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Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better orgasm or better intimacy?
by Graeme J. Davidson,
25 March 2006

[See the books When the vow breaks: contemplating Christian divorce and Split Decision: Stay? Go? Don't Know! Relationship matters and the accompanying feature articles Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy?; When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger; Surviving the breakup and Divorce risk indicator also by Graeme Davidson] ]

Feelings of neglect, loneliness and boredom are common complaints from those unhappy in their relationships. Yet, as painful as it may be, the best way to save a marriage is to work on the intimacy – listening and trying to fulfil each other’s emotional needs rather than seek solace in someone else’s bed.

....What do you do when your wife confesses she’s pregnant after one fling with your best mate, who was last seen heading for the airport? An angry husband raised that question on a Christchurch radio talk show. He wanted his distraught spouse to “abort or walk”. That set the switchboard ablaze for several days as listeners shared experiences and gave advice – to which I added my few cents’ worth when the show’s host asked me for a concluding comment.
....At least the wife was honest. DNA testers at Liverpool John Moores University found that one in twenty-five men is bringing up another man’s child – and doesn’t know it.
....Statistically, only about 40% of relationships survive the shock of open infidelity. That raises the tricky ethical question of whether it’s worth keeping your guilty secret to yourself or fessing up. Honesty can pay, if you really believe it’s not too late for you and your partner to work at reviving the love and trust you betrayed.
....Put the confession on hold though if your spouse is going to treat you like vermin and spike you and your lover’s latte with rat poison, or, worse, take your credit cards on an international shopping spree.
....We frown on those who cause pain to others through adultery, but, paradoxically, we still insist that what happens between consenting adults is a private affair. Should it be?
....A year ago, Harry Stonecipher was fired as CEO of Boeing. The staff weren’t on strike and neither the company’s stock nor the aeroplanes it builds were plummeting.
....The Board told Harry to walk because he had a consensual extramarital fling with a female Boeing executive - even though he’d made certain there was no conflict of interest and the affair didn’t affect his ability to get the job done.
....Harry’s very public sacking broke the barrier of complicit silence on sex at the office, which sent ethical shockwaves through post-Enron corporate America. Jokes flew about which hangar you could park your plane in. Many thought Boeing had overreacted and its stock would go into a tailspin.
....The opposite happened. After a brief nosedive, Boeing stock soared to the stratosphere – proving that enforcing high ethical standards does pay.
....Boeing’s chairperson, Lew Platt, gave this explanation: "The Board concluded that the facts reflected poorly on Harry's judgment and would impair his ability to lead the company."
This means that if you’re prepared to cheat on your partner, there’s an increased risk you’ll deceive employers, colleagues, suppliers, customers, relatives and friends. Or at least you could give that impression.
....And impressions matter.
....How many of us stray? Adult magazines and some sex therapists claim 70 – 80 percent of us — and that modern women are as unfaithful as men are. Switch on the TV, pick up a magazine at the hairdressers or a novel from the bestsellers shelf and you’re confronted with titillating incidents of sexual passion and infidelity. Auckland-based private investigator Julia Moore is keenly sought after to share her tales of snooping out two-timing lovers. All of which can leave you wondering if you’re the only faithful spouse left and whether to throw a neighbourhood partner-swapping party to get your life swinging.
....According to a recent University of Chicago study, it’s more like 23% of men and 13% of women who admit to cheating on their partner – not as many as you might think. But adultery – forbidden by all major religions – is still the reason a fifth of marriages are ripped apart.
Given the stress and grief associated with infidelity, why do people play away from home? We immediately assume their spouse is a lousy lover, when often the opposite is the case. Kiwis, in particular, say sex with their partner is great.
....In his book, Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy, psychiatrist Frank Pittman describes how many of his unfaithful patients came from marriages that seriously lacked something else - intimacy. He concluded, "Affairs were thus three times more likely to be the pursuit of a buddy than the pursuit of a better orgasm”. The sex may follow from empathy shown by that buddy. And that creates an unhealthy conflict of loyalty to lover or spouse.
....Feelings of neglect, loneliness and boredom are common complaints from those unhappy in their relationships. Yet, as painful as it may be, the best way to save a marriage is to work on the intimacy – listening and trying to fulfil each other’s emotional needs rather than seek solace in someone else’s bed.




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