Why newlywed men cheat
29 April 2013, 11:00
5 reasons why newlywed men might be tempted to cheat.
“As surprising as it
is, infidelity is very common during the first year of marriage,” says Dr
Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin. US researchers who
analysed data on infidelity found that roughly 20% of men and 15% of women
under age 35 admitted to cheating on their spouses in 2006 (the latest figures
This is up from 15 and 12%, respectively, 15 years earlier.
What gives? Part of the problem, says psychotherapist and relationship counsellor Mary Ovenstone, are the constant
messages of excitement and instant emotional gratification fed to us by the
media – a far cry from what our parents’ generation experienced: “A slower
lifestyle in which they were able to sustain interest in the home through thick
“Also, newlyweds have this sense about cheating that if
you’re going to do it, do it now,” says infidelity expert Gary Neuman. “Men may
feel that if the marriage was a mistake, it’s better to figure it out before
things get even more entangled with kids and families.”
A 2011 survey conducted among the UK members of
AshleyMadison.com, a dating site that unapologetically caters to married people
looking to stray, not only showed infidelity among newlyweds to be on the rise,
but highlighted a “seven-month itch”: more than two-thirds of cheaters had done
so shortly after seven months of marriage.
But there are ways to protect your fledgling marriage. The
key is to be proactive – don’t assume that uttering “I do” ensures fidelity.
Here, the top reasons experts say newlywed men stray and how to take action to
make sure your guy doesn’t.
Reason no 1
You’ve played house
There was a time when being a newlywed meant finally getting
to share a roof. Not so today. More couples than ever are shacking up – 3.6
million in 2011, compared with fewer than a million 30 years ago, according to
statistics. Add the time you’ve lived together to the
average 17-month engagement, and it’s a good bet the attraction is less
electric by the time you walk down the aisle.
Research shows that infidelity rates are much higher among
cohabiting couples than married people who don’t live together first. One
possible reason: “It’s about commitment,” says Anthony Hawthorn, training
manager at FAMSA. “With couples who choose to live together, the core feeling
is that there’s always an out.” And if that’s the attitude, it won’t
necessarily change simply because you get married.
Reason no 2
The web makes
It’s simpler than ever to find an affair online – and the
people searching for one aren’t always those you’d suspect. Of Ashley Madison.com’s
18 million users worldwide, roughly 15% are newlyweds, according to the site’s
president, Noel Biderman.
“The erotic, exotic
and forbidden are what attract people,” sexologist Elna McIntosh explains.
“This might mean experimenting cross-culturally, up or down the socio-economic
ladder, or cheating while married.” Offices are a hotbed for affairs, she adds,
since many men in their thirties are burning the candle at both
ends, working late hours and travelling for business. “With instant messaging,
it’s easy to flirt, even while you’re in a meeting.”
Reason no 3
Marriage hits guys
Compared with dating and an engagement, marriage is serious
business. It can seem like a drag, especially to men. Ovenstone partly
attributes this to the spirit of our times: as young people, we’re no longer
trained to see our lives in terms of responsibilities, she believes. “The focus
is on having great experiences, instead of foregoing short-term pleasure for longterm
gains in the home and family.” Also, when a man is suddenly responsible for
making money to provide for his wife during the child-bearing years, “it can
feel scary and daunting,” says Ovenstone.
Reason no 4
The sex has become
Around the two-year mark, the romantic high fuelled by
novelty and attraction dies down. As Ovenstone explains, this calmer phase can
lead to a deepening of love – but in the bedroom, diminished passion can simply
feel like “boring marital sex”.
Reason no 5
Marriage didn’t fix
You’d think commitment-phobes would avoid the altar, but
often they go through with marriage thinking that it will “cure” them. When it
doesn’t, they feel trapped.
Men who’ve cheated may have commitment issues that hark back
to insufficient bonding with their mothers during childhood, explains
The 2011 survey run by AshleyMadison.com showed that men who
stray before they get married are far more likely to have an affair once
they’ve taken their vows. Of male respondents, 76% had cheated before marrying
and cite having “always been unfaithful” as their main reason for continuing to
cheat. (Only 21% of female respondents had cheated before their marriage, and
realising they “made a mistake” in their choice of husband was their main
motive for straying.)
Ovenstone offers these warning signs: an extremely active
sex life, a lot of female friends, a lot of male friends who cheat and a mother
or father who cheated.
This is an edited version of this article. The full version, with advice on how to cope,
can be found in the Women’s Health “All Stars Issue” (May issue, now on sale).