the general picture.
I don’t recall whether it was a lingerie receipt, restaurant receipt or what, but the wife found it in a pocket of a suit that she checked prior to taking it to the cleaners… and that started the doubts and more checking up and back and round and under… and that led to the confrontation… that led to the admittance that yes, he was having an affair… and had always had affairs throughout their marriage… they didn’t mean anything.
Well, there’s the rub maybe: I honestly believe (for what it’s worth) that they didn’t mean anything to him – or nowhere near enough to make him jeopardise his relationship with his wife and daughters, his standing in the community or his way of life in general.
As it was, he was called every unpleasant name under the sun that well-brought up females (and some sympathetic males) could think of; his daughters totally lost respect for their father and his chances of wielding any paternal authority were nil from the moment they knew the situation. His wife totally lost her self esteem and her sense of purpose and who she really was.
What an unholy mess! To be honest I think it was all too raw to be anything but emotions driving the actions and nobody was at that time ready or willing to step back from them. Other than to let her friend know that she was there for her (in spirit, anyway) and issuing an open invitation for her to take a break away and stay with her, there was little to be added to mix.
Just over a year on, Rhia’s post, the comments it received and her response to the comments re-opened for me the questions that came up for me back then.
This whole premise of voluntary mutual lifetime monogamy – of sticking only with one partner through thick and thin (or sick and sin as the maybe, in this context, bad taste joke goes) – several other earth species manage it, so how about we humans?
Is it always do-able? Is it always the best answer? In the case I’ve outlined above, it transpired that the husband is of a wealthy Italian family. I’m not arguing a case for him but I must admit it crossed my mind at the time – and I voiced it – that his behaviour would probably have been considered completely normal by his father (and his mother) and other Europeans of their class. It would even seem to be considered completely normal for many upper class Brits (including several of our own royal family, as Rhia has alluded to…).
Yet what about the rest of us? With the horrendous pressures and stress of the 21st century and the roller coaster ups and downs of many people’s own economic/ work/ business/ home situations, tempers get frayed. It’s most likely that we’ll take it out on those nearest and dearest to us; sex, that has often been allowed to become routine over the years, often goes completely out of the window. And solace from an understanding, considerate, discreet and available person of the opposite sex must surely be a huge temptation?
If monogamy turns out to be one commitment too far for one half of the partnership, which would be considered the lesser of the two evils by the wronged partner and why?
Let’s say, as in the case above, it’s the female in the marriage / long term relationship who’s been ‘cheated on’ by the male:
What are your thoughts?
BTW: I’ve always held that what’s good for the gander is good for the goose – even if it takes the goose a while to get the sheen back on her feathers and enjoy her powers of attraction with renewed vigour!
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