Why The Forty-Something Woman Is At Risk Of An Affair: Guest Post by Jane Green

Today’s post by New York Times Bestselling author, Jane Green | @JaneGreen

We’ve got a copy of Jane’s new novel, TEMPTING FATE, up for grabs today. See the entry form below for details.

Jane Green

Jane Green

Three years ago I started to notice a worrying trend. A number of women in my town, who appeared to be happily married, suddenly announced they had been unhappy for years, and could no longer continue with this sham of a marriage. Invariably the husbands would be left bewildered, as their newly-thin and glamorous wives exploded their lives, and turned out, in every case, to be having an affair.

In the majority of situations, the object of the affair was either younger, or someone entirely different to the husband – instead of a businessman, he would be a tennis coach, or the evening art instructor, or a younger man they met at the gym.

This was their soulmate, these women would tell me, their eyes sparkling with excitement and lust. This was the man they were supposed to have been with, not their boring old husbands.

In most of the cases, within the year, the soulmate had turned out not to be so, the women realized what they had thrown away, but by the time they go back to their husbands filled with apology and remorse, the husbands have moved on and met someone else.

I started to wonder why this kept happening to women around me, women in their forties, women who seemed to be happy, until the moment they weren’t. I thought about it on the train going into New York City, where at rush hour I found myself walking up Park Avenue into a sea of men in suits, swarming towards me. None of these men made eye contact, all of them busy looking at the young blonde on my left, and the mini-skirted young brunette on my right.

Oh! The realization slowly sunk in. Without realizing it, I had somehow slipped into middle age, and with middle age came invisibility.

And then I did a book event with a young, handsome author, who exchanged email addresses with me, and proceeded to indulge me with a series of gently flirtatious emails, which was both exciting and unsettling. It had little to do with him, but to do with me, and my growing feelings of invisibility, and the addictive quality of someone, anyone, actually noticing me, paying me attention, making me feel beautiful again.

I had always naively thought that in order for someone to have an affair, there has to be an inherent problem in the marriage, but all the evidence around me was suggesting something else. Although the women who did have affairs demonized their husbands, it was rarely to do with their husbands, more to do with the insecurity of aging, complacency within the marriage, and wanting, even for a little while, to feel beautiful again.

In my new book, Tempting Fate, Gabby, at 43, knows without doubt she is not the sort of woman to have an affair. She adores her husband, her children, the life they have built together. When a younger man starts paying her attention, she enjoys it knowing nothing will happen, but the more attention he pays her, the more addictive it is to feel attractive, noticed, alive. Soon she finds herself at a precipice, knowing she’s making the wrong choice, but unable to stop herself.

Recently I asked one of these women who lives in my town and left her husband, a woman who describes her now-ex-husband as the love of her life, why she had an affair.

‘I was bored’, she said, and as callous as that may be, I understood what she meant.

However wonderful our marriages are, however wonderful our husbands, when children are waking us up, repeatedly, at 5am, when every night is spent figuring out what to make for dinner, when mornings are spent shoveling laundry into the dryer and remembering the days when you actually had time to iron, it’s very difficult to remember the passion and lust that brought you and your husband together.

When your weekends are not spent holding hands over a candlelit dinner, but instead ferrying four children around from basketball game to basketball game, to playdate, to ice skating, to birthday party, it’s very difficult to remember the importance of appreciating your spouse, or indeed to find the time to remember to be kind, to pay attention to each other, to make each other feel loved.

Marriage becomes pots and pans. At first you’re distracted by those tiny children, but all of a sudden you’re in your forties, your kids are in grade school, you’re no longer needed in the way you once were, and you start to feel irrelevant.

Which is why the forty-something woman is so vulnerable. There is a window of opportunity, before we settle into what Jung called the afternoon of life, where a compliment can have far more impact than it otherwise would, where attention can start to feel like a lifeline to a youth and excitement we thought we had left behind long ago.

What I have learned, in my years as a writer, and thereby an observer of life, is that the grass is rarely greener. I have learned that life is cyclical, that this too shall pass; that just as there are periods when our marriages are wonderful, there are periods when life is boring, when we think nothing exciting will ever happen again. Those too, shall pass.

A good marriage requires work. It is a test of endurance, that is filled with joys, and laughter, tears, and worries, and often pain. If you stick with it, the joys will always outweigh the pain.

As for that younger man who makes you feel alive? That art instructor who offers you dreams of the creative road not taken? They are rarely the soulmates you tell yourself they are, in a bid to mitigate an action you know isn’t right.

I don’t often quote Judd Apatow movies, but occasionally there are words of wisdom that strike home. In “The Five Year Engagement,” the heroine’s sister, exasperated at the heroine’s fear of commitment, finally says, ‘well maybe there is no right cookie. You just pick one and take a bite.’

And once you take a bite, the right thing to do is stick with it until the end, no matter what other delicious confections temptingly call your name.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* * *

TemptingFateHCcoverFrom Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima JThe Beach HouseAnother Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships….

Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn’t felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.

A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page, and thinking about the characters long after they put the book down.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

, ,

66 Responses to Why The Forty-Something Woman Is At Risk Of An Affair: Guest Post by Jane Green

  1. Ann Bresnan March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds great! Would love to read.

  2. Marie March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds dramatic, in a good way. I much prefer to get my drama fix through fiction, as opposed to real life.

  3. Normandie March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Love this. And it’s true of what happens to men as well, many of whom stand on the other side of wreckage and wish they hadn’t.

    I’m already a fan of Jane Green. Looking forward to picking up a copy of this one.

  4. Gina Holmes March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    What an incredibly insightful post. The book sounds right up my family-drama alley 🙂

  5. Barb M March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I can’t believe how this post reflects the story of so many women I know…and it is exactly as she stated…not one of the connections with the so called ‘soul mates’ lasted. I can’t wait to read this book, thanks for the chance to win one! Love Jane Green…her books are entertaining and so easy to read, and at the same time filled with truth and wisdom.

  6. Tracy March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Yes, what Jane writes about is very true. I’d love to read this book, as I’ve enjoyed her other books as well!

  7. Ann Ellison March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a good one. I would love to win a copy.

  8. Katherine Jones March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    What an excellent subject for a novel. Sounds like there’s wisdom and perspective packed into this one alongside a terrific story. One I look forward to reading, for sure.

  9. Sally Bradley March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a wonderful book! I’m in.

  10. nancy reynolds March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Loved your post today. Your book sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance to win.

  11. susan March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to read this book!

  12. jen March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This is what I wish I could have explained to my husband. Maybe even to myself.

  13. Bonnie Franks March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I think it’s a touchy age. As are all ages in different ways. Sounds like an awesome book!

  14. Ragnhild March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Spot on!
    With my husband and I we got to stop it, before it was too late…

  15. Brea Brown March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Invisibility can make even the most down-to-earth person do the strangest things, all in a bid to get attention, even if it’s bad attention, from the ones they really care about. “This too shall pass” is one of my favorite pieces of wisdom my grandmother passed on to me. Thanks for such an insightful post, Jane!

  16. Paula Dolin March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds so good and oh so true. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  17. Laura @ chaotic domestic March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Great article. I’ve always liked Jane Green’s books and am looking forward to reading this one.

  18. Carl March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    It’s not too surprising that a 40ish woman would be at risk for an affair for all the reasons that you mention. Some men have similar experiences. I do agree, however, that too often these can lead to big mistakes. Let’s hope that we, and our friends, think better of it.

  19. Brittany March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Excellent blog post. I enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to reading Tempting Fate!

  20. duda March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Spot on. It’s like Jane has been watching me for the past year. I know I will relate to this book, can’t wait to read it.

  21. Sister March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve always referred to this age 40+ life choice of the wife as the body’s wish for a Last Hoorah and have seen it happen time and again. It’s a series of rash decisions as if good judgment has been buried and forgotten. I think this book should be read by husbands to give them a heads up!

  22. Annette Herbst March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I too have seen this happen again and again. I always thought it was fear of middle age

  23. Bonnie K. March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. I have read most of Jane Green’s books and love them.

  24. Kathy March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This tale of leaving the first love for someone more attractive and attentive is all too common in this age of pleasure before pain. I feel it has a great lesson for all ladies over 40 (and even 50-60) that life lived for the Lord is the only way to find joy and satisfaction.

  25. Jill March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Excellent blog! I cannot wait to read the book!!

  26. Jenny March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Can’t wait to read the newest Jane Green. I’ve loved every one of them so far!

  27. Colleen Turner March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This is just fascinating! I don’t see myself ever falling into this trap (in truth I have never been one to really soak up flattery from strangers or someone I just met) but I can now understand where some of the women (or men for that matter) might be coming from. Really interesting stuff. Can’t wait to read the book!

  28. Gina Conroy (@GinaConroy) March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve experienced friends going through this and witnessed many forty something women divorcing. While I don’t believe they all fall into this scenario, (I’m of the impression that many marriages have been “bad” for years, but these women hang on for the sake of family and kids until they can’t any longer) this does intrigue me and I do admit I’ve played around with this subject matter in my own writing.

  29. Ron Estrada March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ll take the risk as the only male responder thus far. The scenario works both ways. We all yearn for the excitement and rush of the new flame. For good reason. For most of us, those are the happiest days we can remember. Like anything wonderful, though, it must be a temporary situation. One can hardly do anything useful if we’re constantly thinking of our spouse and looking for any moment to call (okay…text) them. We mature and allow the other requirements of life to share our attention. The risk, of course, is that our wives and husbands take up a comfortable, routine position in our day. Routine, as much as we enjoy the structure, becomes boring. Like you said, marriage is work. I have to consciously think to ask my wife about her day or even if she’s enjoying her book. It’s the little things that get lost in the commotion. Grabbing her hand as we walk through a store. Checking in with her when I reach a destination. Texting (a Godsend) just to ask how she’s doing. It takes effort because it seems trivial. But it’s of greater importance than just about anything else on my “to do” list. Trust me, men feel the pull as well. But if we’re honest, we admit that our “boring” wife is only a reflection of ourselves. We know that we have to be a stronger gravitational force than any bronzed tennis coach. And since our looks probably aren’t keeping up with the program, we’d better be on our A game in every other area. It’s what being a man is all about. Great post. Love the insight. Now I need to go tell my wife that she looks amazing today.

  30. Sandi Taraschi March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh this book looks so interesting, thank you for a wonderful opportunity to win it 🙂

  31. Kat March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve sadly been noticing this trend as well. It hasn’t hit many of my close friends. But many of us got married a little later. But hitting this 10 year anniversary has been a doozy for all. I’m really looking forward to this book.

  32. Susan Gruener March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Too bad divorce is rampant today… It hurts whole families, children especially and even the extended family. It takes just one bad thought to start down the bad, sad road of infidelity. Nope, I haven’t gone there, but could have if I didn’t make a choice early on in marriage with my husband and God especially, to not go there – ever! I’ve been married almost 40 years now and somehow we have both survived the tragedy of affairs.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

  33. Carmen March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Great truth in what Jane shared, especially for women of a certain age. This sounds like a very timely and interesting book.

  34. Suzy March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love, love, love Jane Green and her books! I’ve read them all and can’t wait to get my hands on this new one.

  35. Pam March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love the storyline.

  36. Linda March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    It is definitely on my to be read list. I love Jane’s books. Can’t wait.

  37. Elizabeth Bevins March 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve noticed this trend. It is difficult. I remember when men began noticing my daughter instead of me. It was a shock at first, then unsettling. Now I thing I am through that stage! I’m comfortable with myself.

    The book sounds wonderful.

  38. Melissa Lee April 1, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    The fading bloom of youth comes to all

  39. Erin April 1, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Fabulous article and being 40 I appreciated this!

  40. Leslie April 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Can’t wait to read this one!

  41. Debbie D April 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    What a great post! So spot on. Makes me really want to read this book!

  42. Kelly April 2, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Wow, what a great post full of insight and wisdom. Would love to read this book!

  43. Martha April 2, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    So very true….particularly the observation of attention being a lifeline to our youth.

  44. Maria April 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This is a great perspective. Very enlightening. A much needed one. It seems to hit so much on Truth. Thank you for sharing!

  45. Melanie Backus April 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I am intrigued by this one. Thank you for the giveaway.

    melback at cebridge dot net

  46. Randi April 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I really enjoy Jane Green’s books.

  47. Lana April 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Keen observation of our present cultural reality. The saying that ‘the pasture is greenest where it is watered’, is true in marriage too.

  48. Kristie April 6, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds like such a great book!!! Look forward to reading this one!!

  49. Rosemarie September 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it,
    you will be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark
    your blog and will eventually come back in the future.

    I want to encourage you continue your great writing, have a nice morning!

  50. fertilizer hydroponics September 6, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    As long while you purchase your seed from your quality Medical Marijuana Seed seed bank, there is no
    doubt the quality and consistency take presctiption par with seeds world class
    seed banks. In the Netherlands only seed banks should produce
    cannabis. As they each take only 9 weeks till they mature FROM seed,in case you order today,
    plus your countries law’s allow,you’re likely to be harvesting your own ‘Snow White’ 7 Dwarfs
    before the final of May.

  51. Leslie September 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    When we talk about is unlicensed contractors the perfect location for the US
    embassy in Iraq. In summary, when looking for concerning your plumbing needs.
    How are you attracted to your liking, you are not.
    Also, a third time a FT position. I believe a homeowner sign a contract.

  52. realist November 8, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’m glad I’m not married. I am middle-aged, but stories like this make it seem like marriage really sucks. I once shared my concerns about marriage with a former marital therapist. He said “The fear is real. Don’t do it.”

  53. Alba October 22, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Get out of debt today. Bankruptcy is a dirty scary word. But nce you learn the ins
    and outs of bankruptcy it is not so scary anymore. In fact, yyou may conclude it is
    yoyr best chance at starting a new future.

  54. Chris February 3, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    This happened to me in 1989. My wife was 39, and after us having 2 kids, she joined a gym, and lost weight. We had been married for 15 years.
    As far as I felt, I would have bet my life that this would never happen.
    I noticed a change in her almost immediately. Wherever I asked her what was going on or if she was having an affair. She would deny it. After about 2 months she finally admitted her affair. I was crushed. What she said to me when I said she had to end it even hurt more. She said that would not happen.
    The next 2 plus years were beyond crazy. She left me and our 6 year old and 8 year old. She would end her affair and move back home and leave again. This happened more times then I can count. I must say, she knew how to keep me hanging on. I did not know it then, but I became a cuckold.
    At some point her affair ended and she began another affair with a drug dealer. There were a couple of times I thought that she might have OD’d.
    Even after her affair with the dealer ended, it took her time to emotionally become connected to me again. It still blows my mind that someone can jump in the sack with someone they hardly know yet take time for the one she really loves to have sex again.

  55. Al March 29, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    So so true but perhaps instead of starting at the young twenty year olds ( who DIDNT give up their youth and flawless bodies to give them children ) men could start seeing their wives again and appreciating that just because we get older we are not old hags to be discarded and ignored
    If men were not so obsessed with youth and pre baby bodies perhaps women would feel a whole lot better about staying in marriages . Perhaps we would feel that we havnt made all the sacrifices only to be ignored in a world where a woman’s only value seems to be her appearance

  56. kerry May 12, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I was one of these women and it did not go well. I ended up with a baby and singal

  57. g f May 23, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    i love your characters, they are always so real………..

  58. Candice May 23, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    Well said Jane Green. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it!

  59. ExitTheTyphoon May 28, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    My wife blew up our marriage of 15 years just this way. She met a tennis pro and three years later I stumble across a mess. It completely blindsided me, our families, and friends. I adored her, worked hard, and my guts were ripped out. I married for love and found how quickly I was the enemy of theirs because I found her deep secret and exposed her lies. The recent lurid overdose of Dr Cerveny occured about the time I discovered my wife’s secret. So for the Dr and mine – so out of character for the love of my life. She was so possessed by the her obsession for this man that she would leave our young kids alone at home for hours to go be with him.And when I confronted her, she began laying the groundwork for an exit by lying to our friends and family. Thank God for my wonderful sister in laws who rallied around me. Thank God for my neighbor who called me. And the older lady at church who pulled herself out the same situation many years ago and shared with me. I took bullets and bombs for my Country many times, but the scars from this are yet to heal and the pain is off the scale even now. Except there is no morphine and no evacuation from this battlefield. As for literature on this topic, I’ve yet to find a very realistic treatment of the effects on the husband, the kids, the wider circle, and the level of effort that goes into the deception to throw the man off. And how it drives him crazy trying to make sense of it.

  60. Rogers June 28, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    This happened to me. I loved my wife deeply, very deeply, and she left me for an old boyfriend from her younger years who promised her a new, happy, carefree life. He is on his third bankruptcy, owes the IRS a bit over $30,000, and raises chickens for dinner.
    Two of her friends and her own brother have turned on her and told me everything. One of them is telling me my ex is miserable now. I hope so, because she has made our son and myself more miserable than I could ever imagine and I cannot fathom myself ever being able to love anyone again.
    I bought a house for us that she had sex with him in instead of me. I paid for the cellphone she sexted him with. I bought the car she took him on little honeymoons out of town in. The sexy little outfits she was buying and God Knows how many hotel rooms were payed for with my nickle. She didn’t have a job and still doesn’t. After all this she took me for every penny she could in “informal divorce”. That’s right! She had never wanted to actually get merried!!
    As heartless as she has been I’m starting to think I’m lucky to have gotten out of this alive…
    …I would not put it past her to have been considering finding someone to “take care of me” so she and her broke-ass lover could have the house I bought. My heart is dead. I’ll never love, or even sleep with, anyone ever again…

  61. Mark Mc September 22, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    The idea that core problem is that these women are seeking youth, attention or even love is false. It is not the core problem.
    These are only symptoms.
    Please research and know what’s really going on here.
    The truth about midlife crisis is so much more tragic than the symptoms. What you’re seeing in these women who irrationally leave their marriages is ALWAYS linked to an unhappy childhood. Ask any of these women if their own parents divorced or if their mother’s had affairs, or if they were neglected or abused as children. You’ll always find an ugly childhood. The 40-something woman (or man!) will repeat the patterns burnished into their psyche from their family of origin.
    This is a generational problem.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. An interesting post on marriage and fidelity | The Couple to Couple League of Jefferson City - April 1, 2014

    […] However wonderful our marriages are, however wonderful our husbands, when children are waking us up,… […]

  2. May’s Mini Reviews | Turn the Page Reviews - May 29, 2014

    […] inters in this book was piqued when She Reads posted an article written by the author postulating why women in their 40s are more prone to […]

  3. An interesting post on marriage and fidelity | Mid-Missouri Natural Family Planning - June 21, 2014

    […] However wonderful our marriages are, however wonderful our husbands, when children are waking us up,…repeatedly, at 5am, when every night is spent figuring out what to make for dinner, when mornings are spent shoveling laundry into the dryer and remembering the days when you actually had time to iron, it’s very difficult to remember the passion and lust that brought you and your husband together. […]

  4. WSIRN Ep 15: the audacity of telling people what to read with Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon. – Modern Mrs. Darcy - April 9, 2016

    […] Why the 40-something woman is at risk of an affair by Jane Green • The She Reads book club at SheReads.org • When our selection process gets […]

  5. links I love – Modern Mrs. Darcy - April 16, 2016

    […] Why the forty-something woman is at risk of an affair. “I started to wonder why this kept happening to women around me, women in their forties, […]

Leave a Reply