Sunday, October 5, 2008

Redeeming a Cheating Spouse

In HUSH, my heroine, Megan, divorced her husband, Jake, after he confessed to cheating on her. He was her first serious boyfriend, the man by which she measures all others, and when the story opens, she is still plagued with feelings for him. She wishes there was a toggle switch in her heart so she could turn off her emotions.

When I was putting HUSH together, I wondered what to do with Jake. Should I make him a total jerk who just couldn't keep his pants zipped? Should he be a basically good guy who made a mistake? What kind of character arc can a cheater have? Cheating shows him to be weak. Can he find strength by the end of the story?

The primary question in my mind was whether or not he should be "redeemed." By that I mean, could he become a sympathetic character that readers identify with and even root for? What must he do to win Megan's forgiveness? Could he win her love again?

A marriage falters in the kitchen before it fails in the bedroom. What sort of garbage did both Meg and Jacob bring to their marriage? These were all questions I grappled with while I wrote HUSH.

Infidelity is an issue which effects many relationships. It rouses a visceral response because betrayal at such an intimate level rocks everything. What do you think? Is it possible for the unfaithful character to come back and wear a hero's mask?


Barbara Vey said...

I think people bring their personal lives and feelings into reading a book. So, if the reader has been through a relationship where the guy cheated, she is less likely to believe he can be redeemed.

DG Holt said...

True, Barbara. Yet somehow, the person who was cheated on needs to find a sense of closure. I think it might be possible for the cheated on partner to forgive the cheater, for the sake of his/her own sanity. Whether the relationship is resumed is a separate issue.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!