Being Unfaithful: His and Her Affairs
This chapter analyzes the accounts of affairs that a sample of men and women provided in a study of infidelity in marriage, focusing particularly on gender similarities and differences in these accounts. It describes the research involved men and women of different ages writing commentaries on their views and experiences of affairs. The chapter examines cultural understandings of marital affairs in late modernity, and in particular analyze whether affairs were becoming more or less acceptable within a cultural climate that supposedly emphasizes personal rather than structural commitment within marriage and other partnerships. The men's affairs were presented as being almost independent of their marital relationships, as opportunities or temptations for interesting "extra-curricula" experiences that were only partly a result of the current state of their marriage. The chapter examines a quite specific, and distinct methodology in an attempt to generate valid data on people's experiences of affairs, and what might be termed their "constructed", as distinct from "natural", histories.