If you would have asked me to write about this subject ten years ago, you could have as easily been asking me to write in hieroglyphics, charting the constellation of our galaxy. Unfortunately, today I have learned in the school of hard knocks that “Good Girls Go Bad” in the blink of an eye.

Let me say from the onset that I am a 47-year-old African-American male, with one child, a few small businesses and have been married for twelve years to a wonderful wife—all the things a man could hope for in a life. Did I mention that my wife recently told me that I have been in an “open marriage” for three years?

Open marriage, as in, you date who you want and I date who I want, but let’s just keep it on a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” basis. The only problem is that I was never apprised of the new, now 3-year-old, status of our marital arrangement. How did I just recently find out that I was in an open relationship you ask? Well my wife told me so.

I do not come to you as an angry and jealous husband. I come to you as a man, who, after consulting with over twenty male friends in my age group (35 to 50), discovered that almost all of them have experienced the same problem. That is to say that they are, or were all, married men who have recently learned that their wives are seeking the company, affection and sexual gratification in the arms of other men. Surely these are neglectful cheating men who are getting what’s coming to them? Not quite so fast.

Man #1

My friend asked, “How old is your wife?”

I answered, “Forty-two.”

“Did you catch her, or do you just suspect?”

He had just rebuilt his marriage after a two month separation from his wife after finding out that she had several affairs with various handymen for the past two years. He promptly moved out and did not contact her for 60 days. She begged for reconsideration and disclosed that this was totally out of character for her and that she felt the marriage was far more important in her life than any meaningless affairs. You can hear the depth of the remaining scar in his voice as he spoke.

Man #2

After ten years of marriage my buddy thought he had it all figured out. His kids were out the house. The business was soaring. The wife just celebrated her 40th birthday in style with a big expensive 40th blowout event.

Then…

Facebook.

My buddy is not on or does he care to ever use Facebook. Heaven’s truth. He describes it as “The Devil.” After seeing his wife’s open Facebook page laying on the bed when she went to the store, my buddy found that his faithful wife of ten years, whom he had plucked from abject poverty and placed into Atlanta’s socialite scene, was madly head over heels crazy for the company’s… security guard.

On Facebook everything is over the top FABULOUS and MAGNIFICENT. What quickly followed was the obligatory picking your scrotum up off of the floor moment. Man #2 reached terms for a divorce after the wife disclosed that she no longer wanted to be in an exclusive relationship, and that this is what she wanted in her life. No love, less wifely obligations and more FREEDOM. Freedom is a familiar theme here.

He is now 52, dating, anti-marriage and trusts no woman.

Man #3

After his wife of seventeen years cited that she needed a bit more FREEDOM in her life, she promptly took the four kids and moved out of their 5000 sq foot home and moved into a 1200 square foot rental unit a mile away.

She had not yet revealed that she fell in love with sexting her newly conditioned 45-year-old body to several random men and that she felt ALIVE and FREE when she did this with them. She also neglected to reveal that she had fallen “Madly and unapologetically in love” with the husband’s cousin, who lives in the same neighborhood.

Man #4

An 8-year marriage of a deputy ended when he caught his partner in bed with his wife. Result: No shooting, just a divorce and three confused kids.

Man #5

He has settled into an open relationship (see aforementioned definition), with his wife after finding out that she now wanted threesomes with men and women, preferably in the comfort of their home. She enjoys hosting. His wife now believes that love and sex were meant to be freely given and received. The 60s are back!

He figured that, after consulting a divorce attorney, it was “cheaper to keep her.” Result: A highly sexed, loveless marriage that came, seemingly out of nowhere.

These are a few of the examples. Not all-encompassing, but a good cross-section of my male friends—all over 40, all of whom are financially successful, all of whom thought they knew their wives and all of whom thought they had “good girls.

What I’ve Learned

While I’m no expert, I do know that:

  • A 2012 UK adultery survey showed that, of 4000 cheats, women typically maintain 2.3 extracurricular lovers while men typically have 1.8
  • The typical woman starts to stray at age 37 while the typical man starts at 42
  • There are 1.8 million unique monthly visitors on the hook up site for married people AshleyMadison.com
  • Women are initiating 70-75% of all divorces
  • The 7 year itch is REAL!!! Most women experience an “identity crises” after 5 married years. They resolve to act on it or not after around 7 years of marriage.
  • All of my buddies stated that their wives wanted to feel “ALIVE” and seek “FREEDOM” from responsibilities and marital obligations.
  • All of my buddies’ wives were between 37 and 47 with the vast majority around the 40-year-old mark
  • The word “good girl” is now a badge of dishonor to the modern 40-year-old woman’s mind.

There are four kinds of cheating wives:

  • The Emotionally-Starved Wife
  • The Angry Wife
  • The Wife Who Seeks Excitement
  • The Sexually Deprived Wife

But back to me. I went into my marriage with the belief that if the marriage was not going to be successful, it would not be because of neglect on my part. What I realized is that men are not prepared or educated on the extent to which women mentally and physically change.

We remotely are prepared for the fact that women have monthly menstruation cycles. Bloating. Deflation. Depression. Low Libido. We are prepared for their strong maternal desire. You know, “Honey, let’s have a baby!” We get that. But no sister, mother, aunt, grandmother or cousin ever says…

“Listen Cuz. After you make sure that you listen to her attentively, don’t watch the sports channels too much, stay in shape and watch what you eat, be conservative in your spending while lavishing her with gifts, be an attentive father (but not like creepy uncle Rudolph or Freaky uncle Fred), be mature in your conversation but kid-like in your playfulness with your wife, sex them like a 25-year-old stud-horse while being gentle like an old Harlequin Romance Novel, and be innovative like that Steele guy in 50 Shades of Grey, you also have to be sure to compliment them E-V-E-R-Y, waking moment of your conscious life or she will feel justified with cheating on you.”

Instead, what we get and have gotten leading up to the wedding and the day of the wedding is “You got a good girl there” or “Oh, she’s definitely a keeper” and “You better be good to that one” (with the finger wave and the sideways stare).

All Bullshit!!

I did all that! Ask her. Twelve years of marriage, five years of courtship. I did all of the above and what is the glorious reward?

  • “I thought we were both doing it.”
  • “We did talk about flirting with other people.”
  • “I just need some space.
  • “I just want to express love and freedom as I see fit.”
  • “You’d be surprised how many other women are doing it.”

The silver lining is that she doesn’t want a divorce. No she just wants FREEDOM! And, I can have FREEDOM too, like Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave.

Burch: Well, my boy, how yah feel now?

Solomon Northup: I am Solomon Northup. I am a FREE MAN!

This freedom applies as long as she doesn’t find out any sordid relationship details, because of course, she still is a bit jealous and doesn’t want to get hurt. But nothing in our family life needs to change other than that.

Really?

I ask, “What about diseases”? She says, ”Condoms.”

What about curfews? “Oh, we’ll respect each others’ time.”

What about friends seeing each other out with new partners? “I haven’t really thought about that.”

What about me spending money on other women? “Well, I haven’t thought about that.”

I ask, “After three years of hiding and creeping and deceiving, you haven’t thought about how that all works out on my side?”

She says, “Nope.”

My friends and I have all come to realize that the financial cost for infidelity is usually always borne on the man. That is, the dates, the wining and dining, are on the man’s dime. In divorce, even due to the infidelity of the wife, the women usually get the children. Even when both persons earn equal pay, the emphasis in the courts is to make sure that the woman maintains the standard of living she is accustomed. Even without kids in the picture.

There is an assumption in society that men who are cheated on are somehow complicit in the deeds of the women, that deep, deep down in the musty murky bowels of the infidelic belly of the misdeed, the husband overtly or covertly tried to silence the women’s independence, change who she really is, minimize her sexual needs, or demean her importance as a mom or wife.

I am here to say that sometimes people inexplicably change.

For better or for worse. Women are just as capable of despicable acts of selfishness as men. That while Tiger Woods, David Duchovny, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and the Jesse James’ of the world are highly publicized, when was the last time you heard of a female of any celebrity seeking treatment for “sexual addiction”? This includes Madonna, Leann Rimes, Princess Diana, Kim Kardashian, Coco, Elizabeth Taylor, Heidi Klum, Jessica Simpson, Tea Leoni (with Billy Bob Thornton?). No sex rehab for these scorned, neglected, wonderful women.

My wife and I are currently in counseling. The scars of my wife’s recent revelations are rippling throughout our personal and business relationships at breakneck speed. My wife still professes that her family and relationship are the most important things in the world to her while at the same time insisting that these covert affairs mean nothing to her.

I’m not exactly sure why I felt the need to put these emotions into print, but I feel disappointment and anger, in need of a cathartic release. I never felt so isolated and betrayed like when I found out that I was the lucky winner of an open marriage.

Bob Barker

In true “Never Let Em See You Sweat” spirit, I haven’t shed a single tear at the potential destruction of an entire way of life I had attentively sought to build, because if she wants an open marriage, then it will be open for me, too. The hoochies are begun falling down like bowling pins for me. Strikes, no spares. Rick James, Love Them and Leave Them. The caveman never really dies. He just gets frozen in the ice until it’s time to thaw. Like a newly unearthed sleeping neanderthal, I’m having my fan, but it’s out of necessity, not by choice.

So on behalf of my twenty friends and the many silent minority—but rapidly turning into the majority—of married men with 40-ish year old wives, the good girl can go bad in the blink of an eye. Keep your eyes option.

Read More: 4 Things One Man Has Learned About Relationships