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Undressing Infidelity: Why More Women Are Cheating

abstract: What's this? A new book that expresses something we've known all along; women are not the ones being abandoned by their husbands in marriages, but rather 66% of divorces are initiated by wives.  It appears that the younger, blonder temptress is not to blame for it all.  "This is refreshing news," quotes Atlantic Monthly reviewer Cristina Nehring in her review of Diane Shader Smith's book. Why do women leave?


June 29, 2005

Fourteen fascinating interviews of women who strayed told in their own words weaves a surprising and compelling tapestry of love, sex and changing loyalties in today's marriages. Read the full article in Atlantic Monthly. Here are some excerpts:

"Women need more than security to thrive, it seems... in fact they often court the square opposite of security: intensity, variety, novelty, and disaster—very much like men."

"It is peculiar in our age to portray one sex as nature's safe and law-abiding partner, to cast [women] as erotically muted, risk-averse... A few hundred years before Christ, Aristophanes presented women as rowdy and ebullient sexual preditors..."

"Ovid expends many lines in his Art of Love warning men against underestimating the ladies amourous adventurism... The greatest adulterers in the Western canon -- Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Molly Bloom, Carmen have in fact been adulteresses."

"Verbal, physical or emotional abuse" is the first reason cited in the AARP study by wives who initiated divorces. [However she goes on to say that the interviewees had more to say about the boredom and antipathy experienced in their marriage than the instances of abuse.]

"So what about that old notion of romanitc ideals? Do women even now harbor romanitc ideals that are tangibly more central to their lives than to men's, and thus more easily (and disastrously) disappointed? A man may dream of a passionate soulmate, as a woman does, but if he does not find one, he will rechannel that desire into his work, his sports, his substance abuse, his war-making..."

"The reasons women cheat are as varied as the numbers of women themselves... and romantic love has suffered in the war of the sexes in recent decades.   But if women initiate 66% of divorces they also initiate 96% of marriage counceling. For every new door they open to love, they've made several attempts to fix the old."

After a series of examples the article concludes with, "the key is to incorporate chemistry into our marital lives, not to snuff it out.  We are erotic and emotional animals, and when we react most fully to people, we react to them erotically and emotionally.  We react this way to teachers to students; to pop stars and to politicians; to interns and novelists and waiters; to our elders and our juniors.  It is a part of what allows us to relate to human beings across the social, political and cultural spectrums.  To demonize this responsiveness is to truncate our sensibility, our humanity.  Better to share our passing fancies with our mates, to turn them like colored glass in the light, lest they become blades in our pockets.  For this we neeed magnanimous partners.  And we need an 18-karat commitment to those partners, who over the years will inevitably seem less perfect than those glinting shards of novelty in the corner of our site."

Undressing Infidelity: Why More Women Are Cheating by Diane Shader Smith (Adam Media 2005)



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