Marriage and Infidelity

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People’s interactions of fidelity set the stage for the way in which they deal with infidelity in their relationships. As seen or heard, many women expect their partners to cheat, and most men don’t expect their partners to. These expectations determine subsequent reactions to infidelity. Research has reported that men and women experience their infidelity differently, women describe their infidelity as more emotional, where as men describe their infidelity as more sexual. For example, some individuals may not consider emotional intimacy as a violation of the relationship commitment. Others may disagree about what physical behaviors constitute infidelity, believing that only intercourse confirms infidelity, whereas others hold that behaviors such as kissing constitute a breach of trust and commitment to fidelity. Partners may disagree over the definition of infidelity and thus disagree with whether it has occurred.

Of the many definitions in research, Johnson (2005) defines infidelity as any action that is perceived and/or experienced as hurtful betrayal of trust or threat to a relationship; it is any action that undermines the stability of a couple’s attachment bond (Johnson 2005). Infidelity can be sexual, emotional, or both. Sexual infidelity is any behavior that involves sexual contact, such as kissing, intimate touching, oral sex, or sexual intercourse. Emotional infidelity involves the formation of a emotional attachment to or affection of another person, and can involve such behaviors as flirting, dating, intimate conversations, or falling in love (Drigotas & Barta, 2001). Infidelity can occur in a marital, cohabitating, or dating relationship and is therefore more generally referred to as extra dyadic involvement (e.g., Thompson, 1983).

There are cultures, and subcultures in our society, in which it is expected that people in committed relationships will have affairs, and these affairs are viewed without much disapproval. The rule is that the affairs must be kept secret. The general importance is that the partner must never be put in a position where he/she should have to deal with this unpleasant reality. Infidelity may not be the worse thing that one relationship partner can do to another, but it may be the most confusing and disorienting and therefore the most likely to destroy the relationship, not necessarily because of sex, but because of the secrecy and the lies. A lie may be more direct betrayal than keeping a relevant secret, but the two ultimately amount to much of the same thing, the effort to disorient your partner in order to avoid conflict over some breach of the relationship agreement. It seems that people who mess around assume that everyone else does so too, while those who don’t mess around assume sexual infidelity is unusual behavior. There are several different kinds of infidelity. Some of it is infrequent, occurs under unusual circumstances, is perhaps even unique or accidental, some of it is rare but intense passion that pressures the relationship and feels like love, some of it is open and part of the relationship agreement, either cooperative or defiant, and last but not least some is continuous, recurrent infidelity (“philandering”) may occur in no more than twenty percent intact relationships (Johnson 2005). Society’s attitude towards infidelity has seemed to soften in the past years. One of the reasons for the current shift in attitudes may well be related to our modern-day belief that love excuses all. Society may regard infidelity more leniently if love is involved, but other factors also contribute to our present-day liberal attitudes toward affairs. Research states, decrease in religious faith encourages infidelity; so does the role model of parental infidelity, the over all awareness that infidelity is out of control, which makes it easy for the average person to rationalize their own infidelity or any temptation to cheat by saying, “everyone done does it, then why...
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