Ashley Madison…Shhhhh

On to a less serious subject today, the database of Ashley Madison was hacked and the identities of 32-40 million subscribers of Ashley Madison has been made public. Depending on where you sit, this is either something hilariously gleeful to laugh at or you might be worried your dirty little secret will be found out by your spouse. I belong to the former camp but not for reasons one might think, and no, I am not on Ashley Madison. Let’s get that cleared up.

At the very least, there is a sense of poetic justice for the cheaters and ‘aint’ karma a bitch’ type of schadenfreude. I love it all. Seeing unfaithful spouses quaking in their boots, it’s got to bring a smile to someone’s face, especially someone like me, with a misanthropic view of life and people.

The icing on top has got to be that Joshua Duggar of THE Duggar family has had several subscriptions to Ashley Madison requesting for all kinds of kinky stuff that isn’t allowed in his Christian upbringing. So add to the list of his ‘sins’, he’s also an adulterer or an attempted adulterer.

Ashley Madison is a website where married people go if they want to engage in an affair that is fleeting and no strings attached. This is to prevent ‘bunny boiler’ situations that could arise should someone decide to take the risk and go out and find their own third parties for affairs. It is explicit for members of Ashley Madison that everyone subscriber is aware that this is a discreet, hush-hush, no strings attached situation and the founders of this service setup this website so that ‘like-minded’ people can meet in a discreet manner with minimal disruption to their marriages.

When the website was first launched, it incited outrage from all sides, the Christian fundamentalists, scorned girlfriends and wives, self-appointed do gooders all say that this is the beginning of the real moral decline of American. It’s encouraging people to have affairs and it’s available at their fingertips. The founder, Noel Biderman, who, ironically is happily married, disagreed, he said he was just being entrepreneurial in the digital age and providing a service. People engage in affairs anyways, he didn’t invent infidelity, it’s the oldest sin in the world, he just provided a safe discreet environment for people to carry out their affairs and alleviate the boredom and ennui that eventually comes with marital bliss. Statistics show very few people actually leave their spouses for their lovers, so why not do it with minimal disruption.

Depending on one’s life experiences, it dictates how one views cheating and extramarital affairs. I never suffered the ignominy of being the scorned wife or girlfriend and I have never been in the unfortunate position of being jilted for someone else. Perhaps I was cheated on by college boyfriends (rumor mill), but I didn’t care about the person or relationship enough to have a severe emotional reaction. I had always been quite confident about myself in the relationship department and if someone were to leave me for another, it’s more of his loss than mine and I would wish them well. Jealousy and envy are debasing emotions for me and even if I were to feel them, I’d do my best job at being nonchalant about it all. Me and the green eyed monster do not get along at all and I avoid that green eyed monster like the plague.

Many TV shows, talk shows, books, magazine articles, scientific essays have written about infidelity and cheating, why do people cheat? Why do people in seemingly happy marriages cheat? Why am I not good enough? How to affair proof your marriage/relationship? Blah Blah. To me, the answer is simple, because they want to and they can, most think they can get away with it and many do. And also because people suck. The ones that get caught or found out are usually bad at hiding their tracks. Some decide to ‘unburden’ themselves to ease their conscience and then they find out it was so not worth the confession, especially when the affair was over and done with.

There are also some people who won’t cheat regardless of how miserable their marriage is because it’s undignified behavior and they hold themselves to a higher standard. It doesn’t mean they don’t think about it, but thinking and doing are two totally different things. And those that don’t cheat aren’t morally better either, it’s simply, in this circumstance, cheating isn’t an option but everything else may be. Not cheating doesn’t mean they won’t behave badly in other ways. They could be emotionally withdrawn, abrasive, behaving in passive aggressive or aggressive ways, nit-picking their spouse to death, bitch and moan about every little thing, every other kind of shitty behavior besides cheating. Is that better than going out and having an affair? That depends on the person. I like to be left the hell alone, so if you are unhappy and I don’t do it for you anymore, by all means.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am married. I was married in the Catholic church with full Catholic rites. It was our choice. I took my wedding vows seriously and we did all the things the Catholic church requires of us in order to be married in the church. My husband and I are not naive people, I was 29 when I married him and he was older than me, we both knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. We both have strong personality types and many personality traits that leave a lot be desired. So, to make this work, we needed Divine guidance, at least I did. It was an ‘as God is my witness’ moment.

We were and are totally in love, but we are also pragmatic. Within a marriage shit happens, people change, priorities change, children change the relationship dynamics and a whole host of things can go wrong, in fact, very little can go right. And love does not conquer all. I knew that ‘forever’ doesn’t always mean forever. We also decided early on in our relationship that cheating is not an option and that the marriage is over if anyone cheated. This is not to say we are more ‘in love’ than the next couple but that this was our commitment to each other. If our marriage is to end, it would end in a dignified and respectful manner.

Divorce isn’t completely off the table either, and it’s been considered during rough times. My husband would say it out loud and I’d quietly agree wishing we were divorced right then and there so that this god-awful conversation would end, then it would blow over and life goes on. But I wonder how many times we can do this, and I don’t know if each time divorce is discussed I am mentally preparing myself more should it actually happen. This may run contrary to our church’s teachings and intention for marriage as being a lifelong endeavor, but again, our pragmatism informs us that there is no need to squeeze a square peg in a round hole and cause ourselves a lifetime of misery just because we are Catholic and got married in the church.

Marriage and relationships are mysterious things, there are people that met when they were 16, took one look at each other, got married and stayed married for 50 years. When people ask couples who’ve marked their silver or golden anniversary on what their ‘secret’ is, it invariably sounds like this: ‘don’t go to bed angry, be a good friend to your spouse, compromise’ and from the guys ‘listen to what she (his wife) says’ and it’ll work out. These sound deceptively simple, but each item is loaded with its own difficulties and I am not one to put on a happy face when I am not. I stopped that shit a long time ago.

To be cheated on holds its own stigma and shame. It means that one is not good enough in some way and for every person it’s different but the feeling of hurt, rejection and pain is the same.

Dan Savage, a relationship columnist and expert has some good advice for those who wish to check on the released list of Ashley Madison database to see if their spouse’s names are on there, he has this to say: An Open Letter to People Thinking About Checking to See if Their Husbands or Wives Were On Ashley Madison, my favorite advice is advice #2 – the fakes and flakes. It should put the minds of many spouses at ease.

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