I saw this a week or so ago. It was in response to advice given in an advice column. The question was whether or not you should tell the spouse about the cheating partner’s affair. Amy said yes. This reader had a different take on it.
You advised “Cheated Upon” to notify the wife of a cheating husband about the affair. I completely disagree. What two other consenting adults do is no one else’s business. – Disappointed
Ah yes, the ol’ “two consenting adults” theory. Sorry, Disappointed, but you are oh so wrong. This is not a situation with two consenting adults. Two consenting adults doing something that is no one else’s business would be a couple who decides they like things a little rough in the bedroom. You want to tie your partner to a bedpost and spank his or her ass? Fine. No one else’s business. A couple who decides to open their relationship up to include a third person or other couples would be a situation with two consenting adults. It would be no one else’s business. Other examples of two consenting adults doing things that are no one else’s business? Cross dressing. Furries. Adults pretending to be babies while they wear diapers and drink out of bottles. Meeting your partner at a local bar and pretending you don’t know each other. Having a relationship that doesn’t include sex. Wanting to watch your partner have sex with someone else. All of those situations include two consenting adults doing whatever they choose to do in their relationship. It may not be something you would choose to indulge in but you aren’t a part of their relationship and as such, it’s none of your business.
What we have here, Disappointed, is an affair. An affair involves two deceitful, consenting adults who are fully apprised of the situation, and at least one non-consenting adult who has no clue what is going on. It may include non-consenting children whose lives could possibly also be uprooted and destroyed, thanks to these “consenting” adults. In addition it usually involves financial abuse, gas lighting, lying, and rewriting history. The cherry on top is the devaluing and degrading of the non-consenting, clueless partner.
That’s the fun thing about affairs. It doesn’t stop with those two people. There are other people who are deeply affected. Even if one or both of them don’t leave their spouses it still takes away from the relationship. I have heard of very few situations in which one person was cheating and the relationship did not suffer. Most of the time that is when the devaluing begins. The cheater has to have a plausible reason to do this heinous thing so the betrayed partner becomes the enemy.
She makes me eat a turnip! He is controlling and emotionally abusive! She is a horrible housekeeper! He said he wishes I would die! She let me wear the same dirty pair of underwear for five days! He made me wear certain kinds of clothing; I couldn’t even dress myself without his approval! She doesn’t want to have sex! He won’t work! She nags, nags, nags! He hates me!
That’s the propaganda spread to justify their behavior. Granted, my “research” has come by way of reading blogs and comments from those who have been cheated on but again, it is very common that once one person in the relationship begins to cheat they also begin to treat their partner with disdain. The person who is being cheated on is left to wonder what on earth is going on and will generally dance harder and harder to try to appease the cheating partner in order to get everything back in order.
Stories abound of cheating partners spending thousands on the affair partner, draining 401ks, and wiping out bank accounts. If an affair is something between two consenting adults and is no one else’s business then why is my financial security now in doubt?
That doesn’t even take into consideration the extreme cases. The ones like Chris Watts who decided he’d rather be with his ho-worker and, I guess felt divorce would be a real hassle, so he murdered his 15 week pregnant wife and their two young daughters. He buried his pregnant wife in a shallow grave and then dumped his daughters’ bodies in an oil tanker. Or Chris Coleman who murdered his wife and two young sons so he could be with his mistress and still be a bodyguard to Joyce Meyer. I’ve written about other cases involving the cheating spouse murdering the wife in order to be with the mistress here and here.
If it was simply a relationship between two consenting adults then no one else would pay the price for their behavior. Obviously my situation didn’t rise to the level of murder but those two “consenting” adults wrecked a whole lot of havoc nevertheless. I lost my home. My children lost their home. We ended up being forced to move 600 miles away. I went from being a stay at home mom with a very stable income to being a mom who at one point was working upwards of sixty hours a week, rarely seeing her kids, and still financially unstable. I went from having a home of my own with my own dishes and furniture and decorations, to moving in with my mom. I didn’t ask for that. I didn’t get a choice in that. Neither did my kids. My kids lost their pool and their game room and their large bedrooms and separate bathrooms. All superficial things, sure. But it was all taken away from us by two “consenting” adults that didn’t give a single solitary fuck about us and what their “consenting” ended up doing to us.
No, Disappointed, this is not about two consenting adults doing whatever two consenting adults decide to do. This particular situation is about a man cheating on his wife. It’s about someone who knows at least one of them and who was cheated on as well, so they know the heartache and humiliation that can come with that. That person wants to do the right thing and let the cheated on spouse know what’s going on so she can make a fully informed choice. It’s not up to the person telling to convince the wife to stay or go; all they’re doing is providing information. What the wife chooses to do with it is up to her.
As for this, “It’s no one else’s business!” nonsense I will say what I always say in situations like these: If you don’t want your partner finding out you’re fucking around, then don’t fuck around! That’s the easiest way to prevent that. No one is obliged to protect your secrets and dirty deeds, especially not someone who was cheated on and betrayed themselves. “It’s no one else’s business!” is just cheater-speak for, “You’re not the boss of me! I can do whatever I want and there should never be any consequences!”