June 8, 2011
By Mike McManus
In recent weeks we have been bombarded with stories of powerful
men who think they can cheat on their wives with impunity.
Most recently, it’s been Rep. Anthony Weiner
unbelievably sending nude pictures of himself to women he never met. That
on the heels of learning Arnold Schwarzenegger had a child with his maid;
the head of the International Monetary Fund arrested for raping a
chambermaid; and John Edwards, on trial for using campaign funds to pay over
$1 million to a woman whom he impregnated while running for President.
Results to date: Arnold divorced; IMP Chief imprisoned for a
week and facing a trial; Edwards on trial and Weiner, likely to lose his
seat through redistricting, if he doesn’t resign.
There are more fundamental questions. First, how frequent is
adultery? Not very.
In 1994, the National Opinion
Research Center at the University of Chicago reported that only 15 to 18
percent of "ever-married people have had a sexual partner other than their
spouse while married." And just 3 to 4 percent have cheated on their spouse
in any given year. Good news!
The more fundamental question for average American is more
mundane. If there has been infidelity, can a marriage be restored?
Yes. What’s new is a TV series which honestly explores the pain
of infidelity called “Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal,’ which begins on
Monday, June 13, at 9 pm Eastern, on the new Oprah Network. (Comcast Channel
182, DirecTV channel 279, DISH Network channels 189, 885.
What’s more, these are true stories, told by the husband and
wife themselves, while scenes of their previous lives are re-enacted with
actors who look like the couple decades ago when the adultery took place.
Thus, we see the husband and wife, as they appear today, telling their
stories full of anguish in a compelling new TV format.
More important, each story ends up with a heart-warming
I know one of the first two couples whose story is told, Bob and
Cathy, who have previously shared their story only with friends.
What sparked her infidelity seemed odd to me. Bob came home to
tell her that as an Emergency Medical Technician, he answered a call that
turned out to be from her best friend, Marlene, who tragically died.
Cathy went into deep mourning over the loss of her friend.
Bob said, “You have to accept this. It is awful. But there is
nothing you can do.”
She recalls, “It made me angry at him, telling me to get over
it. I felt very alone in my marriage.”
In retrospect, Bob now acknowledges, “I could not respond in the
way she needed me to respond.”
A therapist adds, “A marriage is in trouble
when they do not talk, and start to avoid each other.”
However, David, a close friend of both of theirs, was more
sympathetic. “I could not wait until Bob left for work, and David would
call. It was flattering. I thought, `This man cares for me.’ I found
myself being attracted to him.”
One day David asked, “Why don’t we meet somewhere?”
“I knew it was wrong. I could have turned around at any point.
As I got to the door of the hotel, I thought, `What am I doing here?’ He
was gentle and kind. I thought, `No one will ever know about this.’”
The therapist adds, “What starts as an emotional affair can end
up as a sexual affair.”
David called to tell her that his wife, Anne, found out about
the affair. So Cathy decided to tell Bob, and said “I am very ashamed of
myself. I ask for your forgiveness.”
Bob comments, “I could not believe it. I trusted her totally.”
However, he asked, “I have to know who it was.” When he learned
it David, he said, “I have something to share with you.” Cathy’s heart
“I have been unfaithful to you with David’s wife, Anne!”
Now it was her turn to be shocked, and she blurted, “I cannot
believe it. We saw David and Anne regularly.”
“I was devastated and did not know how to deal with this.”
However they were both heart-broken at how they had hurt each
other. They went to counseling to understand how it had happened, how each
had fallen short as husband and wife. They rediscovered one another and
renewed their vows.
Adultery may be grounds for divorce, but not a reason to