Is Monogamy On the Decline?

May 18th, 2011

I recently saw a segment on the Today Show that talked about a website that promotes infidelity in marriage. Their tagline: “Life is short, Have an affair.” The founder of the company says he is not inventing infidelity but just perfecting it. The website already has 8.5 million members in 10 different countries.

I haven’t been able to get this segment out of my mind. Are more and more couples really having affairs? And are they really thinking it’s okay to break vows and cheat on their spouses?

The National Marriage Project reported 21% of married men and 14% of married women in 2000 reported ever being unfaithful to their spouse. Though these numbers still reflect too many heartbroken spouses, they indicate a much lower incidence than the media portray in their stories of celebrities and politicians and their affairs.

Infidelity isn’t something to be overlooked; it strikes at the very heart of a marriage and destroys trust. There has been an increase in Americans believing that infidelity is “always wrong” based on a National survey. The number has increased from 84% of adults in 1973 to about 93% of adults in 2004. At least in our attitudes about infidelity, we seem to be more puritanical than our parents were.

There can be several types of infidelity: fantasy (chatroom relationships), visual (pornography), romantic (emotionally attached to another), and physical-sexual.

What can be done to prevent infidelity?

One quote I heard recently and love is, “The grass is greener on the side of the fence you water.” Meaning, you can make your relationship and life better than what it seems if you put forth the effort.

A common myth is that affairs are caused by dissatisfaction in marriage. But a troubled marriage does not cause nor should it justify infidelity. Infidelity has more to do with the individual and how they have decided to handle situations. Research also shows that infidelity occurs even in the early “honeymoon” years of marriage, not just 10 or 20 years down the road when things might get a little “stale.”

Marriage researcher and therapist Scott Gardner and Christian Greiner give 4 ways to help prevent couples from being unfaithful. They are: (1) create appropriate boundaries with persons of the opposite sex; (2) be fiercely loyal to your spouse; (3) control your thoughts; (4) and put your spouse first.

If I could add another guideline for preventing infidelity it would be this: promote openness and do away with secrecy. For instance, share passwords to each other’s email accounts, share your Facebook pages, and discuss your day and associations at work. These kinds of actions say, “I won’t hide anything from you” and “Let’s help each other stay true to our vows.”

I sincerely hope we can all keep these suggestions in mind to help strengthen our relationships. If we choose to put our relationship first and make it a priority, many marriages and families won’t have to end in such heartbreak and sadness.

5 Responses to “Is Monogamy On the Decline?”

  1. Denise says:

    Right on point! Infidelity is definitely a choice. I coach on this subject all the time. Until partners honor the relationship as a union of giving, as opposed to getting, expectations will always remain unmet.

    The fact that this website boast memberships in the millions shows us how disconnected we are in society. I believe that people are free to engage with whomever they want, except when one’s recreational activities cause suffering on other’s.

  2. Blair says:

    I love the quote about the grass being greener on the side of the fence you water. The thought of that website makes me sick, but I am glad to hear that so many people believe that infidelity is always wrong. Great post!

  3. Cassia Batts says:

    i love that quote too. and i’m soooo sickened right now by that site. i’m glad most people recognize it’s not ok, but how pathetic is it that so many still think it IS ok?? thanks for the tips reminder, and i completely and totally agree about sharing the passwords and just the basic idea of communicating every day. who would have thought that talking about your day, no matter how ordinary, could actually help you feel connected to your spouse still? good heavens.

  4. Naomi says:

    This post is particularly relevant considering the new buzz around Pamela Haag’s new book “Marriage Confidential.” She has some interesting points about the danger of just-mediocre-marriages, but her suggestions about trying “open” marriages and tolerating infidelity are way off. That’s certainly not the way to build a tight, trusting partnership! If you want to read more critique on the book check out

  5. Sam says:

    The problem is not with infidelity, the problem is with marriage. People are unhappy in their marriage, and sometimes it leads to infidelity. Here is my belief: “True love (the only reason you should be getting married in the first place) is the ability to walk out the door with no consequences, yet choosing to stay.” Many couples “choose” to stay in a loveless marriage because of the fear of losing all their assets, their business, their house, the emotional pains associated with divorce, the actual divorce, what family and friends will think, and many many other reasons too numerous to name. Marriage has turned from a union by GOD to a financial contract governed by the STATE.

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