Infidelity is a hot topic in our society. Affairs are rampant. In marriages, infidelity statistics are hard to quantify, since research is based on the need for people to be honest, and the nature of affairs is that they are based on secrets. Ten years ago, the statistics from the Associated Press told us that 22 percent of married men have strayed at least once during their marriage and 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once.
70 percent of married women and 54 percent of married men did not know of their spouses’ extramarital activity. And yet, when polled 90 percent of Americans believed adultery is morally wrong. (Source: Associated Press)
In 2003, Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth, (first published in 1989) said that “Most experts do consider the ‘educated guess’ that at the present time some 50 to 65 percent of husbands and 45 to 55 percent of wives become extramaritally involved by the age of 40…”
We also know that 17 percent of divorces in the United States are caused by infidelity. Assume that number is low as well.
Is infidelity the “natural state of affairs” for relationships? Are we even meant to be monogamous? Is marriage a trap that pushes us toward extramarital sexual experiences?
And what is it about affairs that tear us apart?
In the new millenium, there is a phenomenon developing in relationships we refer to as “open marriage” or “polyamoury.” I lump these ideas together into a concept I term “OUT-fidelity.” Out-fidelity means that the infidelity is spoken about, talked about and perhaps agreed upon within the partnership. It means that fidelity is negotiated, and the rules of marraige or committed partnership are agreed upon by the couple, and not by the standards of society or even by the law. Our ethical and moral codes vary by state, by culture and by family experience. We all tolerate fidelity differently. And couples are beginning to explore fidelity in new ways.
This idea of being “out” about affairs opens new doors. If you are “out” about a sexual relationship with someone outside of your marriage, is it still an affair? And does it have the same impact on the partnership?
Is the secret what creates the damage? Are we mostly hurt by what is hidden and not spoken about?
Look for more articles and ideas in the coming months about fidelity, affairs and monogamy. Ways to recognize infidelity, and how to handle it when and if it happens in your relationship are topics that will be covered in future blog entries and in upcoming newsletters.
For more info, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you have a story about your own experience with infidelty or “out-fidelity” please go to the Discussion Board on this website and tell me all about it….thanks.