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Tuesday, July 05, 2011 7:00 AM

Arnold Schwarzenegger (I call him “Ahhhnold”) has recently been outed as another celebrity/politician failing miserably in the fidelity department, and we all know about “Weinergate,” even if he didn’t father someone else’s child. I can’t help but wonder. Why do people cheat?

I’m sure we all know, have known, or will know of someone in our lives who has been involved in an ongoing deceitful relationship. I’m not here to judge anyone. What’s the saying about glass houses and stones? I’m far from the ideal wife and would never attempt to be the moral compass for the masses. I’m also fascinated by psychology and human behavior, and when it comes to one’s motivation behind calculated affairs, I’m curious.

I understand that we’re all human. Stuff can happen, especially when alcohol is involved, the universal destroyer of inhibitions and potential blackout-inducer. I don’t think cheating while drunk is okay, but I do know it can affect judgment and cause people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Psychologists are referring to these occurrences now as “accidental affairs.” While they’re not right, I think they involve a different set of circumstances than when cheating is done for a lengthy period of time, sober, after being planned out. Is it the thrill of being caught? Do some people just stay in a marriage, mutually miserable, because it’s “cheaper” than getting divorced – but then opt for something on the side? Is the media to blame? So many movies and TV shows glamourize affairs and portray them as something fun and sexy with little to no consequences. (Except for Unfaithful. I will never view snow globes the same way again.)
I understand this can be a touchy subject – no pun intended – but look at the divorce rate. It’s pretty depressing. When people think the grass might be greener on the other side and launch an affair, do they really think the new relationship will work out? Those work out like 4 percent of the time; as it turns out, the old adage “If they do it with you, they’ll do it to you” is true. Plus, once the fireworks simmer down, you’re to the place with this new person that you were with your spouse when things started getting bad, and the cycle continues. I understand things can drastically change once you say, “I do.” I also believe it’s accurate that an affair is not the problem in a marriage, but a symptom of the problem in a marriage. Most people just don’t want to deal with it. It’s easier, as in Arnold’s case, to hit on the maid. At least, I’m sure that’s what he was thinking 10 years ago.

Again, I’m not trying to scrutinize here. Really, none of us has the right to judge anyone else. We all have our problems. In general, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my marriage, and my husband is not perfect, either. In the famous words of Don Henley, “I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter because the flesh will get weak...so I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness.” I really don’t believe that cheating is the main or only issue when it happens. I think it’s lying. This is why, no matter what I do to mess up, I am always honest. I think the truth always comes out eventually and I’d rather be upfront. My conscience would eat me alive if I kept a secret from my husband. If your relationship is strong enough, forgiveness is possible, and you can both even come out stronger on the other side. Sometimes it’s live and learn.

I do wonder if there was a moment when Arnold was making his advances that he visualized his entire family falling apart because of his actions. I guess sometimes you don’t realize you crossed a line until you’re standing on the other side, but...he also could have confessed much sooner. I wish people would try harder. It’s not easy to live with another human being and keep the spark alive, but even if couples can’t afford therapy in this economy, there are countless resources online that could possibly help. With that, I’m getting ready to take an online quiz called “Could Your Relationship Be Improved?”

I promise not to cheat.

Sara Berelsman lives in Delphos with her husband and their two daughters. She teaches college English and psychology courses and has admitted to cheating when playing I Spy...but hardly ever.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 4:13 PM
 

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