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?

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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

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