Research: How Many Marriages End in Divorce Because of Infidelity?

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Types of Infidelity

As it has become common knowledge, there are two types of cheating. There is physical cheating and then there is emotional cheating. A lot of people associate infidelity with sex. However, emotional infidelity can be just as damaging to a marriage as physical cheating. The common thread is that of deception. The deception then gives rise to a lack of trust of the cheating spouse. 

The spouse in an emotional affair typically takes emotional intimacy out of the marriage to give it to someone else. In fact, sudden emotional distance is a key indicator of an emotional affair by women. Most people can’t give the same level of romantic enthusiasm to different people.  However, if you ask what people’s opinions are on the wrongness of emotional cheating, most would agree that it’s very bad.

In one study, 60% of adults equated emotional affairs as cheating. It was just 18% of those surveyed who disagreed. Overall, people do still equate a relationship to being true to one person, both in body and soul. This is even more so for marital relationships.

Why People Cheat

So, why do people cheat? Because they can! No, seriously. Some cheat because they are bored in their marriage and desire an emotional connection, others because they are fulfilling unmet sexual needs, and some simply because of an opportunity presented itself. Women are able to have emotional affairs without it becoming physical, whereas men tend to cheat for sexual gratification or opportunity. Of course, these separate ‘roles’ have been evolving.  It should also be noted that certain individuals may not simply uphold the principle of monogamy that high.

Women are cheating more as they have become more financially independent. In fact, women are less likely to cheat if they are financially dependent on their spouses. Emotional cheating is a major driving force for women, but emotional affairs do tend to become physical over time.

On the other hand, men reportedly cheat for mainly physical reasons. It’s notable to point out though, that men can, in many instances, develop emotional attachments to their affairs too.

The points above are backed by some statistics. Studies have shown that around 21% of men cheat. This figure is lower for women at just 13%. The interesting thing about women is that cheating has really spiked over the past 20 years.

Divorce Stats Based on Infidelity

So, how many people divorce because of infidelity? Infidelity in the United States is said to be responsible for 20-40% of divorces. This is a finding by the American Psychological Association.

Furthermore, there are several sources of data on the link between cheating and divorce. However, detailed statistics on this link are not easy to locate or decipher. Nevertheless, the following statistics have transpired:

·         40% of adults who have ever cheated on their significant other, are currently separated or divorced.

·         In contrast, only 17% of adults who had remained faithful throughout their marriage can be said to no longer be together.

·         Roughly 50% of unfaithful partners are still married. Compare this to 76% of those who have remained faithful are actually still married. Men who cheated are more likely than their female peers to still be married.

·         Of those men who have previously been unfaithful to their spouses, 61% are still married, compared to 34% who are no longer together (either separated or divorced).

·         Lastly, only 44% of women who have been unfaithful before are still married, while 47% are either divorced or separated.

What the above statistics are simply showing is that cheating adults are far more likely to be divorced or separated than those who did not cheat. It should also be noted that infidelity is not necessarily a deal-breaker for married couples. Couples who stay together after infidelity typically do so because there are children to consider, there is financial dependency or codependency, or they have gone through intensive marriage counseling.

Rising Number of Women Filing for Divorce

One interesting phenomenon is the rise in the number of women filing for divorce. As indicated earlier in this article, traditional roles are evolving. The more financially independent a woman is, the more likely she is to cheat than if she was completely dependent on her husband. It is not just young women, but those over 20 who are tempted into extra-marital affairs. Men, on the other hand, hesitate to leave their marriages, whereas women are more likely to file a divorce for any reason; not necessarily infidelity.

Do Subsequent Marriages Do Better?

Ironically, subsequent marriages do not typically do better than the first marriage. You would think that people would learn from their mistakes and somehow be able to have a better second, third or fourth marriages. However, there is a very high rate of failure in subsequent marriages for a host of reasons. These include carrying over baggage like trust issues, not committing to couples counseling, and struggling to merge or adjust to a blended family structure.

Research shows that if you have been unfaithful once, you are 3 times more likely to be unfaithful again, compared to someone who has never been unfaithful. So, it is quite plausible that infidelity-based divorces are occurring in subsequent marriages at even higher rates than in first marriages.

Marriage ‘’Bliss’’ or ‘’Myth’’?

In light of the depressing statistics, one may wonder if the idea of happily ever after is a myth. Well, here are some encouraging statistics. According to CompleteCase, the overall divorce rate is actually on the decline. Millennials are waiting longer to marry and stay married more than before. There is hope for us yet. Perhaps waiting until one is older can help. The risks of infidelity may be reduced if couples are more mature when getting married. There is always hope for couples (unless it’s doomed from the start due to aggravating factors). In most cases, there are ways couples can ‘’divorce’’ or ‘’cheat’’ – proof their marriages. Like a garden, if a marriage is regularly attended to and spruced up, there will be no room for weeds of infidelity to sprout and cause a threat to the lovely and fertile flora.

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