Pop-Ed: If It Can Happen To Sandra Bullock, Can It Happen To Me?
If it can happen to Sandra Bullock, can it happen to me? If husbands lucky enough to be married to beautiful, wealthy Oscar winners cheat, then what protects the average woman from being cheated on?
Being deceived can happen to anyone, but that does not mean that all women will wind up betrayed or that all men are unfaithful. When news of a major deception hits, there are usually stories behind them that we don't get to hear.
Some people have raised the issue that getting to the top of one's chosen field of endeavor -- be it acting, sports, politics or the world of high finance -- takes a great deal of time and attention. That's time and attention that a famous person is not spending keeping the home fires burning. While it's true that Sandra Bullock spent time on location, there's no evidence she wasn't an attentive and appreciative spouse. Some of these "Best Actress Oscar Curse" stories seem to tell a story as old as 'Annie Get Your Gun,' which warned women not to get too successful or their men won't want them anymore.
Yet, in most of the infidelity scandals in today's headlines -- from Tiger Woods to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford -- the person who strays is the busy one: the star. In this case, wouldn't that mean Sandra Bullock having the affair?
Rather, the one thing most of these high-profile cases have in common is that it's been the husband who has cheated, whether he's the famous one or not. But we also know that women cheat, too.
Depending on whose statistics you read, and, more importantly, believe, between 30 and 60 percent of married people in the U.S. will stray from their marriages at least once, and husbands are more likely to cheat than wives (see Truth About Deception). The reasons those who admit to cheating most often cite include that sex with their spouse has become boring or nonexistent or because the opportunity presented itself and they simply did not resist it.
However, experts and common sense agree that if there is an honest and meaningful relationship in place, those scenarios are less likely to occur.
If so many people cheat, and more cheaters are men, what lessons can we learn from celebrity infidelity scandals to protect ourselves?
Know the character of your partner. Some people are not cut out for marriage or monogamy. It's likely Jesse James believed he wanted marriage and monogamy with Sandra Bullock; yet not long into the marriage, he made choices that indicate otherwise. Do you know your partner well enough, and does your partner know himself (or herself) well enough to be sure marriage and monogamy will work? And if your partner is a man, well, double-check.
Make sure that you have a very specific agreement in place about what types of relationships are permitted outside your own. Know whether you can trust your partner to keep to any agreements made. Make honest communication something you both strive for. Put a high priority on quality time together -- in bed and out.
If having a strong marriage is really your top priority, make sure you marry someone who feels the same way. If you or your partner neglect your relationship in the pursuit of whatever else you value in life, the relationship may not meet your expectations.
And don't forget to take advantage of these unfortunate headlines by starting a conversation between you and your mate before anything goes wrong.
Isadora Alman, a Board certified sex therapist, writes the syndicated Ask Isadora advice column. You can visit her on Red Room. Her books include Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex and the recent novel Bluebirds of Impossible Paradises: A Sexual Odyssey of the Seventies.
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