If you’re among the many couples who feel like you’re barely hanging on in marriage, the sobering truth is that you’re not alone. Particularly if cheating is involved.
At least 60 percent of married couples will experience infidelity at some point in their marriage, says Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr., a licensed psychologist in Minnesota and author of the best-selling book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage.
All kinds of reasons exist for this, many of which sound textbook in their familiarity—couples experience periods of sustained stress, exhaustion, or separation due to family needs or career obligations. Husbands and wives don’t feel satisfied with each other or deeply connected. People endure longstanding dullness or even deadness in their relationships. Men and women wrestle with boredom, loneliness or unmet needs. Life feels tedious and hard, and a titillating experience beckons.
A Kinder Way of Cheating?
Unfortunately, knowing in theory all the right answers when it comes to why people cheat hasn’t stopped unfaithfulness from occurring. As the wake from the Ashley Madison scandal has shown us, the culture at large is confused when it comes to how we approach infidelity. Websites such as OpenMinded.com have introduced the concept of ethical cheating, asking us to consider a kinder way of infidelity where couples can engage in “open relationships” that involve telling a spouse you are going to be unfaithful or including the spouse in new, outside-the-marriage relationships. Additionally, a recent Time magazine article posed the question, “Is monogamy over?” to a group of newsmakers, all who gave varying views (including a plea for legalized polygamy).
In a large online survey, 68 percent of women said they’d have an affair if they thought they could avoid getting caught, says Dave Carder, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California and author of Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage. Increasingly, it seems like personal integrity is taking a backseat to fear of exposure.
Within Christian circles, where strict monogamy is publicly lauded, our private sexual ethics have nonetheless become clouded. Consider the porn factor. Millennials have grown up in a culture where the average age for children to be first exposed to pornography has crept younger and younger (today it’s at age 11). By high school, 90 percent of boys are regularly viewing porn, says Laura Gallier, author of several books for children and teens on sexuality. Additionally, an internal poll among Rice University students revealed one in five females says she is addicted to pornography, Gallier says.