A-Rod may have had an emotional affair with married Material Girl Madonna. Will Smith admits he and wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have an open marriage. And Christie Brinkley’s ex-husband spent thousands of dollars on porn while they were sharing a bed. Any way you look at it, celebrities seem to be pushing the boundaries of how Americans view sex and marriage, experts say.
"Celebrities, rightly or wrongly, are role models for many people,” said New York Dr. Jay P. Granat
, Ph.D., who counsels athletes and celebrities. “Their behaviors are modeled by others who admire them. So, when celebrities have children out of wedlock or enagage in infidelity or abuse, some members of the population will model or imitate these behaviors. Similarly, when celebrities adopt children from poor regions, some members will do the same thing. Celebrities can be trendsetters for many behaviors and attitudes."
Tina B. Tessina,
Ph.D., also known as Dr. Romance, thinks celebrities are just doing publicly what non-celebrities do privately all the time. “Sex is a very powerful urge, and not too many people can resist it,” said Tessina, who believes that at least 60 percent of all marrieds will deal with a cheating spouse at some point.
“Monogamy is a lovely idea, but it isn't very reality based,” Tessina wrote in an article on the topic. “Some couples can and do practice monogamy voluntarily and joyously, because it comes naturally to them. However, the rest would benefit more from honesty than ‘let's pretend’ monogamy.”
Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle
, author of the E-Book, “How to Win When Your Mate Cheats,” agreed: “A marriage certificate is not for everyone, nor is fidelity.”
Part of the problem is that Americans are not honest about sex, Tessina said. “It takes tremendous integrity, more than most of us have at given times, to risk losing that which you love by telling the truth. So, whether we ‘make one little slip’ one night away from home after too much to drink, or whether we have a long, meaningful affair outside our primary relationship, the human tendency is to cover up, lie about it.”
Apparently, that’s the way Smith feels as well. "You're going to be attracted to people. In our marriage vows, we didn't say 'forsaking all others.' The vow that we made was that you will never hear that I did something after the fact,” he said in a recent interview. "If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, 'Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I'm not going to if you don't approve of it -- but please approve of it.”
That kind of honesty, whether you agree with open marriage or not, may well be what keeps a couple together, according to Carle. “The strength of any relationship is measured by the honesty and commitment two people consistently show each other,” she said. “In whichever way two people set up their boundaries, if they keep their word to one another — whether outsiders agree or not — then the marriage is working. This is America, and people are free to engage in any number of marital permutations. Problems arise when a person discovers his/her mate has gone back on his/her promised word. What most people want is trust because it gives them security.” TINA TESSINA’S TIPS ON SEX AND MARRIAGE 1. Consider your needs.
If you have ever cheated in a relationship, find out why. Have an honest talk with yourself about whether or not monogamy is right for you. If necessary, a sex counselor can help you sort it out. 2. Make a relationship contract.
Talk to your partner about what you expect from your sexual relationship. If you decide on monogamy, make sure the decision is mutual. When you negotiate your relationship contract, remember you must be able to carry out your promises. Leave room for renegotiation, for mistakes, for confusion. 3. Talk about sex.
Don't use monogamy to hide from sexual honesty. Be willing to talk about sex, to discuss problems, what you enjoy, and what new, exciting changes you can make. Care about your partner’s sexual satisfaction. If either of you does not live up to your mutual contracts, get help before the problem gets worse. If you can't be honest with your partner, tell a sex counselor. 4. If you want monogamy, be sure that you can maintain it yourself.
Maintaining monogamy is not simply being faithful, but also keeping the sexuality within your relationship alive and well. Nothing contributes to infidelity more than frustration and dissatisfaction. 5. If you choose an open lifestyle, remember to play safe.
Develop clear guidelines and stick to them. If you believe your partner will not honor safe sex agreements, then practice safe sex yourself (know your partners, use condoms, limit play to masturbation) even with your spouse until your mutual trust grows. “