The Effects of Having an Affair

Couples who are married face a number of challenges in their lives, but few will be as devastating as the effects of infidelity or having an affair. Even the strongest marriages have been cracked open because one partner strayed and fell into a physical or emotional relationship with another.

Having an affair is nothing new. In fact affairs have long been a part of the troubles that married couples have gone through over the centuries. In fact, for thousands of years since the institution of marriage was recognized affairs have been arguably the most troubling aspect that couples have had to face and overcome.

The Ashley Madison Scandal 

The ramifications of the Ashley Madison website hacking have acted as a reminder of the issues that couples face when one partner faces the temptation to stray. While the website itself was revealed to be in large part a fraud given that so many women that had supposedly signed up turned out to be fake accounts, the sheer number of men who had memberships on the site was still quite troubling.

The scandal put front and center the issue of infidelity and raised national awareness about the new strains that face relationships.

The Statistics on Affairs

It seems every year there are new statistics that bear out the effects of affairs in terms of their temptation and realization. While such statistics are usually not 100% accurate because there will be those who keep such information private even when asked anonymously, they are generally close enough to find the trends about affairs.

57% of men and 54% of women in total have admitted to having an affair when in a relationship which includes those who are not married, but in a stable relationship. The percentages actually go down for marriages as only 41% of spouses admit to being unfaithful either emotionally or physically. So, four out of ten spouses will have an affair at some point in their marriage.

The average affair lasts for about 2 years and for the most part they occur with people who they know from work or even family members of the spouse. A remarkable 17% of affairs occur with the brother or sister of their own spouse which is quite remarkable considering that secrecy is a very strong aspect of infidelity and cheating with a family member of the spouse certainly a huge risk.

The Temptations of Infidelity 

So, while the statistics seem to agree that the majority of men and women who stay faithful in a marriage is more than those who will have an affair, it also must be noted that the temptation to stray is a powerful one. The same survey showed that 74% of men and 68% of women would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught.

There may be a number of reasons for why so many men and women are willing to have an affair to the point beyond mere fantasy. They often start in the growing process of men and women who change over time and find that their interests stray from the marriage due to time away from each other. The pressures that society places on married couples in terms of their commitments to work and being away from their partner are a powerful influence.

However, there may also be other factors at play given that nearly half of those who get married become divorced at some point. Other reasons may include that the aging process and the changing environment in terms of work and other commitments.

Of course, there are also more basic reasons such as men and women getting married for the wrong reasons or under conditions that were not suited for staying together. It is interesting to note that a nearly identical percentage of men and women have had affairs with a co-worker and when away on business trips which is roughly 35%.

The offspring that is produced during an affair was found to be about 2.5% which means that despite the care taken to keep the relationship a secret, there are a considerable number who do manage to produce children out of wedlock. This could be a combination of carelessness and perhaps a lack of desire to stay in the marriage that is strong enough to signal that infidelity has taken place.

Are You Likely to Have an Affair?

Given the overall statistics, it certainly seems that having an affair is a strong possibility. While the numbers are enough to cause concern, it is important to realize that there are other factors involved in terms of spouses who engage in such activities.

While the statistics show that men are more likely to cheat and they still in the lead in this category, that gap is closing considerably for a number of reasons. However, there are different reasons why men and women will choose to have an affair.

Most men who cheated on their wives or partners cited sexual dissatisfaction in the marriage while most women stated that they were more emotionally not satisfied. This translates to more women are more likely to fall in love with those who they cheat with rather than men who view the affair as more physical in nature. Another stat is that more men and women are less likely to cheat between the ages of 35 to 50 than on either side of that bracket. This is because most men and women are focused on their careers at that age so there is less time and distractions which pull them away from the marriage.

In the end, there are a number of factors that may lead a man or woman to have an affair during their marriage. While the reasons may differ between them, it is apparent that good communication during the marriage does play a role in whether an affair is destined to occur. In addition, the time that is spent away from each other also plays a large role in the likelihood of having an affair.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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