The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?
How would you feel if the person of your dreams fell wildly in love with you? How would you feel if every time you saw that person they gave you butterflies and made you laugh? How about if they were honest, kept no secrets, and lavished you with the perfect amount of attention and affection? If you were never bored with this person and that they always revved your engine?
Imagine that’s your reality, but your family and friends told you that you couldn’t be with this person. No, this isn’t a Romeo and Juliet tale; this is quite a different story.
This is the story of Anna Karenina, the celebrated tale from the 1800s. It’s about a woman who finds perfect love while living in imperfect circumstances. It is the story of Anna who is both moral and immoral, sweet and sassy, a woman who seeks advice but who then refuses to listen to it. Anna sounds like the modern girl, sometimes polished and proper but other times raw and unrestrained. As you listen to her story narrated by Golden Globe winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal on Audible (they’re offering a free 1 month trial), you’ll find yourself both rooting for Anna and against her.
Her marriage to the formally stiff, impassionate bureaucrat, Alexei Karenin has become the ultimate emblem of everything Karenina despises, as it is loveless and false. However, the tastefully reserved, elegant Karenina has no wishes to end her marriage or leave her beloved son… until she meets Alexei Vronsky, the dashing, passionate military officer. To Karenina, Vronsky represents a life she yearns for, filled with passion and affection.
You’ll feel as though you, or a friend, could be in her exact circumstances. The truth is, all of us have been where Anna is — maybe not with a husband, but certainly with a boyfriend (or two). We’ve all searched for true love, sometimes finding it but more often picking through fool’s gold. We’ve wondered when the perfect person–the one with looks, brains, personality, and utter sex appeal–will sweep us off our feet.
But very few of us stop and think about what happens when we do find this person. Do we immediately jump in if the circumstances aren’t right? Do we try to change the circumstances to make them right? What if we know that we have to do wrong for things to be right? Do we still do it?
Nowadays, if you find yourself in an unhappy marriage, you can get a divorce. There are no repercussions such as social exile or the possibility of estrangement from your children. Can you imagine living in the time of Anna Karenina where women married young, and yet divorce was all but unheard of, and women who stepped outside of their marriages became social pariahs? So many women must have missed out on true love.
Anna Karenina will make you ask yourself these questions. Just like Anna, I feel that I’m a moral person, and yet I’m not so sure what I’d do if I felt similarly trapped. Listening to the story, it made me feel her emotions, question my approach to fidelity, and provided fodder for some enlightening conversations with my friends. As I listened to it narrated on Audible, I wondered: what would have happened if I met my hubby (who is fortunately the man of my dreams) while I was stuck in a loveless relationship? What would I have done?
What would you have done if you were in that situation? This story will help you answer that question.
Now imagine that the man you fall for is also married. Does the inevitability of destroying another woman’s life change things? Would you stuff those feelings down and ignore them, as Anna’s husband (much more poetically) requested she do? We may sometimes be tempted to deceive ourselves when it comes to relationships, convincing ourselves that the one we’re with is “the one,” even if we suspect, deep down, that something isn’t quite right. But is self-deception ever a good thing?
Another wrinkle in this story is the blatantly sexist double standard; while Anna is cast as a “depraved woman” and shunned from society, her lover is distraught, yes, but never overly apologetic. When his friend chides him, he jokingly calls his friend a “moralist,” implying that the entire situation is to be taken lightly, despite his wife’s inconsolability. This demonstrates the double standard that is still alive and well today; that “boys will be boys” but women who commit the same adulterous or sexual acts as men are labeled as a “slut,” “bitch,” or somehow socially devious and therefore an unworthy individual.
If you want to engage with an entertaining tale that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you question right and wrong, look no further than Anna Karenina on Audible, my fav source to listen to the best books on the go (which is always!).
Speaking of audiobooks, I love listening to them while driving. On long plane, train or automobile rides, nothing is more absorbing than listening to a good book. When I’m sitting in traffic in an Uber, I find myself lost in a spectacular story rather than listening to the persistent sirens, construction noises and honking.
So the next time you’re looking for an escape, your next adventure is only a click away….
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.