The Chronic Philanderer

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In this episode of Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel, we meet a pair grappling with the husband’s infidelity coupled with decades of his ‘acting out.’ Is the marital struggle a reaction to his philandering or is it deeper than that? Is the husband using his affair as a desperate attempt to recreate his origin story and manipulate the outcome? Can he change his behaviors and shift his narrative without destroying his family? 
In The Chronic Philanderer, Esther sets out to help the couple shift their focus toward the meaning behind the actions rather than rehashing the sordid details.


What to listen for in this episode of Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel.

  • The husband realizes he’s creating a dynamic of “You are not enough. Prove yourself!” with his daughters. Precisely as he felt from his own parents. We often recreate unhealthy behavior exchanges because they’re all we know. Have you experienced this in relationships?
  • The theme of loss is featured throughout the episode. The wife poses the question, “How much do I put up with because I’m afraid of more loss?” Does this question resonate with you? 
  • In a striking moment, Esther challenges the husband around his habit of talking about deeply painful experiences ‘in passing’ and refers to his uncomfortable laughter as the laughter of self-loathing. Does her language here impact you in an emotional way? If it does—why?  
  • At its essence, Episode 3 reminds us of the importance of sitting in the uncomfortable space between what was and what will be. For the husband it’s remaining present in the marriage, feeling his sadness over his sick mother, and working to create better relationships with his children. Have you experienced this uncomfortable, in-between place? 
  • Brief verbal indignities that communicate hostility are woven through this family’s daily interactions. With reflection, can you see where small daily aggressions like this might play a large or small role in your relationships?

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