Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cheating Husbands, Chiding Rabbis

In his best selling book, The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It, psychotherapist and Rabbi M. Gary Neuman reveals some interesting research and statistics about why men, especially husbands, cheat on their wives. Using scientifically valid statistical data garnered directly from men who cheated, Neuman learned that

  • 94% carried on affairs with women whom they knew for a month or more; conversely, only 6% had affairs based upon a short-term relationship of less than one month; this suggests that (1) the one-night-stand is not the primary scenario for unfaithfulness, and (2) that some degree of emotional bonding precedes the vast majority of affairs;
  • 88% said their paramour was not more attractive than their wives; this implies that something other than superlative physical attraction was the primary catalyst for unfaithfulness;
  • a whopping 92% said that sexual dissatisfaction was not the primary reason for cheating;
  • 48%, nearly half, said that the affair resulted from emotional need, particularly from a sense of not being fully appreciated by their wives;
  • 77% said they were influenced by friends who themselves had cheated on their wives; in other words, in three-fourths of the cases of infidelity, one's social circle created a context and catalyst for discussion of, and participation in, an affair;
  • 66% testified that they felt guilty during the affair;
  • 40% conducted affairs with female co-workers, indicating that the workplace is a particularly volatile setting for illicit liaisons.

Implicitly, wives have a lot to learn from Rabbi Neuman:

  • Watch out who your husband hangs around with;
  • Meet your husband's emotional needs, especially the need to feel a sense of appreciation and encouragement;
  • Know your husband's work environment and co-workers;
  • Watch out for signs of your husband's waning emotional sensitivity to you and, conversely, signs of his emotional attraction to other women; this can be especially dangerous among groups of couples who spend a lot of time together, even those who apparently are "happily married."

I'm sure one could extrapolate other interesting data and dangers from Neuman's book. At the very least, one would expect that pornography, including "R" rated movies and the Internet, has grossly scarred, if not completely eradicated any conscientious sensitivity to sexual impropriety in the mind and conscience of the typical male. So I would add to the list of warnings,

  • "Watch you husband's Internet activity and movie-watching habits."

With regard to the former, every wife needs a "complete transparency" agreement with her husband about all computers in the house and, if possible, at work; certainly, employers should monitor their employees' Internet use (ask your husband if that's the case); with regard to the latter, wives should not underestimate the debilitating and denigrating effects of raunchy movies upon their husbands, and therefore should not be willing participants in what amounts to prurient voyeurism.

Of course, Neuman's practical observations and suggestions fall short of another Jewish Rabbi's observations about infidelity.

"Adultery," He said, ultimately emanates, not from emotional deprivation, unethical social influences, or temptations in the work environment, but from "the heart." In other words, men commit adultery because their hearts are evil, and only one cure suffices for that malady.

Husbands, you must love your wives even as Christ loves His church - unconditionally, faithfully, completely, sacrificially, exclusively, and purely. If you do not so love her, you might need psychotherapy, the healing of your mind and emotions, but you certainly do need "pneumatherapy," the healing of your heart.

Only That Other Rabbi can help you there.

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