A recent Gallup roll found that 91 percent of American adults believe adultery is wrong, a big jump from 40 years ago, when only 70 percent of people believed extramarital affairs were “always wrong”.

Americans have shown that they are willing to accept some societal trends once considered taboo, but we continue to have an ever-condemning view of adultery. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, said people will let some actions slide, but honesty is of the utmost importance in a relationship.

“There’s a lot more emphasis now on authentic, honest relationships,” said Doherty. “Extramarital affairs that are secret go against the modern trend. Dishonesty is the one thing both liberal and conservative people can condemn.”

Recent statistics show that people are becoming more tolerant of other relationship issues, but not adultery. People are taking a more relaxed stance on:

  • Divorce;
  • Pre-marital relations;
  • Cohabitation prior to marriage; and
  • Same sex unions.

Why the Increase?

Researchers and educations are attempting to determine what has caused the rise in the national belief against infidelity. Stephanie Coontz, a marriage historian and professor at Evergreen State College, believes the trend is due in large part to society’s changing view of marriage.

“We respect marriage as a relationship more than any other time in history,” Coontz said. “Because of that, we expect more intimacy, more fairness and more fidelity.”

Part of this shift may also be due to the fact that Americans are waiting longer before getting married. A look at the U.S. Census reveals that, on average, men get married at 29, while women get hitched at 27. Sixty years ago, men were getting married at 23 or 24, while women were trying the knot at before they turned 22. Because people are waiting longer, not only are they better off financially, but it also gives them more time to find someone with whom they are truly compatible.

As we noted in a previous post, infidelity is the top reason why a couple seeks a divorce.

Attorney Commentary

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that a party does not need to prove specific grounds such as infidelity, abuse, or abandonment in order to get a divorce. It is only in limited circumstances and very fact-specific circumstances that a court will consider infidelity as a part of a divorce proceeding.

For example, if a party’s infidelity/new relationship somehow affects best interests of the children of the marriage, or if marital funds are being spent on someone’s paramour, then the infidelity may become a factor in the divorce.

Infidelity can breed distrust and anger, which may make it difficult for parents to co-parent, especially if the infidelity that prompted a divorce blossoms into the unfaithful spouse’s new relationship or marriage.

Related source: Star Tribune