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Changing landscape of marital infidelity

Updated on September 6, 2015

Marital infidelity is currently on an increase, though it has been prevalent since the advent of the institution of marriage. The following statistics about marital infidelity are worth paying attention to:

  • The statistics indicate that someone either has cheated, is currently cheating or will cheat in 80% of marriages during their course. This number has doubled over the past ten years.
  • The current statistics on marital infidelity indicate that approximately 50% of married women 60% of married men are cheating.
  • The statistics further show that marital infidelity is more common among people less than 30 years of age. Men are more likely to cheat but, as women become financially independent, they are likely to act like men as regards infidelity.
  • The research consistently shows that 2 – 3% of all children are the product of infidelity and most of these children are unknowingly raised by men, who are not their fathers.

The above figures are not exact because of the secretive nature of the marital infidelity but, in all probability, they are quite reliable in giving a reasonable picture of the situation.

It has been found that men are more likely to mention sexual motivations for infidelity, whereas women tend to have an emotional connection with their lovers; they are more likely to have an affair because of loneliness. An interesting observation has come to the fore that women are more interested in supplementing their marriage or jumping ship than men.

Despite these common observations, there are varied reasons for infidelity in marriage. Knowing these reasons may help couples prevent a difficult situation in their married life from going out of control.

Reasons for an increasing trend of marital infidelity –

Family reasons –

  • Falling out of love – It can possibly happen to anyone. And, incidentally, more and more married couples are falling out of love due to varied reasons. When it does happen, it is necessary to accept it keeping in mind that wishes of one partner cannot be forced on the other in a marriage, which runs smoothly with the whole hearted co-operation of both. It is the responsibility of both the partners to keep embers of love smoldering in their heart. They need to ensure that both communicate closely, share responsibilities in and out the home, including raising the children, among others.
  • Boredom – This is a common ill that can ail any marriage unless avoided carefully. As there are many reasons for this ailment, both the partners have to accept responsibility jointly to get rid of it before it dons garb of a devil, threatening the very existence of marriage.
  • Some weakness in the partner - If either of the partners has some weakness or habit such as heavy drinking, drugs, sexual promiscuity or any other offensive habit, the other partner may be tempted to indulge in extra marital affair. If a partner doesn’t have reasonably good looks or suffers from a protracting illness, this may too serve as a reason for marital infidelity for some people. A marriage without an issue, which in most of the marriages serves as a connecting bridge between partners, is also likely to stumble sometimes. In the same vein, if one of the partners is found cheating on the other, the other one will avenge by also doing so.
  • Financial independence of women – As more women are becoming financially independent, they start behaving like men in this regard since it gives a boost to their ego when they have been facing male domination in their life.

Workplace reasons -

  • Opportunities in workplace – As more and more women have started working outside their homes, which has increased chances of meeting men in their workplace. Both sexes are, therefore, more likely to meet and interact each other in many situations, which offer opportunities to develop intimacy. This may further result in emotional and physical intimacy.
  • Late working hours – Normally, private organizations have a routine of working late in the evening. This provides ample opportunities to both men and women to interact more in a relaxed atmosphere in the evenings after finishing a tiring workload. So, spending more time together in the workplace will encourage men and women develop intimacy and so will leaving together for home after office hours.
  • Comparisons with others – Men and women both are more likely to compare their wives and husbands with their women and men colleagues. Such comparisons highlight the imperfections of their marriage partners, making them feel bad and sorry for themselves. In fact, such comparisons may lead a person to develop intimacy with someone they find comparatively better and more attractive than one’s wife or husband.

Miscellaneous reasons -

  • Better communication - One of the most significant reasons for an increasing trend of marital infidelity is better communication, which has proved to a boon in some circumstances whereas it has proved to a bane in some other circumstances. In reference to marital infidelity, it has proved to a boon for those, who indulge in extra-marital affairs. And it is a bane for those, who oppose this rising trend of marital infidelity, weakening the edifice of the institution of marriage.
  • Intermingling of both sexes – These days there is ubiquitous intermingling of both sexes in every sphere of life, which offers many opportunities to both sexes to develop intimacy.
  • Commercialization of infidelity – In the present digital age, marital cheating has become far easier because many websites of dating services have sprung up luring people to satisfy their sexual appetites. A large number of such websites with newer ones fast coming up show that it has assumed a status of a booming industry. Thus, modern technology has enabled people to enjoy extra-marital flings with impunity while being in a marriage.
  • Change in outlook – Earlier the marital infidelity was considered to be dishonorable or immoral but now it has far more acceptance today. The stigma attached to cheating in marriage in urban societies in fast waning worldwide. Moreover, extra-marital affairs are commonly portrayed and indiscreetly glorified in magazines, films, TV serials and internet, leading to a change in the outlook of people. Many have started justifying the extra-marital flings as normal, some going to the extent of calling them “ethical cheating”.
  • Better healthcare - Among older people, better treatments to maintain good sexual health may prompt some to express their sexuality explicitly in non-traditional ways.
  • Bold portrayal of sex in media - In younger couples, the increasing availability of pornography on the Internet, which has been shown to affect sexual attitudes and perceptions of normal behavior, may be playing a role in rising infidelity. The same is the effect of bold portrayal of sex in the media: cinemas, TV, internet magazines etc.

Conclusion –

The statistics mentioned at the top show a fast increasing trend of marital infidelity. In actuality, those statistics don’t show the exact picture of the trend that is virtually weakening the foundation of institution of marriage. They are the tip of the iceberg but the real picture may be much bigger.

A website – openminded.com launched this May to lure people, who want to have sex outside marriage but without keeping their partners in the dark. The website had 1,50,000 members in just three months. This simply indicates that monogamy in its traditional sense is losing its ground for the majority of people, who are undergoing a sea change in their outlook about marital infidelity.

Some may argue that a complex society like ours has so many competing values rather than stable set of shared beliefs. It is a paradox that people’s actual behavior falls short of the very values that they claim to hold.

In a complex society of ours, people are subjected to myriads of attractions of overt and covert sexual cues from the opposite sex that can threaten their marriages, if they give in to those cues. As a matter of fact, there are two parallel viewpoints about marital infidelity – one traditional and the other non-traditional, at times threatening to overpower each other. Many people are standing at the crossroads unable to decide which viewpoint to follow. It is simply a matter of individual choice. So, why not choose something that is good for the society as a whole?

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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for your valuable comments.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      That was a very interesting overview about what can, or are all the reasons of a marriage breakup.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Dana for your appreciation of my hub.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Getrude Hillary for your nice comments. It is true that love and infidelity are both a matter of individual choice.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Everything you said here is true. Infidelity used to be more predominantly male. But now that women are becoming more financially independent you find women are cheating just as much. Boredom also plays a role in why people cheat and unfortunately people do fall out of love with each other. People do not seem to hold marriage sacred anymore so they are ready to jump ship at any given moment.

    • profile image

      Getrude Hillary 

      3 years ago

      Interesting perspective. In my view, both love and infidelity are a choice.

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