Infidelity has long been classified as a mid-life crisis driving bored husbands and wives to gravitate towards a sexual and emotional relationship outside marriage. But recent studies are proving otherwise. A survey by David Atkins of the University of Washington, Center for the Study for Health and Risk Behaviors reveals that between 1991 and 2006, the number of young cheating husbands (under 30 years) increased by 45% and the number of young cheating wives (under 30 years) increased by 20%.
Marriage counselors cite many reasons for the current rise in Infidelity:
- One or both partners’ obsession with work
- Sex between married couples becoming too routine and predictable
- Raising a family (such as bringing up children) can be too demanding that each partner feels his/ her privacy is threatened
- The day-to-day routine of living together, sometimes inadvertently treading on each other’s toes can become monotonous and tedious as in the maxim “Familiarity breeds contempt”
- Ongoing research in infidelity reveals that men seek extramarital affairs for sexual reasons while women indulge in them for emotional reasons
- The Internet is a hotbed for Infidelity according to experts who track the patterns of extramarital affairs
- “Me first” philosophy and the kind of “If it feels good, do it” attitude that is propagated in modern times is used to justify Infidelity in some quarters
In the US, the concept that marital short comings prompted affairs was challenged by a psychiatrist, Dr. Frank Pittman in the 1980s in his best selling book, “Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy.” According to Dr. Pittman, men are afraid of intimacy and “infidelity is primarily an escape from intimacy.”
Several articles written all over the world claim that women have affairs because they are not receiving enough attention at home. Case in point is a woman in her 30s who spoke to a magazine, on conditions of anonymity that she regretted her husband’s decision and her’s, not have children, because she was beginning to feel awfully lonely with no one to share her life with. She and her husband worked for 9 hours on different shifts. She reported to work at 7am each day and her husband went to work at 12 noon. She returned each evening, cooked dinner, prepared for the next day and set aside a time to spend with her husband at 10pm. Her husband returned from work, prepared for the next day, always enquired how her day was, made some polite conversation, had dinner, watched TV and dozed on the sofa till he decided to hit the bed at 1am!
She could barely get her husband to pay her some attention for 30 minutes. Many people—friends and relatives, prodded her to talk to him about this. She said she did, on several occasions and each time he said he would get better but didn’t.
She said she loved her husband but was tired of not being heard, not being noticed, not being taken out. She said she wished to be taken seriously—more than just for granted, that she would love to love her husband intensely and have him love her likewise. And her big question was, “What do I do?
Psychiatrists say this is typical of the sheer monotony that can set in, when the same routine is performed day in and day out and causes either or both of the spouses to feel disinterested in the other. Having no children fuels the monotony and prompts either or both of the partners to seek solace elsewhere. In the case cited above, chances are the man is already into an affair or the woman is on the threshold of an affair with the first sympathetic person who appears to share her wavelength.
Family counselors agree that the rationale behind a married woman having an affair is usually the breakdown of emotional bonds in a marriage. Many women have gone on record saying they committed themselves to marriage with the fond hope that it would be based on love, trust, mutual sharing of everything including housework. A real or perceived breakdown in any of these areas may disillusion a woman and if another sympathetic person appears on the horizon promising the missing emotional blocks, an affair happens.
Psychiatrists observe that they have seen cases where children with a history of severe sexual abuse by an adult family member or emotional neglect stemming from a split family, carry the effect of an untreated post traumatic stress syndrome and depression into their adult lives. They somehow feel justified in illegal amorous relationships and use their childhood survival skills to effectively mask their unfaithful escapades while still remaining within a marriage.
Sexual addiction is also cited as an important reason for infidelity. Truck drivers plying on long routes in Asian countries such as India, periodically visit brothels even though they are married. The worrying outcome of this risky behavior is that they contract sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea and worse still, AIDS, which they pass on to their unsuspecting wives.
References:When Your Lover Is a Liar - Susan Forward (HarperCollins)
Infidelity: A Survival Guide - Don David Lusterman (New Harbinger Publications, 1998)
Infidelity on the Internet: Virtual Relationships and Real Betrayal -Maheu Marlene M. & Subotnik, Rona B. (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc. 2001)
Private lies: the betrayal of infidelity - Pittman, Frank (NY. W. W. Norton, 1989)