Staying Together Through Infidelity

A survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports that 25 percent of men and 17 percent of women have committed adultery. Of these marriages represented, 35 percent survive.

With that in mind, many people believe there are only two options when a marriage is in trouble: Stay married and be miserable, or get divorced and be happy.  Well, one study found absolutely no evidence that unhappily married men and women who divorced were any happier than unhappily married couples who stayed together. In fact it found that two-thirds of the couples who reported being unhappily married actually reported being happily married five years later. This is because couples, who go through trying times and stick it out, usually come out better in the end.

When the couples who decided to get a divorce were interviewed, they were rated on the 12 separate measures of psychological well-being and found that they were no happier than the couples who decided to stay together. Divorce, in fact, does nothing to raise self-esteem or reduce depression. It actually can produce more problems because divorce sets off a series of emotions and challenges such as child support, court cases, financial or health stresses and the children’s reaction to the break-up.

The team conducted a focus group with the couples who were unhappy but stayed married to find out why they believe they have strong marriages now. They found three solutions. One is the fact that over time, problems tend to minimize. This includes high stress problems such as infidelity. Another reason was because the two decided to make a commitment to work at their marriage. They scheduled time for each other or sought the help of a counselor. The last reason that men and women that stayed together became happier than those who divorced was simply because of an attitude adjustment. Both parties realized they could live happy and fulfilled lives even with their many problems. They would just get through them together instead of on their own.

So the first step is avoiding divorce.  If two people are committed to each other, this study proves that they can have a vital marriage on the other side of marital challenges.

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