Secret Sex in the Suburbs
Vanessa had an affair that ended her seven-year marriage. A stay-at-home mom with two children, Vanessa said she was desperately lonely for attention as her husband, a pilot, was often not at home.
"At one point, my husband was so fed up with my wanting acknowledgement, he said, 'Why don't you just have an affair then?'" Vanessa says. "So I did. My lover spoiled me rotten with compliments, jewelry, flowers and love notes. Still, I experienced guilt, anger, denial and desperation like you would not have believed. I think my husband was too egotistical to think this could actually happen to him. Nonetheless, I have paid a very steep price in so many ways for my actions."
"It wasn't about any sort of physical gratification," Jennifer says. "It was about the tools that he had that taught me. His one song to me was you're intelligent, articulate and intuitive, and if you harness that you can do anything you want to do. … It wasn't about roses or about trips. It was about a sense of self that I didn't have before that I had now. And the physical part was completely unnecessary. It was that change in me as a human being."
"We interviewed dozens of women for this story," Lorraine says. "One of the consistent things was them saying, 'I really love my husband. He's a good guy. Our marriage is fairly stable. But I'm not getting these certain things I need from him,' and one of them was attention. … Cheating has always been looked at as a man's game, but women are living the lives of men now. You know, 60 percent of American women are working outside the house. Twenty-five percent of them are making more than their husband. They're financially independent. They have busy lives, and they're looking to blow off steam. But also, it's like, 'I deserve this.'
Stephanie: We would ask them, "If you came home one evening after having this affair, and you walked in the house and your husband had votive candles lit and was dressed beautifully, and he had a stew on the stove and a bottle of wine, and he looked at you and said, 'Tell me how to love you, tell me what it is I need to do to show you I love you,' what would you do? Would you leave your lover?" And every one of them cried and said that's what they want. They want their marriage. They want their husband.
Adrienne: We basically found that these women wanted what they were doing with their lovers to happen in their own lives.
Brad: We were spending time together and, when it started, I sensed her beginning to pull away and taking on a second life. She had been a stay-at-home mom for a long time, and when she began to work outside the home, I sensed a pulling away. I sensed a distance between us. And on several occasions I would try to bring that up and address that to her and say to her, "Holly, I really feel that we're struggling here in our relationship. I feel you pulling away from me. I feel like we're not married anymore. Let's sit down and talk about it." That would generally spark an argument and then we'd begin to fight about something else. The topic would get changed.
Holly: I could not live with the guilt. I could not live with the lies in our marriage, and I knew that for us to have an open, honest communication, there couldn't be any lies. There couldn't be any secrets. I had to put that out on the table, knowing that he may reject me, but that I had felt our marriage was worth more than that to me. And I told him.
Except for one small detail—Tina and Sam are swingers, often having intercourse with other couples.
Sam says that they don't expect to have sex with their neighbors, but instead seek out partners at clubs or on the Internet. But he says swinging definitely isn't for everyone. "If you have problems in your relationship, it's not something you should try," he says.
Tina says swinging has improved her sex life. "What you find out is that it just enhances the experience with your life partner," she says. "Some of the best sex we've ever had is after we've been with somebody else."
"We started because I had originally wanted to be with a woman and he let me do that," Corina says. "Then, he realized that he really wanted to be there. He wanted to do something with both of us together. We invited a friend into our bedroom, and that was fun. So we just decided one day we would just look up swingers' clubs and see what we could find."