Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

March 1, 2022

Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

An estimated 40 percent of American marriages experience at least one episode of infidelity. Studies show more men than women cheat, but they often do it for the same reasons. While infidelity is a factor in many divorces, half of American marriages survive an extramarital affair. New social science and medical research is contributing to understanding the causes of infidelity. And it’s helping therapists guide couples who seek to repair a damaged marriage. A discussion on what drives people to cheat and how infidelity can affect children and the whole family.

Q: What are some of the most common reasons why people who have been cheated on stay in a marriage (after they find out)? – from Salomé via Facebook

A: Factors that affect whether a person chooses to try to repair the marriage include the social and economical conditions, the welfare of the children, the expectations or the culture, or the fears of the affected person about being alone. Love for the spouse and respect for shared history also affect someone’s decision to stick in there. The other variable, of course, is the actions of a partner once he or she comes clean about the affair. If they dismiss it or refuse to talk about it, act like it’s the other spouse’s fault, or still insist on having their own private lives, it increases the risk that partner cheated on will just get fed up or hopeless.

Q: I am curious what your panelists think about consensual polyamory or “swinging,” as a way to accommodate wandering sexual urges in a marriage. It seems like a very healthy way to handle a very natural desire. – from Alice via email

A: Some people enthusiastically view swinging as an alternative to having to be with the same sex partner for life; they claim it works

Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

Infidelity and Impacts on Children Sociology of The Family Discussion

for them. In my experience, usually one partner is much more gung ho on engaging in this lifestyle, which increases the sense of isolation, confusion and even sense of unattractiveness in the spouse who reluctantly agrees. Even in the rare case that both partners are equally in favor of this lifestyle, the basic premise is faulty: that you can separate sex from emotional attachment. Having sex with someone triggers attraction and bonding, which can lead to partners falling in love with their new sex partners. This interferes with the solidarity of the marriage.

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Q: Infidelity seems to be defined quite differently by many cultures. There are a multitude of cultures in America. How can any survey measure infidelity rates if the definition is so broad? – from Phil via email

A: This is one of the main limitations on any research on infidelity: how to define it. Additionally, to complicate things, people lie about whether they are having affairs or not. One study that compared face-to-face interviews with computerized surveys showed a six-fold increase in people who admitted to affairs. The spouse with the broadest view of infidelity generally ends up setting the tone for the marriage. For example, if one spouse defines watching porn as “cheating,” then the partner who is comfortable with porn has to respect his or her partner’s preferences.

Q: When a husband cheats and brings a STD into the marriage, can this ever be repaired? – from Teresa via email

A: When a husband cheats, he already brings “disease” into the marriage; and whether STDs are present or not, it still takes a lot of work to get a marriage back on track. STDs reflect an even higher degree of disrespect toward the marriage and the spouse. So many factors play to into whether marriages stay together or fall apart, though. That and STD isn’t a de facto death sentence to the marriage.

Q: Should children be told of a parent’s infidelity? I was crushed when my mother told me about my father’s infidelities after he had been dead for over 30 years. – Name withheld by request, via email

A: Knowing that your partner cheated on you while everyone else glorifies that person can be a difficult emotional load to carry; the problem is, it then becomes everyone else’s load. In your mother’s case, it sounds like she needed you to see him the way she did. Your being “crushed,” may reflect what she experienced when she found out. Now you know! Did that help you? Maybe not. Did it help her? Probably.

You may also want to check out my blog post on whether children should know you’ve had an affair.

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Posted in nursing by Clarissa