Forgive and forget?
Should you forgive an affair? Yes, argues Helena Frith Powell
Ronan Keating’s wife Yvonne says she finding it difficult to forgive him for having an affair. Well here’s a thought, maybe it’s just not about her. There are children involved here and maybe what is best for them should be the most pressing factor to take into consideration, over and above her hurt feelings.
I am not condoning Ronan’s behaviour, but there are many more serious things a man can do than have an affair. My husband having an affair would not mean an end to our marriage. My husband beating me, or abusing our children, would.
Admittedly I am coming from a Continental European background. My father is Italian (his motto being if you are faithful to one woman you are unfaithful to all the others) and I lived in France for ten years where not having an affair can be grounds for divorce. But I do think this puritanical view towards love and sex is slightly tedious. And potentially very damaging if, as it often does, it results in the break-up of the family.
Marriage for the vast majority of couples is not an endlessly exciting and exhilarating ride. After a few years and a few children it is not so much erotic as exhausting.
So people start looking elsewhere for that frisson, that passion that they once shared with their spouse. It is not the end of the world, it doesn’t actually mean they love their spouse any less or that they want to split up with them, it is just that they need that little but of spice.
A friend of mine had an affair with a colleague a few years ago. She and her husband were going through a rough patch, he was unemployed and she felt all the pressure was on her to support the family. Her affair was her outlet. It ended when her husband found out, but they both say now it was the saving of their marriage. He got the kick-start he needed to get out and get a job and she got through a bad patch with the help of a harmless distraction.
If only couples like the Keatings would see affairs for what they are and not the calamitous life-changing event they turn them into, they might be a lot happier. And so would their children.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019