Surviving Emotional Infidelity in Relationships
It is estimated that 40 percent of current marriages will end in divorce in the US, especially if the trends displayed throughout 2009 and 2010 continue. This is one of the highest rates documented in the western world, and is surprising given the liberal nature of US union and the resources that exist in terms of guidance and counselling should issues arise. In order to understand the unusually high rate, it is pertinent to assess the most common factors cited in contemporary divorce.
While fidelity is an often discussed and debated reason for marital conflict and separation, this generally refers to the acts of physical infidelity. This is when one or both individuals in a marriage indulge in a physical relationship with a third party, and is suggested to account for over 30 percent of divorces in the US. However, a less known and potentially even more divisive example of this practice exists, and is referred to amongst experts as emotional infidelity.
What is Emotional Infidelity?
Emotional infidelity is where an individual within a relationship forms an emotional attachment to a third party, which is often entirely inappropriate or insensitive to their partners feelings. This concept is a growing issue within contemporary relationships, and its consequences can often be far more damaging than mere physical infidelity, especially in terms of reconciliation. The main reason for this is that its cultivation suggests a deeper relationship between the adulterer and their companion, and one that is far more consequential than a merely physical one.
Divorce is an inevitable consequence of modern life, as evidenced through the fact that approximately 4 out of 10 marriages end in the surroundings of a court room. While the process itself is distressing, it is nothing compared to the potential fall out that follows, and which often afflicts children and impressionable family members in addition to the couple themselves.
Whatever the reasons raised and cited in a divorce petition, the emotional pain and distress incurred through separation can breed bitter acrimony. It is a widely held theory that love and hate are close and uncomfortable neighbours, and the gradual transition from life partners to separate entities often traverses these boundaries. Where children are involved, they are impressionable and perceptive enough to absorb and take on board vast swathes of these negative feelings and emotions.
Differences in relationship expectations and each individual’s aspirations in life are often a primary cause of divorce. While it may not be the cited as the main reason in a relationship breakdown, it is often the trigger for acts such as physical or emotional infidelity. This is because the realization within a couple that they are completely incompatible and without a single purpose can breed resentment and apathy between individual partners, and leave them seeking an outlet for love and affection.
In many ways, whatever conduct and behaviour is encountered during the decline of a relationship, a long term incompatibility is the most debilitating to a couples union. Where individuals that are joined in matrimony find themselves at odds over their future ambitions, there is often no compromise that can be made without leaving one or both of the individuals dissatisfied. This type of conflict is therefore the most difficult to resolve, as couples who cannot compromise with each other are unable to get their relationship back onto some form of common ground.
The concept of sexual freedom and liberty emerged from the carefree attitudes of the 1960’s, where many nations of the world finally emerged from the debris of the Second World War and their people began to enjoy their lives. This prevailing attitude was a consequence of liberation and civil rights movements in many areas of society, with innovations in culture, pop music and politics all lending themselves to a more forgiving, tolerant and experimental weave of communities.
What is strange however, is that while the general attitudes to sex and sexual freedom have remained relaxed and liberal in western civilisation, there are more and more couples who are experiencing relationship threatening issues with this aspect of their lives. This is can be seen through the disproportionate number of divorces that are caused by infidelity and the acts of sexual promiscuity. With an estimated total of 17 percent of all divorces citing these reasons as the primary influence in instigating proceedings, there are questions as to why couples cannot find sexual satisfaction in such liberal and well informed times.
Aside from the core factors that have traditionally sounded the death knell for relationships (such as infidelity and unreasonable or violent behaviour from one partner to the other), other issues are becoming pertinent in disrupting marital harmony.
An increasing percentage of the divorce rate number is made up of couples who have cited issues with in-laws as the primary cause of the separation. Of these, conflict between the wife and her mother in-law is the most prominent, with a minimal number of cases even including instances of violence. Another common problem of this type is conflict between a partner and their brothers or sisters in-law, typically concerning jealously and the disruption of previously close sibling relationships.
Infidelity is the single biggest contributor towards divorce throughout the world, and stands as a serious issue across a diversity of cultures. In the US in particular, 2009 statistics revealed that 51 percent of divorce petitions cited infidelity as their primary cause, with 41 percent of these involving cases where both partners have committed the acts of adultery. As these figures show, once a relationship has endured such betrayal it is particularly difficult to recover from, and although not impossible such rehabilitation requires commitment, communication and a determination to discover the initial cause of such activity.
It is a much proffered notion that financial issues and reduced cash flow are the single biggest contributors towards separation and divorce. While it is true that these factors create pressure and tension within a relationship, statistics actually suggest that divorce rates are lowered during times of economic and financial crisis.
Though this is in part due to the fact that the presence of debt makes separation a far more complex and costly process, it is also because times of difficulty and financial hardship often draw couples closer together. Even where money and finance is a contributory factor to the decline of a relationship, it is generally cited as a secondary cause or a potential catalyst to other more pertinent divorce factors. The real unknown factor is exactly how much financial pressure and uncertainly can factor in other problems that generally render relationships moribund.