Watch out, moms! A new breed of sexual peril is strolling your neighborhood. He is uniquely placed to exploit any sense of alienation you feel as a mom. He will prey on any want you have for your once high-flying career. He will fill any void in your domestic life with his, er, 'manhood.' And he'll even help you launder the sheets after your little tryst. Meet the "stray-at-home dad."
Yes, as I worked my way to the Sports section of The New Zealand Herald website last night, I was diverted by this headline, "Beware the 'stray-at-home' dad"
Under the lead photo of a Dad and his daughter looking at an iPad (browsing Tinder, I assume), was the caption, "The bigger the earning gap, the more likely they are to have an affair."
Holy Moly! If that is the standard, I should be the Tiger Woods of the 'hood.
A University of Connecticut study of 2,750 married couples has just shown financially dependent men are the most likely to cheat.
"Infidelity may be a way of re-establishing threatened masculinity," suggested lead researcher Prof Christin Munsch. "Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher-earning spouses."
So as not to smother its romping story in a blanket of academic jargon, the Herald moved onto the opinion various authors as to why this might be the case.
Andrew G. Marshall, marital therapist and author of How Can I Ever Trust You Again? agreed with the study, opining that men cut off from their need to be a provider, usually by circumstance such as a job loss, would be more likely to seek to be men by conquering the local ladies.
Dr. Helen Fisher, the author of Why Him? Why Her? was a little less sympathetic to the male condition: "[The Stay-at-Home Dad] will, most likely, be an entrepreneurial type who registers high on the dopamine scale. Dopamine is associated with spontaneity, unpredictable behavior and addiction. Give this type of man time on their hands and... you get a man who strays."
All this was reassuring to me as my decision to stay at home more of a choice, and being a cup-half-empty guy is probably an indication that I am dopamine deficient.
That is not to say that the man as provider meme is foreign to me. Not being the breadwinner is a challenge to one's psyche, but I'd always assumed being a dependent would mitigate against having an affair. If a stay-at-home dad runs off with another mom, who is going to provide for the new family? And, succumbing to stereotypes, if that doesn't occur to him in a moment of lust, it would probably cross her mind.
Then, there is the logistics of it. I can totally see two coworkers having a drink at the bar after a day at a conference and ending up in single hotel room. But, life at fueled by alcohol at 11 p.m. is quite different than that perked up by coffee at 11a.m. Plus, it takes an extra level of psychological defiance to have another woman in your marital bed beside your wedding pictures.
As for me, I don't think I could be bothered.
There are plenty of attractive moms crossing my path. Were I single -- and thankfully, I'm not -- these are the type of woman I'd look to date, but none of them can hold a handle to my wife. She is the complete package.
Granted, I've never been the type to have an affair. In my younger years, I was more inclined to lurch from one relationship to another, which was just as bad for the women concerned, but it preserved my sense of my own fidelity. Since meeting my wife, I have read the menu, so to speak, but never been tempted to order.
Also, my flirting radar is particularly weak. I might have had a few moms make a pass at me without even noticing. Subtlety is not going to work on me. I need a woman to be porn-star forward before I lock in on the fact she might like me.
All this works against me being a "stray-at-home dad."
My wife and I have older siblings in their fifties. It seems like whenever we speak to them, one of them or their friends is going through some sort of major, life-changing event. It's usually to do with work or love, or both at the same time. We are bracing ourselves for a period of midlife crisis in the next 5-10 years.
Maybe I'll be seduced by a local mom and I'll have to eat these words, but at this point I just can't see it happening. If I have a midlife crisis, I'm more likely to want to go and live in Jackson Hole.
Sorry, ladies. I'm sure you are devastated.
Come on! Throw me that bone at least. Apparently, I'm emasculated enough.