The percentage of married
women having extramarital affairs is on the rise. According to a survey by the
National Opinion Research
Center, the percentage of
women having affairs increased by 40% over the last 20 years. While the rate for
women increased to 14.7%, the percentage of men cheating remained at 21%.
Social scientists say that
the closing of the cheating gender gap may be due to the greater economic
independence of women today. Others speculate that technology from texting to
Facebook is upping the numbers.
Regardless of the stats, each
person who divorces during or after their affair has a unique perspective on
their situation—-the same holds true regardless of gender.
Some clients feel shameful
and postpone telling their lawyer. While the state in which your divorce takes
place and your unique facts determine the legal relevance of an extramarital
relationship, it is not ideal to have your first conversation about an affair
while halfway through your deposition at the office of your spouse’s lawyer.
Others explain or defend.
“My spouse and I haven’t had sex in three years.” “I just wanted someone to pay some attention
to me.” “I fell out of love with my
spouse but tried to stay together for the kids’ sake.”
A certain percentage have deep
regret and remorse. Begging their spouse for forgiveness, they may be desperately
hopeful for reconciliation.
Still others are matter of
fact as they tell their story. “We started off just friends. We began spending
a lot of time together. One thing led to another. It just sorta happened. It’s
been going on for six years.”
While the “innocent spouse” may
blame the divorce on the interloper, the “guilty spouse” may
maintain the affair was a symptom of a floundering marriage, rather than the
reason for the marital demise. Occasionally
a couple is grateful that an affair woke them up to problems in their marriage
that had long been neglected but hold promise of resolution.
While researchers gather
data to deliver their ideas on why spouses go outside of their marriage for
sex, we know certain truths apply to every divorce:
It’s complex and it can be messy.
We can’t change the facts which already unfolded.
It’s better to focus on the future than the past.
There’s usually more to the story.
Statistics on divorce may show
there are more people or less people in a situation like yours. But researchers
can only report what people say and people only say what they see. And nobody
sees everything you see in your own life.
After decades of doing
divorce, I have been heard to say, “I’ve seen it all.” But the truth is, we only see
from our own perspective. No one knows the whole story. Not about your
marriage, not about your affair, not about your divorce.
As you journey through divorce,
remember your life is more than a percentage on a research project. Choose the
view from which you will look at what lies ahead. Pick your perspective, focus on your future,
and form your own story regardless of the statistics.