Fidelity among the parents is the most treasured component of a marriage. It can be regarded as a strong foundation of the entire family. When infidelity sets in, the strong union of the couple is shattered, leaving traces of dishonesty, guilt, and anger. Aside from the betrayed spouse, the children who are not involved in the problem between the couple that caused the break-up are the ones who suffer from the effects more. Infidelity is caused by complicated and different reasons. Extra-marital affairs can happen in both happy and disturbed marriages.
Regardless of the cause, what the family evidently needs to be overcome is the manners in which infidelity severely affects the couples marriage and the family in general. Characteristics of Infidelity According to Marriage and Family Encyclopedia, infidelity is characterized by a breach of trust which is a reflection of ones adulterous and cheating of ethical and emotional responsibilities to his or her spouse. Infidelity normally and oftentimes connotes a persons intimate or sexual relationship to another individual other than his or her partner (Treas).
Aside from an immoral sexual relationship, infidelity also comes in other forms. For instance, despite the lack of physical contact, women generally consider a deep emotional liaison as another form of a treacherous extramarital relation (Treas). These characteristics present infidelity as any emotion or conduct that go against or not in accordance with what one expects from his or her spouse and what makes the relationship exclusive (Treas). Infidelity is a worldwide issue, with some countries going beyond their boundaries to address its causes and effects.
Aside from the ways in which infidelity affects the marriage and the family, its related topic such as an open marriage that is practiced in liberal countries also has an impact to the overall understanding of such unfaithful relationship. The books of Blumstein and Schwartz, as well as that of Greeley, states that the practice of open marriage in the United States which allows and opens an opportunity for a married person to commit extramarital sex is the only exclusion.
Although the two books report that some Americans apparently tolerate open marriage, majority of American couples still regard sexual fidelity as an ultimately significant aspect of their marriage and the one which hold their family together (Blumstein & Schwartz; Greeley). This high consideration to fidelity is supported by an article which states that almost one hundred percent of American couples look for sexual exclusivity from their partners (Treas & Giesen 48).
The Effects of Discovered Infidelity An article written by Shirley Glass which appeared on the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy site states that it is usual for the couple, either the one who committed infidelity or the one who was betrayed, to be depressed. Glass further stated that such feeling of demoralization includes suicide tendencies and anxiety. She added that an intense perception of loss follows the discovery of infidelity.
According to Glass, the responses of the cheated partner correspond to the indications of post-traumatic stress experienced by the victims of harmful or even fatal situations. At the onset of the disclosure of the unfaithful relationship, the usual effects are loss of innocence and shattered assumptions. Included in such premises are the obsessive contemplation of the details of the infidelity, nonstop observation of other aggravating symptoms of cheating, recurring and invasive images of the betrayal, and an increased biological arousal due to a sexual effort to win back the partner (Glass).
Those who have exerted much trust and the least suspecting are the most badly affected and hurt. The philandering partner, on the other hand, is worried that his or her infidelity will result in a lasting punishment and further suffering. This is because the dreams he or she associated with the extramarital relationship were wasted (Glass). Ways in Which Infidelity Affects The Marriage Infidelity affects not only the marriage but the divorce proceedings that happen afterwards (Treas).
Prior to the passing of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s, a cheating spouse is expected not to be granted with custody rights over his or her children, endure disadvantages in the separation of conjugal properties as well as in payments of support (Treas). In eliminating adultery as grounds for divorce, the no-fault laws likewise remove extra-marital sex as a vindication for preferring ones welfare over the other partner (Treas).
Aside from affecting the marriage, infidelity or other related laws in the United States would forbid a philandering spouse from casting a vote, engaging in alcohol-related works, exercising law, legally adopting a child and living with the previous partner (Treas). It was unfortunate that adultery laws are almost never implemented, despite the fact that a lot of states have silently revoked such outdated legislative acts (Treas). Unrepealed laws then only function mostly for symbolic intentions, representing the states adherence for traditional ethical and family living (Treas).
Laumann, and his colleagues, on the other hand, stated that the issue of how sexual infidelity impacts the marriage necessitates further research. However, experts on marriage counseling have attested that sexual infidelity definitely rocks a couples marriage (Laumann, et al. ). In their book, Laumann and his associates also identified another manner, aside from divorce, in which infidelity affects the marriage. This is the existence of domestic violence which was also already identified as an effect of sexual enviousness (Laumann, et al. ). Lawson corroborated the above destabilizing theory or effect of infidelity to marriage.
According to Lawson, infidelity contradicts the couples intimacy, weakens the perceptions of shared ownership between a husband and wife, and cuts short commonality that exists when ones spouse is the only one giving a treasured intimate or sexual service. Sexual infidelity also deviates time, energy, and money outside of the marital union. This is evident when a betraying partner allots or spends more of his or her quality time, physical energy, and cash with a person other than the legal partner. Lawson also said that womens extramarital relationships are likely inclined to result into divorce or new marriage.
This is because of womens nature of involving of too much emotion into a relationship (Lawson). Ways in Which Infidelity Affects The Children Aside from the emotional and psychological trauma, the infidelity of the parents creates confusion among children, similar to the effects experienced by the betrayed parent that the children feel. An online article by Dianna J. Gould-Saltman stated that in the event the extramarital relationship eventually resulted into the separation of a couple, it becomes an issue if the presence of the new partner will be considered in limiting custody or visitation right over the children.
Confusion among the children is evident when the new partner of their father or mother starts to live in the house and the new couple can eventually and freely exercise their sexual activities even when the children are around. This scenario causes children to ask if sex outside of marriage is alright. However, it was stressed that the law states that the court must make custody orders consistent with the best interests of the children.
The said article added that unless there is opposing evidence, it is expected that the children of the separated couple still require constant contact with both the father and the mother regardless of whoever committed the infidelity (Gould-Saltman). Infidelity Affects Both the Marriage of the Couple and their Children The same Gould-Saltman article identified three combined issues resulting from infidelity that affect both the marriage of the couple and their children. First is misappropriation which is manifested when the philandering partner takes away or deviates the money supposedly intended for the needs of his or her family.
A married person is obligated to manage his or her marital assets, such as the monthly employment income, for the purpose of addressing the needs and promoting the welfare of his or her family. Gould-Saltman said that spending community money on a girlfriend or boyfriend, especially expensive gifts, paying for rent or mortgage, or vacations can be deemed a misappropriation. In view of this the betrayed spouse and the children are authorized to refund one half of the funds spent, possibly with interest, from the date of the misappropriation (Gould-Saltman).
Misappropriation, however, is different to another effect which is supported spouse. In the latter, the spouse who was left behind in favor of a new partner will be burdened with proof in getting support from his or her spouse. This takes place when the spouse already cohabits with his or her new partner who now receives the financial support. In doing so, the child support may also somehow be affected because the income is now shared with the new partner. However, this situation can be resolved through legal arrangements.
The last effect, which is the possibility of acquiring sexually transmitted disease, is solely experienced by the betrayed spouse. With this impact, the offended spouse, who was transmitted with the disease resulting from the philandering of his or her spouse, is considered a battered spouse and entitled for monetary damages (Gould-Saltman). Conclusion Infidelity is a sensitive issue which does not only affect the legal union of a couple but also leaves the entire family devastated. It is perceived as a one-sided option wherein only the betraying spouse benefits while the offended spouse and their children suffer.
The ways in which infidelity affects the spouse and the children cause them to endure suffering in terms of emotional, psychological, and financial aspects which are unfairly happening to them. Such unfaithful conduct unjustly favors the philandering spouse and steps on the rights and protecting the feelings of the betrayed spouse and children. This is because while the philandering spouse is enjoying his or her sexual trysts with the new partner, a husband or wife and the children are left tormented with the pains of infidelity.
Blumstein, Philip and Pepper Schwartz. American Couples: Money, Work, Sex. New York: Morrow, 1983. Glass, Shirley P. AAMFT Consumer Update: Infidelity. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. 2002. 14 April 2008
html>. Treas, Judith. Infidelity-What Are The Consequences? Marriage and Family Encyclopedia. 14 April 2008