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That's the motto of a hugely successful on-line "premier discreet dating service" that boasts over 3 MILLION "like minded members".

What do they mean by "discreet dating service"?  I'll tell you since I happen to know quite a bit about this site.

Why do I know so much?  I'm blaming it on the newly disabled son I just spent a week helping. As I said in my last post, my 20-something year old man/boys are avid fans of Howard Stern.  I've been listening to more than my fair share of Howard Stern this past week.  I'm also blaming Howard Stern who, despite claims he has never been unfaithful to either one of his wives, is obsessed about this site for married people who are looking for an affair.

This site has a personal guarantee that you will have an affair. Look:

Okay, call me a prude, call me old-fashioned.  And I'll tell you right now.  You won't be seeing any future post with a retraction from me on how I feel about this site.

I simply will not or cannot normalize infidelity unless there is mutual consent between both adult parties.

I also will not demonize infidelity.  Life is not black and white and neither are people. Infidelity does not necessarily end in divorce.  Statistically, over 40% of married people report having at least one affair in the lifetime of their marriage.

As painful and earth shattering as affairs are, they can be a catalyst to a more honest and satisfying marriage.  But this isn't easy, and it takes time.  Alot of it.

There are different types of affairs.  There are sexual affairs,there are emotional affairs.  There are affairs of the heart.  There are passionate affairs and there are affairs out of boredom.  There are Internet affairs.  There are text message affairs.  All affairs are hurtful and damaging.

Of some note is the sexism inherent in affairs.  We often hear the term, "the other woman", "the mistress", "the home wrecker".   There don't seem to be any names for the men.

I'd like to get rid of the stereotypical names right off the bad, for either gender.  And I am insistent when I say that a third person cannot break up a good and healthy marriage.

It's always been of interest to me how much people have demonized Angelina Jolie for being a home wrecker of the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.  Really?  I'm amazed at how many people were privy to the private life of Pitt and Aniston.  I'm amazed at how many people paint Jennifer as the poor pitiful victimized wife and Angelina as the wanton evil husband stealer?  

No one knows the intimate lives of couples, except for the couple themselves.  And even they don't agree on the details.  

The only people that breakup a marriage are the people IN the marriage.

And another myth that needs to be dispelled:  It takes 2 people to disintegrate a marriage.  Not true.  It only takes one.  

The concept of marriage implies the concept of implicit trust. You can't have intimacy without trust.  You can't have a good marriage without trust.

This Ashley Madison site (sounds like a pink bubble gum teen girl site) makes it sound appealing and oh so harmless to have an affair.  Who will it hurt?  Life is short.  You deserve a little fun.  No harm.  No foul.

You know, if it really worked that way, who would I be to judge? But I am in the unique position to see the carnage and devastation of these "harmless romps" in my office and it's not something that can be dismissed away with the casual wave of a hand.

And let's get something else straight.  Good people with integrity have affairs.  The marriage has gone dull, one partner may have lost total interest in sex, spouses take each other for granted and the shine is gone from the once luminous exchanges.  Kids are born, bills need to be paid, jobs are lost.  Stress not only does a number on us physically, but emotionally as well.

And then along comes...fill inthe blank.  That person who thinks you are just terrific...wonderful....exciting.  Suddenly, the black and white vision turns into brilliant color.  You feel alive again.  Everything feels new and different.  The harmless flirt here and there.  Nothing wrong with that.  But somewhere along the intoxicating way, the lines become blurred.

The flirt becomes a longer look, the glance becomes a stare. A little text here and there, an e-mail, a private e-mail account.  No harm.  No foul.

Mid-life comes along staring in your face.  You're going to die!  Are you really only going to have sex with one person?  Really?  The comedian Louis CK says, "Who are we kidding?  When you're married, you don't have sex with one woman.  You have NO sex when you're married. I'd love to have sex with one woman."  Louis has two small children.

For some, an anonymous one-night stand, like the ones that Ashley Madison guarantees, is enough.  For some, they fall in love.  For most, it really isn't love.  It's infatuation, it's lust.  For a few, they truly fall in love, like for real.  Those aren't affairs.  Those are new beginnings.  People who fall in love for real do tell the truth, leave their spouses, and move on.

But for most, the affair doesn't mean much to the person who is having them.  When they are found out, after the "I'm so sorry" comes the "they mean nothing to me".

What means nothing to the spouse that has been betrayed are those words.

Let me say that again, once the trust has been broken, words mean nothing.  Behavior does, but not words.

The simple formula for rebuilding trust after an affair but not so simple to do is:

Time.  Behavior.  Time + Behavior = Trust

This requires patience on the part of both people.  The partner who has been betrayed may or may not have a lot of questions.  To the offending partner, these questions get tiresome and old. One wants to "move on", "get over it".  Patience is required. Answering questions is required.  

But at some point, it's time to let the past be the past. Forgiveness is essential, but not forgetfulness.  No one ever forgets.  But the baggage of the past cannot continue to be lugged around, forever thrown into the face of the offending partner for years and years to come.

No easy task overcoming the devastation of an affair.  But doable.  Definitely doable.

The man who started the Ashley Madison site is making a killing. I hope he's got a good chiropractor.  How he sleeps at night is a mystery to me.  He's making a killing while marriages are being killed.  And the other unspoken truth about affairs and its damages:  the effects on the children.  No one at Ashley Madison is talking about the children.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Mar 24, 2009
    • Mary your so right ....affairs just rip the life out of those caught in the cross fire ....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Kelly-Williams, M.A. wrote Mar 24, 2009
    • Thanks Vicki.  Affairs are devastating.  No one needs to be demonized, but the reality is that many are hurt.  

      Annie:  I meant to add in my post that of course anyone who has been betrayed like this gets to make the decision on whether or not to stay. I am happy for you that your life is better.  This is more often the case.  I’ve worked with many women (and sometimes men) who choose to stay after finding out about an affair, only to be betrayed again some months later.  It’s easy to idealize choices not made, so one must follow their own heart and their own path when it comes to whether or not to end a marriage.  Thanks for your comment.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenni0811 wrote Mar 24, 2009
    • I applaud you for posting this.  Affairs of the heart, mind, body, or soul have no place within the sanctity of marriage.....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Mar 24, 2009
    • For me it was the complete lack of trust and the feeling of betrayal - I knew I would never trust him again ever.

      I can’t live half a life thinking every time he left the house he was with someone - plus his affair was a woman at work and all his work mates knew which made it worse.
      I’m better alone than worrying .....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Mar 25, 2009
    • For me, Earthly Life is short but Eternal Life is long, if I want hell fire damnation, yes, have an affair and I rather not.

      :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      Alone I can do nothing, Together we + God can do all thing!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Katie O'Neill wrote Mar 26, 2009
    • I too had a cheating husband.  It was a devastating time in my life and my children’s life that eventually turned into a blessing in disguise.  I decided that adversity either built character or revealed character. My daughters didn’t know about their father’s infidelities until much later in their late teenage years.  We divorced when all three were under the age of four.  I look back now and see how he hasn’t changed his ways and I feel bad for his current wife.  I’m just thankful for the wonderful children that came from that marriage and the fact I had enough strength within to leave him and provide an atmosphere of love and calmness for the girls sake.  They thank me for not ‘sticking’ it out for their sake and staying with him. Getting back to the subject line of this thread - whether there is an internet site or not, to promote cheating - they don’t need on, they always find a way...



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Deprogrammed wrote Mar 26, 2009
    • There is nothing worse than being in a relationship and still being alone.  I can do bad by myself.  The best thing a spouse/significant other can do is be honest with you so you can move on in truth, rather than existing in a lie.  If it means nothing, why jeopardize everything for it?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linni wrote Mar 27, 2009
    • i agree with all the posts here. and the thing that bothers me ( besides the adults getting hurt ) is the CHILDREN! who's standing up for them while one of thier parents is going through this? Surley NOT that company! and i agree with you Mary.. just HOW can that man sleep at night?
      thank you for sharing this!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenz ~ wrote Mar 27, 2009
    • “As painful and earth shattering as affairs are, they can be a catalyst to a more honest and satisfying marriage.  But this isn't easy, and it takes time.  Alot of it.”

      Ok. I understand the hindsight point of that statement. Once someone goes through involuntary HELL after they‘re cheated on. A catalyst to a more honest or satisfying marriage? pffft!
      If you‘re not going to be faithful, or if one feels the need to venture off to places like Ashley Madison, DON‘T FREAKIN’ GET MARRIED IN THE 1ST PLACE. Stay single & prevent wasting someone else’s time & energy. A cheater doesn’t deserve either.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenz ~ wrote Mar 27, 2009
    • “No easy task overcoming the devastation of an affair.  But doable.  Definitely doable.”

      What other choice would you HAVE? And ps, you‘re never the same again after it either.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Katie O'Neill wrote Mar 27, 2009
    • Touche Jenz41.  You are NEVER the same again and it takes a lot to trust the next guy.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Eva2 wrote Mar 27, 2009
    • I agree with your article.  The downfall of this country begins with the downfall of the family.  I was also cheated on and have stayed in the marriage.  I forgave but have not forgotten.  I also am a changed person. I am building my life up and when I feel I’m ready, I will decide if I can live with the small question mark in the back of my mind.  The trust is not there and I don’t know if it ever will be.  I trusted totally and have been faithful to my commitment. I have no trust left for him. The effect on my two adult daughters is also evident by their lack of trust in men.  Why would anyone promote such a destructive coarse of behavior?  Of coarse they are only promoting what we see daily on TV.  Life is short, way to short to disappoint and alienate the people we care about.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lynne wrote Mar 29, 2009
    • I have been on both sides of the coin.  Although I am not proud of an extramarital affair, I am glad it happened.  I found a man that made me feel alive, and like a woman.  It was also the catalyst that caused my husband to stop seeing me as his whipping post and slave, and start seeing me as a person.  He finally initiated the divorce papers which I gladly signed.  Why do men think that the only reason for a divorce is infidelity on HER part?  Anyone can cheat.  It is a selfish act, but you never know when someone is going to come along that completely blows your socks off and knocks you off your black and white world.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Kelly-Williams, M.A. wrote Apr 4, 2009
    • As some of you have commented, while it is “doable“, it really is up to the person that has been betrayed.  And it is never the same again, ever.   Unfortunately, infidelity is very common in long term marriages.  The question becomes:  Do we throw the baby out with the bath water.  For many, it is the more sane path to go.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Songbird wrote Dec 2, 2009
    • What! Has the world gone upside down. This is absolutely horrendous. We can’t let this kind of killer run lose.

      Do you post articles like is widely to bring this evil to the light?

      Count me in for any protest.



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