Believe it or not, there’s a new book out that says “yes.” It’s called The New Rules, by sociologist Dr. Catherine Hakim. And as you might expect, she’s stirring up a lot of controversy with her endorsement of something called “playfairs.” That’s her term for affairs among married people, where spouses can be intimate with other people – as long as your spouse knows about it, and you have no intention of leaving the marriage.
How can having playfairs make marriages happier? Dr. Hakim says one of the biggest reasons people divorce today is because they feel “trapped.” Her thinking is that, over time, most relationships get stale. The romance is replaced by companionship. And as people live longer today, it’s getting harder to find just one partner who can make us happy “til death do us part.” Also, she says in other countries, statistics show that marriages tend to last longer, when spouses are more “permissive” about affairs. In France, an estimated 1-in-4 men and women have casual affairs - yet the divorce rate is one of the lowest in the world.
That’s one reason why Dr. Hakim says we need to rethink our hang-ups about infidelity. Because in her view, playfairs can restore some of the excitement that relationships tend to lose over time. Plus, Dr. Hakim says the trade-off is having a longer-lasting marriage!
What do you think? Could your marriage survive having a playfair?