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      Just another fact of life?    


The Seduction of a Married Man

By Susan Sheppard

What is it about a married man that is so irresistible?

It must be something because so many women fall for it. Just this week I encountered two women who have slipped into the trap of fatal attraction for a married man. It is dangerous territory and I do not recommend that anyone go there. I speak from experience having invested part of my life in a relationship with a married man. Iam not writing about this subject to lecture or be judgmental or even to speak from my soapbox about what I know that you don't. My intention is to expose the underhanded tactics, even if unintentional, of men and the naiveté of women that permits these relationships to flower.

What is it about women that make them susceptible to the charm and attraction of an unavailable man?

The unavailable man is very attractive to women who do not want to be controlled by a man. He can provide sporadic attention, sex, usually at regular intervals, definitely advice even when you don't ask for it and gifts. You don't have to live with him,which means no snoring, picking up after him, and usually freedom to comeand go as you please. The disadvantages include limited spontaneity,lack of availability on weekends and holidays and never being his number one priority.

This is not to say that men do not fall for married women. I am certain that the statistics will support that almost as many single men fall for married women but the dynamic between themis much different than that of the single woman and the married man. Obviously, I have more experience with the married man syndrome.

Women in general are used to getting seconds.

What I mean by that is that women choose to settle for less than what they want. Okay, I expect outrage from most of you who are reading this but hear me out, please. In this country, men have the power. Look around you, how many women president's do we have? How many in the Senate, Congress, CEO's of Fortune 500 companies? How many women make as much money as men do? Consider teaching and nursing, two professions primarily occupied by women, what percentage of men are in the profession and what percentage ofthose are in charge? How many men choose to stay home with thchildren while their wives work and support the family? You get the idea. Granted there are many more women in positions of authority, in medicine, the law, entrepreneurs,real estate, finance, business than ever before, but if you are going to be honest with yourself, it's still a man's world. This is okay.

We can live with the fact that men run the world, because women run relationships.

Women, you really are in charge of relationship even if you don't know it. You just need to raise the bar a little on what youexpect from your relationship. What I mean by women being used to settling is they don't ask. Let me give you an example. A woman friend of mine works for a big company; she uses her own computer and pays for her own Internet access even though the majority of her computer usage is for her work activities. She has asked the men who run the company to be reimbursed for the cost of her computer andInternet access and has been denied. Her first inclination was to accept this, until she realized: How many men who use a computer in their job, use their own computer let alone pay for their Internet access? Men expect to be provided with the tools that they need to do their job, women provide their own tools and accept it when they are denied reimbursement. Where does this willingness to be used originate? I think that it originated when women first began to invade the workplace. Women weren't greeted with open arms when they first arrived in the workplace. In order to be accepted, they worked twice as hard, longer hours, tolerated abuse in many ways that a man never would and were eager to please, seeking approval and acceptance by over responding. (Actually, women were welcomed in the workplace during World War II but only because men weren't available. When the men returned, the women were expected to go back home where they belonged.)

Much of women's acceptance of second-class treatment is their own fault, because they don't even ask for it to be different.

Okay, I am a little off the subject of married men, but let me follow this through to the connection. Let's look at a wife. The majority of wives work these days, they also are the primary childcare provider, and most of them do most of the housework and laundry and cooking and shopping as well. They are also expected by their husbands to be sexy and ready for a quickie at the drop of his pants. Women do all this because they put these standards on themselves. They still expect that they have to do more and do it better because they are women. So where does a woman cut back? Usually it is in paying attention to her husband's primary needs. A man needs sex and most married men will tell you that the amount of sex that they get dwindles after marriage and especially after children. In addition, the amount of time that a woman has to devote to the nurturing, acceptance, approval and attention to her husband decreases proportionately with the addition of children, job responsibilities and a bigger house.

So this leads us to the plight of the married man.

Who is the married man? First of all he is a man. Men are results oriented. Men have a lot of testosterone. They aren't good at deciphering what women want, especially their own wives.The married man used to run his own life. He came and went as he pleased; he watched or played baseball whenever he wanted. He lived his own lifestyle. He could have his woman withhim whenever hewanted and she would pay all of her attention to him. Now he is marriedwith a couple of kids, a mortgage, a job he has because it pays themost, not because he loves it so much and a wife who used to cater to him exclusively who now has to divide her time between him, the kids, the house and usually her job. There was a commercial on TV not too long ago that shows a man thinking about his studly single days and how sexy he was in those days, with a child in a stroller. He is playing with his child and shopping in the grocery store and a woman is talking to her friend who comments he doesn't even know how much more attractive he is now than he was when he was a stud.

Men are pretty unconscious about what makes them attractive.

According to most women it is not their looks that make them attractive, it is who they are and how they produce in the world. So this married man goes to work and comes home and goes back to work the next day. At work there is this woman. She is single, attractive, smart, capable, speaks his language andsomeone who has time to pay attention to him. It starts as an innocent flirtation. What goes through his mind is something like "Let's see if I still have it!" so he starts flirting just to see what happens. Not a surprise, she responds to the flirting by flirting back.

This is the beginning of the affair.

In his mind he is flattered, it is fun, and exciting and just a little bit naughty. What could be more harmless? I'm married.I'm safe. I can just have a little fun with this. So it continues.He thinks he can just experiment a little. Let's see how charming and creative I can be. Let's see if I can get this woman to fall for me. In his mind it is not cheating. He hasn't done anything wrong. In the beginning, he even tells his wife about this woman. He tells her about how smart she is or about some accomplishment, usuallywhat made him notice her in the firstplace. Wives usually miss the first clues. The thought of the effect of his harmless flirtation onthe single woman does not even enter his consciousness. So the harmless flirtation continues. It makes the married man feel good. He is happier at home and everything seems hunky dory. He tells the woman his wife doesn't understand him, she doesn't have time for him, or she just is cruel to him and the other woman becomes his confidant and starts to believe that he really has no choice in the matter. He needs her because his wife is so … whatever.

He now has both a wife and family and a woman on the side.

Recognize that this process may take several years and several different women before anything actually happens in the way of an affair. After several years of living a separate life from his wife while they live under the same roof, a married man is ready for a real affair. The reality is that an affair will occur whether it is an emotional or physical affair or even a cyber affair. No matter which way it goes, what occurs takes away from the married relationship.

What is true about the woman who gets involved with a married man is that she is looking for attention and affection.

Most likely she is not looking for a married man with whom she is plotting to have an affair. There are a few predatory women out there who do just that but the majority of affairs start out naively. She is likely to have been previously hurt in a relationship. She may or may not know that the man is married. What occurs first is she recognizes that he is paying attention to her. He may just listen to her. It may just be a momentary encounter where their eyes meet and a connection is made. They may be working together on a project and either of them may distinguishthemselves in some way. What initially happens is likely to be chemistry. What happens after that varies, however, it usually follows this pattern.

When the woman discovers that he is married, she will make it clear that she doesn't have relationships with married men.

That is the signal for the man to go into conquest mode.

He will pursue her possibly for years because he enjoys the chase. She will continue to refuse his advances as long as she cantolerate it or until he catches her at a weak and vulnerable moment. If she has a good relationship in her life, chances areshe can outlast him, but if she is single, available or married and unhappy, she will eventually succumb. Why? Because the man is so charming, heis wonderful, he is a knight in shining armor, he is a hero, he is this wonderful dedicated family man who is wonderful with his children and attentive to his wife. So the woman asks herself what is she doing?

She continues to say no and the more she says no, the more aggressive and charming and attentive he gets. This is the ultimate male challenge, to win over a woman who is saying no even though he knows she really is attracted to him.

A married man will work harder than any available man to make a woman fall in love with him.

He will be more charming, loving, attentive and wonderful than a woman can imagine that any man can be. So what happens next is this woman who finally surrenders to her feelings for this man, asks him to leave his wife for her. The response from him will almost inevitably be one of two, but I'm married and I'll neverleave my wife or yes, I'll leave my wife, but not yet (she's not ready,my children are too young, I can't afford it yet, my mother won't approve etc.) Initially the woman will respond with anger. "If you love your wife what are you doing with me?" Here is the clincher that finally hooks the woman, he is committed to his wife and the woman buys into his honorable dedication to his wife and thinks if only I could have a man who loves me like that.

It is at this point in their relationship that the woman's final act of settling may occur.

Either she will end it and go off to nurse her broken heart, wondering how he could have been so wonderful and such a heel atthe same time, or she will continue the affair and settle forbeing the other woman in his life. Either way the woman is damaged. The man will go back to his wife who was either completely unaware of the romantic drama or who also chooses to settle by living in denial of his infidelity. Then life goes on.

The other woman plays a significant part in the perpetuation of this man's marriage.

She makes it tolerable for him to remain in an intolerable situation. She makes it possible for him to remain in a marriage that doesn't satisfy him. That marriage situation can range from boredom to outright contempt, but a man won't leave his marriage until his wife has dismissed him, either consciously or unconsciously. She makes it possible for him to deny that there is anything missing in his relationship with his wife. Therefore, the wife wins, if you can call it winning to stay ina relationship with a cheating man.

The purpose in discussing this at all is to emphasize the fact that women settle and men will cheat because they can. So, women, if you want your man to be faithful, you must pay attention and never settle for less than what you want no matter what the cost.

The essence of marriage is commitment. Why get married if you are not willing to commit to loving someone exclusively? The way that I see it, you don't have to get married to be together, so why do it if you don't mean it? I was married for 23 years and was strongly in favor of the concept of a renewable marriage license, similar tohow one renews a driver's license. The point of that beingthat at least very 3 or 4 years people who were married to each otherwould have to take a look at whether they still wanted to be with their spouse. If people were honest about their feelings, it certainly would take a chunk out of the 50% divorce rate.

On a more serious note, however, I really don't see any point in getting married unless you are marrying someone with whom youhave sexual chemistry that you love totally, that you trust implicitly, and that you would rather be with than anyone else who alsofeels the same about you. That feeling of total trust isvery rare and itneeds to be nurtured. It's also good if you have similar values and goals in life. If and when you find someone that meets all ofthe above standards, you probably couldn't imagine wanting to bewith anyone else. That spiritual bond can be so strong andso valid that it would be out of the realm of possibility to violate it.

It is impossible to ever have that kind of trust if you enter a relationship that originated with someone cheating.

So what happens to destroy that original bond? It is the woman'sjob to provide the appetite for pleasure and the direction for therelationship. This does not relieve men of any responsibility for it is their job to surrender to their woman's power and to produce results for her based on what she requests. So, in a relationship that is working the woman must continue to raise the bar for her man and believe in him. What does that mean? That she wants a bigger house, more expensive car, more children? Not necessarily although thosethings may be part of the picture. What it does mean is that she raises the standards of paying attention even when life is busy. It means that they make time for sex even when they don't have time. It meansthat each one of them stay vulnerable with each other even whenhe/she has done something that embarrasses them or is wrong.

In my marriage, I did it all wrong. I doubted his production, thought I could do things better than him and lost my ability to believe in him. When that happened, he quit producing for me and we spiraled downward into total mistrust of each other and unwillingness to be vulnerable. I kept settling for less than what I asked for and he kept producing only what I believed he could produce. I just didn't know any better.

It's a fragile bond that must be protected and as far as I can see what will protect the bond of love is a woman expressing her appetite that requests more than the man thinks he can produce and then even more vital is that she approves of him and believes in him until he produces it. The most significant element of maintaining a love relationship that works is that both parties must pay attention to each other and to what is happening in the relationship. Going to doubt or settling for less than what she wants is the beginning of the destruction of the delicate balance of the man/woman relationship. In this model of relationship, men and women are regarded as different entities with different needs. It relies on using the sex act as the metaphor for relationship, symbolizing men as producers and women as receivers.

There are no victims.

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