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'Adultery can save your marriage': academic writes the new rules of marriage

Date

John Bingham in London

An affair can save your marriage, says academic Catherine Hakim.

An affair can save your marriage, says academic Catherine Hakim. Photo: Steve Baccon

An "unforgiving, puritan Anglo-Saxon" attitude to adultery is damaging married life in Britain, driving couples to divorce rather than strengthening the family, according to an outspoken academic.

Catherine Hakim, a British social scientist and bestselling author who was educated in France, argues that a "sour and rigid English view" of infidelity is condemning millions of people to live frustrated "celibate" lives with their spouses. In a book bound to provoke controversy, she likens faithful husbands and wives to "caged animals" and argues that they should be free to explore their "wild side" with lovers without the threat of divorce.

Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal. 

Meeting a secret lover for a casual encounter should be as routine as dining out at a restaurant instead of eating at home, she claims.

British couples should take their cue from the French, who she claims are happier and have more stable home lives because of a permissive and "philosophical" approach to adultery.

Husbands in Britain could also learn much from the "experienced libertines" across the Channel whom, she insists, are the "masters of seduction".

Ms Hakim, a former London School of Economics social scientist now based at the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank, provoked controversy last year with her book Honey Money, which urged women to exploit their "erotic capital" to get on in life.

In her latest book, The New Rules, she renames adulterous trysts as "parallel relationships" and "playfairs", while rebranding secret lovers as "playmates".

She claims that there is such a thing as a "successful affair" in which both parties are happier but no one gets hurt. Countries, such as France and other southern European nations, with apparently more accepting attitudes to marital betrayal also have lower divorce rates, she points out.

Similarly, she lauds Japan with its Geisha traditions and greater acceptance of pornography in contrast to the "killjoys" in Britain and America.

"Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal," she writes.

"The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues.

"Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognise the benefits of a revitalised sex life outside the home."

She attacks the traditional morality that has underpinned the family unit for centuries but also accuses relationship counsellors and therapists of trying to "pedal a secret agenda of enforced exclusive monogamy". Her central argument is that the rise of the internet, which has made it easier for people to find new lovers, has brought about a change in sexual behaviour on a par with the invention of the contraceptive Pill. Adultery is now, she says, simply the "21st-century approach to marriage".

The book explores the world of dating websites specifically for married people in search of affairs. She argues that cuckolded husbands and wronged wives would be better to accept infidelity and try it out for themselves rather than growing bitter.

The Daily Telegraph, London

266 comments

  • Finally, someone speaking sense....

    Commenter
    Dos Santos
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 21, 2012, 11:32AM
    • Tiger Woods tried this idea...didn't save his marriage!

      Commenter
      play around
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 12:06PM
    • Those Cultural Marxists, at it again.

      Undermine the family unit, morality and traditional institutions so as to usher in a more collectivist, planned society, where we are all equally miserable and whipped by our learned overlords.

      Commenter
      Antonio Gramsci
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 12:15PM
    • I agree with Hakim's premise. Infidelity is not a morality issue. It's about whether the relationship can survive the exposure of one partner's affair. But there is an important qualification - those who give it must be able to take it. You take a lover and expect your partner to accept it, then so must you in the reverse position. Many would fail that test, I suspect. And that's assuming the partner with a lover doesn't come to prefer the lover.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 12:17PM
    • @ play around.. for poor ol tiger his problem was that he identified himself as a home person, if he had opf been like Sheen the problemn would not have existed. The other issue that Tiger had was he was worth a lot of money and he was the sugar daddy for a large number of women, sometimes thats just a tad hard to control. One also has to look to his spouse and see what her contribution was, as always it takes two to tango.

      Commenter
      lindsay
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 12:54PM
    • making sense you say? if you don't want to be in a monogamous relationship, don't get married. simple as that. this so called social scientist should be ashamed of herself.

      Commenter
      genotek
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 1:22PM
    • indeed. being in an academic environment myself, sometimes I feel ashamed of what some of these people do to get an attention

      Commenter
      genotek
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 1:24PM
    • Pretty obvious I would have thought.

      Have you ever wondered why so many Italians have multiple mobile phones?

      Commenter
      Alfred
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 1:46PM
    • @Antonio Gramsci

      Read my comment starting with Test of a good marriage.

      Written by a philosopher who was a retired Professor of Philology in 1878. He was not a Marxist. His was influenced by other literary giants such as Voltaire.

      Commenter
      caledonia
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 1:52PM
    • Funny how she mentions that the Brits should follow the French method. Don't French laws also allow for "Crimes of passion" to be excused? So you can have a spouse, cheat on them, but they get to kill you if they catch you doing it?
      Actually, that sounds pretty good.

      Commenter
      kozeyekan
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 1:56PM

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