Fidelity In Marriage

The prevalent hedonistic
culture in the world
today, convinces people
that the pursuit of
personal pleasure
outstrips all other
considerations. Fidelity
in marriage has become a
casualty. Marriage which
was considered the
building block of society
and bound two people
together in a physical,
mental and emotional
oneness, is now merely a
minority concept.
A good marriage doesn’t
happen automatically. It
involves commitment,
acceptance, and mutual
respect bonded together
with love. Spouses set
themselves apart from all
others, and give
themselves exclusively to
each other. A good
marriage is based on the
“reciprocity principle.”
Partners, who have
pledged to love each
other ’till death do us
part,’ must work at it
actively and
continuously. There is no
casual leave or vacation
written into the contract.
What do we mean by
Fidelity? It is the
quality of reliability
and trustworthiness to
one’s partner.
“To be faithful is not a
favour you bestow on your
spouse. It is a privilege
to bless yourself with,
says Michael Cohon.
The world is in the grip
of a sexual revolution.
Sex, sexual exploits,
sexual prowess are
recurring themes that
bombard us through both
the print and electronic
media. Personal pleasure
and self fulfillment are
characteristics of the
New Morality. Infidelity
is glamorized.
“Do what you want to,” is
the slogan of
A recent study done in
the US, shows that 30% of
women and 40% of men have
been unfaithful to their
spouses at some point in
their marriage.
The weakening of
religious and social
restraints, the easy
availability of sex,
permissive legislation
have all contributed to
the rise in infidelity.
Temptation is a gradual
process, which first
begins in the mind.
Suggestive articles,
movies, books or
magazines initiate
lustful thoughts.
Thoughts turn to desire
and desire to action.
Even a one-night stand
doesn’t happen suddenly.
It is preceded by
unworthy thoughts.
“An affair may be an
indication of marriage
malfunctioning,” says
Linda Wolfe.
There are three main
reasons for malfunction.
The first is Emotional
Immaturity. In a stable
marriage, spouses honour
and validate who the
other person is. When one
partner is selfish and
self centred, and
unwilling to make a total
commitment, the marriage
becomes unstable. Someone
who has lived a very
pampered life, doted on
by parents, and used to
having his own way, never
really grows up. He is
incapable of giving or
receiving love or
trusting others. Such a
person may flit from one
affair to another. The
“Paris Hiltons” of this
world are examples of
such emotional immaturity.
James Goldsmith
(Jemima’s father) was
also one such, who had
countless affairs. Even
after marriage to Lady
Annabel his third wife,
he did indulge in an
extramarital affair.
“When you marry your
mistress you
automatically create a
job vacancy,” he said.
Many young people enter
marriage with all kinds
of expectations. They
believe that marriage
will meet all their
needs, and is one long
state of love and
romance. They anticipate
no quarrels or
disagreements; that
sexual pleasure is an
indication of the
stability of marriage; or
that children will create
an inseparable bond
between parents. But when
they realise that the
practical realities of
every-day living are
quite daunting, they look
elsewhere for the
fulfillment of their
Unmet needs bring about
frustration and
disillusionment. When
couples don’t enjoy each
other’s company, don’t
like doing things
together, or going out by
themselves, boredom sets
in and life gets stuck in
a rut of ordinariness.
Lack of communication or
mental stimulation leads
to emotional
dissatisfaction. A woman
feels let down when she
receives no emotional
support from her husband.
He never compliments her
on her looks or attire,
and does not thank her
for the food she has
prepared. This may spill
over into the bed room.
Sex is not merely
physical. There is
psychological and
emotional involvement
too. When her needs are
not met, sex becomes an
unpleasant chore.
Husbands too can be put
off by nagging wives, or
‘clinging vine’ types who
lack initiative.
The basic needs of every
human being are Affection
and Appreciation. It can
be conveyed through a
glance, a word, a smile
or a kiss
Acceptance of the spouse
as a person is important.
Many problems arise when
one partner tries to
change the other, and
squeeze him /her into a
mould of one’s choice.
Even in marriage it is
important to maintain
one’s own identity and
“When a man and a woman
are able to respect and
accept their differences,
then love has a chance to
blossom,” says John Gray.
Husbands and wives should
also be each other’s best
critics. Tactful and
loving criticisms done in
a non-judgemental way are
sure to strengthen
Admiration is a big ego
booster. Appreciating the
virtues, achievement and
capabilities of the
partner in his role as
husband or father, his
patience, his courage and
dependability, makes a
man want to do better.
“I can live for two
months on a good
compliment,” said Mark
Similarly a woman’s self
confidence depends to a
certain extent on her
husband’s estimate of
her. She needs to be
nourished and cherished
with praise and
Sexual appetite they say
is second only to hunger.
J. Robert Whitehurst
wrote in the Journal of
Sexual Behaviour that
“All men from the first
day of marriage think
about the possibility (of
these tendencies diminish
in later middle life and
beyond, they never
entirely disappear or
vanish in normal men.”
Sexual dissatisfaction is
a symptom of marital
discord. One partner may
be frigid, or the other
may suffer from erectile
dysfunction. Sex may
become so routine when
partners refuse to
acknowledge each others
needs. As Esther Pirot
says, “Bedroom
familiarity breeds
While a woman is
stimulated in an
emotional environment, a
man’s interest is more
about sexual excitation.
Romance just fades away,
and the entire exercise
becomes mechanical and
devoid of feeling. Dr.
Albert Ellis describes
this as “Healthy
A prominent Divorce
lawyer says that in 90%
of cases, divorce begins
in the bedroom.
When one partner turns
down a mate for sex, it
is a painful experience.
The partner feels
rejected. Men especially
begin to look elsewhere
to satisfy their
unfulfilled desires.
Dissatisfaction is a
preliminary to
infidelity. The “trapped
syndrome” makes them want
to flee the boring
marital bed.
Even the Bible counsels,
“The wife’s body does not
belong to her alone but
also to her husband; the
husband’s body does not
belong to him alone but
also to his wife. Do not
deprive each other except
by mutual consent and for
a time, except for
prayer. Then come
together again so that
Satan may not tempt you
because of your lack of
self control.”(1Cor
Long distance marriages
also lead to infidelity.
Prolonged absence does
not make the heart grow
fonder. It may drive them
The term “Managed
Monogamy” is a new word
added to the Manual of
Here spouses have
extramarital affairs
while being in a
marriage, by mutual
consent. There’s nothing
clandestine about it.
They even discuss their
affairs and have a laugh.
Unresolved Conflicts can
also lead to infidelity.
Careers and jobs today
are so demanding that
couples don’t find time
to speak to each other.
Instead they form
relationships at work. A
wife who is housebound
feels neglected when her
husband is preoccupied
with his career. Her
loneliness and
frustration may goad her
into an affair.
A husband unemployed for
long period can be nagged
at or belittled by his
wife. This may drive him
into the arms of another
sympathetic woman.
Financial Problems either
due too poor salaries or
extravagant life styles,
or large families lead to
constant bickering and
dissatisfaction in the
home. It could trigger
In-laws can sometimes
drive a person to
desperation especially
when there is no support
from the partner. The
aggrieved spouse might
look for support
Domestic Violence,
repressive husbands,
nagging wives or wives
obsessed with order and
cleanliness are also
causes for infidelity.
Economic freedom of women
has given them power and
opportunities to have fun
A newspaper item said
that women are more
inclined to cheat in love
than men. The ratio
stands at 40% as against
34% males.
Unfulfilled goals in life
often create frustration
and irresponsibility,
which can also lead to
There are three
types of infidelity.
– The one night stand or
the one-time affair, like
Boris Becker’s quickie in
the broom cupboard in a
London restaurant. It
cost him his marriage and
a chunk of his fortune.
– It may be a short term
relationship. But too
many of these short
affairs could destroy
one’s marriage and lead
to depression, say
– Others have parallel
marriages with two wives
and two families. Many of
the Bollywood (Mumbai)
actors are into such
The common reaction of
aggrieved spouses when
confronted by the
infidelity of their
partners is almost
similar to what one
experiences when a
partner dies. Surprise,
denial, anger,
disappointment and
eventually acceptance
Denial is a defensive
mechanism by the
aggrieved spouse even
when the signs are
glaringly evident.
Husbands sometimes
purposely leave clues
like hotel receipts or
lipstick on the collar
because it brings them
relief from guilt. But
many wives pretend that
all is well and refuse to
confront them. This
“ostrich syndrome” is a
way of coping. But it
eventually leads to
depression, insomnia and
sometimes suicidal
tendencies. A wife, who
has no other economic
means of support covers
up a partner’s guilt,
thereby condoning his
Anger is a common
reaction. Angry words,
refusal to do normal
domestic chores,
withdrawal of conjugal
rights, or running off to
Mother, are some of the
ways women show their
anger. Sometimes fights
ensue. The husband is
angry with his wife for
driving him to
infidelity. The wife who
is betrayed is angry at
being let down. There is
a breach of trust which
psychiatrists call
‘psychic injury.’
At times a woman may
retaliate by saying “If
he can do it, I can do it
too.” Imitating the
wrong doer is like being
controlled by the errant
spouse and is counter
Anger can sometimes be
directed at one’s self
for not being able to
make a success of
marriage, or at the
spouse for not meeting
her needs, or at God for
allowing such a situation.
Revenge is a fatal
reaction. Inflicting
physical injury or
throwing acid on a
lover’s face is becoming
quite common these days.
When Peter the Great
discovered the affair his
wife was having with
William Mons,
(Gentleman of the Bed
Chamber) he had the man
decapitated. The head was
preserved in a bottle
full of alcohol and kept
in the Queen’s bedroom.
Many women with poor self
image blame themselves
for their husbands’
infidelity. They feel
they have not lived up to
their husbands’
expectations and have
driven them into the arms
of other women.
Some like to force a
solution immediately,
without waiting for any
explanation from the
errant spouse. The
decision to split is
taken immediately,
leaving no room for
Marriage is a
relationship that has to
be built over the years,
with love and deep
commitment to each other.
Infidelity is a breach of
trust that leaves the
offended spouse deeply
hurt and betrayed. An
affair is a crisis that
must be tackled calmly.
Facts must be sorted out
from rumours or
suppositions. It is
possible for wrong
conclusions to be drawn
from innocent gestures.
Partners who communicate
well with each other and
periodically conduct a
marital audit will be
able to sort out major or
minor conflicts. No one
is infallible. Mistakes
are possible but
confession must come
quickly, and remorse
should be rewarded with
forgiveness. The incident
thereafter should be laid
to rest and not recycled
with every argument.
Spouses must love “in
spite of” the other’s
“A happy marriage is the
union of two good
forgivers,” says Robert
Ogden Nash sums up the
secret of a happy
marriage in verse.
“If you want your
marriage to sizzle,
With love in the loving
Whenever you’re wrong
admit it,
Whenever you’re right
shut up.”
Spouses who love each
other deeply and have
pledged to be faithful
till the end, will not
compromise even on small
temptations. They will be
able to resist them.
Mutual respect, concern
for the other’s needs,
and the ability to
continually fall in love
with each other, will
keep the marriage bed
inviolate. Of course it
goes without saying that
Divine help is imperative.
“Couples who stay married
develop the ability to
not lose sight of the
love in their
relationship and to
express it,” says Robert
Eva Bell is a doctor of
Medicine and also a
freelance writer of
articles, short stories,
children stories.
Published in Indian
magazines and newspapers,
anthologies and also on
the web.
Author of two novels, one
non-fiction, two
children’s books. Special
interest- Travel and
Women’s Issues. [http://]http://


AIK UCHEGBU is a writer and an authority in anything that matters about marriage and how to build it successfully. His followers has been greatly enhanced by his findings. You will not be disappointed for coming to this site.

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