Why are some couples able to survive infidelity while for others it’s the end of their relationship?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

We love reading about high profile cheaters. Is it because they touch a nerve in our own lives?

Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Jesse James.. is monogamy realistic?

While statistics on infidelity are notoriously unreliable, some surveys say up to 70 per cent of us cheat – and women are catching up to men.
 
Despite our cheating ways, it seems that marriage and monogamy remains what most of us want.

So why are some couples able to survive infidelity while for others it’s the end of their relationship?

Does it matter if it was just sex?  Should you always tell your partner if you have strayed, or is it better to keep it secret?

We want to explore whether it’s really possible to forgive and forget or whether the damage always stays with us.

Is monogamy still the best model?

Join us as we bring together couples from all walks of life to talk about how they have worked through infidelity in their relationship.

Presenter: Jenny Brockie
Producer:
Ronan Sharkey
Associate Producer: Ella Kennedy

Web Extra: Interviews 

Three couples reflect on what it was like to share intimate details of their personal relationships and infidelity with the Insight forum. 

Jo and Shaun

Click play to hear from Jo Rensen-Wallace and Shaun Hogan.

Jo has been unfaithful to Shaun in the past and says she stepped out of her comfort zone to publicly admit that what she did was wrong and hurtful. The couple has stayed together and are currently exploring how their relationship may change in the future.

Rachel  and Darryl

Rachel Viner and Darryl Stanley have been in a relationship for over two years.  Darryl has been open about being unfaithful to past partners and has but has remained committed to Rachel. The two reflect on their experience on the program.

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What made you decide to come on the show?
DARRYL: It was a chance to take ownership of decisions I have made in the past.

How are you expecting your friends, family and colleagues to react to the show?
DARRYL: The reactions I think will be positive. I have talked to my children about the show, it will be the first time hearing this for them and members of my family.

What helped you change and remain faithful in your current relationship?
DARRYL: By building on my self esteem.  My advice would be to communicate with your partner about your feelings and wants.  

Any advice you’d give about being in a relationship with someone who had been unfaithful in the past?
RACHEL: Talk. Really you must talk about it, their infidelity, why they did it, how, when? Then address your feelings on it. You need to leave the topic as an open and easy one to talk about it, so don’t shut down the lines of communication on this one.

As a couple, what helps you stay monogamous?
RACHEL: We have only been together for 2 ½ years so we are in the early stages I suppose.  I have no intention of being anything else other than monogamous, and if I want to exit the relationship I will do so without the excuse of another person. I think I am one of those people that definitely turn the “available” signals off, when I am in a relationship.

DARRYL:  A good sex life.

What’s your relationship like now?
RACHEL: We felt closer having done the show together. I was very surprised at how Darryl opened up on the show. I wish I could transport him to the forum every time I want to talk to him about something important.

We, like every couple have things we are not very good at dealing with, and communicating about. Infidelity is not one of those.

We are planning on starting a family in the near future.

Note from Linda

Lyndal and Andrew have been together for over 20 years. Just after the birth of their first child 17 years ago, Lyndal suspected that Andrew was cheating. Eventually Andrew admitted to being unfaithful with men.

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Read Linda's thoughts here.

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE: Tonight, a room full of people who want to talk about what really goes on in relationships. Welcome, everybody, good to have you all here and you can join in via Twitter as well. I'd like to start, David King, with you. You're a private investigator, how much of your time is spent chasing after people you're trying to catch who might be cheating on their partners?

DAVID KING, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Probably most of it. It's our core income for what our company does and it's our main target market.

JENNY BROCKIE: Is there a lot of business in that area?

DAVID KING: Look, we do find "‘ it's a fairly small industry, so if you look at the number of people in Sydney it's probably not a huge number. I think infidelity is around everywhere but only a certain type of person will use an investigator.

JENNY BROCKIE: Well our producer Ronan Sharkey hit the road with you the other night let's have a look at what happened.

DETECTIVE STORY:

REPORTER: Ronan Sharkey

DAVID KING: Tonight's job is a female client, mid 20s, lives in a separate address to her boyfriend and she just suspects him. He goes to the gym and does he go to the gym? What does he do after that? Is it all above board? If he does go straight home that's one of the questions like, you know, he's not available for me on a Tuesday night. If he does go straight home what else could be the case?

We're getting a bit close now so you might want to put that camera down. We've pulled up some distance from our target. Pulled upside a house with a hedge so that the people who live in that house can't actually see us and so now our job is to sit back and wait.

We take what's called an establishing shot, basically to prove to the client that you're in position at the right time. We also have a bag camera, hidden camera in this one. I'm showing you all the tricks of the trade here. There's a lens in there. You've got to be discreet. You can't walk in with this held up. You've got to have something that's going to film more discreetly.

There we go, that looks like our guy, doesn't it? He had a backpack over his back. That's him for sure. Car just"¦. hazard lights went on, so he's unlocked it. The hardest part of a mobile surveillance is the take off.

REPORTER: Why's that?

DAVID KING: Well because they can get away so quickly"¦. Is he still there? I reckon he might have "‘ he might have got around that corner.

REPORTER: So we've lost him?

DAVID KING: Yes, we have but I'm not overly concerned. Now the longest red arrow you've ever seen. Camera down, camera down, camera down, I think that's him there"¦.Camera down"¦.. That's him just there on the left. He's not even looking at us. So he's not suss, that's good.

REPORTER: What are you doing now, David?

DAVID KING: Just a shot of him now just walking through the trees there because that's going to tell you where he is. What's her name? Just to let her know he's at the gym. You don't normally look over your shoulder unless you're doing something really badly wrong otherwise you've got not reason to look.

REPORTER: Tell us what's happening now?

DAVID KING: Well we've been here half an hour. Target's obviously in the gym doing his workout. We've just got to sit and wait now.

Our boy's back and he's alone. It's going to be a car chase. What time is it now, 20:45 so he was in there for 45 minutes, didn't do a full hour and he's normally out of touch until 11 or so, if she hears from him at all. It's a situation we have to be behind him to turn around this corner.

Oh well, looks like we're going to the pub. I'm certainly going to have to get out here. Come on buddy, move, it, move it, move it. I'll leave you guys here for a moment"¦ I'll get back to you.

REPORTER: So what's happening?

DAVID KING: He's met a young lady. With this camera we'll be able to film their entire "‘ I assume they're going to have a drink or two.

REPORTER: How did you go?

DAVID KING: They had dinner, desert, a couple of drinks, they leaned in very, very close at one stage, it's going to be one of those ones that the client's going to have to make her own decision.

REPORTER: Were you able to film much in the pub?

DAVID KING: Yeah, I had the bag cam going the entire time. Well they're leaving"¦. we're following now to see where they're going. So we're heading back towards his place. If she goes into his house is that not something the client's going to be interested in? There's two, came out on film. Front door open. Okay. That was exciting.

REPORTER: So what do you think you've got?

DAVID KING: See all that - that took two minutes from where they just left to here, the whole thing took two minutes. What, we waited a couple of hours for it. We don't know who this girl is, this is the thing. It's going to come down with a bit of a chat with the client to see if she might have a clue. I better call this client. It's David, yeah, David the investigator, how are you? As they walked in the door there was a blonde girl sitting in there waiting for him. They had a bit of a euro welcome, when I say euro welcome it was a bit innocuous. There was nothing to it. There was not a big hug or kiss, it was just like the euro kiss. Yes, I guess the intimate is there, they weren't doing anything, it's natural. I'm at the stage you're going to have to see the video yourself to make any, you know, life decisions. No problems. Okay, alright. Alright, bye.

JENNY BROCKIE: David, what happened when your client saw the video?

DAVID KING: I didn't hear from her straight away. Um, in fact I had to call her today because I knew you'd want an update. Um, she saw the video, she didn't hate what she saw, it was just a person, it was just another female. She then talked to him about, you know, trying to get information out of him without him realising what had happened, what she knows and he said that after the gym he did meet a girl from university and that was at the pub and that didn't mention him going back to his place but she's not overly worried about that because his parents live there as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so she got a story that satisfied her but she's still hiring you and presumably paying you quite a lot of money to do this, yeah?

DAVID KING: Well this was the first night. It's one of those ones where she may come back "‘ she's still deciding whether to go again.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how many people "‘ she's 23?

DAVID KING: Not sure the age of the client but the guy there was 25, I think.

JENNY BROCKIE: How much do you charge and how many people pay money for that sort of thing?

DAVID KING: Well we charge an hourly rate because we don't know how long a job's going to take so we just bill our hours out at $95 an hour, the same price as a plumber but it can get up there. That was only a few hours that job but I've had jobs that go for months or years. One client pent half million dollars over four years.

JENNY BROCKIE: Half a million dollars over four years to get what?

DAVID KING: Whatever satisfied, um, her needs.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. How often do you catch someone just quickly?

DAVID KING: I reckon 80% of the time, not on the first night, but out of every "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: A few eyes rolling back here I have to say. There are quite a few people watching that just stunned.

DAVID KING: 100 people that come to us I reckon we'd probably get a result on 80. There might be even a bit higher if they kept going, could afford a little bit more.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, a bit of spruiking going on here, too, I think for the business. But anyway, how common do people think cheating is? Darryl, do you think it's common?

DARRYL STANLEY: With guys it's about 70% maybe, 60 to 70%.

JENNY BROCKIE: 60 to 70% of guys cheat on their partners?

DARRYL STANLEY: I think so.

HOLLY HILL: ... you would not get a single man that was mentally monogamous.

JENNY BROCKIE: Any of the men like to take issue with that?

MAN: Please explain.

HOLLY HILL: Well it's part of man's biology, it is the way nature made me to look at women of the opposite sex and to think about whether he would like sex or not with them. So I'm not saying or suggesting for a moment that he actually does the deed but he thinks about it a lot.

MAN: If you look or perve at someone so to speak that's classified as an act?

HOLLY HILL: Absolutely, that's classified as mental monogamy - it’s mental infidelity if you like.

JENNY BROCKIE: Darryl, tell us your story because, um, what happened with your second wife just before you married her, tell us what happened?

DARRYL STANLEY: I did the wrong thing before we were married and then about "‘ we got married "‘ we got married but it was never the same. I told her, um, what had happened and the relationship was never "‘ it was always on edge all the time.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you were living with someone else when you started seeing Rachel?

DARRYL STANLEY: I was yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Who's your partner now. Um, Rachel, how do you feel about Darryl given that history?

RACHEL VINER: Um, he's been very honest with me and I wasn't incredibly happy about our start but, um, he was very honest in "‘ I basically "‘ into about two weeks he told me, he turned up at my house unexpectedly and just looked very guilty and he just came out with it and he said, "I'm living with someone" and I was devastated, of course, and I just said "‘ he said, "I'll leave if you want me to" and we talked about it and I said "‘ I felt a very strong connection with him and I said, I'm going to give you this chance to find out what you want to do but until then there is no more."

JENNY BROCKIE: Now you've got strong feelings about cheating too, haven't you?

RACHEL VINER: I do. I think if you're in a committed relationship with someone that, um, it's just not on and I don't think you ever recover. I have had a previous, um, serious relationship where the partner cheated on me and I was quite young and I forgave them and we just kept going on and on and then something else happened, he was actually with the same person, and he said, "Oh, nothing happened." And nothing may have happened but it was the act of wanting to be with that person without me around, wanting to confide things in that person that he didn't want to confide in me. To me that's, that's a type of infidelity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so it wasn't just about sex for you, it's about more than that?

RACHEL VINER: Absolutely.

JENNY BROCKIE: Infidelity is more than just about sex?

RACHEL VINER: It ruined the trust that we had and that was a core issue as to why we broke up, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so Darryl, how confident are you that you can be monogamous?

DARRYL STANLEY: I feel pretty good now. It's, um, I think in some ways when you cheat on someone it's sometimes it's self"‘esteem, problems with your self"‘esteem where you think that, um, oh, there's a conquest, oh, I can get that, I can do that. Um, I feel good now but it's still "‘ it's even though, um, you feel good, like Rachel will ring me and she will say "Where are you?" And I'll think oh, Rachel thinks I'm somewhere else, you know, she doesn't think I'm actually where I am and that's always in the back of your mind.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, but how much temptation is out there?

DARRYL STANLEY: There's a lot of temptation out there, there is, and it's like you said that 100% monogamy, mental monogamy is really difficult and you're right, it's more probably 110%. It's just a man

JENNY BROCKIE: How are you feeling, Rachel?

RACHEL VINER: I do feel confident. He is a plumber and he is in a different place all the time. Part of the reason I ask where he is I'm fascinated as to which suburb he's in now and what he's doing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sure, sure.

RACHEL VINER: It is.

JENNY BROCKIE: Being a plumber how much temptation is out there?

DARRYL STANLEY: I say I'm here where are you I'm where I wanna be where are you - don't question me.

JENNY BROCKIE: Is there much temptation out will there in the world of plumbing, Darryl?

DARRYL STANLEY: Oh, yeah, there is, there is sometimes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Jo, I wanted to talk to you about what happened two years into your relationship with your partner Shaun, tell us what happened?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: Um, I was unfaithful about, yeah, roughly two years into the relationship. Um, it wasn't anything to do with the relationship and I think that's where people say that it's a very selfish thing that you do, but in that way it is but in that way it's also not a reflection on your partner or on the status of the relationship at that time.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what was it about? Just sex?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: Habit, um"‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Habit, what habit? The habit of cheating or "‘

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: No, the habit of wanting to be the person that I was before the relationship, I think. Um, I felt that I'd lost a part of myself and I wanted to get it back for a little while.

JENNY BROCKIE: So was it a one"‘off fling or was it an affair?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: Yeah, it was a one off.

JENNY BROCKIE: It was one off. How did it make you feel, Shaun?

SHAUN HOGAN: It hurt, yeah. It did really destroy me.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what was the worst thing about it for you? Was it the sexual betrayal? Was there lying involved in this?

SHAUN HOGAN: Yeah, well there was, yeah, there was lying involved. Yeah, it was the more the lying about it then anything.

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: I think that's "‘

SHAUN HOGAN: Yeah, and the sex thing as well, it's "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Have you ever cheated on anyone?

SHAUN HOGAN: No.

JENNY BROCKIE: No. And have you got "‘ have you got regrets about it, Jo?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: Yeah, I do.

JENNY BROCKIE: And where has it left the two of you in terms of your relationship?

SHAUN HOGAN: I think our relationship's probably stronger now than it was before all that happened.

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: Definitely.

JENNY BROCKIE: Graham, um, you were a Baptist minister when you had an affair with a member of your congregation. Why couldn't you practice what you preached?

GRAHAM LONG: Actually I'm happy to blame the Baptist but I wasn't.

JENNY BROCKIE: Oh, I thought you were.

GRAHAM LONG: I was a Church of Christ pastor but they'd probably be happy for me to claim to be a Baptist.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry to all the Baptists at home.

GRAHAM LONG: Um, I think you put your finger right on it. The core of the infidelity was not practising what I preached so there was an infidelity that left, um, my word being not authentic. There was cover up and there was lies"¦.It was 11 years ago and I visited great heartache upon everyone I loved.

JENNY BROCKIE: But why? Why did you do it?

GRAHAM LONG: You know what, the more time goes by the more I think, um, the question of why matters less. The big question is that it happened, not why.

JENNY BROCKIE: A lot of people want to know the why though. I mean are you avoiding the why?

GRAHAM LONG: Um, look, at the time why is important, I think, but I suspect, um, it's less important than you think. I think in the end it's about taking responsibility for what you do and at the time that mayhem is taking place you look for a thousand reasons why and you can always find them.

JENNY BROCKIE: I'd like to talk about faithfulness and fidelity a little bit more. Lyndal, tell us what happened to you just after you'd had your first child?

LYNDAL COON: I actually thought Andrew was having an affair with, um, just a friend of ours. Um, and discovered "‘ I thought it was a girlfriend, and discovered that he was actually having sexual relations with men. So "‘ and, um, so not only did I discover cheating, I had a double whammy with I was also discovering about his sexuality. So which was very traumatic at the time, because yeah, our baby "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: How long ago was this?

LYNDAL COON: This was actually 17 years ago and our first child was only about, yeah, a few weeks old. So it was really dealing with that as well, um, that was just "‘ I don't think I've ever been in a situation like that before. So it was, um "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: And Andrew, what was it about? Was it about wanting to have sex with men more than with women? Was it about exploring being day gay, being bisexual, what was it about? Was it about the sex? Was it about emotional need?

ANDREW COON: Yeah, it was about the sex. I was "‘ well an attraction to men as well as to women and I was getting from men what I wasn't getting from Lyndal. And it was something that had been happening before we got together. Okay, I know that "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Did she know that before?

ANDREW COON: No, no, I didn't tell. It was my secret, my lie, um, and it wasn't until yeah, we'd been together for a couple of years and that it actually came out.

JENNY BROCKIE: So Lyndal, how did you deal with that?

LYNDAL COON: Terribly, really, I think I was an emotional wreck. I was angry, I was hurt, I thought I would never be able to trust Andrew again or forgive him. Um "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: That sounds pretty normal to me actually, not terrible.

LYNDAL COON: Yeah, um, and I think "‘ see for me too I was "‘ I wasn't aware at the time, I'm more aware now, that I, um, I had this belief that I wasn't good enough but with the disclosure, I had changed that to belief that now I wasn't even enough. You know, at least had it been a woman I felt I could have got a boob job or, you know, gone to the gym and worked on my body and my being, that's the way I thought back then but with, you know, having to compete with a man, I just didn't have the equipment. So, you know, I was now not enough. So "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: So you're still together?

LYNDAL COON: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how did you get through this?

LYNDAL COON: Look, you know.

ANDREW COON: A long journey.

LYNDAL COON: Yeah, it was long journey.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what's the deal now between the two of you?

LYNDAL COON: We have a great sexual relationship. I've bought my imitation equipment. So I can actually, um, pleasure Andrew in the way "‘ other way he likes to be pleasured. We have a great, I think so, don't we?

ANDREW COON: Yep.

LYNDAL COON: However, you know, I've worked a lot on myself that, um, I believe that if Andrew ever wanted to go out and have sex with a man just to get his rocks off, then that's great. You know, I appreciate him for who he is and totally accept and embrace his whole person.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, and how, Andrew, would you feel if Lyndal went and got her rocks off, however she wanted to with someone else?

ANDREW COON: I'd be okay with it because we've also "‘ part of the growing through what we went through, was for me to learn to be honest and "‘ or for us to both be honest in our relationship, talk about what happens and what we also desire, um, but also we have an agreement that, um, if there was a need to go and get your rocks off with someone else we'd actually discuss it first. So, um, so yeah, so it's something that we're open about, um, if the situation arises then, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: See, every one of these stories we could stay and talk about for a very long time and I want to get through a few of them but I also want to ask people just what you think infidelity is because it's different things to different people, Darryl, what do you think it is?

DARRYL STANLEY: I think everyone's got different standards. Everybody's different so some person's weird is someone else's bizarre and someone's normal, so I think people have a different idea what infidelity is about so some people "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: And for you what is it for you?

DARRYL STANLEY: I think ace it's, um, making love with someone that's not your partner.

JENNY BROCKIE: Emma, you discovered that your ex"‘husband was chatting to women online.

EMMA WHYTE: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: When did that cross the line for you?

EMMA WHYTE: Well it crossed the line probably immediately after I found out because it wasn't as though he was on social networking sites. He was specifically chatting with people through pornographic sites and sites specifically targeted at sexuality. So "¦.

JENNY BROCKIE: But had he been using pornographic sites before that that weren't chat rooms – that were just pornographic sites?

EMMA WHYTE: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did you feel about that?

EMMA WHYTE: Look, I wasn't really in the know about it. I was very happy to be, um, deeply entrenched in denial because I had two small children with him and to me sacrificing my own feel feelings for the benefit of our family was the most important thing. So I sort of pretended as though none of it was happening. But once I found out there was chatting online as well, I don't know, I guess in hindsight, um, the sexual stuff was something that I could almost kid myself into living with but, um, the thought that he might be actually talking to those people as well was a deal breaker.

JENNY BROCKIE: So making a connection in that context was the problem?

EMMA WHYTE: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yes.

HOLLY HILLN: We've got this confusion where I suspect that women have sex for intimacy and men have sex merely as "‘ to get their rocks off. They're like little pressure cookers and sometimes they need to go off and if a woman crosses her legs and denies her partner sex, I think she's very not "‘ is very naive in thinking that her partner won't go out and pursue it elsewhere. It is nature, um, that is demanding that he let off this little pressure cooker and if a woman crosses her legs and denies him that opportunity she needs to be able to provide him with some alternative, whether that be pornography or being able to perve at some strippers in a club, but she needs to negotiate some alternative for her husband if she loves him and wants him to be happy.

JENNY BROCKIE: Phil, you're sitting here very quietly as Holly's partner, I wonder what you have to say about this.

PHIL DEAN: I think the relationship works both ways. If Holly feel she's wants to go and have sex with other people, um, that's fine by me. Um "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: But how do you have sex without there being some emotional connection happening or without there being some "‘ not necessarily connection "‘ emotional connection but the point that people have been making about, you know, this idea that you can just miraculously always separate sex from emotion.

PHIL DEAN: There is, I think there is some element of emotion involved with sex. But, um, in our relationship we've agreed by way of negotiation what the boundaries of that emotion that we're prepared to let each other go as far with other people with is. Um, and, you know, we've spoken about the different reasons for that, you know, different "‘ the make"‘up of men and women are different. Um, but it just to my mind comes down to the trust within the relationship and the open communication between the two people.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rosie King, you're a sex and relationship therapist, how do you define infidelity because we're getting lots of different descriptions here?

ROSIE KING, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST: Well I categorise, um, infidelity and people who cheat into three categories and the first are the opportunists and that's where you get a bit drunk one night you meet someone at a bar or you have the office party and the opportunity comes back "‘ comes up and you just do it. Then there are the philanderers, right, and these are when they're men they're called womanisers, if they're women, you know, we use pejorative terms like, you know, she's a slut or something like that. But these are people who love the novelty and the excitement of the chase, they, um, like "‘ sometimes they like anonymous sex, sometimes they like to have their egos stroked but these are people who may have just one person or one person after another, or even a whole lot of people on the go and they are serial philanderers. Now the third group are the disenchanted. These are the people who have some sort of problem in their relationship, they're not completely happy in the relationship. Now you ask about whether it's all about sex. Now Gary Newman who wrote 'Why Men Cheat' asked men about this in a survey and he found that 60% of men said the reason they cheated was because they were emotionally dissatisfied, right. They said that they weren't appreciated by their wives, their wives weren't caring or thoughtful enough and 30% said it was about sex and what's really interesting in my clinical practice is a lot of men tell me that sex outside their marriage is actually not as good as the sex they have inside the marriage, that in fact the sex they have with their wives is better. So I don't believe it's just about sex. I think it's a very complicated phenomenon.

JENNY BROCKIE: We are talking about infidelity and people negotiate relationships in all sorts of ways as you've already heard, so is it better or worse to know if your partner is being unfaithful? Graham, what prompted you to tell your wife?

GRAHAM LONG: I don't like to admit this but it was when I saw the writing on the wall and it was all going to become public. Um, I took myself out of the ministry a couple of years before this all came out and, um, and, um, eventually there was a groundswell of people who decided it was time to, um, get the truth out and when I saw the writing on the wall suddenly I became brave enough to confess.

JENNY BROCKIE: So do you think you would have told your wife, and she chose not to come here tonight, do you think you would have told her if the other woman hadn't made a complaint to the Church?

GRAHAM LONG: Um, I don't like to admit this but I think the answer is that I probably wouldn't have, um, but the, the way it worked was such a public confrontation that caused us to get counselling and all kinds of help and we've learned in our old age, um, that had I been able to talk about lots of things as time went by, um, we would have found a way. We've become pretty good at being breathtakingly honest with one another and finding a way to still love one another and, um, I think if, you know, I was less mature.

JENNY BROCKIE: How long ago was it?

GRAHAM LONG: 11 years.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, and what do you advise other people to do now as a minister in terms of telling or not telling?

GRAHAM LONG: One of the great regrets of my life is that I didn't tell my wife the next day and also the Church.

JENNY BROCKIE: So, is telling universally then the right thing to do?

GRAHAM LONG: I don't know. I've helped lots of other people through all of this and there's been times when, you know, if you could download my brain it would make quite a book because, you know, I've supported lots and lots of people through this situation and I'm not quite sure whether it's right to say it's always best to tell or not, um, but I can say in my case I really regret that I didn't and what I value above all else these days is the honesty that we now have and the freedom that we always know, you know, we can count on each other.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do people think, to tell or not to tell? Absolutely, Rachel.

RACHEL VINER: And it's not an easy thing to do but infidelity is all about honesty and it's not honesty about two people, it's about that person who's cheated or done the wrong thing being honest with themselves and the moment they are honest I think they feel a relief because they've had to acknowledge what they've done, that it wasn't the right thing within their relationship, otherwise it wouldn't be infidelity in their relationship and even though it's hard to stomach if you're the other person, it's "‘ you need to know. Of course it's the right thing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rosie, you wanted to say something about telling or not telling, what do you think is better?

ROSIE KING: Yes, well I think telling can be good in that it sets a basis for honesty from which the relationship can then grow. But I think you have to be very careful about telling and the reasons why you're doing it because you may simply be trying to unburden your own guilt and what you do by doing that is you plunge your partner into an absolute nightmare. The other thing is that if you think you're going to unburden your guilt, what you're hoping for, and to be whole, you need to be completely forgiven. Now forgiveness is something that can take many, many, many, many years after an affair. So while "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Lyndal's nodding very knowingly over there. Yeah.

ROSIE KING: So if you think by telling the truth, um, that, you know, you're going to have this wonderful epiphany and feel wonderful and your partner's going to forgive you I think you can forget about that.

JENNY BROCKIE: But not telling often involves lying and covering up and that destroys trust anyway.

ROSIE KING: Absolutely but what we're not talking about is the fact that many people get found out. They don't get the choice about whether they tell or not. They get busted. Um, and so that there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't tell, who get found out anyway.

JENNY BROCKIE: So are you saying you wait until you get busted?

ROSIE KING: No. What I'm saying "‘ I would counsel on a case"‘by"‘case basis and I would examine very, very closely the cheater's reasons for wanting to disclose.

JENNY BROCKIE: So that's the most important thing is what the "‘

ROSIE KING: What are you expecting from this? Are you doing this for you or are you doing it for your partner and for your relationship because if you're doing it for you, alright, you carry the secret, that is the penance that you pay for your moments of pleasure, alright. Many people actually believe "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: That's interesting, so that's the payback?

ROSIE KING: That's the payback, you carry the secret.

JENNY BROCKIE: Shaun, how did you find out that Jo had cheated?

SHAUN HOGAN: Well, I had my suspicions but nothing I could really prove. Um, just text messages and disappearing at odd times. Things like that.

JENNY BROCKIE: And would it have been better if you'd been told? Would it have made any difference?

SHAUN HOGAN: I don't know if "‘ it probably wouldn't have made it any easier but I think "‘ it's hard to say. I don't know whether it would have been better to know at the time or not.

JENNY BROCKIE: Heidi, how did you find out?

HEIDI EICHLER: Through Facebook photos. I was going out with a guy about a year ago and found some inappropriate photos of him with another girl and we weren't friends, I was just having a big snoop and, um, I asked him, I said, "Were you with this girl when we were together" and he said yeah and I, um, as soon as I found out never talked to him again and I think that's good if you know because then you can assess do I want to work on this relationship? Is it "‘ do I want to be with this person or not and I was like no.

JENNY BROCKIE: Holly.

HOLLY HILL: I think it depends on the act a little bit though. I think if it's, um, you know, some drunken encounter at a Christmas party that, um, you're wracked with guilt, you can half remember the whole thing, um, and to destroy a relationship with perhaps who may be your soul mate, um, as opposed to, you know, years of deception and, you know, pilfering money so that you can support a mistress is a very different kettle of fish. You know, we're risen from apes, not fallen from angels so we should be a little bit, um, forgiving of, you know, the drunken encounter at a Christmas party where some secretary's throwing herself at your husband.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rachel, would you be?

DARRYL STANLEY: I don't think it makes a difference whether it's a drunken encounter, whether it's a secretary that's throwing herself at you or not if you make the mistake you wear it.

RACHEL VINER: And alcohol is no excuse for bad behaviour. Just because you get drunk you don't get to say "I'm not responsible, I was drunk." I just do not wear that one at all.

JENNY BROCKIE: And Rosie, how often do people not tell to protect the other person, really protect the other person and how often do people not tell because of what you said before, that they're actually protecting themselves?

ROSIE KING: I don't think we can know that. I don't think we can know that. I'd just like to get back to that point of wanting to know, because one of the things that I'm hearing is for the person who's cheated on who is kind of suspicious and the partner keeps saying, "No, I'm not doing anything", it's very crazy making, alright. It debates your reality and it makes you nuts and so sometimes knowing actually is a huge relief because god, I'm not crazy after all, you know, all my suspicions were correct and under those circumstances I think it can be a great relief to know.

JENNY BROCKIE: And when the cheating is actually about leaving without saying you're leaving?

ROSIE KING: Yeah, yeah, well I mean cheating is a way of leaving the relationship, you know. You're geographically probably sill in the relationship but emotionally you've left.

JENNY BROCKIE: You're long gone.

ROSIE KING: Absolutely.

JENNY BROCKIE: David, just a final question on this particular area for you, what do your clients do when they've got the evidence that their partner is being unfaithful? What do they do with it mostly?

 

DAVID KING: A lot sit on it, um, and don't do anything with it. It's a knowledge thing, they know now. It's more like a relief scenario. I can see the relief in people's faces when, you know, you present some evidence and it's just they're so relieved. What they do with it after that it varies but a lot sit on it. You know.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how much do you know what happens after that? How many of them stay together and how many split up and then how many come back for repeat business in five years time?

DAVID KING: I don't hear back from everybody obviously but you'd be surprised how many people do come back with a problem with the same partner, potential problem with a new partner, the trust thing burns into them from there on in and you will surprised how many come back and try again with somebody else, try again with the same partner, it's very, very common.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yes.

ESHUA BOLTON: I don't think there's any such thing as an accidental affair or a drunken mishap. I think the mental infidelity happens well before that and that people are already on some level in their being preparing themselves for an act and to tell can happen a lot earlier before an action even and so "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Have you done that?

ESHUA BOLTON: I've been on both sides.

JENNY BROCKIE: So, on both sides meaning?

ESHUA BOLTON: Meaning I've felt it coming and I communicated it before I actually went through with the action. Um, and then, um, you know, my current relationship is "‘ it's very different set up all together.

JENNY BROCKIE: In what sense?

ESHUA BOLTON: Well we're in a polyandrous relationship and so "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: What does that mean?

ESHUA BOLTON: We have negotiated infidelity with "‘ we have "‘ it's, polyandry means, um, to be in a committed, responsible, ethical, non"‘monogamous relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE: We're talking about infidelity, how people negotiate their relationships and why some couples survive an affair or a fling when others don't. Eshua, just before the break you talked about an ethical non"‘monogamous relationship and there was a bit of a gasp around the room so I'd just like you to explain what you meant very quickly.

ESHUA BOLTON: Both Lotah and I entered into our current relationship five years ago with the understanding that we weren't into monogamy. It just doesn't work for us. Um, it it's very much a committed relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how do you negotiate then?

LOTAH BOLTON:What happened for us was, um, we've both been, we've been both experimenting with relationship for a long time and we'd, um, explored monogamy, me with men and also with women, um, and when I met Eshua I actually didn't think I was ever going to be with a man again and, um, when I met him I said to him that it's actually true for me because I love women.

ESHUA BOLTON: She said, "If you think I'm going to be in a relationship with you and only you for the rest of your life you've got the wrong woman." So "‘

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so what are the rules though? You say that you make that work, how do you make it work?

LOTAH BOLTON: We have a relationship agreement to be truthful always and that also includes, um, we have an agreement about not lying by omission. So if there's something that I feel that I ought to tell my husband and I'm not telling him, that's also lying. So one of our agreements is that we tell whatever we think is appropriate. Um, we also have agreements around safe sex. We have agreements around, um, the sharing of time.

ESHUA BOLTON: Responsibility of children.

JENNY BROCKIE: Would you recommend this to other people?

ESHUA BOLTON: Um, I think you "‘ there's a lot of talk about men and women but I think there's very much personalities, there's very clearly defined personality groups within men and within women that transcend the gender and there are people who are like us that don't agree with monogamy and if you can be honest about that then you can find like"‘minded people and there's also people who are naturally monogamous.

HOLLY HILL: There' not a lot of people understanding that monogamy is unnatural and it's a bit like the matrix cocoon and when you burst out of the matrix cocoon and you realise monogamy is unnatural and you do experiment with alternative lifestyles you can't go back it.

JENNY BROCKIE: It works for you it doesn't necessarily work for other people and where do kids fit in with both of these because both of you have kids, where do the kids fit in what do you tell them?

ESHUA BOLTON: Being transparent about that and being absolutely honest and in my own integrity I'm modelling to my children that it's okay to be who you are and I don't expect them to be in an open relationship when they grow up or in a monogamous relationship, they can choose for themselves. I hope that my children look at me and see somebody who stands in their truth and integrity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, I'm going to move on but I just want a quick comment from Rosie listening to this, how common is this sort of arrangement with people?

ROSIE KING: Um, I certain certainly see it in my clinical practice, usually when it runs into trouble, and that means when one partner doesn't want to do it anymore. So I see a very biased sample. Certainly I think it's so important to talk about love, um, in this situation because these, you know, this is obviously a couple who love each other very much but don't feel that they're limited by the confines of a monogamous relationship in terms of that love. Um, and I guess what we're learning tonight is that it's different strokes for different blokes, it's whatever works for you personally and that it shouldn't be prescribed what any of us should be doing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jo?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: I'm looking at the two people in front of me and I'm thinking that's "‘ that's pretty much as perfect as it could get really.

JENNY BROCKIE: That's what you'd like to achieve?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: That's what I always wanted and the part that I really wanted to pick out that you said was that you've got to find a like"‘minded person but what if the person you fall in love with isn't and I always presumed when I was younger, as a lot of the presumptions I had when I was younger, I thought things would just work out that way. I didn't see that there was any way I could ever fall in love with somebody that wanted to be monogamous because that just wasn't how I was. And, it didn't work that way.

JENNY BROCKIE: You did because Shaun, you wan to be monogamous?

SHAUN HOGAN: Well I did.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you still?

SHAUN HOGAN: I'm starting to see things more like what these guys "‘ I could totally see where these guys are coming from. I think monogamy sometimes doesn't work, as much as I thought it would, I can see the other side of it as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jo, why are you crying? Do you want me to come back to you?

JO RENSEN"‘WALLACE: No, it's okay, it's okay. It's just, um, all the rules and everything you set up, it's all about how you wish things were and, um, I think it comes down to how things are today and how they might be tomorrow and you really just, you don't know what's going to hurt and what isn't going to hurt and I didn't speak up earlier when you asked what the definition of infidelity is but I have my own definition of infidelity and that's whatever hurts at that particular second in time and it's not what act it is, it's if it hurts you and if it hurts you it's infidelity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Let's talk about what happens when people have been unfaithful or when infidelity in whatever form has occurred but a form that's hurt the partner, that's created real hurt and real damage. Um, Graham, your wife stood by you after this. She chose not to be here tonight as I mentioned, um, what's the agreement you have with her now?

GRAHAM LONG: Um, she's not here because she's wired differently to me. She doesn't discuss private pain in public and I respect that

JENNY BROCKIE: And she doesn't mind you doing it?

GRAHAM LONG: I don't think she's all that comfortable but I don't think I'm all that comfortable either. This is not "‘ this is not very easy stuff.

JENNY BROCKIE: I don't think it's easy stuff for a lot of people.

GRAHAM LONG: Yeah, so I respect her position completely.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what is the agreement you have now? Have you created rules now?

GRAHAM LONG: Absolutely. Clear as a bell, um, and that is, um, we are to trust each other absolutely, that what I say indicates exactly the way it is, that I'm always where I say I am and our sexual relationship is entirely a private matter.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you've also got a rule around alcohol, can you explain that?

GRAHAM LONG: About alcohol? I tend not to drink except with her, in her company, and then my rule is two is enough. By the time "‘ I reckon by the third drink my judgment is being affected.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you don't trust yourself?

GRAHAM LONG: I don't.

JENNY BROCKIE: Could you have survived her cheating on you?

GRAHAM LONG: I don't know. I don't know. I'm amazed that she survived me cheating.

JENNY BROCKIE: But that doesn't answer the question?

GRAHAM LONG: No. I really don't know. I really don't know. I, I can only imagine, um, that I would like to think that we would have survived but I can't say that.

JENNY BROCKIE: Lyndal and Andrew, you have two teenage children, did that influence your decision to stay together?

LYNDAL COON: No. I think actually there was a connection, whether it be a soul connection or there was a love that was just so strong and a bond even though it was in chaos, that I think that's what actually got us through. Um, and I think, I think having the kids and growing with them and all learning about unconditional love and it's not about changing people to suit my beliefs at that time, um, was really, I think, what got us through. I actually see our situation and what Andrew has given me now as a gift. Um, I think I'm certainly a better person. I think our relationship is so much better. We're more in love today than what we were 22 years ago dating.

JENNY BROCKIE: Is that right, Andrew?

ANDREW COON: Absolutely, yeah.

LYNDAL COON: And I think our kids have been very fortunate to see the ups and downs and the struggles and the light at the end of the tunnel and the celebration in the relationship that we have as a family. You know, and also a part of me, you know, like this is, you know, the first time we've really spoken publicly like this, you know. We're all a bit nervous because of the delicate content, yet we're not unique. This happens to so many people, um, and I think, you know, just to show that you can do it if you choose to do it. You know, it takes hard work. It was hard work, I think, on all accounts but for us it's just so worth it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rosie, do you think we're meant to be monogamous? Our culture says we should be, that's what our culture says in broad terms that's what our culture says. It's certainly the reaction people get when people are caught out.

ROSIE KING: Look, I think from an evolutionary point of view the answer is no, we're not meant to be monogamous or if we are meant to be monogamous we're meant to be serial monogamists like animals who come together and mate for a season and then go on and breed with somebody else. The evolutionary benefits of infidelity or polyandry or sex outside a pair bond for a man are of course spreading of his seed in the gene pool. That's the benefits for him. The benefits for a woman of having sex outside a pair bond is that she's got someone else who could possibly provide for her and her children and she's got another bloke on the backburner just in case her guy goes out hunting and gets killed. So if you can face problems without turning away from each other, if you can grapple with each other and your problems, um, and the end result is that you grow and you mature and, um, I think that many people recognise the benefits of monogamy even though perhaps their ancient sort of prehistoric, um, nature is perhaps not, perhaps not monogamous.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do other people think? How many people think "‘

ESHUA BOLTON: That those things aren't mutually exclusive, we're absolutely committed to one another in every way and our family and to our spiritual growth, our personal growth, to honesty and integrity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Lyndal, what are the rules with you and Andrew now?

LYNDAL COON: We actually just talk. I think the biggest thing for us was communication and I think for me really listening is the key to everything. It's about having the conversations early, you know, and like, you know, we have an agreement that, um, you know, the imitation device is just not the same as the real thing so if there is ever that desire to go out there and have the real thing then we talk about it before it happens.

JENNY BROCKIE: Rachel, you're not looking like you're convinced at all about this?

RACHEL VINER: I admire people that can be that honest and have that relationship, that is not for me and maybe in 20 years time I'll change my mind.

JENNY BROCKIE: Or maybe you won't.

RACHEL VINER: That's exactly right. At the moment being intimate sexually or otherwise is precious. I can't imagine sharing it with more than one person. I don't think I've got that much time or energy and I don't want to.

JENNY BROCKIE: And Darryl, what's going to keep you on the straight and narrow?

DARRYL STANELY: She's greedy.

JENNY BROCKIE: What did you say?

DARRYL STANLEY: She's greedy.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what's going to keep you on the straight and narrow?

DARRYL STANLEY: I think it's when you make a mistake you move forward and you try to improve yourself. I think monogamy it's a personal decision. Everyone's got a different takes on it and they make their decision within their relationship.

RACHEL VINER: I think the fact that he said he made a mistake means he believes in it otherwise he may not feel that way. He may well think I just feel like doing that and what's the problem and he doesn't feel like that.

JENNY BROCKIE: To be continued I think this discussion. Thank you all very much for joining us and you can keep talking to our guests if you're in the eastern States just hop on to our website and click on our live chat. You can also tell your story. Just go to the Your Say page on the Insight website.