05/27/2010 05:56 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Cheating Men: Surprise, Surprise?

Ask the wives of powerful public-figures if they believe that ignorance is bliss and a disproportionate number might answer, "Yes".
It's been quite a busy year in the media especially for the number of highly-visible men caught cheating. This, in turn, has led us (and even Jim Carrey, but more on that later...) to wonder: Are their wives really all that shocked? Should we feel sorry for them, or is there some kind of voluntary ignorance involved when a woman chooses to wed an "ex" playboy, a multi-millionaire, or a charismatic and sexy high-stakes celebrity? Shouldn't many of them have known what they were signing up for?

A CNN statistic recently reported roughly 80 to 90 percent of professional athletes cheat.
My guess is that an impromptu poll on the streets would yield pretty much the same opinion. It seems to be common knowledge -- even public expectation -- that these men will cheat even though most of them have wives. Wives who, before becoming American royalty, were part of that larger common majority, reading the same tabloids and gossiping about the same playboy escapades of the men they ended up marrying. These were not mail-order brides freshly plucked from an alternate universe in which celebrity infidelity was unheard of. No, I'd venture to say that the large majority knew exactly what they were getting into.

But what kind of woman walks down the aisle knowing on some level, spoken or not, that her future husband will probably have a mistresses or three?
Some people call them Trophy Wives: attracted to the money, power and perks of celebrity and willing to stand like a statue, embossed in gold, in exchange. This is sometimes fitting, and sometimes unfair. More likely it is a bit more complex than that, and sometimes, it might even be a matter of genuine love. In any case, when the ugly news of affairs hits the stands for the entire world to see, the ensuing PR disaster is the same.

At the same time, however heartbreaking or shocking a public cheating scandal might be, I sometimes find it slightly challenging to sympathize.
What comes to mind are the frequent statements made by many an athlete's wife in articles and television interviews (think "Basketball Wives"). It's no secret -- the women have no qualms openly admitting that the lives they lead are privileged, but come with a price they must be willing to pay and are aware of going in. I can respect that, and see it as a forthcoming statement by women who are willing to admit that things may come with a cost. That's not ignorance; that's a choice they make going in. But what about the Wall Street wives we often hear about who lunch on Madison Avenue -- the ones who don't dare entertain the idea of going through their husbands' phone as did Elin Woods, for fear of what they'd find that might rock their cushy little lives to the core? As one Wall Street Wife stated on Oprah recently, many choose to turn the other way and stick their heads in the sand for various reasons. Without judging any of these women for their decisions, I still say it's all about ownership for what we do and don't choose that is the point.

Fade in, Jim Carrey.
Carrey recently tweeted his thoughts on Tiger and Elin: "No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity. Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason. kids/lifestyle ;^)"

It may not have been an entirely fair statement, but I think it was a reasonable question to raise.
What was interesting was how the issue caused so much anger, as if Carrey was "blaming the victim" so to speak. In the ordinary world, certainly no woman I know wittingly signs up for a cheating husband. While it does happen, the big difference between powerful men and ordinary men is that people don't automatically expect Joe Average to cheat. It's safe to say that the opportunity, temptation, and likelihood for cheating all increase with money, status and power. And the women attracted to these men are usually more willing to make more concessions for them. However, be cautioned that there are no absolutes in this theory. Certainly not every man of power and status is going to be unfaithful to his wife or girlfriend! It doesn't mean that every single one of these women has willingly bartered her dignity for the "good life", a la Spitzer. Indeed, I can show you many of women who are married to men of status who are incredible, faithful, and amazing husbands. (Yes, they do exist!)

At the end of the day, I don't judge the Trophy Wives, Basketball Wives, 5th Avenue Wives, and neither should you.
It's a choice we each make for ourselves. We have to take off our rosy-colored Chanels long enough to look at the person we are with as an individual, and at face value, in order to make decisions about what we want in life. It's about taking responsibility for what we will (and won't) accept in the bed we make for ourselves.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.