Not only is infidelity one of the most difficult issues faced by couples, but it is also viewed by couples therapists as one of the most damaging problems couples face and one of the most difficult problems to treat (Heintzelman, Murdock, Krycak & Seay, 2014).An interesting fact about extramarital affairs and divorce is that the divorced spouse rarely marries the affairee who caused the marriage break up, and even when s/he does, the resulting marriage has a greater likelihood of ending in divorce (75%) (Pittman, 1989).
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Of course, many couples never make it into couples therapy after infidelity has been discovered or revealed. Most often, the couple tries to deal with (or not deal with) the infidelity on their own.
Since we began writing and teaching this course, the research on infidelity has expanded.
It used to be that the research was limited to the rates of infidelity, gender differences, and possible influences or mitigation by demographics such as income, education level, and religion.
Researchers Blow & Harnett (2005) took a comprehensive look at prevalence of infidelity and concluded that in any given year the likelihood of a relationship suffering from an affair is low – probably less than a 6 percent chance.
In a research finding particularly relevant to couples therapists, Glass and Wright (1988) looked specifically at the population of couples seeking therapy and reported that 50-65% of them initiated therapy as result of an infidelity. conducted a meta-analysis of 50 studies and reported that 34% of men and 24% of women have engaged in extramarital activities.
But detailed analysis of the data from 1991 to 2006 shows surprising shifts.
University of Washington researchers have found that the rate of lifetime infidelity for men over 60 increased to 28% in 2006 from 20% in 1991.
We will also cover specific treatment strategies and techniques.