The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

Anna Karenina will make you ask yourself: what would I do in her situation? You just may find that your answer surprises you…


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.

The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

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.

The Timeless Question: Is Infidelity Ever Justified?

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.

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 73 Comments

  1. Avatar of Lynda Webster

    Lynda Webster

    If I register in audible, my life would be over. I would probably not have social life anymore because I’ll be listening to audiobooks all day!

  2. Avatar of Tina Woods

    Tina Woods

    Is Kindle different from Audible? Or can I access Audible through my Kindle? I want most of my books/ebooks in one gadget.

  3. Avatar of Jean Holt

    Jean Holt

    Been a fan of Audible for quite some time now. It’s actually a very great discovery. I always listen to audiobooks on my way to work while I drive. I sometimes just want to stay in the car so I can continue listening. But that’s the only time I usually have. I really enjoy being subscribed in Audible and it compensates for the lack of a library that’s beyond my reach. Technology has advanced for the better and this has got to be the best inventions for book lovers.

  4. Avatar of Gayle Cannon

    Gayle Cannon

    I’m just glad that there’s divorce now because I can’t imagine how horrible it is to be in a loveless marriage.?

  5. Avatar of Marguerite Poole

    Marguerite Poole

    Women go through a lot of hardships just by the words that are being thrown at them when they do something that’s socially unacceptable…?

  6. Avatar of Alicia Parker

    Alicia Parker

    I hate how cheating is so rampant nowadays and it seems normal already. PEOPLE, IT’S NOT! Please don’t cheat on your partners just because you think its trendy now.

  7. Avatar of Lula Burton

    Lula Burton

    Anna Karenina is a nice read. It was really interesting and it just makes me want to be thankful that women have it better now.

  8. Avatar of Freda Miles

    Freda Miles

    Read this in college and it was great. It’s my 1st time hearing about audible and I tried to register for the trial. So far, it’s great. I’ve downloaded a couple of audiobooks in my list now. I’m happy!

  9. Avatar of Myra Jordan

    Myra Jordan

    I was told that people cheat because their partners lack something and that they managed to look for that missing ‘something’ in another person. However, this doesn’t mean that you can justify cheating now. Everyone lacks in something and one person can’t have it all. I think it’s a matter of self-control at times. I also think that if you’re focused on someone, there’s no way you’d look at someone else. I think relationships fail because of being too distracted and we don’t focus on the people who we have in front of us.

  10. Avatar of Julie Shaw

    Julie Shaw

    Nope, infidelity can’t ever be justified. Whatever reasons you have, just don’t.

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