Should you stay with a husband who strays?

As Dominic West wins back his wife after those Lily James pictures: Should you stay with a husband who strays?

  • Dominic West was snapped gazing at Lily James, while his wife was at home
  • Helena Frith Powell says Catherine FitzGerald was right to stay with her husband
  • Lucy Cavendish argues a person who cheats can’t be trusted

Helena Frith Powell (pictured) said it would be foolish to give up a lengthy relationship for a ‘bit of side salad’


By Helena Frith Powell

Would I ever trust Dominic West again if I were his wife? There she was at home with their four kids, when pictures emerged of him gazing adoringly at a besotted Lily James.

Him stroking her cheek, snuggling up to her on a scooter (and, actually, what is a 50-year-old man doing on a scooter anyway?)

In spite of all this, Catherine FitzGerald has decided she can trust her husband again. After a few consoling weeks in Lamu, an idyllic island in Kenya, she has agreed to take him back, on the proviso he never has contact with Lily again. I think she has done the right thing.

Many women will disagree. They will see it as anti-feminist and weak, even foolish. They will argue that once a man has strayed, he will do so again. And again.

In my opinion, it would be more foolish to give up on a relationship that began when they were university students, and a life together with four (still relatively small) children, for what one of my friends describes as ‘a bit of side salad’.

Infidelity is often the result of circumstance more than personality. Of course, there are some serial adulterers but it’s ridiculous to condemn someone to a life sentence of mistrust because they stray once.

How many men, having shared a few bottles of wine with a pretty girl at lunch, would be tempted to stroke her cheek, much like Dominic West did?

What about a business trip where you end up in bed with someone you’re never likely to see again? Do these, or countless other circumstances that could lead to infidelity, make a man (or a woman) untrustworthy? I don’t think so.

What if you refuse to trust your partner again on the basis of something that actually meant nothing at all? Thus depriving you both of a truly meaningful relationship and a happy life together.

A man who strays might actually be doing so in search of his true mate. I have a friend who is married to a man she had a fling with while he was still in an unhappy relationship with his now ex-wife. As far as I know, he has been faithful for 20 years and counting.

I would be more upset if my husband announced he would rather spend time with and talk to another woman than have a quick fling in Rome. Although I would prefer it if she weren’t a 32-year-old film star.

Lucy Cavendish (pictured) argued a person who cheats can’t be trusted


By Lucy Cavendish

Fifteen years ago, I was sitting with my then-boyfriend in a pub. He was looking imploringly at me and holding my hands.

‘I promise I’ll never do it again,’ he said, tears welling in his eyes. I was trembling in shock and pain as I’d just discovered he’d been having an affair throughout our long-term relationship. I told him I’d never trust him again. But he was adamant.

Eventually, I decided to continue my relationship with him. I told myself I knew what philanderers looked like. They were shifty, charming sorts who had two mobile phones (at least), disappeared for days on end and came back with lipstick on their collars. My boyfriend was none of those things. So I took him back.

A year later . . . well, I don’t need to spell it out. This time I walked away with the words my mother once told me — ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ — ringing in my ears.

She knew this full well as my charismatic father couldn’t seem to commit fully to one woman, either. He loved my mother but he just couldn’t resist a pretty face and flattery. He was also good at imploring and grand gestures.

So no, I don’t believe a person who cheats can be trusted. Once they have crossed that rubicon (the first time they stray), they won’t stop.

The problem is that the cheater enjoys the cheating. They may well say they don’t but, even the most remorseful of unfaithful men knows, deep down, that promising not to do it again — to never contact that woman again — is an impossibility.

Witness Dominic West telling his wife he will never again see or talk to Lily James, with whom he was alleged to have had an affair. It might have kept them together, but I doubt his wife sleeps easy at night.

Because cheating is all about drama. It’s lies here and thrilling little meetings there, as well as illicit sex. It’s a powerful drug. The thrill of the subterfuge is just too alluring.

Some men are born serial adulterers, believing it’s their right to indulge their priapic tendencies. Some do it from arrogance and ego, some through a collapsed ego.

The only time I have seen men kick the habit is in my role as a couples’ counsellor whereby couples work hard to look at the cause of the cheating. But very few cheaters are up for this level of scrutiny and commitment. Cheating is an avoidance of commitment.

Whatever the reason, once the forbidden fruit has been bitten into, it’s almost impossible to forget how good it tastes. That’s why it’s a habit that’s almost impossible to kick.

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