The cold hard truth is that fifty percent of men will or have cheated on their wives. That’s half! As I write this, I’m well aware that seventy-five to eighty percent of women reading it will think, “Not my guy,” and just disregard the stats. But ladies, let’s state that stat in another way, one that might get your attention. Half of you will, or have been, cheated on by your husband. That’s every other reader! Those odds are worse than poker, black jack, or Russian roulette. Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about how you can avoid infidelity in your marriage, and remain on the right side of those stats.
This isn’t just a matter of luck. Sure, marrying the right guy helps, honest, trustworthy, and conscientious… right? But, didn’t we all think that’s who we married? Sure, some of this is just plain common sense, the kind of stuff your mom told you, like, “Don’t marry a sociopath or a narcissist.” However, social psychologists argue that there may be other variables that trump those dictums Mom preached.
For instance, risk of infidelity is higher among those partners in poorer quality relationships. Indeed, intimacy and connection are reported as lacking in their marital relationship among eighty-five percent of men who cheat.
Lack of investment is another factor correlating to infidelity. What exactly does investment in the relationship mean? “Isn’t investment a given?” you might ask. Not necessarily. Quite simply, relationship investment is comprised of shared experiences, interests, property, friends, and family. One can see how time factors into investment.
There’s one other variable that is sort of a loose cannon, and that’s satisfaction in the relationship. The satisfaction variable is derived from the overall quality of the relationship, less the value placed on available alternative partners. As one can see, this gets tricky, because the more quality in the relationship, the less valuable are the alternatives.
According to the investment model of infidelity, satisfaction in the relationship, plus investment in the relationship predict commitment to the relationship. And commitment is the biggy! According to the data, commitment in the relationship results in a significantly reduced risk of infidelity. Yay!
“But wait!” you say, “How do I do all that?” Investment, satisfaction, and commitment are big constructs. How does one make them happen? … Especially in today’s fast-paced, high-stress world.
Intimacy builds all of these constructs. Listen to your partner, share his goals, aspirations, and fantasies, and tell him yours! Being open to vulnerability is a hallmark of intimacy. Do you really know your partner, and does he know you? Or are there details of your lives, hopes, and dreams with which you don’t trust one another?
Shared decision-making adds tremendous value to a relationship, because it takes off half the burden. Do you and your partner discuss important decisions, coming to an equitable agreement about how to proceed?
Be nice 🙂 Bad stuff happens. Take it in stride if your partner forgets to pay the light bill and you’re spending Wednesday night in the dark, eating granola bars for dinner, and missing your favorite show. Life happens! Don’t turn it into an angry encounter that may breed unpleasant memories for years to come.
Having realistic expectations is very important, as it prevents either partner from feeling like he or she has to be perfect or save the day in a crisis. If you or your partner puts the other on a pedestal, chances are high that you’re headed for a fall. Having realistic expectations also cuts down on those angry encounters mentioned above.
Function over form should be a plaque over every newlyweds’ front door. Don’t worry what the neighbors or your in-laws, or college friends expect of you. How many couples dates you have a month is your business. If you two are happy the rest will fall into place.
Frequency of eye-contact and touch come up in numerous studies of what makes a marriage last. Do you look at your spouse when you talk? Or better yet, when you’re silent? Do you touch just for the sake of touching?
These are just a few tips for a happy marriage with enough investment, satisfaction, and commitment to get you through the years together, without any unnecessary extra-marital nonsense.