A new theory states that maybe cheating on your partner is good for your relationship in the long run! Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
An enduring marriage and an extra-marital affair with lots of sex is the perfect formula for happiness, a controversial sociologist has claimed in her new book.
According to Catherine Hakim, an "unforgiving, puritan Anglo-Saxon" attitude to adultery is damaging married life in Britain, driving couples to divorce rather than strengthening the family.
The bestselling author has argued in The New Rules that a "sour and rigid English view" of infidelity is condemning millions of people to live frustrated "celibate" lives with their spouses.
In a book bound to provoke controversy, Hakim likens faithful husbands and wives to "caged animals" and argues that they should be free to explore their "wild side" with lovers without the threat of divorce.
She claims that meeting a secret lover for a casual encounter should be as routine as dining out at a restaurant instead of eating at home.
British couples should take their cue from French, who she claims are happier and have more stable home lives because of a permissive and "philosophical" approach to adultery.
Husbands in Britain could also learn much from the "experienced libertines" across the Channel who, she insists, are the "masters of seduction".
Dr Hakim, a former London School of Economics social scientist, was at the centre of controversy last year with a book urging women to exploit their "erotic capital" to get on life.
In her latest book, she renames adulterous trysts as "parallel relationships" and "playfairs" while rebranding secret lovers as "playmates".
According to her, there is such a thing as a "successful affair" in which both parties are happier, but no one gets hurt.
While countries like France and other southern European nations have apparently more accepting attitudes to marital betrayal and thus have lower divorce rates, she lauds Japan with its Geisha traditions and greater acceptance of pornography in contrast to the "killjoys" in Britain and America.
"Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal," the Telegraph quoted her as writing.
"The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues.
"Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognise the benefits of a revitalised sex life outside the home," she wrote.
In the 275-page study she argues that cuckolded husbands and wronged wives would do better if they accept infidelity and try it out for themselves rather than growing bitter.