The recent affair between Gen. Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell has the country up in arms about whether his infidelity caused a security breach of some sort or put our country in danger. What should our concerns really be? Is monogamy in danger? When someone cheats, who is really to blame? And why do so many powerful men cheat?
Should we consider other alternatives to monogamy? France, for instance, couldn’t care less about what’s happening in DC. Do we as a nation consider something like a culture that celebrates and accepts the “open” relationship perhaps? Or do men and women get out of jail free card? After all, an indiscretion here and there is first nature to the French. Is monogamy really dead? Ultimately, we don’t think so.
Unfortunately, Petraeus joins the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer: all married men with children who engaged in extramarital affairs. Are they solely to blame? Men with this level of power believe themselves invincible even though their every move is under the scrutiny of the public eye. Men in leadership positions often have Type A personalities; and as they worked hard to get to where they are, may have a sense of entitlement.
Also to take into consideration is this: did their wives give them the adulation and respect the mistresses dished out so effortlessly? Did Hillary spend enough time in the sack getting sexy with Bill? Or was she too busy pursuing her own career? Was Maria too busy with the five zillion kids and her impressive philanthropic gig? Did Mrs. Patraeus ever consider washing the grey right out of her hair or perhaps giving herself a bit of a 21st century makeover to improve her desirability? And if these men are so smart, how could they get caught. And if they do get caught, so what?
In this case, if you’re the head of the CIA, a former Army General, and used a tactic often used by Al Qaeda — you exchanged thousands of emails by storing them in the drafts section of an email address that you and your girlfriend both have access to — then, well, you will no longer be the CIA’s top man. And you will likely not have a wife or a girlfriend. This is probably not how Gen. Petraeus envisioned his holiday season going down, and neither did we.
The truth is that people cheat, and it’s hard to assign blame sometimes because often all parties share equal fault. It’s easy also to place blame on the party outside of the relationship. When a husband is unfaithful, his wife often holds the women at fault with whom he cheated more than her husband!
In the case of Holly Petraeus, she’s apparently furious over the affair. But in most media coverage, it seems as though she’s taking no blame for the situation. Usually the “other woman” will blame the wife for not giving her husband what he needed. None of this is really justification for cheating. There are more than a few options all of the men in these super couples could have considered before choosing to go astray:
a) trial separation
b) working through issues with a therapist
c) couples counseling
These are all preferable to going through the pain of infidelity. Make sure you take steps to continue contributing to your relationship. Love your man not just in words but in your actions. Be kind. Give him a little attention now and then. Put down your smartphone. Look him in the eye. Tend to your looks. Don’t blame him entirely if the magic is gone. And, above all, remember that although love is amazing, it takes work.