Peggy Vaughan, Infidelity Expert, Dies at 76

Peggy Vaughan, 76, author of “The Monogamy Myth” and “Beyond Affairs,” died at her home in California on November 8th after a four-year battle with cancer.


Peggy Vaughan, Extramarital Affairs Resource Center

“I think it’s useful to share my own personal experience in dealing with affairs (rather than just talk about the issue from the ‘outside’) because I believe that despite whatever differences may exist in the specifics of our experience, those of us who have ‘been there’ share a common bond … ”

~Peggy Vaughan

Peggy Vaughan is the first person I know of to go on national television to talk about infidelity in her own marriage. Monica Lewinsky was just seven years old (Bill Clinton was 34) when Vaughan and her husband shared the intimate struggle to rebuild their marriage on the Phil Donahue Show in 1980.

CIA Director David Petraeus resigned over his affair with Paula Broadwell the same day Peggy Vaughan died. In 1980, Vaughan and her husband became the first couple to talk publicly about infidelity in their own marriage when they appeared on the Phil Donahue Show.

After a four-year battle with cancer, Vaughan died at her home in La Jolla, California on November 8th, the same day CIA Director David Petraeus sent his resignation letter to President Obama following public reports of his affair with Paula Broadwell.

When she died, James Vaughan, the same man she first married in a “Tom Thumb Wedding” when they were 6 years old and formally in 1955 when they were both 19, the man whose affairs nearly ended their marriage and destroyed their family, was by her side as her husband of 57 years. Despite it all, Peggy and James Vaughan had kept their commitment to stay together “’til death do us part.”

After making the decision to share her personal story, Vaughan became the go-to person for national news stories about infidelity. It’s more than likely producers coast-to-coast were dialing her number when news broke about General Petreaus.

Peggy and James Vaughan 50th Wedding Anniversary

Peggy and James Vaughan 50th Wedding Anniversary, May 29, 2005.

I first met Peggy Vaughan after her address at the 1999 Smart Marriages conference in Washington, D.C., where she shared insights from her personal experience overcoming infidelity and helping thousands more through the “Beyond Affairs Network” (BAN) she created and nurtured for 32 years.

Upon her death, Vaughan made much of her extensive writing on marriage, affairs and infidelity available for free to the public via her website. In dozens of articles and books, she provided greater depth to the key points she made in her 1999 Smart Marriages keynote.

While Peggy Vaughan will be dearly missed by family, friends and the many thousands of people who reached out to her for help understanding and overcoming infidelity in their own marriages, her legacy will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the world for generations to come.

 From the Infidelity Help Group

I wish to extend our condolences and sympathies to Peggy Vaughan’s family and friends. Her wisdom, advice and knowledge have reached people from many parts of the world who face the trauma of infidelity - I personally am grateful for her research and energy in raising awareness about this subject.

~ Wayfarer


Live Until We Die

by Peggy Vaughan

“We’re all going to die; that’s not our problem.
Our problem is how to LIVE until we die.”

While this might be called a blinding glimpse of the obvious, most of us live our lives without clearly focusing on this reality until we face some kind of crisis-a “wake-up call.” That’s a good time to rethink our life and question our future. It’s a time to get clear about what’s important and why. It’s a time to face our feelings about dying. And it’s a time to live each day to the best of our ability.

On some level, we all know life is tenuous, but we tend to avoid thinking about our own death. Since we naturally feel loss and pain when we experience the death of a close friend or family member, we assume that focusing on our own death would bring the same feelings.

Ironically, people who have actually faced the prospects of their own death and talked openly about it often feel enlivened instead of depressed. This may be because our “fear of dying” is related to our fear of the unknown, and talking about it helps to break through that fear. Another part of our resistance may be more connected to feeling “unfinished” or “unprepared” than to death itself. So while we can’t change the reality of death, we can greatly affect our reaction to it.

There are some clear steps we can take to be better prepared to face death:

First, by attending to the important relationships in our lives so that we don’t have regrets about what we failed to say or do with those we love.

Next, by attending to our values and priorities so that we don’t regret not having pursued our own goals and dreams.

Finally, by preparing for the reality of our own eventual death by making critical decisions ahead of time and discussing them with the important people in our lives.

While this kind of work is ostensibly a preparation for dying, it’s actually a good prescription for living—since it often produces a feeling of satisfaction and control over your life.


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