The Astronaut Wives Club + The Affair Playbook

How do we know The Affair Playbook is true when so much of an affair happens in secret.  It is difficult to confirm with real life stories unless one of the figures involved is a celebrity whose every move is hounded.  Or unless those involved reveal the story themselves, and we know they’re telling the truth.

In the recent book, The Astronaut Wives Club, author Lily Koppel tells the true story of the astronaut wives, their marriages, their families and the infidelities that happened.

In telling the stories, amazingly enough, The Affair Playbook and The Script are illustrated most vividly.   The author had no way of knowing The Affair Playbook.  But because the Playbook’s pattern is so prevalent anyone who is delving into the whole story with relevant details will find these stages.  Here are some of the steps of The Playbook that some of the astronaut families went through:

• A husband who is looked up to, admired and adulated in his career is more likely to have an affair.

“Everyone wants to touch him.” Author Koppel quotes astronaut wife, Sue Bean, as saying.

• Deliberately leaving clues that he is having an affair.

He hopes to force his wife to bring up the topic.  And he hopes she will kick him out.  Then he has proof of how difficult, mean, untrusting and uncaring she is.  She doesn’t understand him.  It’s her fault.

“Then [astronaut] Donn [Eisele] started leaving clues–Harriet found out he’d been at some movie star’s house…She found a matchbox from the Beverly Hills Hilton.  It was as if he wanted to be caught, as if he were living a second life and wanted to get rid of the first.”

• My wife is crazy.  A key component of The Affair Playbook is that the husband begins telling others, especially his affair partner, that his wife is really crazy.  Another component is the expensive gift or a gift that is out of the usual pattern for that couple.

“He kept on denying it, and when Harriet raised her suspicions, Donn brought her flowers and told her she was acting even crazier than usual.  She began to be afraid that she was imagining things.”

• The unfaithful husband makes critical comments about his wife to his work colleagues, his friends, and even to her friends.  Her friends are the least likely to believe him but some do.  These friends act less friendly to his wife, making her think she’s no good.  They don’t talk to her, thus giving her fewer people to bounce her fears off of.

“Donn had begun appealing to Harriet’s friends, saying Harriet was upsetting him.  Even her best friend Faye told her it was all in her head.”

• The husband will often say, “You need to see a psychiatrist,” but will also prevent the wife from taking any action.

“‘You’re crazy, Donn kept on repeating to her.”

“Harriet finally said to Donn, “If I’m really crazy, I should see a psychiatrist.”

“You can’t go see a psychiatrist,” said Donn.  “I’ll lose my job.”

Harriet can’t win.

• Men who are having affairs always hide money.

“Then she noticed Donn had started closing bank accounts.”

• Everything the husband tells the affair partner is positive.  But the reality once they’re married is different.  Donn would never have mentioned to affair partner Susie during the affair all the negative aspects of being an astronaut.  And Susie had no way of knowing the truth because she couldn’t ask questions of other astronauts or their wives because that would reveal the affair

“‘The astronaut life is a great strain on marriage,’ Donn told the tabloid.  ‘It’s like a circus.  To be avoided.’ ”

“But Susie married him anyway.  And now she wanted to join the Astronaut Wives Club.”

•The new wife starts to see that the story she was told is not the reality. The man has likely told his new wife that everyone will love her. That everyone will know that his first wife was crazy, didn’t understand him, and didn’t treat him well.

“‘It was a living inferno,’ said Susie…Susie was up to her ears in alligators and figured the wives who were the meanest were the ones whose husbands cheated the most.”

–Infidelity, the lies that always accompany it and the revelations about a man’s character can cause a man to lose his job.

“It wasn’t long before Donn was fired from NASA.”

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