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Understanding Marital Infidelity: Causes and Effects

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Some aphorisms go like “Once a cheat, always a cheat” and “Cheats don’t deserve second chances.” Cheating has no generalized purpose. Anything related to relationships is extremely nuanced.

Many causes lie behind marital infidelity. And once you have stepped on the dynamite known as cheating, the consequences are harsh. You officially enter an extremely sensitive zone with severe effects. Tread carefully, or you may slip and break your hip.

There are various causes and different types of individuals that have unique effects of their actions on the wronged partner. To discover which underlying cause relates to you, read on.

What Is the Meaning of Marital Infidelity?

Infidelity itself refers to disloyalty towards your partner in an exclusive relationship. But marital infidelity is disloyalty to your spouse. We consider disloyalty to be extramarital relations in your marriage. This definition disregards whether this is openly done or secretly because if the marriage is a monogamous one, it is infidelity. 

How Common Is Infidelity in Marriage in the UK? 

We can’t estimate a solid number of infidelity cases without definitive data available. However, the studies below might provide some insights.

 YouGov conducted a survey in 2023 and found that 

  • 25.4% of married men and 
  • 18.3% of married women 

have committed adultery at least once while they were married.

Insight Investigations conducted another study in 2023. They found that 63% of married people in the UK admit to having feelings for someone else. It counts as emotional cheating.

The University of Stirling conducted a study in 2019 and found that

  • 10% of married people in the UK cheated in the past year.
  • Men (13%) are more likely to cheat than women (7%), with a higher percentage.

The true prevalence of infidelity may be higher as these are only self-reported confessions.

Estimations suggest that approximately one in four married individuals may experience the challenging situation of having an affair at some juncture in their lives. This statistic sheds light on the complex dynamics and intricacies of relationships, highlighting the importance of open communication, trust, and commitment in fostering a strong and lasting marital bond. 

Why Do Married People Cheat? 

Cheating is always a choice. Yet, there are some factors and reasons that lead to it. It’s often simply for pleasure-seeking. Other times, there were ongoing issues in the relationship that still needed to be addressed.

Boredom

Over time, the excitement and novelty in a marriage can fade. Some individuals seek affairs to inject excitement and passion back into their lives. They may feel that their marriage has become routine and mundane, leading them to seek new experiences outside of the relationship.

Mid-life Crisis

Older men and women are more likely to cheat during their mid-life crisis. They start questioning their life choices and seek new experiences or validation outside their marriage. One reason for this is a person’s dissatisfaction with their existing romantic relationships.

Escapism

People may use infidelity to find temporary relief in the arms of someone else. They do this to escape from the challenges and responsibilities of their marriage. Infidelity can serve as a form of emotional or physical release from the stress and pressure of their current relationship.

Poor Boundaries

Feeble boundaries and the inability to assertively decline can often lead to confusion and ambiguity, blurring the lines between platonic friendship and romantic involvement. This can result in individuals unintentionally crossing the line and engaging in infidelity.

Emotional Needs

Some individuals are unable to communicate their emotional needs within their marriage, leading them to seek emotional connection and validation from someone else. So, an intimate relationship may develop from here.

Addictions

One is more likely to make wrong choices, often infidelity unconsciously under the effect of substance abuse, such as alcohol or drugs. In some cases, the addict may seek comfort from someone else instead of turning to their spouse for support.

Mental Issues

Individuals dealing with mental health issues, such as depression or BPD, may seek solace or make impulsive situations due to intense mood swings. This may result in infidelity as a coping mechanism or to fulfill their emotional needs.

Neglect

Feeling neglected or unappreciated in the everyday lives of married people can drive them to seek affection and attention elsewhere. This can also include emotional neglect and lack of communication within the marriage.

Dissatisfaction

A general sense of unhappiness or unfulfillment, either emotionally or physically, can lead married people to seek happiness outside of it. Somehow, it often emerges when there are unresolved issues in the relationship.

How to Deal With Infidelity in Marriage?

Communicate and Seek Professional Help

The first and most important step is to have open and honest communication with your partner. It’s crucial to create a safe space where both of you can freely express your feelings and work through any underlying issues. Seeking the help of a professional therapist can be really beneficial in this process.

Set Boundaries and Establish Trust

Rebuilding trust is a crucial step in overcoming infidelity. This can be achieved by setting boundaries and committing to them, such as being transparent with each other and avoiding situations that could lead to temptation.

Take Time for Self-care

Dealing with infidelity can really weigh on your mental and emotional well-being. It’s so important to prioritize self-care during the healing process. Whether it’s therapy, exercise, or spending time with loved ones, make sure to take care of yourself.

Consider the Possibility of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a personal choice, and it might take some time to process the betrayal. But you know what? Forgiveness can actually be a powerful tool in moving forward and rebuilding relationships. It doesn’t mean you have to forget what happened, but it’s about letting go of any resentment and deciding to move forward.

Rebuild Intimacy

Infidelity often leads to a breakdown of intimacy and trust in a marriage. Both partners must work on rebuilding this aspect of their relationship through open communication, honesty, and vulnerability.

Let Go of Resentment

Refusing to let go of resentment and anger can impede the journey of healing. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and work towards letting them go in a healthy way. It involves seeking therapy, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past.

Seek Support from Friends and Family

In these trying times, seeking solace and empathy from the unwavering support of trusted friends and family can provide a deeply comforting experience. It is crucial to cultivate a robust support system that surrounds and uplifts you.

Consider Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling offers a neutral environment where both partners can address their concerns, rebuild trust, and foster intimacy in the relationship. Also, it facilitates the identification and resolution of underlying issues that may have contributed to the infidelity.

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