The Truth About Infidelity and How to Protect Your Marriage 

Sometimes people think that their marriage is immune to an affair. However, when people assume that they would never cheat or that their partner would never cheat, their marriage is actually more vulnerable than ever. It is important to take pro-active steps to help safeguard your marriage from an affair.

What Research Says About Infidelity

Research has shown that infidelity is on the rise. The percentage of just how many people have become involved in an affair varies from study to study. One of the main problems with gathering this data is the fact that many people don’t want to admit that they’ve cheated. So depending on the study, the statistics are slightly different.

David Atkins, a research associate professor at the University of Washington Center for the study of Health and Risk Behaviors has analyzed past research studies. He concluded that infidelity increased between 1991 and 2006 for both men and women. The two groups where infidelity seemed to be most on the rise were with young couples and men over 60.

His research concluded that about 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women under 35 have been unfaithful. These numbers had increased from 15 and 12 percent in 1991. Young couples seem to be in a very high risk area for infidelity.

Even more surprising is the date on infidelity rates in older people. Dr. Atkins also found that the lifetime rate of infidelity for older adults has increased. 28% of men over 60 admitted to being unfaithful in 2006 which was an increase from 20% in 1991. Women over 60 report an even bigger increase, 15% of women report infidelity which is up from 5% in 1991.

How Can You Protect Your Marriage

It’s not possible to set any rules that will 100% protect your marriage from an affair at all times. However, setting some guidelines about boundaries can be helpful. Most people don’t set out looking for an affair. Instead, they begin on a slippery slope that eventually leads to cheating.

Set some guidelines for you as a couple that limits the amount of one on one time either spends with a person of the opposite sex. Going to dinner with a person of the opposite sex or engaging in private conversations can sometimes lead to a friendship that results in an affair. Sometimes these begin with two people connecting on an emotional level where they discuss everyday problems and goals in life. As they feel more connected, they may end up becoming too close and engaging in an affair.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have friends of the opposite sex. Spending time with members of the opposite sex in a group setting is best when compared to individual time. It also doesn’t mean you can’t go on a business luncheon. But it is important to be open and honest with your spouse.

The internet often offers a variety of temptations. It’s easier than ever to talk to co-workers outside of work or to re-connect with an old flame via social media. When you talk to members of the opposite sex, make sure that you don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want your spouse to read. If you are having secret conversations that you think would upset your spouse, it is a red flag that you are headed on that slippery slope.

Talk openly with your spouse if you are concerned about a relationship that seems to be “too close.” Remember that any jealous behaviors, such as secretly reading your spouse’s emails, won’t prevent your spouse from cheating. However, having open and honest conversations about your concerns is important.

If your spouse is concerned about a relationship you have with a friend or co-worker, it is important to respect your spouse’s feelings. Sometimes a man may recognize when another man is becoming too friendly before his wife would see it. And the same goes for a woman’s intuition. Keeping an open and honest line of communication about your feelings is important.

Recovering From an Affair

An affair does not mean that the marriage is over. It does, however, mean that there is work to be done if the relationship is going to become a healthy and happy relationship. There is hope for recovery after one person has been unfaithful but it takes work and commitment.

Affairs cause grief and anger and that is a big part of this grieving process. Recovering from an affair requires that both partners are willing to devote themselves to working on the relationship. And this work not only requires a lot of effort; it also takes time.

Counseling can help couples who are trying to work together after an affair. Sometimes individual therapy can be helpful for both partners to work through their issues. Couples counseling can also be important part of healing.

3 Responses to “The Truth About Infidelity and How to Protect Your Marriage”

  1. Infidelity happens. So does recovery.

    The real question is what do we learn from our mistakes? If we don’t learn a whole lot then chances are we will continue to repeat them.


  2. Good article. You’re right to point out that no one is immune to an affair and we make ourselves more susceptible to one if we think we’re not susceptible. But, as I think you would agree, we can do things to make sure that we’re the kind of person for whom an affair is unlikely. The kind of person for whom an affair is unthinkable. Of course, this involves placing external boundaries. But, the goal is to make those boundaries internal, right? You don’t spend time alone with another of the opposite sex (who isn’t your spouse) because you have no desire to do so. Someone who doesn’t spend time alone with another of the opposite sex, but has the temptation to do so is more likely to have an affair than someone who doesn’t spend time alone . . . and has no desire to do so.

  3. Another great and highly tweetable article!

    The only thing that I’d add is that there’s no such thing a “harmless flirting”. It’s a complete contradiction in terms.

    Strong and regular flirting (a sexual behavior) is of course essential and very healthy, but only inside the protective relationship boundaries a couple sets up around their marriage.

Leave a Reply