You or someone you know is having an affair. We know, it sounds surprising, shocking even, but apparently that is the case. Cookie Magazine and "AOL Body" did a survey on the subject and 30,000 people responded. As far as surveys go, that is a big number, and it's even bigger when you consider that their questions were aimed solely at married women with children. Yep, lots of mommies are getting action on the side.
The survey, "Sex and the American Mom," revealed that 34% of these married moms is in the midst of, or has already had, an affair. Think of three married moms you know and ask yourself, "Which one is cheating?" We tried this and Colleen came up empty. Taylor could think of one or two, but not one out of three--that number seems staggering. Are we just naïve? In the dark? Out of touch? Which of our friends has managed to stray without anyone knowing (and when do they find the time and where they hell do they go?)?
Another somewhat mind-blowing result of this survey was that 77% of the respondents said they want more sex. That's more than three quarters of the 30,000 women asked who said they aren't getting enough. Again, we ask, who are these people? And are we to conclude that so many stray because they are not sexually satisfied?
Cheating seems to be a direct result of not getting what you need, be it sex, attention, openness, what have you. If there is a void, and it can be filled by someone else, chances are it will be. Affairs used to almost guarantee a trip to divorce court. Today, however, the "cheatee" might experience a sense of betrayal, but the "cheater" is not necessarily stigmatized socially, and often both agree to at least attempt reconciliation. It has even been viewed as a "wake-up call" -- one that can actually save a marriage, with each person expressing a sense of shared blame.
As a society, it seems as though we've become less judgmental about affairs in general. Maybe we've realized how hard marriage is and have simply gotten more realistic. But, maybe the scope of the issue is bigger, and what's happening is that we're in the midst of redefining marriage as we have known it.
The stereotype, of course, is if there's someone sneaking around in a marriage, it's the guy. In general, no one is surprised to hear that men cheat on their wives. However, when it comes to wives cheating on their husbands, while not entirely new, it is much more common than we thought. When we told men that one in three married moms cheat (or have cheated) on their husbands, and that a solid majority are actually looking for more sex than they're having at home, most mens' eyes light up with surprise and certainly curiosity. Some even joked about where they might find one of these gals. But, what we didn't hear was "Yes, I can understand that. I'm not in the mood very often and I'm probably not satisfying my wife's sexual desires."
Could the American male be suffering from a proverbial "headache?" Maybe the insatiable male sex drive is just a myth? After hearing what Michelle Weiner-Davis, an internationally recognized relationship therapist and the Director of The Divorce Busting Center, had to say in an interview with Psychology Today, this may not be far-fetched. She thinks we don't hear a lot about the man's lack of sexual interest because, "Men are so ashamed of speaking up about [it]." Estimating that it affects, "at least 20 to 25%" of adult males," Michelle adds, "...low desire in men is America's best-kept secret."
Please don't confuse our effort to understand what's going on here with male-bashing. When a couple's sex life changes, for better or worse, generally both parties are complicit. For the record, we love men and we're aware that sex is complicated. Let's face it, marriage is complicated, and it only becomes more so after having kids. If mom or dad feels rejected by the other, he or she may cheat. And if you're married and you've got kids, you know that sex, or lack there of, can be loaded with a lot of other emotions and agendas that don't have anything to do with lust, or even love.
As the Hook-Up Generation grows up and gets married, chances are affairs may even go mainstream. It's hard for us to believe that this won't lead to hurt feelings and collateral damage (remember the kids), but maybe that's because we're from a different generation.
We understand that the person who lies just outside of the daily grind--the one who's not figuring out how to pay the mortgage that month; the one who isn't angry about spending too little time with the kids--can seem like a vacation worth taking--at least once.
We're glad to hear that women want more sex, because frankly, it's good news that the female libido is alive and well. As for the affairs....If we could add one question to the poll it would be this: "Is/Was the Affair Worth It? "