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Nowadays, it is not an easy task to create a good marriage and keep it for a long period of time. Men, as well as women, get an access to a number of temptations. Sometimes, people are just not able to resist the possibilities they have and become the main begetters of their own mistakes and frustrations.
Among the existing variety of mistakes and wrong decisions, infidelity is the main cause of a family disruption, divorce, and stress disorders. Infidelity is a serious issue for consideration due to the myths existing around and the inabilities to comprehend how to cope with the cases of infidelity and overcome possible stress disorders.
Divorces, as well as stress disorders, may be caused by different reasons, still, the idea of infidelity is rather provocative as people themselves have a right to choose whether to cheat and break the vow like “till death do us part” or not; and the current paper discusses the aspects of infidelity, its myths, reasons, and outcomes, analyzes the impact of infidelity on the development of stress disorders, and explains how people can avoid infidelity and save their families.
Definitions of Infidelity
One of the strangest things about infidelity is that people may understand its essence in many different ways because of their own attitudes infidelity or because of the myths people create from time to time to try to justify their actions. For example, the Oxford Dictionaries (2015) explain infidelity as an action of being unfaithful to a spouse. In fact, this explanation seems to be too general as it provides a person with a chance to interpret the idea of faith in a family differently.
Many researchers and philosophers have made the attempt to introduce their own identification of infidelity and offer their explanations. Brown (2013) indicates that infidelity is the act in which more than 55% of men and about 45% of women are involved. Stosny (2013) introduces infidelity as the act that presupposes lies, manipulations, stealing, or cheating separately or together and leads to divorce. In fact, the act of infidelity is everything that contradicts the principles of a successful marriage.
Two people make a decision to spend the rest of their lives together, create their own vows, and swear to support each other under different circumstances. However, there are not many people, who can truly predict their future and be sure of the loyalty of the chosen spouse.
This is why, unfortunately, the cases of infidelity are usual and understandable. Anyway, infidelity should be defined as an act of betrayal, either emotional or sexual, by one or both spouses that can or cannot be forgiven. People, who make a decision to break the vows given at the beginning of their marriages, should realize that their infidelities usually touch upon several people (parents, fellows, and even the lives and families of those, whom they betray with).
Myths about Infidelity
An affair that causes the act of infidelity can happen to anyone. Nowadays, people are eager to defend their rights and promote the abilities to choose what they want and when they want. It is hard to prove their incorrectness unless some legal perspectives are considered. Nowadays, the law is the only thing that can stop people from making mistakes or take responsibility for something already done. However, the law usually has nothing in common with infidelity unless some points are discussed in a special prenuptial agreement.
Why is it so difficult to survive infidelity and just not to cheat staying a loyal to the chosen spouse? Many people think that infidelity leads to divorce because those, who begin affairs, usually look for someone younger and more attractive. The current examples of the celebrities (Jude Law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Woody Allan) prove that marriage infidelity may be not based on beauty or age.
People can break their promises because of different reasons. Sometimes, they do not even need the reasons. People also believe that infidelity happens because something goes wrong with their marriages and a person, who cheats once, can cheat again. All these facts are false indeed.
Everything depends on people and their abilities, and the nature of each person is unique indeed. Some people cannot even realize why they actually cheat and let infidelity in their family. There are also many men and women, who like to cheat because they can do it or because someone else is doing it. These myths about infidelity help to realize why it is so difficult to understand how infidelity may become the first reason for divorce.
Infidelity in a Marriage as the First Cause of Divorce
Infidelity may be of two types: sexual and emotional. The former takes place when one of the spouses begins sexual affairs with another person. The latter may have nothing in common with a real cheat; the spouse may betray talking to another person with something too personal, refusing doing something with another spouse, or being unable to understand what happens around (Subotnik & Harris, 2005).
It happens that sexual infidelity and emotional infidelity lead to different outcomes: sometimes, people are ready to forgive sexual infidelity and continue living, but can hardly forget or understand an emotional type of infidelity. Borst (2015) admits that the experiences of infidelity create certain injuries to a person, a couple, and a child in a variety of ways on the basis the reduction of relational satisfaction and the intention to try something new to change the situation.
Infidelity does not lead to divorce all the time. If infidelity is caused by the dissatisfaction of one of the spouses, a simple desire to have an affair or an occasional meeting, the marriage can be saved. Both spouses have to be ready to talk to each other directly, define their mistakes, share their expectations, and explain their behavior. If the spouses are ready to forgive and forget, the divorce may be avoided. However, the following situations may certainly end in divorce:
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- The spouse that has been caught with cheating continues rejecting the fact of having an affair. This case of infidelity is difficult indeed because the betrayed spouse realizes that it is impossible to trust a person again and provide him/her with a second chance.
- Many people get to know about the case of betrayal and start supporting only one of the partners. In fact, people are free to judge, share their own opinions, and make conclusions. Still, they should never interrupt the relations within a family, give some pieces of advice, or stand one’s side. As soon as infidelity takes place, only two people, the spouses, have to discuss this problem and find the ways out.
- In case infidelity touches upon the financial aspect, the marriage is usually over. Nowadays, people put their financial needs more than anything else in this life. As soon as the point of infidelity is mentioned in the agreement, the spouses try to check each other and make sure they can benefit from it.
Anyway, even if infidelity does not lead directly to divorce, it certainly creates a crack that may be increased with time without any reasons. This is why it is correct to define infidelity as the first cause of divorce.
Chances to Overcome Infidelity and Save a Happy Marriage
Snyder, Baucom, and Gordon (2014) admit that a case of infidelity may be survived if three steps are taken: to take an initial impact, to find out the meaning, and to come to one decision on how to move on. In contradiction to the above-mentioned facts and identification of infidelity as the first cause of divorce, it is possible to say that there is also a little percent of the cases, when the partners are ready to forgive cheating and save marriage. As a rule, the following factors may promote this kind of decision:
- The necessity to take care of mutual children;
- An evident blame of the spouse, who makes another spouse cheat (a wife/husband may suffer from poor attention from the husband/wife’s side, the absence of sex, etc.);
- Some financial benefits of saving a marriage (nowadays, many people put their financial interests on the first place);
- A pure love of one of the spouses or even both of them and the desire to give one more chance to change everything (there are many couples that re-evaluate their relations after an act of infidelity);
- If infidelity is not disclosed by a spouse, it can hardly be a reason to divorce.
Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder
Stress disorders are one of the possible outcomes of infidelity. Betrayed people are under a threat to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to some extent. As any other kind of stress disorder, the post-infidelity stress disorder is usually caused by the spouse’s inability to forget what has happened.
The situation when a beloved person betrays with another person repeats in the mind a lot of times. It turns out to be impossible to stop thinking about the possible words, actions, kisses, etc. given to another person. These flashbacks and nightmares serve as a solid basis for stress disorders. Unfortunately, these are not the only signs of a stress disorder. Families may also suffer because of avoidance of the fact of betrayal and a kind of emotional numbing.
Betrayed people try to turn off their emotions and start feeling nothing. Such solutions usually lead to a number of wrong decisions and actions that can hardly be changed or forgotten. A broken heart is not only a lyrical word-combination. It is a reality that makes people feel anger or feel nothing and become socially dangerous, at least, for some period of time.
In general, infidelity is something people can hardly avoid in their lives. Of course, there are the examples when families live long happy lives till death separates them. However, the cruel reality proves that many people suffer from betrayal and have to do something to survive it.
Of course, the marriage can be saved even after infidelity takes place in case people want this to happen and do everything possible to change the situation. Still, infidelity usually changes people, and the most terrible thing about infidelity is that people cannot even guess how they can be changed by this act. Infidelity does lead to divorce as well as to stress disorders. However, it is not the worst options available to people, and they have to know it.
Borst, J.B. (2015). A systematic review of the effects of family conflict: Focusing on divorce, infidelity, and attachment style. Master of Social Work Clinical Research Papers.
Brown, E.M. (2013). Patterns of infidelity and their treatment. New York: Routledge.
Oxford Dictionaries. (2015). Infidelity.
Snyder, D.K., Baucom, D.H., & Gordon, K.C. (2014). Treating infidelity: An integrative approach to resolving trauma and promoting forgiveness. The ACPARIAN, 8, 18-21.
Stosny, S. (2013). Living and loving after betrayal: How to heal from emotional abuse, deceit, infidelity, and chromic resentment. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Subotnik, R.B. & Harris, G. (2005). Surviving infidelity: Making decisions, recovering from the pain. Avon, MA: Adams Media.