Perfect is such an imperfect word largely because the attributes of perfection are many and different from one person to another. This is an important point in the areas of marriage, perceived happiness and infidelity.
Why does one partner cheat on the other when they have such a perfect spouse? Well, in simple terms, it's because the idea of a perfect spouse is itself flawed. The same is true of the perfect marriage.
Culturally, it's the feeling that a perfect marriage for women has the attributes of the Cinderella story and other 'like' fairy tales:
- Nice house
- Beautiful kids
- Attractive husband
- Lots of wooing
In more updated pop culture storybooks, there are other additives that have come out to portray the more modern and realistic woman and her needs.
- Passionate and unselfish sex
- An edge of adventure
When these things aren't present and can't be found in the marriage, there may be infidelity. I call it the Bill Pullman effect. If you don't know him by name you'll surely remember him as the actor of While You Were Sleeping and Sleepless in Seattle. He was always the 'vanilla' choice of the female lead. And why, because he didn't knock their socks off. Or, to use a word from the title of both movies, he had them 'sleeping'. This can be an issue for wives and it's the single biggest contributor for them cheating on good men.
Passionate and unselfish sex is the bees knees and the wings to women. And it's rare. And women pine. This is especially true as they get older and their sexual prime is the Benjamin Button to men's. So yes, there will be times when women aren't getting their needs met at home and so they stray.
The notion that women want bad boys is flawed and overly general. But, women do want men that have an edge and a sense of adventure. For that matter, they want a relationship and life with these things. Jamie Lee Curtis in 'True Lies' might ring a bell. She was married to a successful guy but they never did anything crazy or spontaneous. She needed to feel like her life wasn't as good as it gets. She needed to feel alive again. And so she strayed. Ditto for Diane Lane in 'Unfaithful'.
In both cases above, the husbands can be good husbands, even perfect from the eyes of others. But they weren't perfect in the eyes of the straying wife. Things are more complicated than that.
As well, there's another aspect to cheating wives in 'perfect' marriages with the 'perfect' husband. In this aspect, there are kids and/or a stressful job in the equation. And, there is little relief in their mind. I call this the outlet effect.
Kim and Mark have beautiful children that need school clothes and play soccer and leave mud tracks around the house. Kim is balancing this with a successful career. What isn't balanced are the roles between her and Mark when it comes to the kids and the house. She is overwhelmed by things and doesn't feel as though Mark understands. Kim needs an outlet and Kim strays.
Life and love are about connections and the ability to fully be. Women who cheat are trying to make connections that they can't find in their marriage. I'm not condoning cheating but I am putting the rationale into perspective. The picket fence and big rock are nice but there comes a time when women want that fire and men, by and large, can become very comfortable and complacent when it comes to marriage. Men have simpler needs and thus love and give on simpler terms.
I will end this article with a parting though that really puts a bow around this reality. There are no such thing as perfect husbands (or wives), just someone that is perfect for someone else. When women stray it's because her husband isn't perfect for her.
photo credit: Good-bye to you via photopin (license)