Tag: infidelity


Often in my work, I hear stories of those who have fallen to unfaithfulness. In a four part series, I will be writing about some different aspects of infidelity: the statistics, the motivations behind an affair, the consequences of having an affair, and finally, ways to protect your marriage. I would love to hear your stories in how you have helped someone, how you have protected your marriage, or how you have been impacted because of unfaithfulness.

Some of the Statistics

First, in a recent Barna study, 4 out of 10 Americans believe that infidelity is morally acceptable. For Christians, that number was 1 out of 10. Perhaps this is the reason unfaithfulness is on the rise.

When reading research about those who have affairs, the statistics can vary greatly. Most researchers come to this general conclusion:

That over a third of married men will cheat on their wives;

That nearly a quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands;

And that more than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful. Grim statistics if you think about them.

Here are some other interesting facts that we know:

Back in the 1960’s, it was usually the husband who was unfaithful. Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair.

Here is some more interesting data (Lampe, 2000):

  • 10% – “One night stands”
  • 10% – The affair lasts no more than a month
  • 50% – The affair lasts more than a month, less than a year
  • 40% – The affair lasts two or more years

Perhaps you are thinking, “This can’t be a problem in the church. Certainly the moral standards of Christians are higher.” There is growing evidence that infidelity is also a tremendous problem in Christian circles. While the research was done almost twenty years ago, one of the latest viable studies showed that 45 percent of Christians indicate having done something sexually inappropriate, and 23 percent were unfaithful (Anderson, 2000). These older numbers are not encouraging and are most likely higher now.

Here is maybe the most important statistic—a recent University of Chicago study discovered that a third of all marriages end in divorce because of an affair. A summary of this study: if you have an affair, it is likely you will lose your marriage.

It is vital that we understand how infidelity happens and effects individuals, marriages and families. Countless times I have sat with couples or individuals who been swayed into being unfaithful to their spouse and then have to face the ramifications of those choices.

And I am not immune; in my own life, I have experienced this same struggle and temptation. I too am bombarded by the message of my culture, “You are your own. You don’t have to answer to anyone. Go ahead…No one will know.” While I have been faithful up to this point in my marriage, I know that without being intentional in protecting my marriage, I also could just become another statistic.

In: Culture, Faith

If you recall, in the last post that I wrote about motivations and affairs, I mentioned that I had worked with a couple that had been impacted because of infidelity. In this situation, sadly this affair had great consequence for this woman and her husband. After confessing to her husband what had happened, they both sought help for their marriage. Just as they were making some significant progress in counseling, they learned that she had become pregnant and the child was not her husband’s. As you can imagine, this became a daunting obstacle to face for them as a couple. When God directs, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), He does so for good reasons. There are significant social, psychological, physical and spiritual consequences to having an affair. We will look at a few of these.

Perhaps the greatest cost to having an affair is a divorce. An affair that is discovered does not have to lead to a divorce, but too often it does. Listen to this statistic: About two-thirds of couples in which an affair occurred usually divorce. That is a sobering statistic and when you consider the costs of divorce to individuals, families and children, there is great damage left in the wake of an affair.

With this aspect of divorce, a sad fact is that too often once an affair occurs, with one of the spouses, there is a slow erosion with their relationship with their children. Whether or not there has been infidelity, when children experience divorce, they often feel like they have to choose between their two parents. If the child knows about the infidelity, this is exacerbated with regards to the relationship with their parents. Over time, children in these circumstances often begin to distance themselves from the parent who had the affair.

Often the impulse for a person pursing an affair is that they believe that the grass is greener on the other side. However, a recent study found that the divorce rate among those who married those with whom they were unfaithful was 75 percent! When an affair occurs, you are founding a relationship in which both individuals are in unhealthy places in their lives. This, of course, is not how you want to begin a committed relationship.

Also for those who think affairs are going to be “fun and exciting,” here are some of the stories I have heard:

  • One man who left his wife got involved with a woman who was very violent. She would sometimes go into rages and one time, broke a beer bottle over his head. On many occasions, she threatened to hurt his wife and daughter. When he initially met this woman, he recalled to me that she seemed “very kind and sweet.”
  • This has been a common story I have heard: a woman becomes involved with another man. After she leaves her husband, and moves in with him, he becomes physically abusive to her on a regular basis.
  • Here is the most recent one that I heard: a man had an affair and after a certain point wanted to break things off and work on his marriage. After this, the woman would often contact him saying that she was going to commit suicide if he didn’t return to her. Confused, he sought advice from her counselor. The counselor proceeded to tell him that he should stay in relationship with her for her safety. Thankfully, he was not swayed by both of their manipulations and pursued restoring his relationship with his wife and family.

The psychological consequences are significant to having an affair and we often don’t think of this cost. People who pursue an affair, whether married or not, often do so for self-esteem needs, and often these people come from very broken places in their lives. Here is a truth I have seen time and time again in my work with those who got caught up in an affair: If you pursue another person, you never really know who they are, but overtime you realize that this new person you are in relationship with has some significant psychological problems. Again, I cannot tell you how many times I have met with a man or woman and the person they had an affair with will not leave them alone even though they want to save their marriage. This extra person in the mix is often the one who brings the marriage to a breaking point. Too often we can forget the truth that having an affair is never a “fun and exciting” relationship in the long run.

To end, there are, of course, spiritual consequences to affairs. We grieve God by our actions when we are unfaithful. Just as he is faithful to us; he desires that we learn what it means to be committed as well.  One of God’s greatest directives to us is that we be faithful in our sacred commitment of marriage. Marriage, in a certain sense, is a microcosm of our relationship to him. He says, As I am faithful to you in every circumstance, be faithful to the one you have made that pledge to be faithful.

By doing so, in my pursuit to be faithful, I learn through experience just how committed He is to me.

In: Psychology
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