May 29, 2011

Politics, power and infidelity: Why do they cheat?

May 29, 2011 By Rosemary Ford

Do we really have to name them? We all know who they are.

They are men who seemed to have it all. Power. Celebrity. Political clout. Beautiful wives.

And yet they risked it all for sex.

Earlier this month, actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a long list of high-powered men whose marital infidelities have become pop-culture fodder in the distant and not-so-distant past.

Dovetailing with the news that Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years, was poised to file for divorce came Schwarzenegger's admission to a long-term affair during which he fathered a now 13-year-old son with the couple's former housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena.

Since, more women have come forward alleging they had affairs with him, and Schwarzenegger is getting the Tiger Woods treatment. (You remember Tiger Woods, right?)

When such trusted public figures put so much success at stake for what seems to be a few moments of pleasure, the resounding question is, 'Why?'

Psychologists, lawyers, political strategists and historians say there's no simple explanation. They do, however, have their opinions about some of the reasons it happens.

"It all boils down to the pursuit of power: Some men handle it well and some men don't," said Richard Padova, a professor of political science and history at Northern Essex Community College.

Padova says that the process of gaining power and its associated trials and tribulations can wreak havoc on a person's life.

"You need an escape route," he said. "It's happened any number of times. ... They are only human."

John Stevens, a former Merrimack Valley family counselor and the current regional director for Arbour Health Systems, isn't so sympathetic.

"Many cheating individuals, especially in arenas of power, attained these positions in an opportunistic, Machiavellian manner that is highly correlated with psychopathy," Stevens said. "(Psychopathy) by nature is grossly self-serving, arrogant, immoral and unconcerned about the welfare of others, (be it) a business competitor, a spouse, or children."

2 3 4 5
Text Only | Photo Reprints