Be Honorable and Tell Your Wife When You Cheat

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Columns in the New York Times style section do get your attention. I’ll give them that. Like the one last November, written by a professor who justified her role as a homewrecker seducing a married man – titled “An Optimist Guide to Divorce.” I disagreed with her assessment.

Then there was the style column last week that begins:

“I’m not sure it’s possible to justify my liaisons with married men …”

Well, then. At least, there’s a hint of honesty – dare we say a rise in conscience? – that adultery might be wrong. The problem is that the writer is not sure. The author of “What Sleeping With Married Men Taught Me About Infidelity” is no professor. She is Karin Jones, identified as a columnist for Erotic Review Magazine. With such credentials, I’m not expecting prudence.

Jones’s point, however, is not that she is doing anything wrong. She chastises her partners in adultery for not being truthful with their wives about the cheating.

She has completely removed sex from any sense of love and commitment. In other words, she’s just another traveler on this sexual revolution that is headed to nowhere … nowhere but hurt.

Jones who is divorced, believes sex “is essential to our health and well-being” (did I mention her credentials?). So, she set up an account on Tinder to find men, single or married.

“After being married for 23 years, I wanted sex but not a relationship … Before I met each man I would ask, ‘why are you doing this?’ I wanted assurance that all he desired was sex.”

Cue Bob Seger:

“I used her. She used me. But neither one cared. We were getting our share. Workin’ on our night moves.”

Neither. One. Cared.

Does this define our culture? We get what we want. But we don’t care.

I know it sounds preachy to say hedonism. But do you have another word for it, except sad?

To care is to be human. To not care? It is a lonely way to live.

Recently, Great Britain identified loneliness as a national problem and established a Minister of Loneliness

Whether a government can solve such a problem is debatable, but at least it’s being talked about.

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, in his groundbreaking book The Art of Loving, identified loneliness as the problem of human existence. The one answer to that problem:  love.

Fromm attaches all kinds of requirements to love – which is why it’s an art, and not a feeling. Respect, responsibility, giving, and caring are among them. He does not equate sex with love. Rather, Fromm warns of sex being used as a substitute:

“It becomes a desperate attempt to escape the anxiety engendered by separateness, and it results in an ever-increasing sense of separateness, since the sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human beings, except momentarily.”

Fromm is not just insightful, he’s helpful. (I recommend another of his books, To Have or To Be, which simply divides people to two categories:  possessing and being.) I have quoted him before when I wrote a defense of monogamy.

Not surprisingly, Jones’s idea of monogamy differs:

“We go into marriage assuming we’ll be monogamous … but then we get restless. We don’t want to split up, but we need to feel more sexually alive. Why break up the family if we could just accept the occasional affair.”

Why live a life of committed love when you can have so much less?


Kevin Thomas is a writer and former teacher, living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.