Could having an affair SAVE your marriage British scientist recommends 'good infidelity' and looking to the French for inspiration on successful relationships
14:33 GMT, 20 August 2012
As advice goes, it hardly sounds like the recipe for marital bliss.
But one academic claims that a 'sour' view of cheating is weakening British family life by prompting couples to divorce.
Rather than having a rigid and unforgiving opinion on affairs the British should learn to be more liberal with their lovers, social scientist Catherine Hakim claims.
Director Rupert Sanders was recently caught out having an affair with actress Kristen Stewart … will his marriage to Liberty Ross survive
Educated in France, the bestselling author says that meeting with a secret romance for a brief fling should be a staple of British love lives – and puts it on a par with having dinner with your long-term partner.
She likens fidelity and long-term exclusivity in relationships to 'traps' which make people 'caged animals' in her book The New Rules of Marriage: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power.
Ms Hakim advises married couples to look to the French for inspiration for successful relationships.
British sociologist and former civil servant Catherine Hakim is the author of The New Rules of Marriage
says our French neighbours – who she brands 'masters of seduction' –
have a 'philosophical approach to adultery' and allow their partners off
the marital leash.
Her thoughts echoe those of legendary editor and author Helen Gurley Brown whose forward thinking approach to dating and romance revolutionised sex in the 1960s.
As editor of American Cosmopolitan
and author of the groundbreaking novel Sex and the Single Girl Gurley
Brown, who died last week aged 90, was famous for her outspoken views
and candid advice.
In her book she advised women on how
to bag a man, always look fabulous and have strings of affairs without
getting too attached.
She said: 'Nice, single girls do have
affairs, and they do not necessarily die of them! They suffer
sometimes, occasionally a great deal.
'However, quite a few “nice” single girls have affairs and do not suffer at all.’
Ms Hakim, who works for think-tank Centre for Policy Studies, says successful affairs where neither partner is hurt are possible.
She also praises the Japanese tradition of the Geisha and brands Britain a 'killjoy'.
This morning Hakim appeared on BBC Radio 4 show Woman's Hour to take part in their debate on infidelity.
Talking to presenter Jane Garvey she said: 'I am not saying that everybody should do it, and most people do not have affairs.
key point is that we need to be more tolerant of them. Sometime they
can ruin marriages, but if you take the view that most of them blow
over and a good marriage is still a good marriage we should be a bit
more laid back about them like the French, Italians and Spanish.
temptation is always there for everyone.
I am happily married, and I
would hope that if my partner had an affair he would be so discreet
about it that I wouldn't notice anyway.
'Total discretion is the absolute rule, the other party should never find out.'
Journalist India Knight and her followers question Catherine Hakim's relationship analogies on Twitter
In the book Hakim likens having an affair to having dinner in a fancy restaurant instead of slobbing on the sofa at home, telling listeners: 'Playfairs are just like that: an article of luxury that if you have the time and the money you can enjoy.'
Journalist India Knight was one
listener who wasn't convinced by her anology, taking to her Twitter
account to ask her 72,000 followers: 'Catherine Hakim says that having an affair is like going to a smart restaurant. Surely it's more like delicious
dirty food from burger van'
Editor and author Helen Gurley Brown was famous for her forward thinking approach to love and dating
Hakim, a former London School of Economics lecturer, is no stranger to controversy.
She ruffled feathers with her declaration that the idea of most women wanting to be financially independent was a myth.
Despite years of equality campaigning, more women are choosing to marry wealthy men than in the 1940s, the expert claimed.
In her report last year, published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, she suggested men dominate the top positions because women simply do not want careers in business.
She criticised David Cameron for backing the idea of quotas to ensure that leading companies appointed more women to their boards.
'Women’s aspiration to marry up, if they can, to a man who is better-educated and higher-earning persists in most European countries,' she said.
'Women thereby continue to use marriage as an alternative or supplement to their employment careers.'