Why you should forgive infidelity: A man's view of the ultimate betrayal | Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog

LI_Leaderboard_4

LI_Leaderboard_1

LI_Leaderboard_2

LI_Leaderboard_3

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Why you should forgive infidelity: A man's view of the ultimate betrayal

Tabloid Reports Eva Longoria Splits From Tony Parker
Given the opportunity (and no consequences) all men would be unfaithful, says novelist and screenwriter William Nicholson. And in a stable marriage, he argues, perhaps a fling isn’t such a big deal.

Find a moment when you and your husband are alone together and ask him a hypothetical question: ‘If you had the chance, and if you were sure no one would ever know, and if you were sure there would be no consequences, would you have sex with another woman?’



‘That’s not a real question,’ he’ll say. ‘It could never be like that.’
‘Yes, but if it was?’
‘Why are you asking me this? What am I supposed to answer?’
So he dodges and wriggles, and if you persist in the end he’ll tell you what he knows you want to hear. ‘Of course I wouldn’t. I’ve got you.’

No husband is ever going to tell you the truth. Except me, now. Of course he’d do it. Any man, given the chance of sex with a woman he finds attractive, would take it if he truly believed there would be no consequences. Men desire and enjoy sex in and for itself, without any other emotional connection. How else do you explain the massive male appetite for pornography and prostitutes? How can you explain star footballers paying for sex when every club they enter is packed with young women who’ll gratify them for nothing? Men want sex without strings. Just a bit of fun, and then back to work.


‘But they shouldn’t!’ (Forgive me if I put words into your mouth, it’s the writer in me imagining your response.) ‘It’s wrong, selfish, hurtful. You may want it, but tough. You’ve made a commitment. Live up to it. Be faithful to your wife.’ And maybe you add under your breath, ‘I’m glad I’m not your wife. I’m glad I’ve got a decent husband.’

This is where things get complicated. I’ve got history, like most people. I had many relationships through my 20s and 30s. Then I married at last when I was 40. Since then, 22 years ago now, I have been faithful. Marriage has proved to be a liberation. I have no desire to return to the freedom I so jealously guarded for so long. I’ve found a happiness in marriage, in commitment, in fidelity, that is greater than anything I knew before.

And yet I’m the same as any other man. I, too, like any husband, would enjoy making love with another woman, if there were no consequences. I don’t do it, because there are consequences. Because when I balance up the gains and losses I find I stand to lose too much. Because I no longer get the offers. And because I’m getting older.

There are two more aids to fidelity which have made a big difference to me, but which may not apply to all men. Both are the fruits of marrying late. I’ve learnt from experience that sex with someone you don’t know, which looks so thrilling from the outside, is simply not as good as sex with someone you know well. And because I was
older when I married, I had learnt quite a lot about myself; about my desires, my fears, my self-doubts. I told them all to my wife, as if to say, ‘Be warned. Are you still sure you want to make a life with me now?’ She listened to me without either shock or surprise, and responded by telling me about herself. For the first time it dawned on me that someone who loves you actually wants to please you, and needs only to be told how. It sounds easy. But I hadn’t managed this in 20 years of moving from one lover to another.


Over those same years my central subject as a writer has been love. My major contribution to the screenplay of the film Gladiator was Maximus’s love for his wife and his longing to be reunited with her after death. Love and its complications continue to obsess me. My latest novel is about a married man who has an affair; which I have never done. And yet he is me. He’s me as I would have been had I married younger, and had I not begun my marriage with so much honesty. He loves his wife, his children, his home, but he has never felt able to live out his sexual dreams in his real life. It’s the story of what’s called a fling – and why it may not be such a big deal after all.
‘Aha! Now you’re going to start making excuses for unfaithful men! So he has some adolescent fantasies he’d like to act out? Tell him to grow up. Life doesn’t give us all our dreams. And if he thinks I’m going to wear stockings and suspenders and let him spank me, he can dream on.’

No, you don’t have to dress up and feel demeaned. You don’t have to be someone you’re not. All you have to do is listen to him and find out who he is. If he can talk to you about his sexual fantasies, it’s almost as good as living them. What he wants most strongly is to be able to include the sexual excitement he gets from such thoughts in his lovemaking with you. We men long to know that we can still be loved and desired even when revealing our true sexual preferences.

‘But why do these fantasies have to be so adolescent? What’s wrong with romantic love? What’s wrong with grown-up sex?’

All I can say is, it may look infantile to you, but this is strong stuff. See it from his point of view. His waistline has expanded, his hair has receded, and he can’t always perform as he would like. He meets a woman who wants his body and likes him to talk dirty to her – My God! He’s born again! Just once, oh Lord, just once, let me live the dream!

And suppose he does. Has he stopped loving you? Does it mean your marriage is over? Not necessarily. He’s not turned into a monster. He’s just catching up with himself. He’s having a fling.
‘But it’s not a fling! It’s sex! This is the most intimate part of our relationship, and he’s doing it with someone else. The very thought of it makes me feel physically sick. And ugly. And old. And betrayed. How can I ever be the same with him again? How can I ever trust him again? And you tell me I’m supposed to forgive him!’
Not exactly. What I’m asking for is understanding. Feel it as he feels it and maybe
you won’t be quite so hurt.

The plain fact is, it’s different for men. Just look at the basic physical differences. For you, the woman, sex requires you to open yourself up, to make yourself vulnerable, and to trust. It’s something that happens within you, something you receive. And it exposes you to the chance of the longest-term consequence imaginable – a child. For the man it’s all the other way round. The act of sex happens outside himself. It’s something he throws away. It has no long-term consequences. So he can have his fling and still love you, unlikely though that may seem. He can have sex with another woman and not love her at all. If you can deal with it, this could be your chance to make a far more powerful marriage, based on the truths you hadn’t dared tell each other before.

‘But how can I know? I feel cheapened by what he’s done. I feel I’m worth less. I don’t love him as I did. I’m angry with him. I want to punish him. Shouldn’t we just cut our losses and part?’

Maybe. Maybe you married young, without really knowing yourselves or each other, and now you’ve grown up you’ve found you’re not compatible. Maybe this affair is his cowardly way of getting out of a marriage that has made him unhappy for years. Maybe this isn’t a fling at all, it’s his bid for escape. How are you to know?
I don’t think it’s hard, if you can bear to face the truth. If you can convince him that you need to know what he’s going through, and that you aren’t simply seeking more ammunition with which to punish him and make him feel guilty, he’ll tell you.

‘But I do want to punish him and make him feel guilty. He’s behaved like a selfish bastard. Why shouldn’t he be made to pay?’
Because if that’s how you deal with him he’ll go on lying to appease you. And you need the truth. Is he in or out? If he wants to stay, and you want him to stay, it can be done. Your life together can go on, bent out of its former shape, but intact.

Not very romantic? Actually, I think it is. I think two people learning to love and accept each other, failures and all, is deeply romantic. We’re all so needy and insecure, so full of guilt and shame. What we long for is to be known as we really are and still loved. That’s a project that takes time and honesty and courage and compassion. That’s what I call a marriage.
***

William Nicholson is the author of All the Hopeful Lovers

21 comments:

Kay said...

William Nicholson is indeed a honest man. Very good write up. I hope he has learnt his lessons.

Anonymous said...

wow! thats a lot of talk. i am emailing the post to my box, i need to read it over and over again1

in my opinion, i really dont get why Eva is leaving Tony if it was just because of 'texts', not infidelity?

Nigerian Film and TV Addict said...

this is amazing and true. the strongest statement for me is: "For you, the woman, sex requires you to open yourself up, to make yourself vulnerable, and to trust. It’s something that happens WITHIN YOU, something you receive. And it exposes you to the chance of the longest-term consequence imaginable – a child. For the man it’s all the other way round. The act of sex happens outside himself. It’s something HE THROWS AWAY. It has no long-term consequences."This is truly inspiring...wow!

Anonymous said...

this actually makes sense if u look at it from a non-religious point of view

Myne Whitman said...

IMO, one case of infidelity does not have to be the end of a relationship, especially marriage. We all make mistakes so what is more important is why? Intentions do matter. Like Nichols said, is it a bid to escape a spouse, did the man deliberately plan to demean and humiliate the woman or vice versa? Women also cheat and something to bear in mind is always, what if it were me?

Good luck to Eva and Tony.

Anonymous said...

@jobsfornaija: Attempt to answer your question...she is leaving or they are getting a divorce because their marriage was not built on a firm foundation of true, honest, mutual love. It is so obvious...it was all hollywood glamour and Eva strikes me as someone who cares for the limelight above anything else. The fact that he was sending/receiving the contents of the text messages shows this guy is not happy in his marriage...and it could be due to a multitude of reasons, per this writer.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed the write-up, very interesting stuff for we married folks...*serious food for thought*

Anonymous said...

BS Article. It depends on the man in question.

Not all men are would take advantage of no questions asked sex.

For example, I'm stateside, wife is currently in Naija, I can get with as many women here as I want, and I have standing offers, plus there's absolutely no way for her to find out, but do I take advantage?

Absolutely not, because why would I eat @ Mickey D's when I've got prime Rib @ home?

Maturity and one's life experiences play a major part in a person's outlook on life, a man who is secure in his manhood, would never betray the trust given him by his woman...

Surprise said...

I will only only have sex with another woman with or without consequense if the other woman is IJEKI ADNIL.

John said...

I think it is really ridiculous that some of you ladies will take information from a so-called Williams Nicholson who uses stereotypes to categorize all men as sexual beings. Yes, it is true that many men do cheat; but there are some men out there, who love their wives so much to even think of doing any such thing. Please ladies, when you get married try to COMMUNICATE your husbands. Communication is the key to any relationship whether it is a sexual topic or anything relating to you and your relationship. You must communicate to each other regarding anything. Don't go and consult your friends; it is none of their business. I also believe spicing up your sex- life really helps to strengthen your relationships with your future husbands. Never take advice from your friends or from people like Mr. William Nicholson regarding issues concerning your relationship with your husband. Always communicate with your husbands.

Not all men are born dogs. We need to stop these stereotypes. I know I may be gay and my comment probably shall be thrown off the window- but ignore who I am and swallow this piece of advice. Nicholson is trying to sell his book. Did this Nicholson study the brains of all men in the universe?..There are some men who are playaz and there are also men who know how to threat a woman and threat her the way she deserves to be treated...However, women (especially the younger ones) always turn to go for the playaz and ignore the good ones.

Men who get married in their 20's always end up in divorce meanwhile those who get married in their 30's know how to sustain marriage because of their maturity. And to some of you thinking of getting married to twenty-something year old men...chances are: the marriage won't last....

ShadeNonconformist said...

"Men desire and enjoy sex in and for itself, without any other emotional connection...We men long to know that we can still be loved and desired even when revealing our true sexual preferences...I, too, like any husband, would enjoy making love with another woman, if there were no consequences."
____________________________________________
Personally, this is just a bunch of hogwash. Does he think as a woman i don't have sexual fantasies, I don't desire sex "without any emotional connection" or consequences? Oh please....

I mean i understand that he's generalizing/saying on average but i still think it's BS. This is why we have people making excuses for their behavior. Men are programmed to do this & women are programmed this way...He should go suck on a lollipop..

But i do agree with him on this especially based on discussions with married couples& older people: "I’ve learnt from experience that sex with someone you don’t know, which looks so thrilling from the outside, is simply not as good as sex with someone you know well... And because I was older when I married, I had learnt quite a lot about myself; about my desires, my fears, my self-doubts. For the first time it dawned on me that someone who loves you actually wants to please you, and needs only to be told how."

Anonymous said...

read this too....'marriage..what's it good foy at....http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2031962-3,00.html

Naijamum said...

Infidelity should not be the ONLY cause of a marriage break-up.

We all make mistakes and marriage needs constant work and attention.

However, serial adultery, disrespect and humiliation of one's spouse are definite no-no's

Anonymous said...

@ Suprise. U don kolo o, infact ori e foka sibe! Very funny. Linda, thanks jare for this.

LisaW said...

While most people here are co-signing what the writer has said, the only thing I truly got from his piece is that maturity is a key component of a successful marriage.

For me, maturity means more than age- it includes sexual maturity (one no longer desires to screw any and every thing), and personal maturity (one's realization that marriage is a continuous process of hard work- this is something gained through dating-life experiences).

Everything else that the author said is basically bull. Too much generalizing. Anyway, it was still an eye-opening piece.

Anonymous said...

I agree with John. Marriage could be considered in one's 30s, not 20s in most cases. Infidelity is still a 'no no' in the marriage institution, like the bible says that the marriage bed should be undefiled

Anonymous said...

i dont quite agree.marriage has a lot 2 do with responsibility and it is not by force. wot does he mean by if dere were no consequences all men will cheat? the best way 2 no whether wot ur about 2 do it good or bad is very simple. just imagine how u wud feel if same was done to u. women are also capable of having sex without feeling attached. but most men wont hear of their wives cheating. no matter wot her reasons are. i think if a spouse cheats, he or she shld be forgiven if dey are sorry for their act because marriage is a commitment for better or worse. not for the reasons which dis writer has stated.the write up is ridiculous.

Wild Boy said...

hmn....and boy, eva and tony are one couple that gives me hope that i'll eventually catch the marriage bug someday and do it....sad!i just hope they wor things out before a total split...i love eva too much to see her sad..

Anonymous said...

@jobsfornaija - Tony previously cheated on Eva early on in their marriage. This time, the texts contained nude pictures of the other woman that were sent to him and nude pictures of himself that were sent to the other woman. So in essence, this is the second time he's been caught cheating. She forgave him the first time, but now she's had enough and frankly I don't blame her. I would have been gone the first time I caught is dumb ass cheating.

histreasure said...

people have said so much already, all i really want to add is that maturity is more..infact, much more than age. A dear friend that's going through hell now married a 38 year old whom one would've thought had sown all his wild oats yet.....

he said some truths though is till cannot agree that ALL men would cheat..what's that fallacy again? Hasty generalisation, i think it's called

9jaLife said...

Lol.. Eva and Tony have been seperated since forever, Tony has been messing around with side pieces even before they got married. Heck, he was picking women up @ his own reception. Eva was and prolly is messing around with Mario Lopez.

Nothing to emulate when it comes to these two...

Wild Boy said...

each to his own opinion people like IBB for COL.....me like eva and tony, there's something there to be emulated.fin

Recent Posts