Cheaters as Relationship Gurus

Popular gossip/entertainment site The YBF made a splash yesterday when it posted a YouTube video from Mary Harvey, Steve Harvey’s ex-wife, in which she talked of Harvey’s infidelity during their marriage, including his affair during their marriage with his current wife, Marjorie. The ex-Mrs. Harvey also posted a salacious letter from one of Steve Harvey’s jump-offs.

Not surprisingly, this revelation spawned comments ranging from “I knew he was a low down dirty dog! How dare he try to be some kind of relationship guru!” to “Yawn, old news, old girl needs to move on.”

It is old news, in a way. Steve has admitted his cheating ways. It was already known that his current wife was his side piece. He’s not the first nor the last man to cheat, to marry his side chick, or to say he can tell women how to avoid low down dirty dogs because he was once one himself.

Although Harvey’s relationship books are best-sellers, there are those who resent his emergence as the media’s African-American relationship expert.

Can a person with multiple divorces under his belt seriously be considered a relationship counselor? Or, as Harvey argues, should we listen because of those past failures?

In my opinion, the fact that Harvey is a (reformed) cheater neither qualifies nor disqualifies him as a relationship expert. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship has ideas and opinions about relationships, based on their own experiences. And all of those people are capable of giving both good and bad advice.

I write about being divorced, so I am often asked to write about marriage – particularly, about lessons learned. I managed to partner with and marry the one person on this planet who was incompatible with me in every single way imaginable. Apparently, this is because I am an overachiever.

The biggest lesson I learned about marriage? Don’t marry the wrong person. Or, as I said to a friend shortly after I filed for divorce, “Choose better.”

I can’t tell people how to know he’s Mr. Right, because I’m still trying to figure that out. I have some ideas on how to know you’re dating Mr. Wrong.  But I don’t claim to be the Mr. Wrong expert. One person’s Mr. Wrong is another person’s Mr. Right or Mr. Cool For Right Now.

All I know is this: you are the expert of you. No one can tell you what’s best or worst for you, except you. The only thing another person can do is provide some guidance that might help you make the right choices for yourself.

Which leads me back to Steve Harvey. The fact that he cheated on his wives and has been divorced a bunch of times doesn’t mean much to me. The advice he dispenses should be judged on its own merits.

That said, I’m not a huge fan of his relationship advice, and not because of his own relationship history. I read his book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.” While I do think he makes some good points – such as the importance of establishing standards for how you expect to be treated early in a relationship – I don’t care for his “men are simple” brand of relationship advice.

I don’t think men are simple. I think men are wonderfully complex human beings. Harvey says men need loyalty, support and sex. Don’t women need the same things, too?

For the record, I also think the aphorism, “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?” is deeply flawed. It assumes sex has no value for women except as currency in trade with men.

Men and women alike should be smarter about and embracing of sex and their own sexuality, which doesn’t translate to strict “wait till the third date” rules. Other people can give you guidelines, but you have to establish your own rules about sex and intimacy.

As for Mary Harvey, the ex-Mrs. Harvey? I feel badly for her. You don’t save letters, emails, and other evidence of your ex-husband’s infidelity this many years after the divorce, if you have truly moved on. She appears to still be in a lot of pain over her husband’s betrayal of their wedding vows.

If telling her story helps her process that pain and helps other women in the process, then her revelations are a good thing. If she’s still coming from a place of bitterness and vengefulness, she will need to heal for her own sake, no matter what she writes or posts on YouTube. Only she knows what her motives are. I wish her well.

2 thoughts on “Cheaters as Relationship Gurus

  1. And I’ve heard he beat one of his wives too.
    Yeah… no… I’m not listening t a man who doesn’t have the sense to know that suit jackets are NOT supposed to go to your knees.

    See… until recently, I’ve been sensitive about this kind of thing. I’m still legally married and my ex now lives with ONE OF HIS MANY sidepieces. My son is under his care primarily, so I struggle knowing that two people of such abhorrent morals have the primary influence in raising my son and teaching him values. I have told my ex that it troubles me that HE is the primary role model for manhood that my son will have– a lying, cheating, emotionally abusive man.

    I do believe that divorcees can give relationship advice. Divorce doesn’t always mean that the person did anything wrong or that the person is incapable of having a good relationship. It simply means THAT one didn’t work out. However, where do we draw the line? He has kids scattered around, a back log of wives, and his current success centers around telling sistas what they need to do to keep their men from being like him.

    Whatever.

    Like

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