Oprah’s “Why Men Cheat” Controversy

Last week Oprah did a show called “How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage: Why Men Cheat Part 2.” I don’t know if she had the “Part 2” planned or not. From the previews it kind of sounded like they did it in response to all of the responses Part 1 generated.

It was the previews that caught my attention. Since I wasn’t going to be able to watch the show when it aired, I recorded it.

Saturday while Wayne and I were hanging out to nurse Murph, he was flipping through our recorded programs on the DVR and saw the Oprah one I’d saved.

“What’s this all about?” he asked, referring to the “Why Men Cheat” title that came up.

“Oh yeah. I forgot I recorded that. I wanted to see what they said and maybe write about it for the Marriage Blog.”

So we watched. And guess what? Here I am writing about the show. Go figure.

The Controversy

I didn’t see Part 1, but the expert Oprah had on, M. Gary Neuman, a marriage counselor, had written a book called The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It.

In addition to drawing on his 20 years as a marriage counselor, Mr. Neuman researched his book by interviewing 100 men. He discerned that one in 2.7 men will cheat, and that the majority of the women cheated on will never know. He also discovered that 92 percent of the men who had cheated said sex wasn’t their primary motivator.

The Reason Men Cheat

So if it’s not all about sex, why do men cheat? Mainly because they feel underappreciated.

And whose job is it to make her husband feel appreciated? Yep, the wife’s.

That’s what sparked the controversy. Mr. Neuman wasn’t exactly saying it was a woman’s fault if her man strays. Cheating’s wrong and the man should know better. But in essence he was alluding to the fact that a man wouldn’t think about straying if he was getting certain things at home from his wife.

The Response

Some women understood this. Me among them. It reminded me of another article I once wrote about the same observation. (And which some didn’t take too kindly too since the article only netted one star.)

Others were enraged by it. They felt men were being given a free pass and not being held responsible for their actions by blaming it on the woman.

Couples Who Have Been There

Of course no Oprah show would be complete without guests. The wives who had been cheated on were devastated, but they were trying to understand why. Why all the lying? What went wrong to lead their marriages down that path?

They didn’t like hearing that it was their husband’s ego they’d neglected. But it made sense to them. (Mostly.) It gave them a point to work forward from.

And it wasn’t that they were shouldering all the responsibility for their husbands’ affairs. It was acknowledged that the husband was wrong. But there’s also a psychology to cheating. Women who cheat suffer from the same cheating triggers. (Feeling underappreciated, unnoticed, taken for granted, etc.)

Knowing that can, as Mr. Neuman proposed, help couples affair-proof their marriages by instituting new behaviors.

Related Articles

The Psychology of Why Married Men Cheat, Part 1

What You Might Not Have Known About Affairs

True Love Doesn’t Equal Perfect Love

Straight Talk for Potential Two Timers

No Longer Attracted to Your Spouse?

What Kind of Wife…

Infidelity: Insult and Injury

Can a Marriage Survive and Affair?

Coping with an Unfaithful Spouse

Ten Signs That Your Spouse May Be Cheating

Photo credit: Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert
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