Would a man really dare to cheat on his wife/partner then blame her? Yep. Sarah Lang thinks any expletives and capitalisations in this story need to be there.
Kerry didn’t see it coming.
She knew her marriage “wasn’t in the best shape”. She knew she and her husband didn’t have sex very often. She was working full-time and also busy with their kids, aged five and seven. She was thinking about suggesting couples’ counselling. “I knew he was preoccupied, but told me it was work stress and I believed him.” He’d also had a few more ‘business trips’ than usual.
One evening, realising that her husband had started to avoid eye contact with her, she demanded to know what was wrong.
He’d been cheating on her. For six months.
It was a work colleague, he said. A flirtation that turned into meeting for drinks, kissing and some ‘home bases’. “He said ‘I didn’t have sex with her until recently’ as though he thought he deserved some sort of prize.”
It gets worse.
“He was like, ‘Oh you must know you haven’t been meeting my needs’. I was like ‘I cook, and look after the kids, and carry the mental load so what the fuck do you mean?”
“He told me we’d been distant, sort of leading separate lives. I was like, really? How separate is sharing a bedroom? How separate is having two kids together? How separate is watching Succession together?”
Turns out that, before he cheated, he had been counting the days since Kerry had initiated sex – while not initiating it himself – as a sort of test. WTF?
Kerry was angry. She yelled, called him various expletives, cried. He doesn’t want the marriage to end. He’s cut off contact with the colleague apart from absolutely necessary contact at work. “He doesn’t seem that remorseful, though. He keeps saying how I was so distant. I still feel like he wants me to shoulder some blame.”
Right now, he’s staying with his brother “while I work out what the fuck to do. I don’t know. I really don’t.” The kids think he’s away for work. She’s finding it hard to pretend to them that she’s ok.
Kerry grew up feeling “not good enough” for her father. She spent many years challenging that thought. “Now, because of the cheating, that thought keeps popping up – that maybe I’m not good enough.” She even worries that, should they split up, maybe a prospective partner won’t find her good enough either.
Most of her family members and friends have suggested that she leave him. Some of them asked if the couple can work through it.
Kerry isn’t sure if they’ll split up – partly because setting up separate households would be so expensive. “I’m thinking about suggesting we go see a couples’ counsellor – but I don’t know if that will be a get-back-together process or a separation process. I mean, maybe I can get over it?”
Is anyone else YELLING AT THEIR SCREEN? Good, it’s not just me! Kerry’s husband betrayed her in the worst possible way. Then, he had the temerity to try to blame her for it. Don’t give me the ‘two-sides-to-every story’ thing. Whatever your issues are as a couple, what he did is not okay.
Celebs do it
Let’s step into the world of reality TV for a bit. If you haven’t heard of Vanderpump Rules, it’s a 10-season, still-screening reality-TV series that is essentially about Lisa Vanderpump and the staff at her California restaurants and bars, some of whom try to become famous, and some of whom hook up. Some become celebrities via the show.
I don’t watch the show. But if you frequent entertainment and pop-culture websites, it’s been hard recently to avoid learning about something dubbed ‘Scandoval’. Tom Sandoval – a Vanderpump Rules star who is now also a singer, model, social-media influencer and content creator – cheated on his co-star and girlfriend of nine years, Ariana Madix, with another co-star Raquel Leviss, a friend of theirs. The affair went on for six months. Reportedly, Ariana was watching Tom’s band perform when she saw a sexually explicit video from Raquel pop up on his phone.
Ouch. Yuck. Embarrassing. But we’re used to hearing about celebrity cheaters, right? I wasn’t that interested in ‘Scandoval’ until my favourite reality-TV podcaster Dave Neal decided to cover it. He played a clip of Sandoval speaking on Howie Mandel’s podcast. Then I went and listened to Mandel’s podcast. (It’s a tale of two podcasts: one led me to another.)
When asked by Mandel about his infidelity, Tom said “I still love Ariana, and I care about her, very much so”. Er, really Tom? Because you know she has suffered from depression, but you cheated on her until you got caught, embarrassed her publicly, and now she’ll have to watch this play out on the show. But please excuse my interruption, Tom, and continue. “We, for a while, have and had been sort of just having our own lives. Like many relationships, it felt like it became more of like best friends, family, sometimes roommates. There was a lot of ways where the relationship was just lacking intimacy, the connection.
“I accepted it – I was like, okay, you know, Ken [Todd] and Lisa [Vanderpump], they probably don’t have sex all the time. This is probably how it is.… I got porn, I got whatever. I can just go crack one off in the bathroom.” TMI, Tom.
It gets worse.
“She [Ariana] had heard things and seen things about Raquel but was very much turning a blind eye or just trusting me, I guess. I was seeing Raquel as often as I could – which I know that sounds horrible – and FaceTiming her all the time and, like, Ariana didn’t even notice because that’s just how separate our lives were.” OH, IT’S DEFINITELY HER FAULT FOR NOT SUPERVISING YOU LIKE A CHILD, TOM.
He talked about kissing Raquel… “It was magnetic. I felt something that I hadn’t felt in so long, like emotionally.” Isn’t doing, then saying, this the equivalent of slapping Ariana in the face?
Shame on the host for not calling out his guest. As one Twitter user put it: ‘not howie mandel saying sandoval didn’t have a choice other than to cheat because his relationship was ‘stale’ and he had a ‘beautiful young girl’ in front of him.” MEN, PLEASE HOLD EACH OTHER TO ACCOUNT.
Is this really a thing?
Is this a case of a few bad apples, or is this something that happens more often? TBH, I thought the answer would be ‘no’. But when I asked members of a women’s Facebook group ‘Please comment with a yes if you know of any man who has done this’, 60 people commented ‘yes’. Some said it had happened to multiple people they know. Ten of the 60 people commented that it had happened to them (perhaps some of the other commenters experienced it first-hand too, but didn’t feel comfortable saying that).
I’ve since talked about it with friends, acquaintances, etc. I’ve heard about it happening to women with babies or toddlers. As in, the partner who cheats says he felt ‘neglected’. OH YES, HAVING SPENT NINE MONTHS PREGNANT, THEN PUSHING OUT YOUR BABY THEN TAKING CARE OF IT.
Not taking accountability, deflection, rationalisation of guilt, mind-fuck – call it what you want. I’m calling any man who does this a HUMAN GASLIGHT. (Thanks to Shiv on Succession, for that term.)
I’ve even heard that this behaviour can relate to the “streetlight effect”, in which an intoxicated man looks for his lost keys, not where he dropped them, but where it’s well-lit. FFS. Streetlight, gas light – please go get some electricity or night-vision goggles.
Some say we can’t just blame men for such things. That we need to critique society’s reactions to such actions. As in, some of us excuse the man because he wasn’t getting some action or enough attention at home. To that I say, ‘circular argument’ and ‘screw the patriarchy’. You won’t find many women who think that behaviour is ok.
Infuriatingly, though, American TV and talk-radio host Laura Schlessinger is an apologist. To quote her, “When the wife does not focus on the needs and the feelings – sexually and personally – to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs.” PLEASE EXCUSE ME, LAURA, WHILE I VOMIT UP MY TOAST.
The bottom line is that blaming cheating on your wife/partner is absolutely unacceptable. Whether she’s been distant or not, whether she hasn’t been initiating sex, whether she’s tired from looking after your kids, whether you’re working with someone hot in an office or on a reality-TV show, you don’t get a pass. And you sure don’t get to do it without getting called out.
If you enjoyed this story, check out our collection of real-life relationship tales in our DIARIES collection – from the woman whose husband left her for a 19-year-old, through to the woman who found out her husband was cheating on her with the neighbour and the woman who found out her husband was cheating through watching an influencer’s INSTAGRAM stories.