I want to sort of debunk a myth. I think people assume that, when somebody has an affair, that the marriage was bad or that there was a problem in the marriage. And that’s kind of a complicated idea because, while it’s probably true that if you take couples who have had affairs, for sure, there’s problems in the marriage once the affair happens, there’s no question about that. But, if you look at the marriage before the affair, without rewriting history too much, you’re apt then to start looking at all of the problems within the marriage. But I’m not sure that if you then isolated those problems and then did a cross-section of all the marriages with the same similar problems that you then necessarily be able to target affairs. So, in other words, what I’m suggesting, is while probably the best marriages are probably the least likely to have affairs, it’s not to suggest that there’s a certain percentage correlation between a certain level of dissatisfaction within a marriage and having an affair.
People often ask about the sexual relationship in marriage and that’s interesting to me, but, again, there’s very little data out there. It seems to me – because I deal with hundreds of women every year, so I kind of have a view into this world that most people probably don’t – that having a good sex life is a pretty good safeguard, for the most part, against somebody having an affair, but I think that having a good sex life is often very much entwined with having a certain level of intimacy in the marriage, as well. So that’s why I feel so passionately about getting out there and talking to couples about making sure that the sex in their lives really works.
As a community – I’ve said this a million times – I feel like we’re obsessed – OBSESSED!! – with the sex lives of 15-23-year olds, like “What are they doing? What are they not doing? What are they noticing? What are they seeing?” And then nobody pays attention to anybody from 25 to 85 – that’s 60 years of a marriage. And it’s work to keep your sex life good in a marriage. It takes sort of conscious effort to make sure that that’s a really good part of your life. And it’s very easy to let it slide and I feel like that’s a very, very important safeguard to maintaining a really special and intimate relationship with your partner. So I wanted to put that out there.
But I don’t think that you can look at somebody who had an affair and say, “Oh, their marriage must have been terrible. Our marriage is kind of okay, so, therefore, we’re okay.” It doesn’t seem like that seems to be a correlate at all.
Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, “The Infidelity Episode”, The Joy of Text (2 September 2016) [https://soundcloud.com/jewishorthodoxfeministall/the-infidelity-episode]