Extramarital Affairs: What to Do When Smart Men Do Stoopid Stuff

By Sarah P.

stupid thingsSenator Weiner, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Sergey Brin…

They all have one thing in common. All of these otherwise “smart” men have done really stupid things when it comes to fidelity.

When I started to date, my dad would tell me jokingly, “Be careful! Men are just like dinosaurs you know. They both have two brains—one in their head and one in their tail!!”

I guess that would explain why Senator Weiner was thinking with his, er, wiener. Somehow he thought that using the pseudonym Carlos Danger would spare him the public humiliation the second time he sexted younger women on Twitter. But, when he had made his wiener so famous the year before when he texted photographs, how could he expect his wiener to remain anonymous the second time around? (Especially to his wife…)

This is a classic example of men thinking with the wrong tail.

Well, why do men do this stupid stuff in the first place? Some would say it is biological wiring, but that is a cop out. They do it because they want to do it. It really can be as simple as that.

In late August, I was absolutely shocked when news of Google mogul Sergey Brin’s extramarital affair broke the news. After all, this is the very same man who came up with the company slogan “Don’t be evil”.  As I read the details of his affair, my heart genuinely broke for his wife, Anne Wojcicki, and for the hope of people ever having marriages that are faithful.  Since I had worked in the information technology sector for years, I had followed news of this famously successful couple because they seemed to have a role-model marriage and to be a role-model couple.

Anne (Sergey’s wife) is a beautiful, well-spoken Yale graduate.  She and her sister helped Sergey Brin build Google and make it the tech empire it is today. In addition to that, Anne is a globally known philanthropist who has a heart for changing the world. She founded her own company with the goal of harnessing current genetic technology to find ways to end all disease (including dementia and cancer).

But, apparently, this made no difference to Sergey. Nor did the fact that Sergey and Anne have two beautiful and very young children together. In fact, even recently it appeared that the couple had a very happy marriage—or at least his wife thought so. Before the news of the affair hit the news, she said, “I spend a lot of my spare time with my family. My sisters, parents and in-laws all live nearby. My perfect weekend is going for a walk with my family in the park. I don’t think there’s anything better. It’s funny; everyone talks about a bucket list, but I don’t really have one” (The Guardian, 8/31/13).

Anne Wojchicki and Sergey Brin. They have been together since the late 1990’s and they married in 2007. They have two  kids.

 The Wife

So why is it that Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojchicki seem to have vastly different views of their marriage? Why was it that Anne allegedly never knew her husband was having an affair right under her nose?

Well, it is no secret that men can compartmentalize sex. Whereas women literally put their body and their soul on the line during this most intimate of acts, many men experience sex as something no more meaningful than brushing their teeth.

Whereas women tightly mingle sex and love, men separate sex and love and can easily have sex without having any feelings of love. More than that, men can have sex and not fall in love at all.

In fact, on man recently said to his wife after she found out about his affair: “I love you. In my mind, you both were two different people. My love for you remained constant even as my love for her grew”. Thus, compartmentalization could be one explanation for why many smart men do stupid things.

As you can see, Sergey Brin’s mistress is “cute” but not shockingly beautiful. She is neither as sophisticated as Sergey’s wife nor as accomplished.

The Homewrecker

Sergey Brin’s mistress and employee who is 16 years younger than him. According to many reports, she was alleged to be sleeping with another Google Exec, Hugo Barra, while she was also involved with a married Sergey Brin. If she marries Sergey Brin, she will have the opportunity to dip into his net worth, which has been reported at to be 28 billion dollars.

The “Mistress is Better” Myth

Many men have confided in me that when it comes to sex, they have a wide range of appearances that they find attractive. Some have joked that if the woman has a pulse, she is fair game.

Whether a women is beautiful or not does not seem to factor in to whether or not men will have extramarital affairs. Indeed, I have known of many cases where the mistress is absolutely inferior in all areas to a man’s wife. Most of the time, a mistress is in no way better than the man’s wife. Further, if he perceives that his mistress is better, he is actually perceiving a tightly crafted illusion (or shall I say delusion) of his own making. The myth that the mistress is better needs to be thrown out once and for all.

If He Won’t Give Her Up, Then What?

So, what is a wife to do when her husband has an affair and he does not want to let go of his mistress?

Well, first of all, a man in this situation is not in a rational state of mind. Even if the man is a genius with an IQ of 150, rationality will not be his strong suit. After all, the brain in the tail has a very low IQ indeed. You cannot reason with the lower brain.

The other issue is, women who choose to have affairs with married men are generally extremely manipulative and they lack integrity. These types of women are willing to use all manner of manipulation to keep their married lovers close.

I don’t buy the usual story that some mistresses tell. Many of them claim to be innocents who just fell into it, all the while claiming they are good people, full of integrity. However, actions speak louder than words. Good people walk away; they don’t just innocently fall into an affair with a married man.

frustrated womanSo what is a wife to do?

Well, if you want to get through to your husband, you must play hardball.

The most effective thing to do in this case is to ask your husband to leave and to immediately hire an attorney. Stand your ground, stay in your house, and force him to move out. After that, ask the attorney to communicate with him about the terms of the divorce.

In the meantime, let all of your family and friends know what happened. Let the friends and family of his mistress know what happened. But, when you do so, you must present yourself in a very rational and calm manner. You must show that you are clear-headed even if he isn’t.

Now, even if a man thinks he “loves” his mistress and thinks that she is his long, lost soulmate, this will help snap him back into reality. When he is kicked out of his house, served with divorce papers, and starts to look at both social and financial implications of his affair, he will become more grounded. This will be the emotional equivalent of the man taking a cold shower.

When you must deal with your husband, do not cry, do not become emotional, and always discuss the affair in terms of the choice that he made. Always let him know that he is the direct cause of the events that are now happening.

Put the burden on him to figure it out. Do not offer help and do not offer to listen to him about his mistress. Let him know you are moving on with your life.

Then, you must make a genuine effort to move on. You must hold your head high and not accept a shred of blame for his affair.

You did nothing to cause his affair and you did nothing to create his affair.

Most of the time, this process will be an incredible shock to a man. Soon he will realize what he has done and what the terrible repercussions are going to be. Soon he will be filled with panic and fear.

As he goes through this process, his mistress will fall off a very high pedestal and he will start to see her for what she is. He will start to question why he would have left a woman with integrity (his wife) and traded her in for a woman who lacks integrity and who is willing to destroy the lives of others through her participation.

The bottom line is that when a man has an affair, he is essentially having an affair with a fantasy. When he is with his mistress, he is not even recognizing her as a person. He is projecting a fantasy onto her that he has built up in his mind. What she does or doesn’t do has nothing to do with the fantasy that he is created.

Soon he will see that his mistress is not going to provide him with a future full of fun and fantasy. At that moment, the fantasy that he has been projecting on to his mistress will dispel. That’s when he might realize that the grass was never greener on the other side of the fence. When this happens, he will likely return to his wife, begging and pleading.

What next?

plan of actionPlan of Action:

There are several things that I would highly recommend, if the wife believes that she would like to rebuild the marriage after an extramarital affair.

  1. The couple must see a marriage counselor together.
  2. He must cut all contact with his mistress.
  3. He must see a separate counselor to work through his own issues. (After all, it is the husband’s own unresolved issues or lack of integrity that caused the affair in the first place).
  4. The husband must also work through any large peripheral problems such as substance abuse (if these issues are present).
  5. But most of all, the husband must take full and active accountability for his actions.

But even more than this, when a wife finds herself in this situation, she must not lose confidence in herself.  She must know that she is the innocent party and has done nothing wrong. Wives must know that it was never about the mistress being prettier, better in bed, younger, or more fun.

Cold Comfort

Statistically speaking, very few men leave their wives for their mistresses. One figure that I found cited that only around 10% of men who are unfaithful divorce their wives and begin a long-term relationship with their mistress. So, if you are a wife, the odds of a man leaving you for his mistress are low.

On the other hand, through all of it, you would do well to do some soul-searching and get to the bottom of why you would want to stay in such a marriage.

While it is true that many intelligent men do stupid things, there is still hope. Many marriages have been brought back from the brink. But, even more hopeful, many couples report that their marriages become stronger after they work through a crisis caused by infidelity. Never give up hope and don’t forget that it was never about you.


 

We’d like to thank Sarah for contributing to our blog.  She recently finished her Master’s work in clinical psychology and is currently working on her PsyD (Doctor of Psychology ) degree.

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13 Responses to Extramarital Affairs: What to Do When Smart Men Do Stoopid Stuff

  1. Jeddy January 24, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Power is really a very sexy thing, even on an unsexy man When you’ve taken over the business world and are among the best and richest at what you do, whats the next challenge and adrenalin rush? I often think that the attributes that make some men so good at their professional lives are the same that attributes that bring down their personal lives. God doesn’t give wth both hands lol. And frankly they never have to look further than across the boardroom table for a woman who wants to have a taste of that – if she can lure a CEO and president, she gets the satisfaction of thinking she’s important by association. he doesn’t have to do any work at all, there’s a buffet table of underlings from which to choose. In what I’ve seen, the cheater almost always regrets his/her affair and doesn’t stay with the op. the bs who have moved on always seem to end up in really lovely second marriages. I have a girlfriend who 7 years later would take her ex back today – and he’s happily remarried after being the bs. She’s still alone knowing she lost everything for an ego boost. The story is so often the same, yet each person believes him/herself to be more special and more immune than the millions of stories that say otherwise. Self absorbed much?

  2. gizfield January 24, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    The mistress is lovely, isn’t she? So is he, for that matter. Probably has unresolved issues from teen age years. I bet shes really smart too. And WHAT is that thing around her head? A fallen halo, maybe?

  3. Paula January 24, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Mmmm, well written, how to guide. Unfortunately, even those of us with very our own high IQs (or even better, EQs, emotional maturity and know-how) will struggle not to show our pain. Yes, I started off looking very composed and rational to the whole freaking town, who quickly found out, “oh, he had a bad moment, we will survive, he’s sorry, I am not happy, but we are working on sorting this ‘blip’ out,” but in reality, even though I knew all of this stuff (see above) I was a mess, and it showed eventually. I did the kicking out, I didn’t need to tell really, small towns take care of that for you, lol, although I did eventually tell his mother, but that was only because our bunny boiler was threatening to show up on her doorstep with HER MOTHER – someone who had taught our two younger children, and who we had both served on school governance boards with – (I know, good Lord!) to convince her that “they were destined to be together,” I got really spooked, as she had done a few things involving our kids, etc, and I knew she was capable, it wan’t just empty threats. Besides, my MIL lived in the same town, I needed her to hear the unvarnished truth, not the wildly distorted tales gathering momentum it the twit-o-sphere!

    The long term problem is this: you can do all the sensible, “right” things, and have a really embarrassed and deeply remorseful cheater, but can you manage to live with it all, the past, I thought that of course you could, not before the cheating, I thought cheating, well, especially long term cheating, was the bottom line, the deal breaker, but after mine cheated, I adjusted that, I thought you could rebuild. And many seem to be able to, but I find I am terrible with releasing the past in order to have a bright future. Something I had some idea of, from other past experiences, but nothing like on this level. I had lived through parental deaths, career failure, rape, divorce of parents, loss of close friendship, break ups, none of these things seemed to have trailed me around like my grief over losing what I thought I had, at the “special” that I believed we had – and continued to work for. But, in general, yeah, what Sarah writes is spot on, if you can manage some dignity throughout this process, fantastic, do that, lol! It does actually help, if you have the presence of mind to be able to.

  4. jeddy January 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Really hard – I thought what we had and our story, our love story, was special and only ours in the whole world. I now have to accept that we are tainted. And in fact not special at all, one little google search proves that our story now shares a name with a kajillion other couples. My husband is a cliche (boss and underling, ugh) and an imbecile who played me for a fool and I want to make my marriage work. How long have you been working on this paula? Im 3 weeks in from a full (?) confession, 10 months of crazy town.

    • Strengthrequired January 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

      I think that is what we all felt, I guess that’s why it hurts even more when we realise that it doesn’t matter how strong your marriage is, it doesn’t matter how loving you are to your spouse, no marriage is fool proof. I guess it was comforting to believe in our marriages being that way for many years, just a shame that no marriage is safe.

  5. Maxine6 January 25, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    jeddy,

    I feel like I am in the same spot as you and Strengthrequired. We were married at 18 and for 23 yrs. I thought we had the most special marriage and so did everyone around us. We were both affectionate with each other. I loved him as much after 23 yrs. as the day that I married him. We started going together at 16 and he was my first love as I was his. Our only issues was I was a stay at home Mom raising 3 children, doing everything to make his life easy since he was working hard at his new job. I also helped him a lot with that at he didn’t do much in school with his learning. When we moved to corporate headquarters and he was part of that type of personal and an Executive, he was in a crowd that drank more, especially at conferences and that became a problem in our life. It wasn’t all the time, but he had his 2 drinks every night when he got into his late 20’s. Our main problems was that he wasn’t the best things Father, his needs always came first and he was always controlling with the money and what we did. I would argue about these things, but coming from the old school, I figured he earned the money and should be in control of it even though I didn’t agree. In hindsight, I should have just stuck up for the children and bought what we needed or else there would have been consequences. I came from a very poor family, his was middle class, so I felt lucky that he and I had gotten together, but I have to remember that I was a very good and kind person. Anyway, like you jeddy, I thought we still had such a special love and so did everyone else, family and friends envied our marriage. At a conference a secretary who was married, with 2 little girls set her eyes on him, he had been drinking and everyone was together in the lounge after their meetings. He had never been flirted with before and he really enjoyed the extra and new attention. Their was two meetings like that and so her flirting, drinking & dancing continued. Not sure but at the end, he says that she said, “Maybe we could get together for lunch sometimes.” So a week or so later he called her and that’s how it started. It was off and on for 3 yrs. They had 2 weekends together during that time, slept in the same bed but didn’t have sex. They just cuddled, as he didn’t want the A to go past that point. I had him take 3 polygraph test to prove it and he passed it. Only having ever being with each other, I can see that it would have been hard for him to take that step. I still am having a hard time accepting that he slept with her, that he betrayed me and lied to my face for 3 yrs. Then when I found out about it from the other woman’s husband, after she ended it, he told me it was only for lunch’s. It took me and my talking to her, as he wouldn’t tell me anything but lies to find out that it was a 3 yr. A. I felt so used as we made love and everything as I wanted to prove to him that he had what he needed at home and had always had it. I’m sorry this is so long, it’s been a rough 2 yrs. as 25 yrs. later it has all come back to me and i don’t think we are going to stay in our 52 yr. marriage. I’ve finally been able to look at what he did to me and I don’t feel that I can live with it. He still after 25 yrs. doesn’t want to talk about it. We’re in separate rooms now. We’ve been to therapy with 2 different therapists, but he claims to not remember why he didn’t love me enough to not do what he did. He claims to have forgotten a lot about what he did with her on those weekends. So, it’s like going back 25 yrs. ago when he could have remembered and told me the truth. He should have went to counciling but didn’t and when he went with me, he was only there for me. It’s all so sad, I thought we had something so special and I was so proud that we were not part of the group that had affairs. I was so wrong and didn’t see any clues as he was always home and when he wasn’t, I thought he was working late. Now I know the clues to affairs and he had all of them. If we stay together things will never be the same. That specialness that I felt towards him, the respect, but most of all that he was able to love another woman, lie to me for 3 yrs. and then lie to me about all of it makes me realize that he isn’t the man that I thought I married. He’s changed a lot this past yr., quit drinking 2 yrs. ago, but I can’t forget what he did. We are both in our 70’s, our children know what happened, but our 7 grandchildren will be devastated when they find out. Thanks for listening to my long story, I just need to find another councilor.

    Maxine6

    • Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider) January 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      Maxine, I am so sorry…but after 25 years, do you think this really matters to him anymore? I understand the pain, very well, and am divorcing my H for the second time as he cheated on me with two other women and could never come clean. But it may not have been that he didn’t love you. It may have had nothing to do with love at all. He was messed up. Maybe he still is. And you’re right, you need to see a counselor to help you sort this out. Once you know what you need now, you will be able to see a little better to know if being divorced is really the answer.

      • Maxine6 January 27, 2014 at 2:56 am #

        Saw the Light,

        Thanks for your response, empathy and advice. I know that it didn’t matter to him after I finally forgave him 25 yrs. ago. He wasn’t remorseful, like I said and I was so mixed up even with therapy that I was a basket case. I tried to take my life twice and the only thing that stopped me was my 2 twin grandsons that had just been born a few months earlier and my 3 children. It wasn’t my feelings for my H at the time as I was so upset with him. He wouldn’t cooperate, did nothing but lie and just wouldn’t talk about it without getting really upset. He definitely has a narcissistic personality, so he never truly felt my pain. I finally had to just forgive and go on with our life. I still loved him at that point, not sure why? He didn’t deserve it as he had basically killed me inside and also the special love that I thought we had??? I feel like Sarah, I don’t feel or agree that he could have loved me and cheated on me at the same time. Since I could never really get the truth from either of them, things were never settled. Five yrs. ago came the stock market crash, he got very depressed as we were loosing all his retirement and didn’t hardly ever love me, like every 3 months and sometimes it was my idea. Hid drinking was much worse, he was retired and we fought off and on about the money. Money has always controlled his life and comes first with him, even with our children. I was constantly having to argue with him before, during and after the A about money and his control. He has improved greatly on the control and no more drinking. During that 3 yrs. I started to look at my life and realized that our love wasn’t what I thought it was and was then so angry towards the end of that time that I didn’t divorce him. I had always said that I would do that if it ever happened to me. The lies for almost 8 months really didm’t tell me the full scale of the A, but I could have left him after that. I think that I was just so depressed, had Melanoma surgery 6 weeks after finding out about the A and a total hysterectomy 18 months after it also, so my physical condition and stress level made me feel like a victim, not strong enough to make that decision.

        Anyway, my point is, the reviewing of my life made me realize that I didn’t have a husband that filled my needs of emotional support, plus the lying and cheating so easily. I didn’t think he would ever have another one, but got suspicious by the way he treated me. I then went to couseling and wanted answers for what he did. I started asking him question’s and he wasn’t very happy about it, just like he wasn’t 25 yrs. earlier. I don”t believe that he has forgotten that much, like when he slept with her. He gets so stressed and uncomfortable and even angry when I ask anything. He says it happened 25 yrs. ago, we can’t undo it, he feels that he was a different person back then and to love him now with all the new changes. God, I wish I could, but I can’t get those 3 yrs. out of my mind and seeing her and not really knowing what happened? Even when he does tell me a few things, he could be lying again.

        I don’t think he was mixed up, I feel that he loved the flirting of a pretty woman that excited him and he went for it. I’ll never understand how he could just throw me away for 3 yrs., even though he was still making love with me, I had to get him interested more and that had never been a problem before. So, I feel so used during that time, almost dirty. He swears he still loved me, but he treated me so bad during that time. I sure didn’t feel his love at different points. I think that since we got married at 18, he was then 40 and he liked the newness in his life. I don’t feel that he was messed up, he was just always use to getting what he wanted in life, as I did everything for him since he worked and earned the living. Typical housewife duties, but done with love and appreciation, only to be stabbed in the back. He has a hard time feeling empathy for people and showing emotions and says one thing but means something else.

        Yes, I need a counselor very bad as I don’t know how much longer I can do this. We won’t be able to divorce, it would have to be a separation as I would loose all my medical. Anyway, thanks for writing to me and I’ll keep everyone posted.

        Blessings, Maxine6

  6. Sarah P. January 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Hello Everyone,
    I am so sorry to read everyone’s stories of betrayal. Unfortunately, I do agree that no one is immune. I have heard so many unfaithful people say that they can still love their spouse and even be IN LOVE with their spouse, and that the transgression with someone else was just that. I will never understand the type of compartmentalization that allows someone to be in love with their spouse and the OP. Several years ago I was the recipient of this very situation and was blindsided. I was engaged to the guy, close to the marriage date, and he broke it off to be with someone he had been seeing behind my back for several months. At one point he realized the grass was not greener and he wanted to come back. By that time I had moved on and was in a relationship with the man who I eventually married. (We are still married and have 2 children). I came into my marriage with the belief that it can happen to anyone, even in the midst of a fantastic marriage. I am happy that my ex fiancé broke it off with me before the marriage took place. (I think my husband and I are far better suited together than my ex and I were). Still, I think back to those days and wonder how he was able to hide it so thoroughly. We lived together since we owned a house together. He and I were extremely passionate about each other. Our friends thought we had a great relationship and looked to us. But underneath it all he was cheating with someone from our extended circle of friends. They were both so great at hiding it and living a lie. My ex fiancé also did not have a conscience about what he did. He only broke up because the OP put such pressure on him. So my story is nothing compared to what you ladies have been through. It doesn’t even compare. Still even though we had not been together long, I was devastated. What my ex fiancé did altered my perception for good. Still, I cannot imagine how you all feel because you are all in long term marriages and have kids (and grand kids). Just the fact that you are all here and engaged in the healing process is a great testament to your inner strength. Your resilience is amazing. Thanks again for reading.

  7. Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider) January 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Being betrayed and lied to is devastating, no matter how long or short a relationship is, I am convinced. It tries to devour the very core of who we are, and leaves us feeling we might never be able to trust again…not others, and certainly not ourselves (for after all, didn’t we make the decision to trust before? and see where it got us, etc.)

    As to the ‘love’ part, I think that is also a very subjective concept. As many have said in multiple ways on this site as well as in classical literature, in movies, ad infinitum, love is not just a feeling but a choice to act on. My H did not love his affair partner, but he could not give her up either. I think he often loved the way sneaking around, having someone eager to talk to him or text him or do lewd things with him, made him feel. But that was no better than having a few drinks might make him feel, oh, wait, he needed more than a few drinks to STOP feeling guilty, dirty and just plain bad.

    He couldn’t think. He became extremely stooopid. Lost everything he had essentially worked his whole life to attain. And now, maybe he will finally figure it out, but he won’t do that with me.

    It may not be true, but it seems to me that for many of us going through the crisis of infidelity, what we are attempting to negotiate is what we will or won’t do for ourselves. Everyone has to draw that line, try whatever is out there to get the help we need, support each other, and obviously watch and wait to see what that unfaithful partner decides to do about the mess he or she created with the affair partner. It is a long and very painful journey, but not necessarily a bad one. No, when all is said and done, it is a beneficial process if we come away with our own sense of self intact and understand what we need to in order to have the best life going forward. No fairy tale endings, at least not for me. I really, REALLY wanted it all to lead to a better, stronger, happier marriage and was led to believe that it could. But it was a lie. Sad for him. He’s really the one who has lost out, in so many ways.

  8. CBb February 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    After reading all these posts I believe we have one thing in common. It is the Mid Life Crisis syndrome for men.

    My H turned 50 and it was a year or so, the thought of turning 50 and then actually turning 50. that is whrpen his affair took place. The year he turned 50.

    He needed the ego boost. He only had a few other girlfriends before we met. He wanted to know he still “had it”. End of story.

    This will be his issue for the rest of his life, not mine. I love him. He hopefully stays the same person I married, as that person has returned.

    But it was a choice they made. They could have walked away. But they do not.

    Unfortunately he will always be a liar in my eyes. Nothing will ever change that.

  9. Mary June 27, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    My husband started his affair in January & I found out in March. I kicked him out & filed for divorce immediately. He wants the divorce, but now that I have been reading more & more, I want to work on our relationship. He is currently in a relationship with the girl who he was cheating on me with. She also happens to be my former best friend. I’m absolutely devastated. I was pregnant at the time & neither of them have really shown any remorse. My 5 yo & I have been praying for him to come back & she told him that & he told her “he is never, ever coming back”. Do I just give up? I don’t want to fight for someone who doesn’t want me. He says he hasn’t loved me in a long time & never ever wanted to marry me, but he was always kissing me & telling me he loved me, even more than I did to him. I know I didn’t show him enough affection & I am pretty sure that’s why he left, but I could have changed that. Do men leave & not come back if they are dead set on divorce & never being back together?

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