It is not a lack of love but a lack of friendship that makes a marriage unhappy. – Friedrich Nietzsche
We live in a time when relationships, sexuality and identity are being rethought. At the same time, infidelity and marriage difficulties have been the stuff of legends and literature since the earliest recorded history. Religious texts, literature from all cultures, entertainment and everyday social discourses are rich in exciting and disturbing stories of betrayal and transgression. The tension between fear and fascination, moral condemnation and justification, the need for stability and novelty and countless other dissonances and drives make engagement and vow breaking extremely interesting.
The changing landscape of long-term engagement
Modern marriage is a changing destination as culture evolves faster than we can adapt, technology binds us and alienates us, and medical and health advancement extends human lifespan and reformulates what “until death takes us separates ”actually means. According to the CDC, there were over 2 million marriages in the U.S. in 2019, which translates into a marriage rate of 6.1 per 1,000 people. The number of divorces that year was nearly 750,000, with 2.7 out of every 1,000 people divorcing. Currently, about 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, up from 50 percent a few decades ago as people work harder to stay together.
The most commonly reported causes of divorce include a lack of engagement and infidelity, followed by excessive conflict and quarreling, getting married too early, financial distress, alcohol and drug problems, and domestic violence (e.g. Scott et al., 2013). As reported by Lișman and Holman (2021), the rates of extramarital affairs are between 30 and 60 percent for married men and between 20 and 50 percent for married women, which often accelerates pain and suffering, distrust and insecurity. These numbers contrast with surveys that show that most people consider extramarital affairs to be “morally unacceptable” (Pew Research Center, 2013).
Development of inclination towards the infidelity scale
Lisman and Holman discussed risk factors for infidelity in their work, which developed and validated Infidelity Propensity (PTIS), which aimed to estimate a person’s predisposition to unfaithful behavior among married individuals for a significant period of time.
An accepted model of infidelity posits five areas of motivation that drive extramarital relationships: sexuality, lack of satisfaction; Emotional satisfaction, unhappy, or emotionally deprived; Social context, when circumstances make infidelity more likely, e.g. B. prolonged separation; Attitude norms, for example when other couples are known to be having extramarital affairs; and revenge hostility, in retaliation after a partner cheats.
Using this five-domain model, the researchers performed a two-step process to first identify a large number of questions and determine what underlying factors were associated with the tendency to abandon the relationship, and then tested this model to Refine a final set of questions and correlate them for validity with existing concepts regarding infidelity and engagement.
In the first step, they generated five questions for a total of 25 items for each of the five elements mentioned above. These 25 items were presented to 330 heterosexual married participants with an average age of 37 years (from 24 to 62 years, about half women) who had been married for an average of a little more than ten years. They were asked what factors were most likely to contribute to future infidelity. Your answers were statistically analyzed to determine the best fit for the data. They found that although there were multiple motivational categories, a one-factor model fit the data best. This suggests that multiple motivations converge to predispose to infidelity. Some of the elements individually overlapped, resulting in a final set of 21 elements after the first stage.
In the second step, the researchers took the 21 items from the first study. They compared them to several accepted scales for measuring infidelity and morality with 288 participants of similar age, gender, and marriage length as in the first study. They completed the 21-item draft of the developing Infidelity Propensity Scale, Infidelity Intentions Scale, Infidelity Scale, Moral Identity Questionnaire, Divine Authority Morality Scale, and Utilitarianism Scale.
They refined the initial 21 elements in the PTIS further and removed elements one at a time, which did not add to the infidelity tendency, in order to arrive at a final model that would best fit the data. This model had a total of ten articles.
Ten risk factors for infidelity
These last ten items, PTIS, correlated well with other infidelity measures and, conversely, correlated with moral measures (i.e. a greater sense of moral self, a greater sense of moral integrity was associated with a lower propensity to cheat), as is the case for a valid set would be expected from questions that estimate future infidelity. Each of the ten items was different from one another and contributed significantly to this. A closer match with each of these points contributed to a larger predicted tendency towards extramarital relationships:
1. If my spouse were unfaithful, it would be natural for me to have an extramarital relationship.
2. Flirting with another person would make me feel wanted.
3. The lack of sexual relations with my spouse would be a reason for me to have an extramarital relationship.
4. It is plausible for me to have a relationship with someone other than my spouse if I feel emotionally attached to him / her.
5. The long-term absence of my spouse would cause me to develop relationships with other people.
6. Colleagues of the opposite sex represent a potential opportunity for an extramarital affair.
7. If I knew my spouse would never know, I could have an extramarital affair.
8. There are certain contexts in which an extramarital affair would be plausible.
9. My spouse’s close relationship with a colleague of the opposite sex would make it likely that I would enter into a relationship with someone else.
10. The fact that other married friends have had extramarital relationships makes me think it can happen to me.
Applying the PTIS
Future research needs to be done to see if the PTIS predicts infidelity in marriages and other relationships. The way to test this would be to have people fill in the scale at the beginning or before marriage and then follow up with them years later to see if people with high PTIS scores have left the relationship. Future research could test predictive power and combine applications1.
Addressing areas of concern such as low sexual satisfaction or emotional distancing and managing the context to reduce risk (e.g. infidelity) is designed to reduce the risk of infidelity and protect marriage. Couples can also focus on known factors that are desirable in long-term relationship partners to reduce risk as protective factors increase.
Suppose there is a common motivation to stay together and seek fulfillment. In this case, couples can use knowledge of the risk of infidelity and risk assessment tools to ensure a better chance of a satisfactory long-term relationship.