Bad Relationships—and the Compulsion to “Stand By Your Man”

By Josie Brown

pic1John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Elliot  and Silda Spitzer.

Politicians may do it publicly, but the compulsion to have an affair hits one out of every five marriages.

But why the compulsion to stay with your cheating spouse? Here’s a few answers…

The Truth about Love, Lust and Commitment

Of the 70,288 respondents to a recent MSNBC/iVillage poll, close to 75 percent were in committed relationships—and yet about 22 percent of those surveyed admitted to infidelity.

In fact, nearly half said that they’ve cheated on some lover at least once in their lives.

And while, at 28 percent, straying husbands outnumbered desperate housewives (18 percent), the survey takers were willing to guess that only half of participants were telling the truth, raising the estimates of cheaters to 44 percent of married men, and 36 percent, respectively.

pic2Even young children weren’t a deterrent to infidelity. In fact, a real danger zone falls between the third and fifth year of marriage—which is perhaps why movies like Kate Winslet’s Little Children hit so close to the bone.

What Constitutes Cheating

When asked if the following was considered cheating, here’s how respondents answered:

83 percent said that a romantic kiss with a covert lover is a definite “yes” even as 20 percent owned up to doing just that; and

66 percent said that online sex or sexual webcamming was cheating. Well guess what? Over 15 percent of male respondents owned up to doing it, as did 7 percent of females.

Did any of the cheaters ‘fess up? Only 6 percent, it seems. In fact, 60 percent admit to have gotten away without any suspicions on their partners’ parts.

Politics and Not-So-Strange Bedfellows

Those who lead public lives, like politicians, don’t have it as easy. As their indiscretions are scrutinized under the white hot glare of the spotlight, other women’s compulsion is to scorn the women who stand at their sides—and by their men.

In the light of such public humiliation, why don’t they throw the bum out?

In an interview with ABC, anthropologist Helen Fisher says that Mother Nature is the reason that we should perhaps cut them some slack. “We are a creature that forms bonds, forms attachments. This circuitry for attachment is very strong, it doesn’t stop pumping out its chemicals just because there’s a big problem in the relationship.”

For some women, the price of power is high. For all women, so is the cost of a divorce. But it’s you’re emotional wellbeing and happiness that is priceless. If there is no mutual commitment to working through the relationship’s issues with a counselor or therapist, it’s time to move on.

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