Ask Dear Prudence: Marriage and Infidelity

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Emily Yoffe, Dear Prudence columnist for Slate, continues her summer advice series and joins us for today's installment on marriage. She takes listeners' questions on thorny ethical issues and etiquette questions and offers her advice.

This week: questions about marriage - monogamy, infidelity and the gray areas in between.

  • Have advice about this situation? Post it below!
  • Need advice?  Post your own dilemma here and maybe you'll join Emily on the air next week!


Emily Yoffe

Comments [32]

I present an apropos excerpt from the introduction at the first URL that I cited in my initial post.
____________________Begin Quoted Text______________

Finally, the Alliance does not support promiscuity among Men who have sex with Men, and encourages its members to practice monogamy and fidelity.

To us this is not complicated. Promiscuity is psychologically debilitating and physically dangerous, and the sexually transmitted infections which plague the gay male community and threaten society as a whole would disappear were it not for promiscuity, and anal promiscuity in particular.

Many religious individuals and organizations have condemned anal promiscuity and pointed to its role in the dissemination of disease, and we agree with them.

Unfortunately, however, all too often those same individuals and organizations have linked their condemnation of anal promiscuity with a blanket condemnation of any expression of male-male attraction, affection, intimacy, or love, and in so doing have strengthened the hand of those in the gay male community who unhesitatingly accuse Men opposed to anal and promiscuity of erotophobia and homophobia.

_______End Quoted Text_______________

From: (*)

As emphatically pro-/homoerotic/ as they are anti- /buggery/, the Man2Man Alliance promotes Frot (phallus-on-phallus sex) as the natural, egaliatarian, safe, painless, masculine, dignified form of male homosexual intercourse.

This organization represents a perspective that gets almost no coverage whatsoever-- both in the mainstream community/media as well as in the "Gay" and "LGBT" media/community. I hope that others will join me in urging WNYC to start presenting such dissident voices to the public. They could start by at least inviting people such as Bill Weintraub and the others I've mentioned to appear on the air. (And, , not censoring posts such as this...)

*WARNING: Explicit content. Mild on the home page but quite graphic on many of the other pages, not all of which are labeled as such.**

*DISCLAIMER: Quoting and citing does not equate-to /endorsement/ or even, necessarily, /agreement/.**

Jul. 11 2013 11:59 PM

It should have been obvious that in my comment below, dated Jul. 11 2013 11:36 AM, I was being sarcastic in order to make a point. Just in case it wasn't to anyone, however, I make this post now to remove any doubt or apprehension.

Jul. 11 2013 09:57 PM

To the caller who was seeking advice about her relationship with a "happily married man"- I think the advice you received, while seemingly rational, really lacked insight into your situation and that of the man you're involved with, and I would bet a million dollars that much as you think you should you won't be able to follow it. While I think she was right that you have nothing ahead but misery if you continue down the path you're on, connections like the one you describe are incredibly difficult to just end because someone told you to. I think a more constructive path would be to ask your friend to take a closer look at his marriage, perhaps with the help of a therapist. I can almost gaurentee you that while it may be happy, on a certain level there is some amount of intimacy that is missing. If his marriage were truly fulfilling he would not have become this involved with you and it would not have continued this long. This action may cause him to try to repair his marriage and help him to not need you any more, which would no doubt be painful, or it may end his marriage, which is unlikely but could happen. Either way it will help open both of your eyes to what's really going on and I think it's the only realistic way out if your current situation.

Jul. 11 2013 03:22 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Joanne from NYC: Penguin mates do NOT go off to "have a fling" - they are monogamous. Monogamy means ONE partner/spouse.

Jul. 11 2013 12:41 PM
Joanne from NYC

I wonder how penguins feel when their mate goes off to have a fling?

Jul. 11 2013 12:05 PM

"Zula from ny" (11:19) wrote,

"I have always felt that monogamy is an artificial value- we are mammals, after all."

I have always felt that demonizing and penalizing parents who kill their own children is based on a construct of morality that is completely artificial. We are mammals, after all, and it is quite natural for many mammals to kill their own offspring.

Jul. 11 2013 11:36 AM
Zula from ny

Emily- I have been in a stable, loving relationship for more than 35 years. I believe- and monogamy has never been part of our value system- after a certain amount of time, the sexual excitement and attraction to the long term partner wanes. And all the band-aids and therapy on earth will not rekindle the sexual frenzy of the early years. Why is everyone afraid to admit it? A little mystery, and a little conquest is more exciting than sex with the same aging body for eternity. We are entitled to more than dull Viagra fueled sex. I have always felt that monogamy is an artificial value- we are mammals, after all. Safe sex outside of the primary relationship can strengthen that relationship. Our policy has been "don't ask, don't tell", and it has worked. Women in particular are trained (brainwashed) by movies and television and our churches and therapists to believe that there is one Prince Charming with whom we'll we will live and have wonderful sex happily ever after. Nice, but unrealistic .In fact, with all the affection and trust in the world, sex can become a boring chore. And EMily, it has nothing to do with the male partner vacuuming the curtains or doing the dishes. I, for one, have no problem with the occasional fling for either partner. It's our biological imperative.

Jul. 11 2013 11:19 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Barbara from uptown: Monogamy is NOT unnatural: geese do it, penguins do it, many other animals do it, so why can't we?

Jul. 11 2013 11:18 AM

"Granpa Danl from Manhattan" wrote,

"Did Hebrews establish marriage (and discourage "infidelity") for any reason other than to have a routine way to determine who got "the stuff" when the old man died?"

Yes. Inheritance rights are only a small part of the sacred rite of marriage in the Torah and far from the reason or primary purpose.

Thanks for asking.

By the way, whenever I see arguments like yours, I want to:
a) point-out that there are a number of practices and views of primitive, tribal/indigenous peoples that are considerably more offensive to contemporary western sensibilities and mores than polygamy/polyandry and absence of marriage, per se

b) ask how many of said practices and views you would promote or even defend

Jul. 11 2013 11:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Granpa Danl

Ancient Germanic tribes were monogamous, and had their own laws of marriage having nothing to do with the Bible,Hebrews or Jewish Law:

"Germanic law treated marriage as a union between a man and a woman created after cohabitation and sexual consummation. Polygyny was not uncommon or outlawed. There were three types of marriage amongst the Germanic tribes that had emigrated regions of Western Europe in the first few centuries AD: Marriage by capture (Raubehe); by purchase (Kaufehe) and by mutual consent (Friedelehe). Raubehe consisted of kidnapping and raping the bride without the consent of her or her family. The law codes issued penalties for such types of marriages, typically carried out by men too poor to contract other forms of marriage; a violent form of social mobility and financial preservation. Kaufehe, the most common and approved form of marriage, parallelled the Roman betrothal model. A groom or his family and the family of his chosen bride would negotiate a suitable price to compensate the bride’s family. The responsibility and legal power over the bride (Munt) was then transferred from the bride’s family to her husband. Friedelehe was a form of elopement, where consent is given by the bride but not by the family. In addition to a lack of a dowry agreement, the husband did not receive munt over his wife: a woman remained within the legal jurisdiction of her own family despite living with her husband. "

Jul. 11 2013 11:06 AM
C.E. Connelly from Manhattan

I tuned in late on this segment. Was this a conversation with a Christian minister about the importance of fidelity? So, don't cheat or develop a close emotional relationship with a member of the opposite sex other than your spouse. Huh! Don't think I have ever heard that before.

Jul. 11 2013 11:01 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Please, no more of this Yenta. If you need a middlebrow hand-holding session just go see a therapist or fortune teller. Advice givers should have actual advice to give or find something else to do. Not having a point of view is not an option.

Jul. 11 2013 11:01 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Cheating before or after marriage is, to me, at least, not merely a betrayal of physical intimacy, but of the trust that marriage should engender. It is also a sign that the person may not be trustworthy in other ways. Notwithstanding that our primitive physical urges and hormones can make this VERY hard to resist sometimes, a long term relationship and family are ultimately more important than short term physical satisfaction.

Mr. Bad from NYC: If your partner no longer wants to have sex, you should first talk to that person to find out why; go for therapy with that person to get to the root of the problem; and, finally, if your partner is still not interested, then explore with that person other ways of maintaining your physical intimacy within the relationship. If all else fails, then discuss with your partner the possibility of your seeking physical satisfaction elsewhere. If your partner becomes aware that this is a real possibility, it may occasion a second look at the issue. Going outside the relationship WITHOUT discussing it with your partner is tantamount to cheating, which would not be the object of this exercise.

Jul. 11 2013 11:00 AM

"Barbara from uptown" wrote,

"Monogamy is unnatural!"

By that logic so is observing and enforcing /any/ social, etiquette boundaries around copulation, eating, excreting, etc.

Using toilets, wearing clothing when it's hot, using deoderant, etc., etc.

'Natural' and wholesome, beneficial for humans, in any society, is /unnatural/. Think about it.

Jul. 11 2013 10:59 AM
a woman from nyc

My advice to people, especially women, is to understand that most of us are addicted to "makeup sex." That's the crazy sex you have when you're always afraid you're not "the one." Every time you have that crazy, "maybe I am the one, after all," kind of sex, it's wonderful, isn't it? But unless you marry someone crazy, or have an incredibly unstable marriage, you're not gonna have that kind of "makeup sex" for the next twenty years. You're not even going to have it for the next five years. Get used to sex without tension and fear of loss. At first, it's like eating food without salt: flavorless. But once you get past that, you'll discover the real taste of things, so to speak, the subtleties, the nuances. It's not the same crazy jungle sex you're used to, especially if that's all you've had for most of your unstable crazy bohemian life. But when you're 40, 50, and wondering where that all went, just ask yourself how happy you were before. Were you really happy? Did you have a great relationship with someone? Learn to have better sex with someone you love.

Jul. 11 2013 10:57 AM

I'm wondering about people who end up with a disability that turns off the other mate after years - I have AIDS - went through several illnesses and have had no sex in past 10 years - my amazing partner cannot admit however it might be the disfigurations - I would feel so much better if he just said so but he wont - I imagine this is an issue with women with masectomy etc. Help

Jul. 11 2013 10:56 AM
mr nyc

It's very difficult for some guys to go from a single guy brain - i.e. chasing every woman they see -- to a relationship/married guy brain -- i.e. committing exclusively to another person.

Jul. 11 2013 10:56 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The only way to survive it is to stay apart.

Jul. 11 2013 10:56 AM

For some adults, as they age, the desire for sex simply goes away. Many do not expect that this will happen. But it probably is a good thing for prospective married couples to address before they tie the knot. I believe that many marriages evolve to a sexless union - ...for better, or worse...

Jul. 11 2013 10:55 AM
Granpa Danl from Manhattan

Margaret Meade wrote that Polynesian tribes lived communally, holding little or no personal property, and there was no marriage.

Families within Hebrew tribes wandering the deserts of Egypt and beyond owned property -- which included tents and animals and utensils of one kind or another. Did Hebrews establish marriage (and discourage "infidelity") for any reason other than to have a routine way to determine who got "the stuff" when the old man died?

We have inherited from the Hebrew culture, not from the Polynesians, because they didn't leave books to read.

Jul. 11 2013 10:55 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Forgive in the sense of one won't hurt the person in revenge. But it doesn't mean one will stay with the person.

Jul. 11 2013 10:54 AM
Lisa from manhattan

ok you can try to address soem of these issues .. but you cant force people to start having sex if they are not into it. And we all know that men can love a woman without having sex with her.
The problem is the Myth that sex and love are the same thing. They are not .
So you can love your husband/wife of 20 years and not have a sex life with him/her ..
just enable people to be honest and open about their sexuality no matter if they have it or not ...
I am sorry but I am not going to sign over my body to a partner exclusively when I have been developing my sexuality from childhood. MY personal sex life is mine and my social and partner sex life is a separate thing.
Spitzer's problem is he is a hippocrite who tried to get other men arrested for doing the same thing he did.
The exploitation was the woman (what does her over 18 age have to do with it?) that exploited HIS needs and weakness NOT him exploiting her, as well as his not admitting to his hiprocracy and the moralists using his behavior to beat up on men/women for their sexual rights to fulfill themselves privately.

Jul. 11 2013 10:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

If prostitution - both male and female prostitution - were legal, it would probably save more marriages. Nevertheless, marriage itself is a doomed institution destined to disappear within this century anyway.

Jul. 11 2013 10:54 AM
JRO from Upstate NY

Coming from the same scenario as the caller, a word of advice I could give to people "thinking about it" is look at why you are attracted to that person. Look at it from an objective point of view. What sort of characteristics do you see in them that you may lack in your life. A lot of these attractions are purely chemical...

Jul. 11 2013 10:53 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

How about answering the question? What's the advice you have to give a spouse whose partner wants to stay married but no longer have sex?

Go to a doctor? Are you serious? Let's say there is no physical or emotional or circumstantial problem, merely a preference a free person expresses to have control over their own body?

I like how this chick basically comes down on the side of the Taliban when it comes to marital relations... LOL

Jul. 11 2013 10:52 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Avoid infidelity!

Jul. 11 2013 10:50 AM
Joe from nearby

Gettin it every 3 or 4 months? Wow, that much?!

Must be nice.

Jul. 11 2013 10:49 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Wow, way to dodge the question and offer no advice. Also, way to go off on an "all husbands are jerks" digression to avoid taking a position. A+

Jul. 11 2013 10:48 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"The biggest difference is that women are much better at keeping their affairs secret,' he says. 'If you look at the studies into paternity, even conservative figures show that between eight and 15 per cent of children haven't been fathered by the man who thinks he's the biological parent.'"

Read more:

Jul. 11 2013 10:47 AM
Barbara from uptown

Monogamy is unnatural!

Jul. 11 2013 10:46 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Women cheat more than men! Read

Jul. 11 2013 10:45 AM

Concerning "gay" relationships, please try to have an independent, dissident homosexual voice such as Bill Weintraub ( ) , Luke Shelton, Martin Finn, Chuck Tarver, or Rob McGee ( , ) on the show.

Jul. 11 2013 10:39 AM

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