At-Home Dads Not Kissing Under the Swings

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

The usually spot-on "Brazen Careerist" Penelope Trunk dropped a bomb on my little corner of the blogosphere last week, putting up an anonymous guest post from an at-home dad who she said was "more honest with me about his life than any other stay-at-home dad I know." The honesty in the guest post that followed was mostly in the form of a confession of sorts about the time he cheated (or almost cheated ... it's not entirely clear).

Trunk ends the piece by asking "Why do women hit on stay-at-home dads?"

That question alone is more intriguing than the answer, which is that at-home dads -- in the experience of the many, many fathers I know -- don't get propositioned at all. They don't even end up in uncomfortable situations. But a quick glance at pop culture suggests the opposite: At-home dads must either be on the make or be targets for women who are, from the almost-affair in "Mr. Mom" to the core plot element of "Little Children." In real life, full-time fathers ain't kissing Kate Winslett by the swings.

Everyone wants to build strong, cheat-proof marriages, but assuming that family roles is linked to adultery is a stretch. Playdates are not a refuge for those looking for a cheap thrill. And on the flip side, I've bounced around to my fair share of business conferences and haven't seen much evidence that frequent business trips make for a wandering eye, either. It seems to be that relationship problems are independent of where you are from 9 to 5.

Still, I can't claim any direct -- or even indirect -- experience with adultery, so I'll give you all the last word: Have any of you seen any evidence that the job -- be it at-home parenting or a position in the paid workforce -- can raise the risk of cheating?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

Note to Readers: Guest blogs are on a short hiatus. Look for them to return in a few weeks.

By Brian Reid |  May 6, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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I'm friends with a SAHD and WOHM, they also have a pool. Their kids are friends with a larger group so we end up 4 ladies and the SAHD at his pool. His wife once joked about how crazy she must be to leave her husband at home with 4 women by the pool (she must not have been looking at us closely in our suits!) and my reply was "Yeah, that's what I'm interested in. A man with no job and 3 kids that he's likely to get custody of. No worries."

I think the fear of these relationships, really helps to hinder SAHDs being part of the at home/playground community. Its too bad.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 6, 2008 7:33 AM

I find SAHDs refreshing. They bring different topics to the table (playgroup) than the typical "mommy-talk" I've experienced with all-mommy groups. Maybe that is why SAHDs are attractive, because they're a different voice, but it hasn't lead me (or the other mommies) to anything other than a great friend for us and our kids when we meet to play.

Guess we're just not trendy enough?

Posted by: con-e | May 6, 2008 7:48 AM

My husband isn't a stay-at-home dad, but he says when he is out with our toddler, women throw themselves at him. It's become a running joke between us. I think it the notion of a man nuturing a child that is such a turn-on.

(heck, go to any kids show, Rocknocerous or Great Zucchini - moms are practically throwing undies on stage.)

Posted by: mdem | May 6, 2008 8:15 AM

It's our puritan roots coming into to play - the assumption that SAHPs have time on their hands, and idle hands make for the devil's work and all that.

Because Brian, TRUST ME, SAHMs are portrayed as being on the make just as frequently in pop culture... Mrs. Robinson down to Desperate Housewives.

I agree that SAHDs experience some unique challenges in terms of being seen as inadequate providers and the other questions in that blog post are I think more interesting. But in terms of being assumed "available" I really think it's not a gender-based assumption.

Posted by: Shandra | May 6, 2008 8:22 AM

No comment on SAH anyone and their cheating possibilities, people who cheat will find a way regardless of where they are during the day.

As for business conferences, I have witnessed and experienced wandering eyes and propositions over the years. They are subtle and not so subtle, but not on a scale that I find alarming. I suspect some industries are more prone to this type of behavior, although I am sure it happens on some scale at every gathering of people that are drinking and socializing.

Posted by: Get Real | May 6, 2008 8:28 AM

I believe that if a person is so inclined to cheat they will cheat - whether they are a SAHP or work or take business trips or never leave the city. It isn't so much the opportunity as the person. Someone who wants to cheat will create the opportunity.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 6, 2008 8:39 AM

I am guessing that few people (other than pros with something to hawk) are willing to put their name out there on a guest blog. I sure wouldn't. And I am sure that there are many who have something more interesting to say other than today's column.

Posted by: No Guest Blogs? | May 6, 2008 8:41 AM

LOL moxiemom!! I have to agree with KLB SS MD - I think if a spouse is prone to cheat s/he will regardless or work or stay-home status. I know 2 couples whose marriages broke up because of cheating. In one both spouses worked and in the other the mom stayed home. Both the men did meet the women they cheated with through work though so I don't know what that says.

Posted by: Pt Fed Mof2 | May 6, 2008 8:51 AM

Brian,
You usually have something more important to say. I mean, really, this is bottom of the barrel. imho.

Posted by: dotted | May 6, 2008 8:52 AM

Not to pile on, but this article was hard to read. I had to read the first paragraph 3 times before I followed it. It may be a lack of caffeine, but who the heck is "brazen careerist" and do we have to follow your other blog to read this one now?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 9:00 AM

A father that pushes his daughter on the swing, teaches his son how to swing a bat, and takes the training wheels off his kid's bike to push her off for the first solo flight ranks up there on the chick magnet scale right next to the fat wallet, fast car, and good looks.

It's always worked for me, but I can only speak for myself and Mrs Lion.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 9:02 AM

Dandylion,
I agree that might be a turn-on but do you really think that because a man does that he is going to cheat? Even if a Desperate Housewive comes on to him? I doubt it.
Is a woman who has flour on her nose and smells like gingerbread an equal turn-on and likely to cheat? Again, I doubt it.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 6, 2008 9:06 AM

as a continued note of realism, I think there are few SAHMs of small children who want someone else pawing at them during the day!

mdem - are they throwing themselves at him or just talking to him? I'm one of the few who will talk to dads, mostly because I feel badly that they are left out also because as someone else said they bring something different to the table. "Little Children" was a little extreme in representing the playground talk amongst women, but not totally off base. Chicks like that will make anyone "throw" themselves at someone unwilling to discuss homemade baby food and who has the cleanest house. Then again, maybe I'm just putting off sexy vibes I don't know about.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 6, 2008 9:06 AM

I cheated with a co-worker (I'm female). I'd say that any time that a couple is not focused on putting their relationship first and they are spending significant amounts of time in two different arenas (i.e. SAHP and WOHP) there is a great vulnerability to cheating. Yes, there are people who are serial cheaters, philanderers, etc. But most people who cheat aren't "looking" to cheat; it happens through a combination of relationship neglect, denial/delusion and the appearance of somebody who plays the part of the fantasy quite well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 9:07 AM

Its been my experience as the target and observer of workplace propositions that those who are inclined to cheat will find the opportunities wherever they lie. More opportunities = more cheating for those interested. What I don't understand is the propensity of men and women to poach. Does anyone really take commitments seriously these days? The NYTimes Modern Love essay this week featured a young man with a girlfriend who said they both agreed that sex with others was fine.

Posted by: babsy1 | May 6, 2008 9:11 AM

Wow, that blog is really hard to follow/understand. Basically a guy accompanied his wife on a business trip; a single woman hit on him/invited him to her room; he went and spent three hours in her hotel room but didn't actually do anything that constituted cheating on his wife. Is that about it?

If so, what's your point? I agree with those above who say that those who want to cheat, can cheat, regardless of stay-at-home or work status. There may be more "cheating by chance" for workers; e.g., you're at a conference together, there's lots of socializing and drinking and things get way out of hand before you can stop them. But other than that I don't see a difference.

And while I've never been a SAHP, when the kids were much younger I worked early and DW worked late, so I was usually the one taking the kids to swimming lessons, dance lessons, picking up from after-care, coaching the sports teams, etc. And never once did a woman come on to me. Probably just gave off too many of those "happily married geek" vibes. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 6, 2008 9:20 AM

"when he is out with our toddler, women throw themselves at him. It's become a running joke between us."

Absolutely agree with this -- women just freaking flock when my husband has the baby. I noticed it with our daughter, and it's been even worse with our son. I wish I understood it better -- it's clearly not a sexual thing, because it also happens when I'm with them. And it's the baby who receives all the attention, not dh. But it's definitely daddy who triggers it, because it almost never happens when I'm alone with the boy -- I get the occasional "cute baby" comment, but waaaaaaay fewer than he does.

It's become a running joke with us -- we call the boy "chick magnet" and offer to rent him to our single male relatives and friends; and when dh takes the kids to the park, we joke about how many women hit on him.

Posted by: Laura | May 6, 2008 9:21 AM

to babsy1: "What I don't understand is the propensity of men and women to poach."

The other man's (or woman's) grass is always greener.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | May 6, 2008 9:21 AM

Maybe there is a song in this?

Play Yard Cheaters?

Swingset Swingers?

To the SpongeBob tune, of course!

Posted by: Songster | May 6, 2008 9:22 AM

Probably just gave off too many of those "happily married geek" vibes. :-)

No, just geek vibes!

Posted by: to army brat | May 6, 2008 9:24 AM

"Basically a guy accompanied his wife on a business trip; a single woman hit on him/invited him to her room; he went and spent three hours in her hotel room but didn't actually do anything that constituted cheating on his wife."

This brings up another sore topic: can you have an "emotional affair"?
If so, is it cheating/better or worse than a physical affair?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 6, 2008 9:26 AM

I think away conferences with lots of wining and dining might be tempting for those who are tempt-able.

Overall I agree with Brian that extra-martial affairs are more a function of the person than the role they play.

Take for instance the episode of the Sopranos where Tony takes his daughter on a college tour. Since Tony is a hit-man, when he spies a former acquaintance who needs to be "hit" that's what he does. Most of us taking our kids on a college tour wouldn't be doing that. So it's more about Tony than it is about what/where he is.

Posted by: AnnR | May 6, 2008 9:37 AM

I'm an occasional SAHD when my wife is out of town. Where are these parks!? I get some pleasant comments when I'm out with my twin toddlers, but nothing like what I read here.

C'mon--cute twins! That's gotta be a chick magnet!

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | May 6, 2008 9:38 AM

I agree with posters who don't find this article that enlightening. It has always fascinated me that people with so much to lose are willing to throw it all away for one night. I think our culture is too permissive in many ways. Cheaters don't suffer the social consequences they once would have. They get divorced and aren't penalized under no-fault divorce laws. They continue seeing the other man/woman or marry them and everyone celebrates them at the wedding. I've noticed that in cultures with arranged marriages, spouses don't do this kind of stuff. There are probably isolated examples but on the whole they take those vows seriously and the consequences of breaking them literally make them social pariahs. Maybe we can find a balance here where people control themselves and commit to their vows and face social consequences when they break them?

Posted by: FloridaChick | May 6, 2008 9:49 AM

I agree FL Chick.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 6, 2008 9:53 AM

Comparing Tony whacking someone with a love affair? Wow, a bit of a stretch. But I guess you need a gun for both!

Posted by: What an Analogy! | May 6, 2008 9:53 AM

To that SpongeBob song!


SAHD: Are you ready Moms?

Moms: Aye, Aye, SAHD!

SAHD: I said are you ready?

SAHD: Ohhhhhhhhhhh who is the cutest DILF that you ever did see?

Moms: Swing-set Swinger

SAHD: Very married and very unhappy is he.

Moms: Swing-set Swinger

SAHD: If an assignation be something you wish.

Moms: Swing-set Swinger

SAHD: Then run to the playground and try for a tryst!

Moms: Swing-set Swinger!

All: Swing-set Swinger!
All: Swing-set Swinger!
All: Swing-set Swinger!
SAHD: Swing-set Swinger!

SAHD: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Posted by: Songster | May 6, 2008 10:08 AM

Most excellent songster.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 6, 2008 10:14 AM

Yes, but not all cheating constitutes a one-night stand. There is a lot of cheating that takes months or years to develop into an affair. Months or years of relationship neglect. And I think that kind of cheating often starts with dishonesty / lies of ommission and eventually emotional affairs. The physical cheating usually comes last, if at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 10:16 AM

KLB: "This brings up another sore topic: can you have an "emotional affair"?
If so, is it cheating/better or worse than a physical affair?"

IMNSHO (In my not-so humble opinion): yes you can, and it's bad but probably not as bad as a physical affair.

An "emotional affair" is when you become emotionally attached to a person of the appropriate gender who isn't your spouse, and it far exceeds the bounds of friendship to the point that you're interacting with/relying on that person on an intimate level, at the expense of your spouse.

I'd say it's not as bad as a physical affair because you're not in danger of a pregnancy or an STD. But others may disagree and regard the physical affair as just "bedroom gymnastics" and the emotional affair as the real betrayal of your spouse. Who knows - they're both bad.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 6, 2008 10:19 AM

This is a depressing topic. Really depressing.

I come here for lighthearted (and, on occasion) serious conversations about balance and other topics. Only Brian could present a topic of adultery and somehow tie its occurrence to one's career and whether one spouse is a SAH spouse. Those with no moral compass bring that lack into all life choices. This is not news.

Someone who visits another's hotel room, knowing exactly what opportunity lies on the other side of the door, has engaged in this foolishness before and will continue to do so. Married or in a long-term committed relationship. Stay at home spouse or not. Where were the friggin' kids while Loserboy was romping mid-afternoon?

Posted by: MN | May 6, 2008 10:53 AM

Agree with the comments that this is a bad topic. One's economic role (SAHP, WOHP) does not correlate to propensity to cheat. The grass is not greener on the other side of the septic tank (thank you Erma Bombeck) - just ask my ex. The "fun" person he married after me didn't turn out to be a true partner and after 18 months of marriage it was over.

OT to Laura: Was on vacation and saw your post about your girl and school testing. How exciting for you to see her rise to the occasion and challenge her fears.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 6, 2008 11:13 AM

So, is flirting a no-no for us happily married parents?

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 11:31 AM

My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn't be comfortable engaging in certain behavior if my spouse was watching me, it's probably not behavior in which I should be engaging when he's not.

Do you have a different standard, Dandy?

Posted by: MN | May 6, 2008 11:35 AM

I've had good friends of the opposite sex where coworkers leveled the emotional affair target at us. If I don't call or email that person outside of work, if I go eat lunch with them 3 days a week, even if I get bummed when they're not at work, as long as there's no romantic relationship there is no romantic relationship. There is a very clear line, not some nebulous line. I suspect that the people who talk about emotional affairs have spouses who will never admit to a physical affair that already happened. I worked with a guy who I got along with great and would go out drinking with him and we did things to the point if people wondered if we were, you know... how is that different than if the dude was a woman? There is a line that cannot be crossed and it's the only line that matters.

Posted by: DCer | May 6, 2008 12:11 PM

My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn't be comfortable engaging in certain behavior if my spouse was watching me, it's probably not behavior in which I should be engaging when he's not.
----

oh great, now I can never scratch my a** again.

Posted by: DCer | May 6, 2008 12:12 PM

Oh and yes, women have hit on me at the mall when my kids were with me and I had to scratch my face with my left hand, twiddle my ring and keep mentioning my wife in order for them to leave me alone. So this does happen in ways it never did when I'm alone without my kids.

Posted by: DCer | May 6, 2008 12:14 PM

DCer, I applaud your discretion if you don't scratch your a** around your spouse, LOL. DH has long since stopped protecting me from the realities of living wih a man.

Ms. DCer is one lucky babe. ha!

Posted by: MN | May 6, 2008 12:19 PM

This topic is about as dumb as does staying at home or working outside the home raise your risk of shoplifting? Or assaulting someone? Or, goodness knows! So...we can take anything and put it in the middle of stay at home, work outside the home and it becomes a balance topic. Do stay at home parents eat more grapefruits than work outside the home parents? Maybe that could be tomorrow's topic!

Posted by: Dumb Topic | May 6, 2008 12:21 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name:

Male/Female:

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other:

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other:

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter?

Does your balance shift at certain times?

Posted by: Kattoo | May 6, 2008 12:32 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name: Kattoo

Male/Female: Female

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: Work full time (part of week at home)

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: Works full time at office.

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? 5-6, most days.

Does your balance shift at certain times? Yes, during the summer or at winter/spring break, I feel much more out of balance. I feel like a bad mom that my kid has to go to camp all summer...while some kids get to sleep late and be lazy by the pool.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 6, 2008 12:34 PM

"Do you have a different standard, Dandy?"

No MN, but you didn't answer the question.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 12:39 PM

I'm usually a fan of Penelope Trunk's, but her post on this topic was just bizarre. Not only was it not relevent to "Brazen Careerist," but it was off the mark. As far as I can tell, there are cheaters and non-cheaters, regardless of the job.

Posted by: Lanie | May 6, 2008 12:50 PM

I think ArmyBrat's definition of an emotional affair is a pretty good working description. If you're turning to someone else to fulfill your emotional need at the expense of your spouse, that's a damaging thing. My dad carried on that type of relationship with a woman for about six months to a year before leaving my mom, and then began a physical relationship with that woman and eventually married her. A close friend of our family, who had himself done something similar, described it as the "You don't love your wife but you're not sleeping with your girlfriend" stage, which seems pretty accurate to me.

When I was single I had a couple of male friends who were married get to the point where they start confiding in me a lot, and said things like, "You're so much more _____ (understanding, fun, spontaneous, whatever) than my wife." That was a huge red flag to me, and caused me to curtail and in one case end the friendship. No, thank you.

Posted by: LizaBean | May 6, 2008 12:52 PM

I completely agree with what was said earlier by the nameless female cheater (posted at 9:07).

It's too easy to think of those who stray from their marriages as serial cheaters, SAHD, WOHM, or business trip opportunists.

The reality is we all are at-risk for cheating when we neglect our relationship and allow our lives to become stagnant. Boredom and disilluionment ... THOSE are the risk-factors for affairs.

Posted by: Wise Women Elaine | May 6, 2008 12:53 PM

Your Screen Name: Laura

Male/Female: Female

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: Normal person full-time, lawyer part-time

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: WOH full-time

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? 7

Does your balance shift at certain times? Yes -- whenever one side needs an unusual amount of time/attention. The past few months I've needed to spend more time with my daughter, because she's been unhappy in school and needs my support. Last year, I had a case settle a week before trial, so the months leading up to that were ridiculously busy and I felt very disconnected from my family.

Otherwise, it's mostly summer and holidays, where visions of carefree weeks at home with my kids collide with reality.

Posted by: Laura | May 6, 2008 1:00 PM

I'll play, Kattoo.

Your Screen Name: atb

Male/Female: female

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: WOH FT

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: WOH FT, but about to change to PT!!! WOOHOO!!!

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? Seven-ish. We've got a solid, working system, so that my lovely daughter was up from 10-1 last night and I'm not a disaster today is a testament to that system.

Does your balance shift at certain times? I have a really hard time when we have something scheduled every weekend, even if it's only one thing. I need a weekend of nothing but spontaneity. It's so much easier that way with a toddler.

Posted by: atb | May 6, 2008 1:30 PM

So, is flirting a no-no for us happily married parents?

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 11:31 AM

actually, I think I did, Dandy. Flirting's only a no-no if you are flirting behind your spouse's back in a way you wouldn't if he/she were right there observing. Different spouses have different you nad Mrs. Dandy might be irrelevant to me and DH. In fact, what constitutes flirting is couple-specific, IMHO.

Tag, you're it.

Posted by: MN | May 6, 2008 1:33 PM

I love Penelope Trunk's blog and was sort of shocked at the overwhelmingly negative reaction that particular post elicited from most people commenting that day. Those idealistic 20-somethings! ;)

I posted a LONG response to her post, which I won't bother to cut and paste here, but if you are reading her post my comment is about halfway down and signed Maggie.

Basically what I said was that I 100% think being a stay-home parent is the perfect breeding ground for infidelity. Assuming your kids are school-age, a stay-home parent has a big block of free time during the day, is most likely lonely and bored and not intellectually stimulated, and there's a better than even chance that he/she craves attention/ego-stroking in any form they can get it. Add in cell phones, email, dating sites for married people, etc--as far as I'm concerned--and have witnessed many times--the table is perfectly set for adultery if you're a stay-home parent. I have stay-home parent friends--mostly moms--across the country--have participated in an online mom support group for 10 years now, and have seen and heard many, many variations on the theme of adultery, from the cliche affair with the tennis pro to married couples with kids meeting other couples also with kids online--the parents visit while the kids play, eat and are put to sleep for the night, then the X-rated stuff starts.

Ditto business trips--I think the whole "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" is very applicable to business trips, and I don't know the statistic off hand but many, many relationships are started at the office. I met my husband at work (we were both single--it wasn't an affair), and I have heard plenty of after drinks and business dinner hotel stories.

The bottom line is that numbers don't lie--just glance at the divorce and adultery statistics and it's evident that many, many people cheat.

Posted by: Maggie | May 6, 2008 1:36 PM

I don't know what happened in the middle there. It was suppose to read:

"Different spouses have different standards. What you and Mrs. Dandy have put off-limits might be irrelevant to me and DH."

Posted by: MN | May 6, 2008 1:37 PM

Otherwise, it's mostly summer and holidays, where visions of carefree weeks at home with my kids collide with reality.

Posted by: Laura | May 6, 2008 1:00 PM

_____________

Well said...my problem exactly =)

Posted by: kattoo | May 6, 2008 1:52 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name: babsy1

Male/Female: woman

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: work fulltime

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: N/A

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? 2

Does your balance shift at certain times? There is no rhyme or reason for the shifts according to academic sessions or months. It all depends on what the national office has in mind.

Posted by: babsy1 | May 6, 2008 2:12 PM

I think there is credence to both the environment and the character issue when it comes to cheating...

Environment: As has been described in several posts already, there are circumstances that can set up the perfect storm for an affair--perceived neglect from your partner, an over-abundance of attention from an attractive acquaintance, being in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Character: Regardless of the environmental circumstances, you need to know yourself. Are you a loyal person? Character should not be dependent upon outside influences. If you are SO miserable in your marriage, work to fix it or call it quits. Staying in a bad marriage doesn't do anyone any good (staying for the sake of the kids...they eventually figure out what's going on). At least this is what I tell the creepy married men who hit on me...

Posted by: pepperjade | May 6, 2008 2:26 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name: Product of a Working Mother

Male/Female: woman

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: work fulltime

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: N/A

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? Solid 6

Does your balance shift at certain times? I don't have a toddler but have to agree with atb - I need unscheduled time - I work a compressed schedule in exchange for alternate Fridays off and commute about an hour each way. I find if I have too many evening or weekend committments I burn out. I was actually cognizant of this recently and said no to something I really wanted to do... but just didn't have the time to do that particular day.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 6, 2008 2:32 PM

Rebeldad,

I'm with you. I don't think it matters if you're an at-home parent or a working outside the home parent. That has nothing to do with whether people cheat.

If you want to cheat, you'll find a way. If you don't, you won't. I don't think at-home dads are any more susceptible.

Posted by: gchen | May 6, 2008 2:33 PM

"what constitutes flirting is couple-specific"

Actually, I think flirting is an individual-specific interpretation of social behavior. Even the most simple introduction can be construed as flirting by the other spouse.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 6, 2008 2:37 PM

Wise Woman Elaine said it, and it's about the truest thing I've seen on here: "The reality is we all are at-risk for cheating when we neglect our relationship and allow our lives to become stagnant. Boredom and disilluionment ... THOSE are the risk-factors for affairs."

Anyone who thinks their character is too "good" to cheat just hasn't been put in the right circumstances (thank God). I hope you never find yourself facing them. It's a scary place to be.

Posted by: Anon from 9:07 | May 6, 2008 2:47 PM

I think the blog post says more about the type of person one is rather than what the person does all day long. Once upon a time, my wife worked for a trade group, and the trade group management would forewarn its own employees about "problem members" - the kinds that would serially engage in adulterous affair after affair.

People who engage in that behavior do it because of who they are, not what they do (well, then on the other hand, if they're after proprietary info....). I don't think the SAHD's occupation had anything to do with it. More likely the attraction he and the other person shared and took a little bit too far is to blame.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 3:11 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name: tsp 2007

Male/Female: F

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: work full time

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: work full time

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? Nice 7, right now

Does your balance shift at certain times? Yes, mostly depending on my work schedule and my husband's since we don't have kids (yet); he is (hopefully!!) about to change jobs which will probably mean longer hours but less aggravation for him, so we'll see what effect that has...

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 6, 2008 3:26 PM

Yes, but why don't people recognize when they are taking things to the edge? C'mon, admit it, we all know when someone we shouldn't spend time with is occupying our time and our thoughts. Is the thrill of an illicit encounter really worth it? Is our own gratification more important than our promises? Or is it that we think we're smarter than our loved ones are, and they won't catch on? These affairs remind me of teenagers who think they're immortal, so they drink and drive. In my line of work, we call these people organ donors. Eventually it all catches up to you.

Posted by: babsy1 | May 6, 2008 3:26 PM

Survey: Who's on this board?

Your Screen Name: Songster

Male/Female: yea! but male

Do you work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: FT

What does your spouse do (if you have one)work full time, part time, stay at home, or other: World Class BonBon eater

How balanced does your life feel on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very balanced, and 1 being out of kilter? 10 when I am writing, 1 when I am not!

Does your balance shift at certain times?
Depends upon how much positive feedback I get for my songs!

Posted by: Songster | May 6, 2008 3:31 PM

I don't think having the character not to cheat means you feel "too good to cheat." Sure, it's tempting, but for about a minute, until you realize that you have a loving relationship with a person who deserves much more respect and kindness than that. You also have control over yourself. If things are getting strange or heated or you feel the sexual tension, remove yourself. You don't have to end up alone and buzzed (on hormones and/or booze) in a hotel room with a person you know you're attracted to.

Posted by: atb | May 6, 2008 3:39 PM

Bingo, atb. It's all about valuing long-term rewards over short-term temptations.

Of course, that works only if you actually value your relationship at home, and feel valued in it. The more distant, cold, unhappy your existing relationship is, the less you feel like you have to lose.

I've had one of those mini-crushes you get sometimes when you work with someone, and I know my husband's had the same. We're married, not dead. But we both know that a minute's temptation would jeopardize everything that we've spent a dozen years building -- and everything that we hope to build in the future. So you just step back until it passes.

Or, in my case, closer -- nothing like discovering that the "cute" guy is dumb as a post to cure a crush. :-)

Posted by: Laura | May 6, 2008 3:49 PM

Who else are SAHMs going to hit on--other SAHMs? (I'm assuming they're straight)

Posted by: ah | May 6, 2008 4:00 PM

"Who else are SAHMs going to hit on--other SAHMs? (I'm assuming they're straight)"

Read Maggie's posts some times - they're hitting on the tennis pro, the mechanic, the accountant - basically, whoever they want to.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 4:08 PM

If someone is open and hungry for new blood, seeking an outlet for something they lack...anything will become a ripe opportunity.

And cheating isn't about sex, cheating to me is "when you feel you have to hide it." It doesn't matter what "it" is.

Posted by: Liz D | May 6, 2008 4:14 PM

"Who else are SAHMs going to hit on--other SAHMs? (I'm assuming they're straight)"

Husbands of their friends?

Here's an idea! How 'bout hitting on their own spouses or splitting up?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 4:15 PM

"Little Children" was not a very complicated (or interesting) (or compelling) book.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 6, 2008 4:29 PM

"If you're turning to someone else to fulfill your emotional need at the expense of your spouse, that's a damaging thing."

And if your spouse isn't fulfilling your emotional needs, then temptation is harder to resist. If spouse is too busy working long, long hours (for the family, of course) and too tired when home, I could see how that can be very lonely.

Posted by: another view | May 6, 2008 9:33 PM

But wouldn't it be easier in the long run to deal with the problems in your relationship rather than to get tangled up in a whole other mess and muck up your marriage worse? Again, like Laura said, it's an issue of short-term versus long-term happiness. When you commit to a person, they at least deserve for you to be honest with them. If you can't do that, you're way too immature to get married.

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2008 7:53 AM

Someone once raised the interesting idea to me that it may be a biological response. We were discussing how we (both single women) often notice dads out with their kids--there's some biological, cave-woman voice in our heads that says "man has child. man provides for child. good man. good provider!" Granted, I believe society's role is to help us overcome our baser impulses, and personally I'd never go after another woman's boyfriend/husband, but I do think it's an interesting concept.

Posted by: curious | May 7, 2008 1:31 PM

Sigh -- seven years as a stay-at-home dad, and I haven't been hit on once. Haven't cheated either. I must be missing all the fun!

Posted by: G | May 12, 2008 4:07 PM

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