Married people who cheat don’t regret it, a new study says

Married people who cheat don’t regret it, a new study says. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

People want to keep the marriage but also enjoy sex within or outside of the union

What would you do if your sex partner cheated on you? One common answer I get whenever this question arises is that if there is infidelity of whatever nature it should remain a secret.

“I do not know if he is cheating but if he does I should never get to know, as it will be very bad for him,” Nancy, a 40-year-old mother of two says.

In fact, there is common advice that you should not be looking at your spouse’s phone or other clues to ascertain if they are cheating or flirting around with other people. 

“It is foolishness, why look for trouble where there is none?” Rose, a 35-year-old married woman says. Her belief is that every adult knows what they want and should behave responsibly.

People get annoyed when they get to know that their partners are having sex out of marriage. In one instance a man caught his wife cheating on their marital bed. When they came to the Sexology Clinic the issue was not that the cheating happened but that it was disrespectful to have a stranger on their marital bed.

“If she respected me she should have done her sinful acts in places that I would never get to know,” the man said. In other words, the cheating was all right as long as it was a secret.

In the recently released report of the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, it was found that almost 1 out of 5 married women had had sex with someone else other than their spouse in the preceding year. Additionally, 1 out of 3 men had sex with someone other than their wives in the same period. There were inter-county variations in the statistics with some counties having almost 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 2 men reporting sex outside marriage.

But why is sex outside marriage so rampant? One recent study tried to answer this question. The study was done by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Ontario universities and published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour. The researchers interviewed men involved in extramarital affairs. Interestingly, the men were not remorseful for their behaviour. They were satisfied with the physical and emotional gratification from the extramarital affairs.

Even more revealing is that the men reported their marriages to be happy. They were satisfied with their marriages and said that they loved their wives. Satisfaction with marriage did not however mean satisfaction with sex in marriage. Most of the men were dissatisfied with sex in their marriages and in fact several of the marriages were sexless. In other words, satisfaction with marriage is not synonymous with loving the sex in the union.

The researchers conclude that maintaining sexual monogamy is hard; that having sex with one person for 50 years is an uphill task for most people. People want to keep the marriage but also enjoy sex within or outside of the marriage.

Of course, the participants in this study were Americans and Canadians and one can argue that their beliefs and practices are different from those of Africans. In my interaction with couples over the years, however, I have seen a lot of similarities between the results of this study and how Africans behave. The rampant cheating does not mean that people want to end their marriages. Far from it. 

In fact, they do everything possible to keep the affairs secret for the sake of the marriage. Secrecy is their way of showing respect to the one they are married to. When they are caught they are quick to apologise and hope that they are forgiven. Many even blame the person they were having sex with for misleading them.

Is there a way of working around this issue to minimize cheating? Definitely. The root cause of the problem is sexual dissatisfaction and it is because people do not purposefully look for ways of enriching their sexuality in marriage. They stick to a routine which with time becomes boring and breeds dissatisfaction. This makes them look for gratification elsewhere. 

To enrich your sexual experience, visit professionals every year and get examined and coached on how to improve your sexuality. Sex therapists, and coaches, can help with this. You can also attend relationship-building workshops. Many of the workshops do have a trained professional to help with facilitation and help people learn from each other by sharing experiences. You may also find it important to read books on the subject. 

In other words, perfection in sex does not just happen, it is something you work for and it is a worthwhile endeavour if you want sexual satisfaction in your marriage.