According to Table I from the General Social Survey (2005)1 on American Sexual Behavior 4.7% of married men and 2.3% of married women had sexual relations outside of their marriage within the last 12 months and 21.7% of married men and 12.6% of married women had sexual relations outside of their marriage during the course of their marriages; 4.2% of men 40 to 49 admitted to sexual relations outside of their marriage within the last 12 months and 19.8% admitted to sexual relations outside of their marriage during the course of their marriages. Though this survey is highly respected, other figures from unscientific polls and surveys report figures that are significantly higher: the website www.infidelityfacts.com reports that 53% of marriages in America end in divorce, 57% of men and 54% of women admit to infidelity in at least one relationship, 31% of couples do not divorce upon discovery of infidelity and the average affair lasts 2 years.2
Table I: Infidelity Rates by Gender & Age
|Adultery in Last 12 months||Adultery Ever|
Carl Jung placed the age range for midlife between 35 and 50.4 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey5 there are 56.2 million married Americans between 35 and 54, 2.8 million (4.8%) of whom are separated. Within that same age range, 7.4 million (15.7%) are divorced. The average for the adultery in the last 12 months for the age range 30-59 (Table I), can be used to approximate that 2.0 million men and women between 35 and 54 have had sexual relations outside of their marriage within the last 12 months. The figures for infidelity versus divorces make it clear that infidelity does not include abandonment in all circumstances. But when infidelity and abandonment occur together almost everyone believes that divorce is inevitable and unpreventable, such couples are assumed to be part of the 69% that divorce. The left behind spouses in such situations feel abandoned not only by their spouse, but also by hope; counselors and friends tell them to give up because their marriage is over and their family pastes the cheating spouse’s face on the garage dart board.
Infidelity without abandonment is devastating, but when it includes abandonment and replacement, the abandoned spouse collapses physically and mentally and the recovery may take longer because the action that brought the pain continues, often in taunting public displays. When witnessing the behaviors of the infidel and his new partner it is understandably hard to believe that rebuilding the marriage is possible. In Private Lies Frank Pittman said that “the more in-love romantics end up back in the marriage than married to the affair partner a few years later. …Most of the deserted husbands and wives do get to choose whether or not to return to the old marriage.”6
Sources & Notes
- Smith, Tom W. American Sexual Behavior. National Opinion Research Centre, University of Chicago. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/american-sexual-behavior-trends-socio-demographic-differences.
- Infidelity Statistics. Infidelity Facts. May 23, 2009. http://www.infidelityfacts.com/infidelity-statistics.html
- This average was calculated by me since the age ranges of this survey were different than the Census data age ranges.
- Jung, Carl Gustav. Modern Man in Search of His Soul. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc. 1955.
- United States – Marital Status. US Census Bureau. May 14, 2009. May 23, 2009. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_S1201&-ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_&-redoLog=false
Data was not available for the specific age range of 30-50 because it was only offered in 10 year increments.
Numerical values were calculated from percentage data.
- Pittman, Frank S. Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy. New York: W W Norton & Co Inc. 1989. page 240.