The Corner

Marriage May Not be Sacred, But the Bed Sure Is


From the New York Times (where else?): 


Conventions change. A woman no longer earns a scarlet letter for having a child out of wedlock; divorce is not synonymous with scandal; and it is no surprise to find, when a marriage comes apart, that a third person was involved. But even in a sexually liberal culture, the home is still usually off-limits, as if protected by an invisible force field. And the marriage bed — a phrase that in itself seems quaintly out of date — remains a sacred object.

All but one of 18 marriage counselors and divorce lawyers interviewed for this article said they saw at-home adultery rarely, if ever, although the divorce lawyers saw it more often than the therapists. When it does happen, however, the consequences are usually dire: affairs are painful in a marriage, but affairs that take place in the marriage bed can be lethal.

In an informal, unscientific survey conducted at the request of The New York Times by the Web site, which draws young married women, more than half of approximately 500 respondents said their marriages would “definitely not” survive if their partner made love to another person in the marriage bed. By contrast, less than a third of approximately 700 respondents to another question said that their marriages would “definitely not” survive an affair outside the home.

“It would hurt no matter where it happened,” one anonymous respondent wrote. But “if he did it in my own home,” she added, “it would feel more like a slap in the face.”

Few marriages survive such an affair — and even fewer marriage beds.

Richard Roane, 52, a divorce lawyer in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he had seen a dozen such cases in the estimated 2,200 divorces he has handled. He jokes that he always tells clients that at a minimum, they’ll have to get a new bed.

If that wasn’t clever enough advice, our lawyer offers another insight: 


Mr. Roane said he also had a case in which the wife never found out that her husband, who was his client, had been cheating on the living room sofa — something Mr. Roane himself learned during a property settlement negotiation.

“The husband whispered in my ear: ‘She can have the sofa. I don’t want it,’ ” Mr. Roane said. “He was taking some pleasure in giving the sofa where he made love to his girlfriend to his wife. The wife didn’t know it, but he did. We see a lot of bad behavior in divorce.”

No kidding. 


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