There's always a woman somewhere ready to do things to your husband you don't, won't or haven't yet.
First came her fairy tale wedding to Gavin, followed by their three adorable tots. Yay!
Then Gwen and Gavin announced their split. BOO! Poor Gwen!
Next she and Blake showed up hand in hand for the CMAs awards. Huh? Gwen? Poor Miranda!
I find conversations among women around breakups like these both fascinating, and, frankly, sad. They fascinate me because of the insight they offer into human reasoning and behavior. They sadden me because we are so quick to lash into people we have never met in order to make ourselves feel more secure.
"Thank goodness Ben Affleck was cheating with the nanny! He and Jen seemed so perfect, now we know why their marriage failed."
"Thank goodness Gwen was so heartbroken! We can excuse her for trespassing on Miranda's turf, knowing she never would have been so heartless to another woman without just cause."
Unfortunately, life and love just aren't quite so cut and dry.
Yes, many spouses in marriages that eventually end in divorce engage in at least one affair at some point along the way. It's just that the stone cold fact is that affairs are never the actual cause of a divorce or a break up. If one spouse has reached the point of actually engaging in a sexual relationship with someone outside of the marriage, that person has either already become distanced from their commitment to their partner, or they were never truly going to be committed in the first place.
I have been mediating divorces and coaching individuals through their decision making process regarding divorce for 7 years now. What I have come to realize is that the number one cause of divorce isn't money issues, sexual incompatibility, or even communication problems.
The number one cause of divorce — IMHO — is that at least one person entered the marriage for reasons other than true love, and already had some inkling along the path to altar that the marriage was doomed from the start.
"That can't possibly be true!," you protest. "Why would anyone in their right mind get married if they knew they might possibly end up divorced?!"
It's not that I believe people consciously or maliciously make the choice to marry someone they don't love. But love is a highly subjective concept. We may convince ourselves that what are actually feelings of safety are love. Or that passion is love. Or that validation is love. We may love the way we imagine this person will be as a father, or as a wife. We may love the way this person's family relates to each other, and want that kind of family unit for our future children.
There is nothing wrong with any of those wonderful thoughts. They just don't equal love. True, romantic, deep, significant love.
And then what happens is, you get married, and even though everyone has told you so and yeah yeah we know and all that jazz, marriage is a shitload harder than you ever thought it could possibly be, parenting comes with all kinds of unforeseen emotions and responsibilities you cannot possibly have read enough books to cover, and forever becomes so much more nightmare-ish a concept than Disney, the Brothers Grimm and Twilight combined prepped you to withstand.
Now you are looking down the barrel at 5, 10, 15, 40, 60 years or more to go, with someone you maybe like but now DEFINITELY know you don't love, and, ooooooooh....shit!
I don't care how many positive communication classes you take, how many couples counseling sessions you attend, and how morally dedicated to the institution of marriage you are, the jail cell of marriage to someone you just don't love never grows more spacious over time.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a couple who at their core LOVE each other — really, honest-to-Betsy, xoxo LOVE each other — may come up against financial ruin, ill children, family conflict, and even a temptation so extreme that one or the other broke their vows of sexual faithfulness, and while these difficult times may certainly rock their worlds, most of their marriages will find their way back to shore. Because these two people LOVE each other, and they simply can't not be together. Forever.
I'm not saying there are no exceptions to either rule, but without fail, when I have asked someone who is divorced, "When did you first have the thought that this marriage might not last?," the answer is either "Just before we got engaged," "Just after we got married," or "I knew it all along, I just didn't want to believe it."
So rather than looking at Gwen and Gavin as an example of the "typical" marriage ended by an affair with the closest hot chick in range, take a look at what happened with Eva Amurri Martino and her husband Kyle and, as she dubbed it, NannyGate 2.0.
Martino — mom, wife, actress, and look-alike daughter of Susan Sarandon — detailed on her blog, Happily Eva After, the stomach-churning experience she and her husband faced together when their nanny made a poorly concealed attempt to seduce Kyle while Eva was out of town. Rather than be tempted, let alone cheat, Kyle took matters into his own hands, confronting the woman directly, recording the conversation so no one could get anything twisted at a later date, releasing her from her job, and then filling his wife in on every single detail.
As Martino wrote, "Strangely, this bizarre Nanny experience brought us even closer (emotionally and geographically) than we would have been otherwise. It’s had its (extremely) stressful moments, but it’s an adventure. "
That's how healthy couples who love each other see their life and their relationship — as an adventure.
Because I don't care if you're Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Garner, Elizabeth Hurley, or the hottest soccer mom on your beautifully manicured block. There is always some woman somewhere who will do things to and for your husband that you don't, won't or haven't thought yet to do.
If your marriage is strong and the two of you love each other, he just won't care. So neither should you.