With the shenanigans at the News Of The World dominating the dailies, one can’t help wondering if, or when, people who are having an affair should confess their infidelity to the people they are actually married to. Here’s my top ten tips on coming clean. Or not.
1. If the affair is ongoing and there is any chance that someone else will tell your partner, or put it on the front page, you should come clean. A one-night stand might just be excusable. Lying never is.
2. If, on the other hand, there is no way that your partner will find out about a one-off misdemeanor on a business trip, and you want your relationship to survive, honesty is not necessarily the best policy.
3. If you are crippled with guilt, or need advice, rather than confiding in a friend, respect your partner and talk to a neutral third party. Relate offer telephone counseling for £45 an hour on 0300 100 1234 or call the Samaritans (08457 909090).
4. Infidelity is often a symptom, not a cause, of trouble in a relationship, and confessing to either your partner, or a therapist, may force you to address the underlying issues. For example, if you were drunk, or high, when your infidelity happened, drugs and alcohol may be the real problem.
5. Dr. Shirley Glass disagrees with the idea that affairs are always caused by troubled marriages and says that according to her data, 56% of men who enter into affairs say they have ”happy” or ”very happy” marriages, compared with 30% of women. For men, it seems the strongest predictor for having an affair is their attitudes and values about monogamy, whereas for women, its marital unhappiness.
6. Psychiatrist Frank Pittman believes that there are four types of infidelity. 1. Accidental infidelity (an unintended act of, usually drunken, carelessness). 2. The romantic affair (you meet somebody wonderful… while you just happen to be going through a major crisis in your own life). 3. The marital arrangement (comfort while you avoid dealing with a marriage that won’t die and won’t recover). 4. The philanderer (men who continually need their masculinity affirmed, women who are the daughters, or ex-wives, of philanderers)
7. People who have affairs like to believe that everyone else is at it too, but they are not. According to the highly respected 1994 University of Chicago survey, which was carried out by Edward O Laumann, just 25% of men and 12% of women have been unfaithful.
8. Have things changed since then? Not really. Results from the very latest UK National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle will be released later this month, but sources confirm that the figures for infidelity are not dissimilar to Laumann’s.
9. Although most people who have affairs genuinely seem to believe that they would “be together” if only they weren’t lumbered with the inconvenience of their existing marriage, only 3% of 4,100 high-powered, but unfaithful, men divorced their wives and married their lovers (Dr. Jan Halper).
10. Infidelity is still the number one cause of divorce (Amato, Previti 2003). And the divorce rate among those who marry their lovers is 75% (Frank Pittman).
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