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Should you ever hire a beautiful woman?

That seems to be the issue behind some of the discussion around allegations that Ben Affleck has been dating — or at least having inappropriate meetings — with Christine Ouzounian, the nanny who has been taking care of the three children he and Jennifer Garner have together.  hiring beautiful women

When Ouzounian was hired to take care of Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3, the couple were supposedly dealing with a trial separation. But, she was released from her duty, allegedly by Garner, while their family spent time together in the Bahamas shortly before the couple announced their split.

And so of course Ouzounian — an attractive 28-year-old — is now being portrayed as the “reason” the couple broke up. Believe what you want to believe — maybe there was something inappropriate, maybe there wasn’t — but what I’m having a hard time with is the “well, duh” attitude some people have about hiring an attractive woman to work for you.

It’s disturbing on a number of levels.

Some people have noted that if you play with fire — ie, hire a hottie when you’re in some sort of marital hell — you get what you deserve (and of course this would be directed at Garner, who probably “should have known better” and hired an “ugly” nanny to care for her kids while she and Affleck were sorting out things. I guess the same could be said for Oma Thurman and Sienna Miller, both of whom had hottie nannies whom their men fell sway to.

I don’t want to pass judgment on anyone, but shall we revisit the whole love child thing between former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mildred Patricia Baena, who worked for his family as a housekeeper for more than 20 years? Baena would probably not be described as a hottie, as Ouzounian has been. Nor would have Marsha Garces, who worked as a nanny for Robin Williams and first wife, Valerie Velardi, and later became Williams’ assistant — then wife.

It reminds me of the scene in Tom Perrotta’s wonderful book Little Children, in which Kathy, wife of the Prom King who suspects he’s cheating on her, takes one look at Sarah, his alleged lover, and decides, nah, she isn’t pretty enough so therefore he must not be cheating. Except …

Clearly looks alone are not enough to make dads want to chase after the hired help.

So what does it mean?

I am reminded of a study that indicates that men get kind of stupid when interacting with beautiful women. So, there’s that. Except many of these men already had beautiful women, and as we know, beauty alone will not keep a man from straying. So, there’s that. And while a recent study indicates that oxytocin may help keep people monogamous because the hormone helps create trust, nannies who want to keep their job must have the trust of their employers — they’re watching their kids, after all. Maybe all those hormones, and a few others, got their signals crossed. And so, there’s that.

But, it also may just come down to this — they’re nearby. If you’re frequently around attractive people who might be a good — or perhaps even better — replacement for your current partner and all his/her issues, well, why not?

And, to be fair, it isn’t just men who indulge in such shenanigans — let’s not forget that Heidi Klum got a bit too close with bodyguard Martin Kirsten, whom she eventually had a relationship with, while she was separated but still married to Seal.

It really doesn’t matter who’s doing whom. What does matter is that people default to a “should have known better” attitude when hiring attractive women, with some “experts” advising moms that they should pay attention to the potential seductress nanny. In truth, attractive women are both more likely to get hired and also more likely to be seen as incompetent. Either way, beautiful women can’t quite win. Or maybe they can.

Should people “know better” than to hire an attractive nanny? What about a beautiful waitress? Secretary (now there’s a cliche)? Teacher? Manager? Tenure-track college professor? Associate attorney? Journalist (and maybe I should be worried that I’ve never had a hard time getting a job!) Where does it stop?

I don’t believe there’s “a special place in hell for husbands who bang their nannies.” I do hope there’s a special place in hell for people who do really egregious things and intentionally harm others — Bernie Madoff, Enron, Countrywide, Pfizer and many more come to mind.

The sad part of this is that Violet, Seraphina and Samuel have now lost someone they care about at a time when they need all the support and love they can have. A divorce, even one as allegedly mindful as Garner and Affleck’s, is hard on kids.

Some women are attractive. So are some men. But if you can’t trust your spouse or yourself around a beautiful person, that’s not his or her problem. Look in the mirror and act accordingly.

Interested in having a marriage that won’t be threatened by a beautiful nanny? Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). Order the book on Amazon, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.




3 Responses to “Should married couples hire beautiful nannies?”

  1. Rosemary says:

    Sadly, even trustworthy people sometimes falter and give into temptation. Often it’s less about beauty and more about emotional connection (or the illusion of such a connection). In the case of a nanny, a body guard, a personal assistant, and similar jobs, there are likely to be feelings that arise from sharing important aspects of your daily life. That doesn’t make it right, but it explains, at least in part, why this is such a common problem. In general, getting personally involved with employees of any kind is not usually a good idea. It messes up people’s lives, causes too much pain for too many people, and sometimes leads to lawsuits for sexual harassment.

  2. Eric says:

    I really like your perspective on infidelity, especially having gotten myself involved with a co-worker. It’s complicated mess of conflicting emotions that defies black and white analysis. Interestingly, my wife and I also had a pretty nanny at one time so I can see the issue of proximity from all sorts of angles.

    As you rightly point out, it’s not just ‘attractive’ people that are dangerous to relationships. Of course some level of sexual tension is required for things to get out of hand, but any time 2 people of the opposite sex are allowed time to form emotional bonds there is the potential for a relationship to develop. Great if both are singe. Not so much if one or both are married. In the case of the nanny I can see how it happens. You (as in me the husband) end up spending way too much time with a pretty younger woman…girl really…and she starts to take over the role of wife and life companion. In the case of the nanny, she has this man who looks out for her and maybe acts as her mentor. Both develop a slight crush on each other, but in the interest of being appropriate, nothing happens. Things are fine for a while, but eventually someone breaks, feelings are expressed, and previously un-crossable boundaries are crossed. And Affleck is hardly an old boot, so it’s not all that creepy or weird to imagine a pretty 28 year old being drawn to him.

    My nanny was only 19 (I was 34), but after a while I could feel the tension building between us. In those days I think I was more in control of myself, so I don’t think I would have let anything happen, however, in light of my workplace affair, who knows. Maybe I was more vulnerable to that sort of nonsense than I thought.

  3. blurkel says:

    I would have ZERO say in which woman would be hired as a nanny under my roof. I guarantee that she’d look more like Nanny McPhee than Mary Poppins!

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