When I was still married, I was fascinated by the attitudes surrounding infidelity.

Most of my friends considered cheating to be a deal breaker; if their partners cheated on them, they would divorce them in a second.

This was at odds, however, with what I saw around me. I knew several couples who had "survived" infidelity. (I use the word "survived" with a little cynicism; cheating is hardly a life-threatening illness.)

Several couples had managed to stay together despite one of the partners cheating, and most seemed to be thriving. In fact, the vast majority of marriages that ended in divorce in my social circle - mine included - had nothing to do with infidelity.

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A lot of married people say that cheating is a deal breaker, but many don't follow through. Perhaps they are issuing the statement as a warning to their spouse. Or perhaps they believe it until it happens to them, and they realise that their marriage is worth saving after all.

Either way, it explains, in part, why women are so critical of Hillary Clinton for staying with a philandering husband.

Now, I'm aware that Hillary is far from perfect, and her list of misdemeanours - real and perceived - are far more complex and nuanced than just staying with a cheating man. But I'm not referring to them, nor am I referring to the way she dealt with Bill's alleged sexual partners/prey.

I am referring to the very fact of her staying with her husband, despite her knowing him to be unfaithful. I have seen her endlessly criticised for doing so, and the basis of her marriage questioned. I have seen women accuse her of staying with Bill for power, of their marriage being a sham, of her being a closet lesbian.

It is as though infidelity is so horrendous, so catastrophically awful, that any marriage that survives it is, by definition, a sham.

But this makes no sense. Studies show that around 60 per cent of married men and 45 per cent of married women admit to infidelity. This means that well over half of all marriages will be affected by infidelity at some stage.

Politicians, celebrities and sportsmen cheat. But regular people cheat too. Accountants. Plumbers. Taxi drivers. Lawyers. For some, it might be a once off. For others, it may be a consistent pattern of behaviour.

For some people, infidelity is so significant it is a deal breaker. For others, it is simply a hurdle to work through.

People stay with their partners through addictions, gambling problems, lies, criminal behaviour, financial devastation, emotional abuse, even physical abuse. People stay with their partners through situations I would walk away from in an instant. But it is their marriage, and their lives and their choice. Who the hell are we to decide what "should" be a deal breaker in someone else's relationship?

Americans are notoriously unforgiving of infidelity. Infidelity forums refer to the day of discovery as "D-Day". "Survivors" of infidelity go into individual and couples counselling, and full disclosure of thoughts, actions and correspondence is prescribed as a solution. More significantly, infidelity is constructed as a social crime, indicating a weakness of character that affects every area of life.

But other cultures have much more permissive attitudes, as Pamela Druckerman outlined in her 2007 book Lust in Translation.

In France, for example, though monogamy is still considered to be ideal, "when infidelity happens, the French don't seem to panic and assume that cheating will endanger society or that it will spill over into people's job performances. They view it as a self-contained act, not a slippery slope into moral depravity."

In Russia, men confessed their infidelities to their wives because they couldn't keep the secret. "But unlike confessors in America, those in Russia don't usually risk losing their marriage or spending years in dreadful cry talks. In fact, by raising the drama, they might spice up their marriages."

Japan, Druckerman explains, cultivates a "don't ask, don't tell policy" around infidelity, whereas cheating is an "open secret" in certain circles in Indonesia.

The moral of the book is, of course, that infidelity doesn't need to be a deal-breaker. And in this world where divorce is rife, where second and even third marriages are commonplace, and where relationships are so often disposable, I think there is something admirable about working through problems and sticking together.

As for Hillary, we should criticise her policies and her actions towards other human beings. But her marriage is absolutely none of our business. And our judgment of her loyalty to her philandering husband says far more about us than it will ever say of her.