Picture it: A new haircut. More bounce in her step. A jazzy red dress. Alicia Florrick (portrayed by Julianna Margulies) struts through her office with a smile on her face as her personal theme music plays in her head. A tone that no one else hears.
Within the first three minutes of the premier of CBS’s The Good Wife, it was clear to me that one thing had happened: the good wife had gotten her revenge. But this blog isn’t about Alicia Florrick. It is about all the good wives in the world who get their revenge and oftentimes their husbands are none the wiser.
A recent study showed that women cheat at nearly the same rate as men. But it also found that women cheat for different reasons. The primary factor in a man’s infidelity, according to the study, is sexual excitability. That means he got excited, weighed the risks and ultimately cheated. For women, the primary reason is unhappiness in her relationship. Therefore, it isn’t as simple and reactionary as it is with men. That makes sense, right?
But there is another reason women, who otherwise would never cheat, stray away from their marital vows. That reason is (drumroll please), because he cheated. I called that The Good Wife Syndrome.
The Good Wife Syndrome is simple. It is a wife’s increased propensity to cheat simply because her husband cheated. For a better understanding of The Good Wife Syndrome, here are three things to consider.
1. Men open the door for their wife’s infidelity when they cheat. I know, I know… some women cheat without provocation. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about “The Good Wife”; the one who is least likely to cheat. The one who thought about it but would never really do it. The one who is in there for the long haul. There are more of them out there than men realize.
When a man cheats, oftentimes the woman bears the humiliation, heartache and pain yet she stays with him. But even after the couple has gone through the battle and things seem to be getting back on the right track, there is one thought that remains with her: He got away with it.
He cheated. He hurt her. He betrayed their marriage and family. He had another woman. And he still has his wife. So he got away with it. That alone opens the door for opportunistic infidelity. So men, don’t think it’s over just because she stayed. While you are resting peacefully at night because you made it through the fire, thoughts of your betrayal may still be brewing in her mind.
2. Her cheating isn’t always about revenge. Oftentimes, men, the good wife isn’t out to get you back. When she cheats, it may be nothing more than an opportunity that she opts not to turn down, as she did many times before.
Let’s face it, you broke her spirit. You broke her willpower. You broke her heart. And you probably broke her. She never thought you would do that to her. Not you. The man before you, sure. But not you! And when you do, something in her came unhinged. You are no longer her hero. He faith in you isn’t nearly as strong as it once was.
So the next time that man who has been flirting with her and paying her attention approaches, she doesn’t brush him off. Instead, she relishes the attention. She enjoys it. And before you know it, the good wife is in the arms of another man. And you opened the door for that when you cheated.
3. After the good wife cheats, complete forgiveness is more likely. I have a friend who is the ultimate good wife. And she cheated. Her husband cheated on her and she decided to stay. Years later, she established a relationship with a man that turned sexual. After a number of out of town trysts, she called it off. And her husband doesn’t have a clue.
But here’s the thing, after her affair, she could finally understand how her husband got caught up. And she said, “Now I have total forgiveness of him.” In a way, her affair men them even. And as a result, she was able to rededicate herself to her husband and her marriage. So, perhaps something good can come from double spousal infidelity.
Moral of the story: women indeed cheat. Even good wives cheat, many times as a result of her husband’s indiscretions. So men should beware of their unfaithful acts. They may open up a can of worms they never considered… The Good Wife Syndrome.