Friday, April 23, 2010


Something important that comes to mind each day when I discuss family issues with classes that I teach at various colleges, is that infidelity isn't just between heterosexual people in marriages. Infidelity happens in same sex couples, couples who are engaged, couples cohabiting, and couples in exclusive dating arrangements. Even in a "friends with benefits" situation emotions can run high from someone in the mix who is not comfortable with sharing.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the biological make up is quite different between men and women and I often hear or see comments from men who feel it is tantamount to impossible to stay faithful and from women who indicate that cheating on them is pretty much unforgiveable. Among some educated young adults there is a growing apprehension then about whether or not to ever get married. They appear convinced that no matter how faithful they might be, the trust factor with a partner is suspect, damaged or not there at all.

Basic trust is essential for the development of a satisfactory relationship. Trust in a love relationship between partners is made up of a feeling which predisposes each person to expect "good things" within that relationship. Psychologically speaking is is considered a prerequisite to a normal development of self esteem. A child who learns to trust their mother for example, is in turn trusted by their mother to become a healthy, mature person. The couple that experiences trust between themselves feels secure and that sense of security, in large part, results from their childhood experiences.

As we mature we experiment more, learning and discovering and for many couples the sense of trust and delight in their partner is completely satisfying and there is no desire to experiment beyond the relationship. For others their morality or religious beliefs enable them to avoid the temptation of taking an attraction to another person to further involvement and action. And yet for some the erotic, new lure of an exciting potential sexual experience draws them into the opportunity, even when their present commitment is quite fulfilling.

American beliefs in general spring from concepts established in the Puritanical era which included strict Christian mores and punishments real and imagined based on biblical interpretations of what God wanted and demanded of them. And while in reality the Puritanical movement was both a religious and a social movement, it is the zeal with which they regarded virtue that we most associate that time period with. The concept of virtue then rides in the same seat as trust for most people when in a committed relationship.

But what if human beings are truly not wired to be monogamous? Are all couples predisposed to infidelity? And why do some indulge and others able to remain sexually faithful? Are we moving toward a much more open concept of expectations in marriages? If so, will this threaten the very existence of marriage as we know it?

Chelsea luxuriated in feelings of self-worth and being adored by her new lover. He was enchanted with her and they met often for long, stimulating conversations over drinks. Their sensual moments were limited in both time and location further enhancing their sexual desires. Chelsea rather liked that, as it almost didn't seem like being unfaithful to her husband because they had not yet slept with one another.
(From Adultery is Universal; But I'm Getting Married Anyway)

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