An Interview with Susan Shapiro Barash by Terry Gaspard, LICSW
Susan Shapiro Barash is an American author of thirteen nonfiction women’s issue books including Tripping the Prom Queen, Toxic Friends, and You’re Grounded Forever, but First Let’s Go Shopping. She writes fiction under her pen name Susannah Marren. Her novels are Between the Tides, A Palm Beach Wife, and A Palm Beach Scandal.
Susan’s books focus on the gender divide, how women are positioned in our society and their innermost feelings about themselves as daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, wives, mothers-in-law, daughters-in-law, rivals, colleagues, and lovers. You can order Susan’s book A Passion for More: Affairs That Make or break Us here.
In your book, A Passion for More, you discuss your research findings showing that 70% of women will engage in affairs at some point in their marriage/committed relationships. Can you explain to my readers why female infidelity is on the rise?
There are many reasons including the fact that some women use an affair to negotiate problems in their marriage. Actually, an affair can be a game changer in a marriage. Also, 60% of women engage in an affair to escape the mundane aspects of their marriage. If you feel invisible in your marriage, your lover can make you feel special. With a lover you can have romance and women have been raised to seek romance. They remember the days when they were dating their husband as being fun and they want those feelings back.
In my opinion, one of the most surprising statistics that came out of your research is that 90% of the women that you surveyed said they had zero remorse about their affair and actively pursued an affair. Can you say more about why this is the case?
Many of the women I interviewed had a sense of entitlement in regard to their affair. A sense that they didn’t have anything to lose. They were looking for something to make them feel good. Others justified their affair because it helped them cope during a dark time in their lives.
I found it interesting that you breakdown four types of affairs in your book A Passion for More. Can you describe them for my readers?
Yes, the four types of affairs are:
- Empowering Affairs: Women have more opportunities today; an affair is an option.
- Sex-Driven Affairs: The major component of the affair is the sex.
- Love Affairs: These affairs happen when women least expect them.
- Self-Esteem Affairs: A lover makes the woman feel special and alive.
Another surprising discovery of your research is that 52% of women stay in their primary relationship after the affair (48% of women leave their relationship). Please explain the factors that contribute to women staying in their marriage/committed relationship after an affair?
As I mentioned earlier, some women use an affair as a catalyst to negotiate problems in their marriage. They believe their actions can be justified. For them, the affair fills a void in their marriage/committed relationship. A lover offers romance and 65% of my interviewees reported that sex was better with their lover.
On the other hand, 70% of the women I surveyed reported that their lover is their wake-up call. Or a way to soul search and better understand their own needs. A majority of the women surveyed reported on the perks of an affair and how it improved their marriage or longstanding monogamous relationship.
It sounds like the affair helped these women escape the mundane aspects of their marriage and to learn about themselves. But in the end, they chose to stay in their marriage or committed relationship. It amazes me that so many women are able to balance the physical and emotional aspects of their affair with the other demands of their life.
I appreciate your interview today and wish you the best on your book and continued research. Your research and insights are fascinating and I look forward to hearing more from you. Once again, you can order Susan’s book A Passion for More: Affairs That Make or Break Us here.