Marriage is considered the most significant and fundamental relationship among humans because of provision of a primary structure that establishes a family relationship and brings forth the next generation (Rosen-Grandon, Myers, & Hattie, 2004). Substantial surveys show majority of people desire to get involved in marriage at some point in their lives. This is because there is high level degree of identity and belonging in marriage and partners are expected to commit all their being in the partnership. However, the evidence showing that there is tremendous lack of satisfaction in most marriages cannot be underestimated.
Among the problems experienced in most marriages, marital unfaithfulness is the most common, disastrous and among the leading cause of divorce and family break ups (Oranthikal & Vansteenwegen, 2006; Zimmer, 2001). Marital unfaithfulness is one of the main indicators of lack of marital satisfaction, and this threatens the solidarity in the family as well as the society. Moreover, it is a major cause for psychological, physical, and emotional distress and leads to reduced quality of marital life to the affected.
This article therefore recommends solutions to marital unfaithfulness with the anticipation that if couples learnt the basis of marital satisfaction, then marital unfaithfulness will be curbed. First, the article highlights the presumed causes to marital unfaithfulness. Second, the article uses surveyed examples to illustrate the consequences of marital unfaithfulness to both the individuals and the society. Finally, the article draws solutions from the problems, and suggests ways that can solve marital unfaithfulness. Causes of unfaithfulness in marriages
Marriage is meant to bind the spouses where each belongs to the other and is expected to be long term. Normally, couples will take a considerate amount of time to learn each other and test how far either of them can stand for the other, before they resolve to get into marriage. This is the courtship period where in monogamous society; both the partners have to convince the other that they are not interested in any other person other than the spouse one is with. Some religious marriages, for instance Christianity requires that either party takes a vow to leave with the other person for the rest of their lives.
Additionally, aspects like adultery are strongly condemned in religions like Christianity and Islam (Khawla, 2003). However, cases of unfaithfulness are not strange and many marriages experience problems where one party or both strays to share the bound relationship with other people. Unfaithfulness is considered a betrayal marital act where one spouse or both indulges physically through sex or sexual activity with a person who is not the husband or wife. However, Shackelford, et al. (2008) point out that infidelity need not be an immoral behavior but should be considered as the desire for more than one sexual partner in life.
Unfaithfulness also occurs in the mind where either of the spouses is emotionally attached to another person who is not the wife or the husband. As much as emotional unfaithfulness may not lead to having physical sex outside the marital boundary, the thought that one’s spouse is secretly thinking about another person can be very devastating. There are individual and cultural differences concerning the view of marital infidelity and therefore this has become a complicated issue of marital counseling. There are so many causes that lead to marital unfaithfulness.
Shackelford, et al. (2008), report that several people who have involved in extradyadic cite unhappiness or lack of satisfaction with the primary relationship. The authors further assert that the lack of marital satisfaction is the root cause for both sexual and emotional infidelity. Other studies show that marriage relationships take a U-Curve where the relationship is stronger in the beginning and later years of life than the middle life term (Gorchoff, John. & Helson, 2008; VanLaningham, Johnson, & Amato, 2001).
Aspects like feminism and women’s change of gender roles from a home care taker to a competitor with the male counterparts in jobs and education has been associated with increased divorce rates and marriage instability of which tendencies of suspecting unfaithfulness are very high (Blanton & Vandergriff-Avery, 2001; Lyons, 2006; Schoen, 2002). Traditionally, it was believed that men are more likely to cheat than women but this perception has changed with studies that reveal women are just as likely to cheat in the same rate as men.
Economic depressions and historical stressors contribute to the high levels on dissatisfaction in marriages (Gold, 2006). Khawla (2003) carries a survey in families of an Arab population with the aim of identifying causes of problems in marital relations. Socioeconomic factors can lead to adultery according to this study in which a man who fails to provide economic support for the family contributes to a hostile relation where there were arguments that led to physical and psychological abuse. In the long run the husband started involving in extra marital affairs despite their cultural and religious beliefs warning against such acts.
Umberson, et al. (2005); Perren, et al. (2005) suggest that marital quality begins to deteriorate with the entry of children, and that the relationship does not improve until way later in life when the children have grown up and left home. This is likely to cause unfaithfulness especially on the side of the husband because mostly, the woman is too preoccupied with the child/children and the man feels isolated. Spotts, (2005) attributes a combination of genetic and environmental factors as contributors to marital quality.
This is in regard to the genetic factors influencing the personality of a person, and environmental factors which affect the behavior. Variation in personalities is another likely cause to marital unfaithfulness. According to Shackelford, Besser, and Goetz (2008) there is a strong association between personality, marital satisfaction and infidelity. According to their study, partners that have less agreeable personalities and those with low conscientiousness are less likely to have marital satisfaction and therefore very likely to commit acts of infidelity within or after the first year of marriage.
To connect personality and the quality of marital life as far as infidelity is concerned, personality psychologists describe the parsimonious variation in cognition, behavior and affect. An approach to the description can be the application of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality which can give an understanding of the variation in human personality. These factors are one; surgency that captures the variation within the introvert and extrovert personalities. Two; agreeableness, that captures variation in the dimension of agreeable and disagreeable.
Three; conscientiousness, that captures variation within the reliable and unreliable dimension. Four; emotional stability, that captures variation along the emotionally stable and neurotic personality dimensions, and finally; a variety of factors such as openness, culture, experience or intellect which describe variation intellectual and social acuity. Therefore, the FFM describes marital interactions as an interface between two personalities (Shackelford et al. , 2008) but does not clearly define the personalities that are susceptible to infidelity because various factors come into play.
The argument present is that the less agreeable the partners are in all dimensions, then the higher chances of infidelity from either side. Nevertheless, Shackelford, et al. (2008) confirm from findings of other studies that relationship infidelity can occur in the marital interface described by low agreeableness and low conscientiousness. Impulsive people are cited as the most likely to involve in extra marital affairs and the reasons assumed are that they could be having a higher sexual drive and so readily pounce on sexual opportunities when they arise.
Another assumption is that impulsive people exude higher levels of sexuality and thus end up receiving several advances from other people. Cramer, et al. (2008) discusses infidelity from an evolutionary psychology perspective of sex differences and how selection of mates can determine the presence of infidelity in one’s marital life. Men select mates for sexually exclusive reasons while women select mates for personal and economic support. In cases where either of the partners fails to fulfil the expectations of the other, then chances of unfaithfulness become very high.
Furthermore Cramer, et al. (2008) asserts that both males and females possess cognitive ability to detect whether a partner is cheating. Men are likely to identify sexual infidelity while women are likely to identify emotional infidelity. Some people participate in extra marital affairs not because of necessary being unhappy or face lack of satisfaction with the current family but because they have a high sexual drive and desire many partners. In beliefs in which this is considered unfaithfulness, the person is said to have a disorder associated with sexual addictiveness (Pittman, 1993).
Such a condition can be solved through intervention from therapists and requires understanding and support from the spouse. Consequences of marital unfaithfulness Marital quality has always been positively linked to mental and physical well being. On the other hand, marital unfaithfulness tops the list of causes of poor quality of marital life in many families. Shackelford, Besser, and Goetz (2008) assert that marital infidelity is a heart wrenching and confusing experience to both the couples and the family therapist carrying out the counseling session, considering that people have different views on circumstances surrounding infidelity.
Faulkner, Davey, and Adam (2005) assert that an estimate of half of the first time marriages end in divorce within the first ten years of marriage. Separation or divorce is often linked with psychological and physical health problems. Heene, Buysse and Vanoost (2005) cite depression and distress as some of the major consequences brought about by infidelity and marriage dissatisfaction. Cramer, et al. (2008) describes psychological distress caused by infidelity from two perspectives.
A man will become distressed at the thought that his woman is having a sexual relation with another man, while the woman will become distressed at the though that his man has given his love to someone else. This was concluded after a study in which participants-both male and female were asked to imagine their partner in different sexual positions with someone else, and the response showed that most men reacted with intense jealousy at the thought.
Another question was to imagine the partner falling in love with another person, and women responses with the most intense jealousy. Depressive individuals in turn display negative cognitions as far as interpersonal relations are concerned and this leads to low quality marriages (Zhang and Spirtes, 2008). An extra marital affair is also a cause of domestic violence and spousal battering (Shackelford et al. , 2008; Stith et al. , 2008). Violence results when the errant spouse is questioned or the couple starts arguing about the suspected infidelity acts.
Major negative feelings that marital unfaithfulness elucidates include jealousy and anger. Marriages in which one or both of the partners are cheating on one another experience tempers, arguments and violence as a result of these emotions. Partners also adjust differently to stressful situations as the stress adaptation theory explains (Graham & Coloney, 2006). However, despite the strategy used to adapt to stressful situation, the fact that remains is that stress potentially disrupts the well being of individuals.
Unfaithfulness leads to partners abandoning their marital roles and responsibilities. Men especially can become detached and only treat the marital home as a physical place without any emotional caring to the wife or the children, and this leads to a poor quality of marriage life (Wang & Crane, (2001). Additionally, this can also lead to poor upbringing of children who will have to endure psychological trauma as they watch their parents fight or when they feel neglected by either or both of the parents.
This is in regard to the family systems theory which asserts that parental conflicts that are not solved in constructive ways are very likely to involve the children who in turn become anxious and tension generated between parents and children. Extra marital affairs can destroy families and the feeling of love and trust degenerates (Graham & Coloney, 2006). Other than physical violence as a result of arguments, partners who cheat with many different partners are also likely to contract sexually transmuted infections and this may be transferred to their spouses.
Such circumstances further mount the trauma elucidating from unfaithfulness. Solutions to marital unfaithfulness and satisfaction guarantee The topic of marital satisfaction is of immense research in areas of psychology and marital counseling (Umberson et al. , 2005). However, there has never been a single framework under which factors of marital satisfaction can be defined because the aspect varies cross-culturally (Oranthikal & Vansteenwegen, 2006). i. Improve intimacy and sexual relations Factors of marital satisfaction that almost appear universally are linked with the sexual relation among the couples.
Oranthikal and Vansteenwegen (2006) argue that personal sexual satisfaction, the frequency of sex and that of sexual activities, the showing of sexual interest and satisfaction all have a great deal to do with satisfaction in marriages. Trudel, et al. (2008) recommend in the use of vitality enhancing drugs especially among the elderly couples who want to sustain their sex life which could now be depreciating. Trudel, et al. (2008) associates a good marital functioning to reduced depressive conditions and stress. ii. Mate selection: Complement each other
There are several reasons that draw people to one another just as there are on why an individual chooses a particular spouse for marriage. Studies show that a woman is likely to settle with a spouse who will contribute to both personal and financial resources to tasks like sheltering, and provision of the needs of the woman and the children (Cramer et al. , 2008). On the other hand, a man considers a partner from an exclusively sexual point and the eventual paternal uncertainty. These reasons however, vary depending on individuals and society.
Nevertheless, it is suggested that people should learn to select mates with whom they are compatible with in all aspects of life, whether intellectually, sexually, emotionally, and even physically. Women may end affected the most by emotional infidelity because they commit emotionally in relationships while women get affected with sexual infidelities because they seek sexual exclusivity in marriages. Compatible people will have their relationship strengthened by both love and friendship (Skinner & Iaboni, 2009).
Satisfactions results from the ability of having a common interest towards various aspects and therefore mutually understand one another. Consequently, the level of marital satisfaction increases and this reduces the chances in which a spouse goes to seek physical or psychological satisfaction outside the marriage. Mate selection also involves the consideration of age as Umberson, et al. (2005) suggest that marital quality is also determined by the age difference. A wider age difference between the spouses means that they may differ in a lot of preferences, and in the long run opt to have affairs with people in similar age sets.
iii. Communication To curb marital unfaithfulness it is important that the spouses have an open and honest communication with one another. Communication helps to confront the problem head-on as it arises before the marital stability deteriorates (Gold, 2006). Encouraging communication gives a partner an opportunity to air out any concerns as far as lack of marital satisfaction is concerned. The partners also learn to seek guidance or assistance together, and work mutually for the common good of their marriage. iv. Sense of humor
Keeping the marriage alive with affection and humor by playfulness and enthusiasm just like the old days of courting helps improve the marital quality and encourages prolonged marital period. According to Driver and Gottman (2004) the fleeting moments and the mundane that couples experience on a day to day basis may contribute to either the health or deterioration of their relationship. Problems occur in marriage such as fiancail constraints or when a partner seems interested in someone else. The author suggests that it is not necessary to argue and blame one another but the partners should make a humorous situation out of the problem.
This will help dilute any rising tensions that could finally develop to argument and driving away of partners from the marriage commitment. Happiness and humor gives the partners good judgmental and problem solving capabilities and prevents occurrences of disastrous disagreements. Positive enhancement of happiness can also be done through reminding one another of the old beautiful days where each one cared for the other. v. Using religiosity to solve marital unfaithfulness According to Khodabakhsh and Hossein-abadi (2009) allege that involvement in religious duties by the couples reduce chances for extra marital affairs.
This is based on a study conducted in which religious duties performers showed unlikeness to participate in infidelity. This is because such people need to showcase an image of morality, and role model to the other members of the community. Moreover, religious leaders can also represent the roles of family guidance and counseling. Involvement in religious activities has been associated with both marital stability and effective child rearing. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that some of those who participate in religious duties also participate in extra marital relations.
Khodabakhsh and Hossein-abadi (2009) also apply religion in terms of mate selection in which they suggest that people equality or sameness in marriage, and this includes selecting a partner from the same religion, strengthens the marital relationship. This aspect of religious homogamy was studied further by Chinitz and Brown, (2001) who assert that couples that share the same religious view approach marriage from the same perspective and thus reduce the chances of straying from the common beliefs. vi. Forgiveness
In a study carried out by Orathinkal and Vansteenwegen (2006), an association between forgiveness, marriage stability, and marriage satisfaction was investigated. The authors point out from various literatures that forgiveness is quickly being recognized as a social construct, and a therapeutic option in marital conflicts and relational problems. The more a person forgives, the more the positive assumptions occur and both partners adjust in their marital relations and strive to please one another (Orathinkal and Vansteenwegen, 2006).
Wunderer and Schneewind (2008) suggest that families should sort ways of coping with stressful situation rather than choosing to walk out of the relationship when o toes not work. Applying coping attributes in the long run establishes a bond where each partner respects the other. vii. Family counseling and therapy Marital unfaithfulness can also be solved through marital counseling in which the partners should jointly seek the consultation services of specialists or clinicians in family therapy matters (Lyman, 2007).
This is because problems certainly occur in marriage at one point or another and sometimes consulting the expert can serve as an eye opener to the root cause of the problem and the resulting treatment to the problem. Driver and Gottman (2004) describe a family therapy procedure that applies the prevailing marital theory which states that cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy and emotional-focused therapy serve to resolve conflicts in marital relations.
The family therapists can use either of the process or a combination to help the couple change the way that they communicate and strategies that they use to solve conflicts. A variety of therapies can also be used to address the problem of sexual addictiveness disorder. Although it is not stipulated on what therapy works for which condition, Wood, Crane, Schaalje, and Law (2005) assert that the emotional focused therapy assists distressed couples the best and helps them recover from marital unfaithfulness conditions. Conclusion
Marital unfaithfulness is a major cause for negative psychological, emotional and physical implications in families. There are several factors that contribute to marital unfaithfulness and this are emboldened in lack of marital satisfaction. Historical stressors for in stance the changing gender roles and rise of feminism attitudes have been associated with decreased marital satisfaction. Moreover, personality traits genetic and environmental influences are shown to determine the extent to which a spouse can decide to cheat.
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