- the fact or state of being an infidel
- unfaithfulness or disloyalty to another; esp., sexual unfaithfulness of a husband or wife; adultery
- pl. -‘ties an unfaithful or disloyal act
Infidelity is the ultimate disloyalty between a couple and although it is usually associated with married couples and sex, married folks are not the only ones who can ‘cheat’, nor is infidelity purely sexual. Statistics collected by InfidelityFacts.com state that 53% of marriages end in divorce and 57% of men an 54% of women say they have committed infidelity. Work-related affairs occur in 36% of marriages and 17% of men and women admit to having an affair with the brother or sister in law. Most affairs last two years on average and only thirty-one percent of marriages survive an infidelity by one or both parties.
So why is there so much infidelity? Considering John Gottman, the guru of marriage, divorce and cheating, states that in his 35 years of research only twenty percent of divorces are caused by an affair and that ‘most marriages die with a whimper, as people turn away from one another, slowly growing apart”, why do so many people cheat?
In the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by author Malcolm Gladwell, Gladwell quotes Gottman’s theories of ‘how to predict which couples will stay married’. The theory is based on ‘four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt’. Of these four, contempt is the most critical.
Gottman feels the two marriage killers are ‘slowly growing apart’ and contempt. One breeds the other in many situations and if you lack respect for someone, it is impossible to continue to love them. So as people move apart, the gap becomes a wedge between the couple and soon one or both parties will find someone to fill the hole left by the other person.
Humans are not monogamous by nature so in many ways, marriage and relationships enforce an unnatural state on us, which makes many people balk. Men in particular are prone to the natural urge of ‘spreading his seed’ and when children come along, some have problems viewing their wife as a sexual figure any more. Sex becomes routine and soon they begin to look for the excitement of a new sexual partner.
Women on the other hand do not cheat for the sake of sex or the ‘notch in the bedpost’. Women are in search of an emotional connection and if they do not feel that with their partner, then they will look for it elsewhere, even inadvertently. Women do not have to have intercourse to cheat. Instead, they can fall in love and find the emotional connection they require without ever thinking they are cheating but the damage is done just the same.
The internet has not helped. Our society has become one of instant gratification and the ease of accessing internet dating, chatting and pornography definitely fuels the fire. It is estimated that eight to ten percent of internet users become addicted to online sex in one shape or another and a growing number of divorce proceedings are claiming internet sex as a cause.
So what is the answer to our straying spouses?’
Relationships fall apart for a few simple reasons: couple not taking time for each other, not talking, not touching and not trusting each other. Instill some of the life back into your relationship by going on ‘dates’ together. Talk to each other, not just about the kids but also about your hopes, feelings and desires. Communication is really the key to a healthy relationship and too often we spend time talking to everyone else but the person we are supposed to spend the rest of our lives with. Touching hugs, kisses, holding hands, cuddling on the couch are all things we loved when we were dating so why does it stop? Introduce it back into your daily interactions and you will quickly see a difference an improvement in your relationship. Trust is the toughest one but nothing breeds frustration like jealousy and it does not take long before problems erupt.
Relationships do take nurturing. Couples begin to take each other for granted and frustration develops for both parties. From there, it is only a downwards spiral to cheating and eventual divorce.
Taking time to understand the other person, to listen to what they say, to put yourself in their shoes and to appreciate them for who they are is critical. Remember why you married them in the first place and how they made you feel that first few years. Now make a date with your spouse for a romantic evening with just the two of you at a favorite restaurant or go away for a fun-filled weekend. Put the time, talking, touching and trust back into your marriage and fall in love all over again.