Research from the American Psychological Association, the Journal of Family Psychology and Science Daily presents alarming and definitive evidence that the majority of married men will cheat on their wives. The rates of divorce are just as alarming. The research indicates that 30 – 60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity; that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce; that long-term monogamy is difficult to achieve; and that 50 – 70% of men will cheat on their wives. Research also suggests that men are less likely to leave their wives when they are cheating, so they cheat and make every attempt to remain in the comfort of the covenant relationship. Media has capitalized on this data and made sure that all marketing efforts for men have some level of sexually seductive suggestions that lure men into the one thing that research shows they like the most, other women.
With those kinds of percentages, infidelity is more like a pandemic, than it is a sinus infection. For black men, who want to live their lives with integrity and be black and married with kids, it is, at best, scary to know that the possibility of cheating is so close to him. So, to help both men and women understand infidelity and figure out how they should address it in their relationship, I have chosen to do with infidelity what medicine has done with prostate cancer and hypertension; prevent it. In order to win this battle in your relationship, you must work proactively.
So, rather than writing about the signs of cheating or why men cheat; I wanted to take the research at face value and take responsibility for the risk I believe myself and all other men face, the risk of infidelity.
Here are a few things we know about cheating and what we can do to prevent it:
1. The younger the man is when he gets married the greater the possibility is that he will cheat
Young men should ensure that they are in healthy mentoring relationships with other men who can help them process through feelings and situations that could lead to them cheating. At some level, all men should have other faithful men in their life that can help them process through difficult times.
2. True signs of infidelity are often seen in retrospect
Signs of cheating normally show up as little inclinations with limited certainty. But are later made very clear, after the cheating has already occurred. Couples rarely talk about feelings of cheating because they don’t feel safe enough. I mean, most men would never say, “Baby, I’m feeling like having sex with the secretary. Can you help me?” And most women could not handle a conversation like that anyway. But, more mature couples understand that life brings temptations and they attempt to talk about them and get through them together.
3. It is emotionally possible to have feelings for more than one person.
The reality of relationships is that it is very possible to have feelings for more than one person at the same time. It is difficult to manage a secretly intimate relationship with another person, but it is possible. Women should realize that it is possible for their husband to have feelings for another person and not think that just because he loves her “so much” that it could never happen. Couples have to be able to talk about this possibility and have an emergency plan to handle it if it does happen. Marriage is no fairy tale.
4. Attractiveness plays a major role in who men cheat with.
Men should take responsibility for knowing what kind of women are their “type”. They should avoid every situation where a woman of their “type” is involved. Don’t hire, don’t hang out with, don’t spend alone time with, don’t friend on Facebook, call… … guess you get the point. Acting like your wife is the only woman you could ever be attracted to is a sure set up.
5. Cheating is highly predicated on opportunity.
Cheating’s best friend is opportunity. Men who cheat spend a tremendous amount of time and effort planning their opportunities to cheat. If you have ever had a fleeting moment in your alone travel that made you feel like doing something wrong, then stop traveling alone. Monitor how you plan your schedule and make sure that you don’t plan opportunities for yourself to fall.
6. Sexual desire and satisfaction impact cheating.
Make sure that you’re not only having sex, but you are having good and satisfying sex with your partner. Match each other’s sex drive and sexual satisfaction level. Remember that masturbation will eventually decrease intimacy and lower sexual intimacy with your partner, so use that energy with your partner. Talk about your sexual experience; what could be better and what was right on point.
7. Men with Avoidant or Dismissive Attachment Styles are more likely to cheat.
Men who avoid confrontation and don’t like talking about problems are at a higher risk of cheating. These men are sometimes uncomfortable with intimacy and have a difficult time emotionally expressing themselves. Men need to force themselves to have intimate conversations with their wife and be vulnerable. At the same time, women need to help men feel like they can talk about “anything”.
8. Couples that are afraid to tell the truth and talk about their problems are at greater risk of infidelity.
Men who have a hard time talking about general problems, such as finances and family issues will have a more difficult time talking about their infidelity. Men who lie about little things will obviously lie about adultery. Men need to take risk to tell the truth about things they feel may make their wives upset. The better they get at telling the truth about little things, the more confident they will be at talking about and telling the truth about the big things.
9. Men who have had multiple sex partners and or a family history of men who have cheated are at greater risk.
Men need to realize that there are some women and people in their lives that are due their forgiveness. Men should take responsibility for their past sexual relationships and vow to sexual purity with one woman. Even when the woman they love is not the woman they want to have sex with; they should restrain themselves and make love to their wife “on purpose”.
10. The role of faith has an impact, but faith alone does not lower the probability of a man cheating.
Men need a greater reason than their relationship with God to keep them from cheating. Often Christian men minimize the possibility of them ever cheating, even in the face of so many Christian men that have already fallen victim to infidelity. Men need to make a decision to “die with integrity.” Cheating is not about heaven or hell. It is really only about your reputation on earth and your legacy to your family. Men have to have a natural reason not to cheat. “Dying with integrity” is one of a man’s best reasons to be faithful.
BMWK – do you think that you and your spouse could work through the warning signs of infidelity in order to prevent it? Could you be open and honest enough with each other to address some of the risks mentioned above and work through them in order to prevent infidelity?