Affairs may be forgiven but the truth is they'll never be forgotten
After two much-publicised affairs, Ryan Giggs and his wife have finally split for good. But why did Stacey take him back at all? Here, Neil Lyndon investigates the worrying trend among celebrities
Published 03/05/2016 | 07:00
I may not be fully plugged in to celebrity gossip, but I can recognise a broken, grieving heart when I see one.
Back in 2011 when it was revealed that Manchester United ace Ryan Giggs had had an eight year affair with his brother's wife, Stacey insisted on giving him another chance. Even talk of an affair of with former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas didn't convince her to pack up and leave.
Incredibly, she's not the only one willing to forgive a cheating partner in the world of celebrity.
Beyoncé has bared her bleeding heart in her new 'visual album', Lemonade, using 'chapters' with titles such as Denial, Anger, Forgiveness and Redemption, to draw upon rumoured troubles in her marriage and husband Jay Z's alleged infidelities.
Meanwhile the dancer Kristina Rihanoff has been appearing in media photographs showing her six-month bump with Ben Cohen's baby, while the former rugby international's divorced wife Abby has been making known her own less than friendly feelings. They might take comfort in the finding, reported this week, that women whose partners are unfaithful do better in the long run than 'the other woman' as the experience leaves them with a 'higher mating intelligence' that makes them more attuned to cues of infidelity and dishonesty.
On the subject of marital infidelity - with all its anguish, betrayal, deceit, despair, and the longing to go back to where none of this had ever happened - decades of experience on both sides of the marital sheets have led me to the point where nobody, I believe, may be acutely more attuned than I.
One of Beyoncé's songs shows her bestriding the streets of New Orleans and hammering the question "Are you cheating on me?" She should have checked with me before going to all that creative expense and trouble. I would have given her the benefit of rule number one of the Lyndon Heartbreak Handbook, which states: "If you need to ask the question, you already know the answer."
I learned that lesson when I began to question what was going on between my partner and a friend of ours. Clues in their manner towards each other - glances with private meaning, eye-to-eye gazes held a heartbeat too long - suggested that he might be availing himself of a little more hospitality than I would wish to extend. The long silence that fell between us over the dining table when I asked that question, and the startled panic in her eyes as she searched for an answer, should have told me everything I needed to know.
Trouble was, I didn't want to know. Facing the truth felt like stepping off the edge of the world into darkness.
Perhaps I might have been able to forgive this affair if it had ever been admitted; but both he and she denied it repeatedly, chiefly, I guess, to protect his reputation lest friends in our rural community discovered that he had been fooling around. Candour was impossible between us and so, therefore, were reconciliation and forgiveness and, after some years together, I moved out. I was astonished by the physical pain this separation inflicted. It felt like having a limb torn off without anaesthetic.
Beyoncé sings of reconciliation in Lemonade and the video shows her in loving embraces with Jay Z, with the penitent husband kissing his wife's feet. I wish them well, of course; but my experience suggests that, in future, Jay Z might have to kiss more than Beyoncé's feet.
She may have dedicated a song to "my beautiful husband" at her concert this week, but Lyndon's Handbook states that affairs are, if forgiven, rarely forgotten. In reality, I imagine Jay Z will find his home life to be a daily joy to roughly the same extent as Bill Clinton's after Monica Lewinsky. Or my own, in an earlier marriage after I admitted multiple infidelities.
A puppy I had given her lifted a receipt out of my office wastepaper bin and deposited it at her feet in the kitchen.
It showed that, contrary to my story that I had eaten no lunch the previous day, I had paid for an expensive meal at the Groucho Club. Cornered, I admitted that I had been lunching with a girlfriend with whom I had been having an affair for many years.
"She's not the only one, is she?" my wife eventually asked. "No," I admitted. "How many others have there been?"
"Scores," I answered, relieved to tell the truth.
My wife had every justification to divorce me but it was her choice that we should stay together, chiefly for the sake of our son, then aged nine. We slogged on for a further three years but the marriage was irreparably ruined, not only by my promiscuous infidelity but also by her chronic alcoholism and financial improvidence (she has since died).
Her problems weren't caused by my affairs but they added miserably to the chaos of our situation.
Every day was bleeding torture, like being 'tied to the whipping post' in the words of the Allman Brothers song. Screaming rows punctuated every evening. Our marriage might have had the outward appearance of reconciliation but it lacked every grain of the essential leavening of forgiveness. That blessing was, decidedly, not on offer.
Without forgiveness, post-adultery reconciliation is likely to remain, at best, a state of armed neutrality - like "flying a kite against the wind" as somebody said. The only advantage to this condition is that you'll probably lose weight. An average of two stones is what the victim can expect to lose on the Divorce Diet. Many sufferers will discover - as I did - that they have never looked better than when they are dying inside.
Forgiveness is most likely to be attained when the one who has been cheated upon realises that s/he is better off without the cheater. Though she has wished her ex-husband well with his new family, the former Mrs Cohen may not quite have reached this serene state. "The last two years have been the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me," she said, "He's done the dirty to me and I want people to know."
She needs to get to the position I now occupy. I give thanks every day for the betrayals and deceit I suffered in the 1990s because, without passing through that episode, I would never have enjoyed the best and happiest time of my life which has come my way since 2000 with a new wife and family.
Many years elapsed before I truly forgave the couple who cheated on me; but I fully embraced that state of mind when I realised that I, myself, could never feel forgiven for my own deceits unless I forgave theirs - having myself sinned against others no less than those two people had against me.
Beyoncé and Abby Cohen may benefit from this revelation. Stacey Giggs sure did, eventually.
They will find it not only in Lyndon's Heartbreak Handbook but also in the New Testament.
Which celebrities took their partners back after their infidelity was discovered
1 David and Victoria Beckham
In 2004 David Beckham's personal assistant announced that she had a fling with the soccer star. Her name was Rebecca Loos and she even called herself his "second wife". Over 10 years later and she still claims that her affair with Beckham was real but regrets the ways in which she went about kissing and telling. But he always denied these allegations and is still married to Posh Spice!
2 Sienna Miller and Jude Law
According to People, Jude Law was "caught with the nanny" of his children while engaged to actress and A-list beauty, Sienna Miller. But Miller also cheated, and it was with another actor - James Bond's Daniel Craig - allegedly. Law and Miller ended up getting back together when they met up again in New York, where they were both filming. Although they have since parted ways, they were able to forgive each other and were happy for several months.
3 Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez
This young, Hollywood couple has been on-and-off so much it is just way too hard to keep track. It's hard to understand when "Jelena" was strong and when they were all wrong. But it's safe to say that Bieber has had a few transgressions with the ladies, including reports that Kendall Jenner was one of them.
4 Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith
In 2012, Banderas was caught, allegedly, kissing another woman in Cancun, according to US magazine Woman's Day. There were witnesses that claimed he kissed the mystery blonde, more than once, and at the time, he had been married to his wife for 15 years. And, apparently, there were rumours of infidelity before this one, in 2007. Despite the allegations, the two stayed together until 2014.
5 Bill and Hilary Clinton
Who doesn't know about this presidential scandal? In 1998 the US was presented with one of the most highly publicised infidelities on record, when President Clinton cheated on First Lady Hillary with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The ordeal still plagued Mrs Clinton who said in 2014: "Forgiveness is a choice. And I fully respect those who don't make that choice, for whatever reason... but for me it was absolutely the right choice."
6 Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley
Hugh Grant was arrested in 1995 for lewd conduct when he was caught with a hooker named Divine Brown in his car on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Fans puzzled over why he would cheat when he was with Liz. The pair stayed together five years after his infidelity but eventually went their separate ways.