, Gloucester, MA


March 22, 2013

Infidelity's devastating impact on marriage

In my last column, I discussed the prevalence of marital infidelity as estimated over the years by a variety of psychological studies, the most famous of which was the Kinsey Report in the 1950s. Those estimates have risen dramatically over the last 60 years for women (from 26 percent to about 60 percent), but have remained about the same (approximately 70 percent) for men. I also addressed the cultural changes — women working outside the home, and the social acceptance of the double standard for sexual behavior (“boys will be boys”) for example — that have resulted in the rise of these percentages.

This week, I think it important to address the devastating and destructive impact of marital infidelity on the marriage partnership. The treasured expectation in our culture is that your spouse is the one person you can deeply trust not to hurt you physically or emotionally. Your husband or wife is expected not only to love and honor you, but to be your best friend, lover, co-parent, and soulmate. The emotional bond with your marriage partner is one of the most major and powerful relationships you will have, along with emotional bonds to parents, siblings and children. Sexual intimacy especially has deep psychological and emotional power to create, nurture and sustain the marriage bond.

All these elemental expectations, reinforced by the marriage vows, contribute to the reasons that infidelity is experienced by the faithful partner as both the death of a dream and the death of the relationship, and some degree of painful mourning is felt even if the marriage ultimately continues. Because it shatters the deep trust and emotional safety between spouses, infidelity shakes the very foundation of marriage.

The fai thful spouse will experience a complete crashing down of faith and trust in the unfaithful partner, and the sense that their whole world has been destroyed. Faithful partners go through all the painful phases of the grieving process because of the enormous sense of loss they experience. It is a process that may continue for many years, particularly if the infidelity results in divorce.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Your news, your way
Pictures of the Week
Comments Tracker
AP Entertainment Videos
Adam Levine Launches Clothing Line for Women Paul Wesley Sinks His Teeth Into Directing Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Josh Thompson Streams Album to Hook New Fans Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast ShowBiz Minute: Singer, Young, Poehler Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Nas Movie Opens Tribeca Film Festival Zooey Deschanel Adds Designing to Her Repertoire Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Hits the Big Screen Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Swift's Bus Drives Into Country Hall of Fame ShowBiz Minute: Cyrus, Walker, Combs Pedro Pascal Plays 'Game of Thrones'' Red Viper Deeley Shows Acting Chops in Hulu's 'Deadbeat' Ora Strips Efron at MTV Awards ShowBiz Minute: MTV Awards, Lopez, Royals Stars Hit Red Carpet for MTV Movie Awards Conan Backs Colbert, Hosts MTV Movie Awards