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Men Shouldn't Be Punished For Infidelity: How Is This Idea "Revolutionary?"

Illustration for article titled Men Shouldnt Be Punished For Infidelity: How Is This Idea Revolutionary?

A French psychologist seeks to "rehabilitate infidelity": men's, that is.

I was sort of dispirited, in Alice Walker's "open letter to Tiger Woods," to see Walker say that she "support(s) you in your effort to try to crash out of a life that you had outgrown." It smacks too much of the sort of glib justifications that seem to come easily to some loose lips, and no one needs the validation. In a new book, Les hommes, l'amour, l'infidelite, French psychologist Maryse Vaillant makes the case for destigmatizing infidelity because it's basically "unavoidable."

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I'll admit to puritanical leanings on the subject, both because I am lucky enough to come from a fiercely monogamous home and because I wouldn't wish the searing pain of infidelity on any woman. Of course, Vaillant explains away those poor saps who stay faithful: "'These are often men whose father was physically or morally absent. These men have a completely idealized view of their father and the parternal function. They lack suppleness and are prisoners to an idealized image of a man of duty."

There's pragmatism, there's relativism, and then there's old-fashioned double-standards. I couldn't quite credit Vaillant's message and so I ordered the book and broke out the French dictionary. And, yup, that's the gist of it: Vaillant takes a traditional view of men: fundamentally frail (her innovation is in casting that as a virtue.) And, in her view, it's women's role to get over it. Indeed, embrace it. It's a funny conundrum to find oneself both too old-fashioned and too modern to be receptive. Dommage.

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Husband's Affairs Are Good For Marriage Claims French Psychologist [Telegraph]

Why An Affair Could Be The Key To A Healthy Marriage [Daily Mail]
A Letter To Tiger Woods From Alice Walker

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DISCUSSION

Infidelity is a broken promise. When men and women cheat on their spouses, it's a betrayal of their marriage vows unless they have both willingly entered into an open marriage. The idea that anyone, but especially one specific gender, should just "accept" that his or her spouse will stray is absurd.

I expect, should I marry, that my spouse will have every intention of keeping his promise to be faithful. And I expect that if he ever chooses to break that promise, he will handle it like an adult, tell me, and end the marriage. And if he lies to me and treats me like a child, and acts like a selfish martyr (as cheating spouses so often do when they find themselves stewing in the juices of their own actions) then I will do the grown up thing and end the marriage for us both.

But what I won't do is treat my husband like an irresponsible infant. I won't pretend his promises to me are mere suggestions. And I won't forgive a betrayal for no other reason than "I couldn't help it — I'm a man."

But if Vaillant is ok with those things, go right ahead.