Sex & Relationships

The Sexual Self-Interest of the Cuckolded Wife

How does Suzanne Craig, wife of the outed senator, stand next to her liar of a husband at a press conference and not hurl her guts?
How does Suzanne Craig, wife of the outed Senator, stand next to her disgraced Potty Liar of a husband at a press conference, and not hurl her guts?

She's not the first political wife to put on a show. The spectacle of a prominent woman standing by her man, now revealed to be an adulterer -- and of a bent that she could never satisfy -- is one of bewildering aspects of the recent Prig-Freak scandals.

Some say there's one explanation for the wifely stoicism: "She's protecting her investment."

Certainly, with the money and prestige involved in a  "First Lady"-type of profession, this makes practical sense. Maybe if the reporters called Mrs. Craig after the divorce settlement is signed, and her social future is assured, they'd get an earful that would make their drums bleed.

However, there's a part to the cuckquean's inevitable reaction that is completely denied, because of our cultural inability to imagine a woman's sexual outrage. We don't even commonly use this word for a female cuckold, which is remarkable considering the extent of the experience. It's not just GOP Christian SAHM's who are going through this.

Let us consider the cuckquean's complaint:

She's in shock. She can't believe the guilty plea either, because once she accepts her husband's true behavior,  the "everything-is-a-lie" nausea will overtake her. There'll be months -- or years -- where she  doesn't feel like she can trust her guts, make simple decisions, or keep up with cursory obligations. Getting out of bed and giving a shit will become major struggles.

Did she know all along? Half the women with closeted-gay husbands I've spoken to over the years have confided, that yes, they had a clue. The others say they were blindsided.

In some cases we see married men who openly proposed to their fiancée, "You're my last chance, you've cured me; now that I've found you I'll never stray again." The tender girls believed it. They believed it because of their inadequate sexual education, and  because it was so flattering to feel that special, the romantic ideal. "Sublimate your sexuality to devote yourself to your husband's transformation!" --It never works, and yet it keeps getting takers.

Because significant numbers of women are forgiving of their husband's sexual past, some of them are LESS homophobic than their closeted husbands. They often feel emotional sympathy for the gay common man -- they wish more straight guys would lighten up in the loafers. Even if they don't "get it" yet, these women are attracted to an androgynous sensibility. If they were out of the closet, they would call themselves fag-hags, and look for a wonderful bisexual man to settle down with.

I remember being confronted once, on the Phil Donahue TV program, during his great decline into talk show balderdash, by a "gay conversion couple" from Exodus.

 The "recovered husband" gently held his arm around his very pregnant wife. When I asked her, "Do you find that there's something special about your husband that was hard to find in other guys?" -- she turned bright red. Tears sprung to her eyes, and I was afraid I'd break her water.

"Stop it!" she cried. "He's artistic and sensitive and has feelings; that doesn't mean he's gay!"Her inarticulate anguish spoke louder than her protestations.

Most cuckqueans feel authentic love from their husbands. They aren't just doing his wash and spitting out brats--  they feel adored and confided to, relied upon, and engaged in their marital partnership. Their terrible secret is the silence in the bedroom.

Then it all comes out, thanks to your friendly neighborhood undercover cop. The badge flashes, and your life is over. Everyone knows your husband had 'homosexual relations," and he's still blithering that it was nothing but a "wide stance." The earth splits open between you.

The devastation of deception is universal. On that count, it's like any vanilla adultery. The lie is the worst part, because when you deceive your partner, you take away their informed right to react -- to be angry, to be thoughtful, to leave, to negotiate, to -- WHATEVER. You  infantilize them by keeping a secret that you've decided they're "better off" not knowing.

We've become accustomed to the denial and the sad naiveté.

Yet, for all the spicy details we've learned recently about tearoom cruising or diaper fetishes -- the man's sex life--  when does the subject turn to the sexual lives of the cuckolded women?

By far, most of these wives have never understood why their husbands so rarely wanted to fuck them -- why their sexual appetite was so much larger than their husband's.

No one likes to be on the hungrier end of a sexual frequency battle -- 'cause you always lose! -- but for women, it's a blow to their femininity.

A "respectable" woman is not supposed to be horny. Every woman is presented with this goal, even if she was not borne to its middle-class presumption.

You're supposed to want to please your husband, to have children. But you're not supposed to carry a craving in your pussy that won't go away, an unaccountable itch in your clit, a cycle that gets turned on like a geyser and won't be sated by anything else by orgasm. After orgasm. After orgasm. That's not, uh, ladylike.

There's no biological or empirical basis for such nonsense, but it's the self-imposed curse we live with.

You can be boy-crazy, you can be a romantic fool, but you're not supposed to lie awake at night yearning for your husband and making an ass out of yourself trying to get his attention.

If he doesn't get a hard-on for you, what does it mean? You must be unattractive, unappealing, too demanding.

In the wife's fearful mind, it escalates to feeling like a repulsive failure. There's not many feminists around to hand her a copy of the SCUM manifesto and exhort, "Sister, fuck that shit!"

If only you'd done this thing or that, if only you could act like you didn't care, his desire for you might return. It's humiliating to make a move on your guy, and get rejected. The cuckquean relives this rejection over and over in her mind; it's unbearable for her. She needs something to rationalize it, a way out. Her repression is like an ulcer. If she has affairs, she is burdened with guilt, if she doesn't, she's going to act out in other ways.

Of course, it's not just homosexuality or kinky secrets that might depress a man's desire for his wife. It could be a health issue, another passionate yet vanilla affair, drug effects, a serious disenchantment for other reasons. The only way the "other partner" will ever know is honesty, and that's hard to come by.

On the occasion when it does turn out to be a question of the man's sexual orientation, and the wife realizes that she wasted all those years blaming herself -- this way lies the path to madness.

Now, in wisdom, she shouldn't have wasted time blaming herself NO MATTER WHAT--  an indifferent or depressed libido belongs to one's own body.  It's nobody else's fault or responsibility. Your sex life is your sex life, no one else can carry your erotic water.

But try telling that to a woman who's had no sexual education, little or no variety, a sheltered married life. For her, she's the biggest chump in the world, she doubted her cunt for years, and now it turns out it's all been a sham. Watch out for the hot lava.

The other type of wife in this situation is someone who didn't care for sexual relations very much, and was relieved to find a guy who didn't "need" it.

This is less common -- but notable. A woman who's dis-maternal and sexually indifferent, is not unconsciously attracted to many gay men. (She's more likely to end up with a guy who's her opposite, who will always want her and rarely be given a favor... Don't you love attraction's little jokes?)

While the sexually-disinterested wife may have been happy to be relieved of bed duties, she's been creeped-out all her life that other women seem to make a bigger deal out of sex. She doesn't see what all the fuss is about, and blatant sexual advertising sticks in her craw.

When she finds out her husband is hot for men, the worst part for her -- after the lie -- is that she is exposed. She has to confront her own sexual disinclination, which she's desperately avoided. "Am I gay?" she wonders. "Am I frigid? Has some essence of life passed me by?"

It's a pit of loneliness, and again, it challenges one's female identity to the core. This woman has not experienced erotic passion.

You might ask: what about the wives of genuine bisexual men, guys who are happily horny, in the middle of the Kinsey scale? Is it possible that a man like Craig was bisexual, even if he doesn't have a name for it?

The deal with closeted bisxual men is that the taste for forbidden fruit becomes out-sized in its denial. Larry Craig might've truly enjoyed his wife, but obviously the big thrills have been in the big risks he's taken. There is no other explanation but lust, and his is tortured.

The wife of an openly bisexual man, the wife who was chosen freely -- is a woman to be envied, in many respects. But I don't know any politician's wives like that!

The family legacy in these kind of tragedies is writ large. We  squirm to imagine the children's reaction, how they turn out.

When we learned in in recent days that Karl Rove's father was a pioneering piercer and gay leatherman--and that a few years after he divorced Karl's mom, she killed herself -- it made us take pause.

Suicide is complicated and internal -- and  no one knows why she did it. "Why" is a  specious word in suicide, in any case. But the shadow remains, "Was she unable to cope with life because she felt like a failure as a woman; was her sexual fate unbearable to her?"

No one likes to say this out loud, not only because it's idle gossip, or disrespectful to suicidal depression -- but because it terrifies us that sex might actually matter to women as much as it does to men.

That a woman could be driven mad by sexual rejection is scary. It's asking  America to go from total denial -- "good girls don't feel anything below the waist" -- to visions of harpies with dragon-teeth for vaginas, raging in sexual humiliation and vengeance. Grab hold of your balls and run for your lives!

A woman scorned is an iconic figure we understand. We see her stripped of dignity, and the impression is that she was denied a possession that "belonged" to her: her husband, her home, her stature.

But the only thing that ever really belonged to her -- to her alone -- was her sexual identity and self-confidence. Her STUFF. If she was deceived or deprived of those big eggs, or if she never knew what to do with them in the first place, she's been damaged, and it's no careless stripping. There is a female hellfire, and if our myth-making of events fails to take in a cuckquean's sexual imperative, we're all in for a little taste of it.
Susie Bright is an author, editor, and journalist known for her original and pioneering work in sexual politics and erotic expression. She writes about sex and politics every day at her blog.