Look. Call me unsophisticated, but I would not describe myself as “happily married” if I, or my spouse, were having a secret affair.
For me, the value of a so-called “committed” relationship is to be found in the trust between parties. If that’s not there everyone might muddle along reasonably well to all appearances. However, there is a depth of intimacy that is inaccessible in such a situation, because it only blossoms in trust. Trust is inherent in the concept of monogamy, and once it’s broken, the entire concept is under challenge.
The possibility of experiencing those intimate depths with another is the only reason I can see for committing to the monogamous state. Without that experience it seems a tiresome, repressive and unfulfilling arrangement.
I also find it difficult to imagine much equality in a relationship where trust is absent, and where one party is necessarily surveilling the other.
I admire those who manage to negotiate the complexities of trust in polyamorous relationships: humans being as possessive, jealous and psychologically perverse as we are, the challenges in those situations must be enormous.
When my husband had an affair I asked him (after we’d cleaned up the broken dinner plates) do you want a monogamous relationship with me or not? Realising such an arrangement would work both ways he decided in the affirmative, and we carried on in that understanding. Neither of us considered ourselves suitable candidates for polyamory.
(There are limits to the number of times this understanding can be reached: serial betrayers make a mockery of it.)
However, if my partner or I were secretly active on an infidelity website, the deliberate intention to deceive and betray implied by that choice would crash through our trust like a wrecking ball. So it is with some disbelief that I’m reading comments by the hacked that they don’t want their spouses knowing because they’re so happily married.
It makes me wonder, what constitutes a happy marriage, then? Apparently not trust and equality.
I don’t think any of those people deserved, in some wowserish moral sense, to be outed as they have been. It’s more a case of actions and consequences than it is of morality, as in, if you do a, b is likely to result. It’s a bit rich, though, for individuals engaged in betraying the trust of their nearest and dearest to make a song and dance when someone else invades their privacy. The same can be said for the Ashley Madison website: if you’re dedicated to deception, why complain when someone betrays you? There’s a kind of inevitability about it, really.
For mine, I’d much rather my partner told me if he or she felt desire for someone other than me, desire that he or she wished to act upon. While I don’t know what I’d do in reaction to such information, at least telling me would allow us to maintain our trust. Feeling desire for another isn’t the deal breaker: deception and betrayal are. You can’t swear you’ll never want anyone else: you can promise to put trust and equality first, and be honest about your desires.
Unless of course you’re dedicated to the illicit, and then you’ve no business doing monogamy in the first place. The two are entirely incompatible, aren’t they?