‘Monogamy is a failed experiment,” says Noel Biderman, CEO of Ashley Madison, the social networking site that connects would-be adulterers with fellow cheaters. The Canadian company, founded in 2002, boasts the guarantee: “Have an affair to remember or we’ll give you your money back!”
Biderman sees nothing wrong with his business. He cites statistics that estimate 26 percent to 50 percent of men and 21 percent to 38 percent of women have engaged in extramarital sex sometime during their marriages. He’s not inventing the behavior, he’ll tell you. He’s merely making it more accessible for his clients.
But is adultery an act that should be facilitated? Does straying improve anyone’s life? Yes, infidelity may be a part of human behavior. So are greed, alcoholism and violence. I’m not keen on promoting them, either.
Perhaps we should focus on strengthening our vows rather than seeking new ways to sneak around them.
All facets of our society would reap the benefits if we did. The first big payout would be personal stability. I enjoy going to the same job, sleeping next to the same man and eating at the same dinner table day after glorious day. Some people might find that boring. To me, it’s a matter of security and minimal drama. I wouldn’t trade that consistency for anything.
People are healthier when they’re happily paired up. Young married men drink substantially less alcohol than their single buddies. Married folks require fewer hospital visits and have shorter stays when they do become ill.
They also need less nursing home admissions, resulting in lower health care costs.
Children fare better, too. Boys and girls from stable households are more successful in school and suffer fewer incidences of anxiety, aggression and depression. They are also healthier into their adulthoods and live longer than their classmates raised in more tumultuous environs.
Infidelity, on the other hand, is a train wreck waiting to happen. There’s nothing good about it. Sure, it can be exciting. Cheaters may indeed feel loved and nurtured during their interludes. But when they’re not in each others’ clutches they’re creating the potential for chaos on a massive scale. I’ve seen too many couples come unglued over their partners’ philandering. I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.
Cheating also fosters an atmosphere of distrust and hostility. Spouses become rightfully suspicious about everything their husbands or wives say or do.
Even when both partners mutually consent to have sex with other folks, their marriages take it on the chin. Studies report that at least 80 percent of people who engage in open marriages experience jealousy about the extramarital union.
So tell me again why this is good? I don’t begrudge Mr. Biderman’s ability to earn a living. His business is far more lucrative than mine. Still, I prefer to make life happier and more stable for those I work with. I think everyone profits as a result.
Tips for finding fidelity
Want to increase your chances of having a monogamous relationship? Follow these suggestions:
Value monogamy. When you take a clear, no-other-option stance on fidelity, your behavior and choices support your belief. Wavering, even the least bit, is equally evident and pervasive.
Pick wisely. Select partners who share your commitment. Look for men and women from stable households whose parents have also had long-term marriages.
Choose friends with similar values. Opt to hang around couples in committed relationships. Their behavior will rub off on you.
Make sexual intimacy a top priority in your relationship. Send each other flirty e-mails. Sneak away for an adults-only weekend. Keeping sexual energy high strengthens your bonds and makes you both feel wanted and adored.
Be a loving, attentive partner. Make your loved one’s happiness your top priority. Do fun things together. Develop mutual friendships. Resolve conflicts quickly. Don’t dwell on shortcomings. Be the mate your spouse wants so there’s less temptation to stray.
Never date a cheater. Avoid anyone who has been previously unfaithful. And dump a guy or gal who creates the slightest doubt. People don’t change their behavior.
Avoid lengthy separations from your partner. Time together makes unions stronger. Time apart creates tension and misunderstandings. Never willingly split for more than a few weeks. If you must be apart for a long period of time, keep in regular contact and routinely express your love and commitment.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her visit lindalewisgriffith.com