Fiction about Cheating Husbands?
July 24, 2014 7:43 AM   Subscribe

What literary novels or films could you recommend that can help a male to feel a bit of what it might be like for a wife to be cheated on by her husband? Something where the reader or audience really empathise with the wife/girlfriend, and feel some of her emotions? Thank you.
posted by surenoproblem to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
In The Mood For Love
posted by griphus at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maeve Binchy's Tara Road:

"The book mostly concentrates on the life of Ria Lynch, the Irish woman, who has met her future husband Danny Lynch. The two end up getting married, much to Ria's shock and delight, and start a family together while Danny's career takes off. Many years into their marriage, Danny begins spending less and less time at home with his wife and children. Ria believes another baby is the solution, and is shocked to find out..." it and you can see what he tells her.*

And it was the Oprah Book Club Pick of September 1999!

*or, you know, don't. But yeah, her husband is a turd. And you really sympathize with Ria.
posted by kinetic at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2014

The Pilot's Wife did a good job with this and is an easy read. (Weirdly, also an Oprah book pick in 1999.)
posted by something something at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Betty Draper on Mad Men. On first watch, she is so unlikeable that you almost blame her for her husband's serial infidelity, but a rewatch with a more sympathetic eye shows you denial, deflection, anger, longing, confusion, paranoia and profound sadness. (It's definitely not just that her people are Nordic.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

I just watched, and highly recommend Locke, in which you watch a man struggling to hold his world together when his infidelity chickens come home to roost, so to speak.
posted by ZipRibbons at 8:10 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Heartburn by Nora Ephron.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 8:19 AM on July 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

"...And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer poignantly addresses the adultery of a former Civil War doctor who escapes his demons "in petticoats" as the character's best friend said.

The doctor's wife is one of my favorite women in fiction. She learns of his adultery, grapples with how to handle it in light of their otherwise very happy marriage and two young children, and is confronted with the reality of an illegitimate child. She later faces the breakup of her son's family due to his adultery (The author's sympathy on this one is clearly with the son).

This is a very, very long book. You could skip the parts not about Anne and John (and Rodney and Jessamyn), I guess. (I know the book so well I could send you page references! It is a great, wonderful book.)
posted by jgirl at 8:24 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

This isn't fiction, but it's a memoir so hopefully it's close enough: Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies - also known for her role on Law & Order: SVU as Elliot Stabler's wife.
posted by lyssabee at 8:32 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Heartburn by Nora Ephron.

So underrated, and doesn't ignore the "laughing/crying/laughing at the ridiculousness of this situation" part of infidelity.
posted by sallybrown at 8:58 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Upside of Anger is about a woman who believes her kinda jerky husband has left her to run off to Sweden with his secretary; later on, the reality turns out to be more complicated. The movie is about the aftermath of his cheating and leaving, the wife's rage and love and difficulty moving on, her need to keep being a grown-up and a "family" for her daughters even though she's alone, her need for adult companionship even in her broken state. It's not totally on point for what you're asking for, but I've always found the depiction of the aftermath really compelling and interesting.

The Duchess is a semi-historical movie about the actual Duchess of Devonshire, whose husband was a noted philanderer AND ALSO A JACKASS who eventually starts bedding the Duchess's best friend and brings her to live in the house with him and forces the Duchess to tolerate the resulting bastards ... but when the Duchess looks for a little extracurricular affection he freaks the fuck out. It's be a better movie if it were a little less constrained by fidelity to source material, but the Duchess really suffers, you feel for her.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're going to include memoir, Julie Metz's Perfection is interesting. I gather that the writer becomes unsympathetic to a lot of readers because of her reactions, but it was a hell of a situation.

Leah Stewart isn't for everyone but Husband and Wife seems realistic.

The Silent Wife is a thriller about a woman who puts up with her partner's affairs on the side, until she can't any more. (Weirdly in view of the title, she is not actually married to the guy.)

Of course, an awful lot of novels and movies use discovery of an infidelity to being about disruption and change; see Under the Tuscan Sun.
posted by BibiRose at 9:29 AM on July 24, 2014

I came in to recommend In The Mood For Love, but for a more biting and witty look, check out Beyond Our Ken, which also has a girl power aspect to it that I like. Empowering is good in these circumstances.
posted by janey47 at 9:33 AM on July 24, 2014

The movie Random Hearts might fit.

A plane crash results in the death of a man's wife. It turns out she was traveling with her lover. He finds the wife's lover's wife. Both of them try to figure out how to deal with their feelings in the aftermath of a) suddenly being widowed and b) finding out about the affair.
posted by Michele in California at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2014

Zadie Smith's novel On Beauty deals with infidelity (among several other themes) and is a great read besides.
posted by number9dream at 12:48 PM on July 24, 2014

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