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David Schnarch
Dr. David Schnarch


New ideas, important thoughts, and assorted musings


Why Rich and Powerful People Cheat

Part 3 of 4: Elin Woods' Dilemma: Celebrity Couples Are Set Up for Affairs

By Dr. David Schnarch

Author of Intimacy & Desire and Passionate Marriage


In  prior columns we considered two reasons why rich and powerful people cheat: their lifestyle promotes extramarital affairs, and they have the same personal shortcomings as everyone else.
Here let's zero in on the interplay of unique circumstances and common relationship issues that make affairs a particular  problem for celebrity or wealthy couples.

This is easiest to see if you consider this from Elin’s position as the wife of a powerful man. On the one hand, you could be a trophy wife, pumping up your husband’s ego just like everyone else. Unfortunately, this hero worship increases the likelihood your hubby will have an affair

On the other hand, you could be more of a solid person in yourself  (I’m inclined to give Elin the benefit of the doubt). Your job is to let out some of the air in your husband’s head,  keep him grounded in reality, and hold him accountable for his end of responsibilities in your marriage and family. In Elin’s case, you are 29 years old with a two year old and a 9 month old child. At worst you are set up to look like a nagging bitch, and at best, you don’t seem like much fun. Whereas other women are adoring, you are frustrated with your mate. Everyone else acts like they have no expectations for him, and light up when they’re around him. They are just happy to be in his presence and gladly go along with what ever HE wants to do.
 
You, in contrast, would like things you way some of the time. You also expect your husband to pick up his socks, take out the garbage, share childcare responsibility, and make you feel appreciated and important. It isn’t sufficient that he hire a stand-in to pick up his responsibilities. You want HIM to do them, You are also setup to look controlling, suspicious, and mistrusting, simply by fending off predatory women, who, in truth, ARE circling your man. You want your husband to account for his time and companions, although he accounts to no one else.
 
Put this all together, and you have conditions ripe for affairs. With far less provocation, opportunity, and encouragement, half to three quarters of all married partners end up having them. Certainly not all powerful and influential people have affairs.  There’s always the issue of individual decisions and personal responsibility. But between human frailties, grandiousity, insecurity, and feelings of entitlement, it’s understandable why and how these things happen.

In Part 4 I'll lay out some ideas of how I would approach a couple like Tiger and Elin Woods in treatment.