Why are men unfaithful to their wives?
That’s a question that many separated or divorced women probably ask themselves. Is it something in male nature, or is it because of problems in the marriage? Does it have more to do with sexual issues, or with the personal side of the relationship?
Two newly released (and very different) reports tackle this question. While a scientific report claims that marital infidelity results from genetic makeup, a separate survey reveals that poor communication and emotional support provoked men to stray.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden say that men who inherit a genetic variant in an attachment hormone are more likely to have weaker marital relationships — and their wives or partners are less likely to find their unions satisfying. The study examined three genetic variations in the bonding chemical vasopressin, which affects social behavior and sexual attachment, within a database of 2,186 twins and their partners — all of whom had been in a relationship for five years or more. Each couple received a test regarding their relationship and whether they’d had either a marital crisis or a divorce threat within the previous year. It turned out that the men who had two copies of the “334” form of the AVPR1A gene said they found it more difficult to bond with their partner.
The study was published in the most recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead researcher Hasse Walum told the Hindustan Times that the flaw gene “may tentatively reflect a lower degree of commitment” but that “this gene is only a small part of the process — there are many different ingredients to a happy marriage.”
American marital therapist Gary Neuman has taken a slightly different route in trying to find out why men cheat. He interviewed 200 men (half of whom had cheated on their wives) across the United States and revealed the results in his book The Truth about Cheating.
Among the results of Neuman’s survey, men say they stray from their partners because of a lack of appreciation and emotional commitment in their marriages. This contradicts the traditional belief that men who cheat are just looking for better sex: in fact, only eight percent of the cheating men Neuman interviewed cited sexual dissatisfaction as their reason for the adultery, while a mere 12% of them felt that their mistresses were more physically attractive than their wives. When sex was to blame, the respondents claimed that it was the lack of sex, rather than bad sex.
Neuman’s study also found that 69% of the men who cheated felt guilty for the infidelity, while 12% said they would have cheated no matter what.
“Women have been made to believe that the emotional part of the relationship is not as crucial to men. But I found that [men] are highly emotional and that only when they feel disconnected do they begin to stray,” Neuman recently told London newspaper The Times. He added, “A lot of men are very insecure; they need to be bolstered and feel they’re winning at home.”
Neuman suggests that married couples should simply spend more time together and talk more. His advice is for pairs to set aside at least 45 minutes of conversation time, four times a week, and to go out together frequently without discussing work or children. “Successful marriages have alone time,” he told the Times. “They spend enough time with the children, but they turn it off at 10 p.m.”
Whether it’s genetics or communication breakdown that causes men (and women) to cheat on their partners, it’s a traumatic period that can destroy a relationship — or strengthen it, depending on how the couple deals with the aftermath. It’s hard to keep a marriage together after an infidelity, but with hard work, understanding, and perhaps counseling, it can be done.
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