What Perpetual Cheating Reveals About Relationships

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Fourteen percent of women cheat on their spouses (http://bit.ly/2CEhs7). That may seem like a relatively low number but relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says what's most interesting are the women within that 14 percent whose partners know about their indiscretions and allow them to continue.

Fourteen percent of women and 22 percent of men have had sex with someone other than their partner while they were married (http://bit.ly/2CEhs7). A recent article in the New York Times takes a look at one couple who have decided to allow affairs to be a part of their marriage (http://nyti.ms/S4HtuA). Relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil acknowledges that honesty after an indiscretion is a wise choice, but the response should be to determine what went wrong and how to fix it, not to continue cheating.

"What many people do after they've had an affair," says Dr. Bonnie, "is try to cover it up. This simply leads to more problems like the ones that pushed them to an affair in the first place." An affair stems from what Dr. Bonnie calls the Biochemical Craving for Connection. This craving is spurred on by stress, separation, and loss and when people experience these things, they can end up embroiled in addiction - and infidelity is a type of addiction. Keeping an infidelity from a partner can be part of the "high" that these people seek at first, but it will inevitably result in more stress and separation and so the cycle perpetuates.

In this sense, Dr. Bonnie does believe that honesty is the best policy. As she talks about in her book, Can We Cure and Forgive Adultery, she believes that marriages suffering from infidelity can saved. "But both partners have to be willing to work on the relationship - and they have to acknowledge that cheating is a problem!" she says. In the New York Times article, in makes that case that sometimes cheating can enhance a relationship. Dr. Bonnie disagrees and thinks this is a dysfunctional attempt to stabilize a marriage.

"It's a cop-out," she says. "If you're not happy you're likely going to cheat - so this is a wake-up call to take stock of the relationship and figure out why the couple isn't happy in a mutually monogamous relationship." Dr. Bonnie points out that monogamy is a conscious decision, so for people to simply think that it "doesn't work" for them, or that it's "too hard," just means they're not working at it and making the best effort for their relationship.

In relationships such as these, Dr. Bonnie notes they often have a great baseline for honesty which can help them in discovering what really isn't working in their marriage, as opposed to treating the symptoms with infidelities.

To see Dr. Bonnie talking more about cheating, intimacy, and infidelity, watch her videos here: http://youtu.be/nmEShUlejj8 and here: http://youtu.be/UWFriVLUQDg. And check out her documentary, Unfaithful with the Oprah Winfrey Network and Discovery Health: http://bit.ly/GSP0KB

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