Risk Factors Associated with Marital Infidelity

As a couple’s counselor, I have worked with many couples who have experienced infidelity in their relationship. Please believe me when I tell you that the therapeutic work of reconciling the relationship and restoring the marriage is a long and painful process. Studies suggest that overall 3% of married individuals in a given year will report having extramarital sex1. Research also suggests that the lifetime rates of infidelity for married couples range from 22% to 25% of men and 11% to 15% of women, other research suggest these stats are higher2. In my study with Latinx couples, 76% of the participants reported their partner being unfaithful to them. As you can notice, infidelity is a real threat in most romantic relationships3.  

Research on risk factors associated with infidelity suggests that a lack of time, inability to resolve conflict, and a lack of attention within the marriage predispose factors to the affairs3. Most women report the lack of attention they received from their husbands was a significant contributing factor to why they were unhappy in their marriages. Most women in the counseling office expressed their desire for intimacy. Women are longing for connection with their husbands by showing receiving more attention, physical affection, or spending time talking to each other. Not doing so led to women to assume that their husband did not share the same desire as they did3

Women made these assumptions because their husbands were hardly at home, they were either working too much or going out with their friends. It felt like their husbands had their priorities confused and that other commitments were more important than the marriage. Other women felt that their husband was not committed to the relationship and them. Therefore, low levels of commitment from the husbands acted as an increase in an affair on the side of the wife3.

Lastly, the incapacity to resolve conflict in the relationship acted as another predictor of infidelity. Women in this study felt that their husbands would ignore the conflict and during conflict they would withdraw. Some of the women also felt that although their husband would hear them, they would not do anything to improve the relationship3

As you can notice, dissatisfaction in marriage, from a lack of quality time, inability to resolve conflict, and a lack of connection/attention, is crucial to the participants’ marital infidelity. 

So, here are some suggestions to consider in your relationship. 

  1. To increase the quality time. Consider scheduling regular date nights, consider helping to put the children in bed at a reasonable time to ensure the private quality time between the two of you. Consider day dates, and enjoy lunch together.  
  2. To increase attention, consider using “I statements” in your communication to express your needs to one another (i.e., I need more time with you). 
  3. Lastly, consider going to couples counseling to strengthen your communication skills and your skills in conflict resolution. A counselor can help you both incorporate conflict management techniques in your relationship. 

Seek help!

Suppose you are feeling disconnected from your spouse. Please seek help. Please allow a counselor to come alongside your marriage and help strengthen it, before; if I dare say it, it might be too late, and heartache happens. 

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