In this presidential race the issue of having a solid, long term marriage and not cheating on your spouse is touted as a powerful argument in winning women’s votes. This strikes me as an oddly upside down position. Shouldn’t it be a given that faithfulness and caring amid partners is a basic tenet of a relationship and not a laudable exception. Clearly, a solid, loving relationship speaks to the character of the partners and their commitment to values that are of primary importance in their lives.
One partner having great power shouldn’t upend this truth. Having attained a powerful political or business position, should not be the cause to undermine a close personal relationship. I am not arguing that all marriages can be harmonious and/or endure. There are many legitimate reasons why relationships end. However, is it really necessary to resort to lies and having clandestine marital affairs rather than face each other with honesty when partnership problems arise? Even if these relationships seem irreconcilable, communicating with each other with caring and frankness is the better solution.
Reflecting on the many sex scandals that have dominated the news about powerful men and their sexual affairs, the question arises, why do they do it, why put everything at risk for the thrill of an affair with another woman? Newt Gingrich’s unfortunate handling of his marriages and affairs have been widely discussed during this primary race. Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest movie stars in the world and one of the most powerful men in California Government, married to a woman from one of the most respected families, couldn’t restrain himself from having an affair with the family’s own housekeeper and fathering a child with her.
Tiger Woods’ self destructive activities with fifteen mistresses left the country stunned. The list of trespassers, private and public, is long and growing. Why is it that these men, even the ones who seem to have it all––money, a devoted, beautiful wife, loving children, and great power, are bent on self destruction?
The notion that these men are looking for sex is not the answer. Their wives can clearly fulfill these needs. What they are seeking is validation. They cheat because they are insecure and need the validation of women to give them, at least temporarily, a sense of importance, the feeling that they count. No matter what success they attain, no matter how much they are admired for their tangible achievements, nothing can fill the terror inside that they feel, namely being a failure. Their incessant drive is to find women to make them feel good about themselves; feel wanted; desirable and special, at least for a few fleeting hours.
Why can’t the women they are married to give them that same feeling? Quite simply, since these men don’t respect themselves, how can the women who chose them as life partners be worthy? In the men’s mind that makes their women losers too. So their lack of worthiness drives them to find new conquests to provide the wanted elixir, feeling validation through sex. Neither the risk of detection, nor the pain they will cause their families cannot stop their incontrollable need, cannot fill the insatiable hole they have inside. Only serious therapy and their commitment to it can abate the terror crying failure and replace it with a true sense of worthiness.