WHY ONE IN SEVEN HUSBANDS CHEATS
You’ve exchanged rings and promised to be faithful to one another until death does you part – so why on earth would you be unfaithful so soon?
It’s easy to be very idealistic about marriage
When Lauren walked down the aisle on the grounds of a country house in Surrey, it started raining – and her husband-to-be Tom had to run down and meet her with an umbrella halfway. ‘It was actually kind of hilarious,’ the 31-year-old recalls. ‘All morning it had been clear skies and sunshine – then suddenly the heavens opened. We laughed it off and joked that it must be a bad omen for our marriage. But I didn’t ever expect that I’d be finding out he was cheating after less than six months.’
At the other end of the country, Jenny*, 28, can relate. Her own infidelity was equally unanticipated and also happened soon after her wedding day. ‘Within the space of a year we went from writing our vows about loving each other to Googling divorce lawyers,’ the teacher from Northumberland explains. ‘I still try to get my head around what went wrong – what made me think that pulling a stranger would be worth ending a seven-year relationship.
‘But the truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever understand what went through my mind. I think I was just really overwhelmed by what I’d committed to and this was the only way out.’
Stats show that 41 per cent of spouses will have an affair at some point in their relationship and the average affair lasts for two years. But now, as research suggests that around one in seven newlyweds will cheat within 12 months of tying the knot – and infidelity website Ashleymadison.com reveals that up to 8 per cent of brides will cheat on their husbands (compared to 3.5 per cent of men) within a year of swapping rings – experts reckon we need to talk about monogamy as soon as we start talking about marriage.
And that means either adjusting our expectations, or reassessing why we’re walking down the aisle in the first place.
‘We live in a time when it’s easy to be very idealistic about marriage,’ says relationship expert Judi James. ‘We get hung up on Instagram pictures of fairy lights and flower arrangements and Pinterest ideas for table settings. We like big romantic gestures, such as proposals and declarations of everlasting love. But we’re not communicating as couples about what marriage really means – and whether monogamy is something that either one of you could struggle with in the future.’
Dr Eric Anderson from Ashleymadison.com agrees. ‘We can put first-year infidelity down to a number of factors, including couples living together for far longer before getting hitched – meaning the honeymoon phase of the romance is often long gone by the time it gets to the big day,’ he says. ‘And we’re also seeing women in particular going for one last fling before kids and families complicate things.’
Lauren adds: ‘I definitely think I glossed over the realities of marriage. I’d met Tom on a dating site after three years of being single, and was so ready for a relationship that I just threw myself into it. I actually remember not being that impressed with him on our first date, but I just stuck at things anyway until we were both in love.
‘When he proposed after four years, I was euphoric. I figured any hesitations in the lead-up to the event were just nerves, and he was great at planning everything with me. But I think we spent so long talking about the ceremony and the food and whether or not we should have a DJ or a live band, we forgot to actually discuss what marriage meant to each of us – and what our breaking points would be.
‘When Tom cheated on me with someone he’d met on a night out, he came home and apologised – and I really think he thought I’d forgive him. But my dad cheated on my mum when I was little so I have a no-tolerance policy for infidelity – and wearing a ring doesn’t change that.’
It’s been 18 months since Jenny’s affair – but she’s come to terms with her actions. ‘When I went on holiday with my girlfriends, it was about nine months into our marriage and I was very unhappy,’ she explains. ‘I felt like I was trapped – we fought all the time and even though I loved my then-husband, I was overwhelmed by the idea that this was it.
‘That’s why I’d booked the holiday in the first place – I wanted to lie on the beach and analyse my relationship and blow off a bit of steam. The plan was to then go home and sort things out, but after I slept with a man I’d met in a bar, I knew that was it.’
Getting hitched? Our experts suggest avoiding the newlycheats trap by having an honest talk about your relationship now – before the wedding planning takes over. It will help you identify your boundaries. And who knows? That could be what saves your marriage.
Experts say we need to talk about fidelity