24 Jun 2022


Infidelity and Divorce: How to Cope With the Aftermath

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A woman is pushed to divorce her husband of 18 years following an infidelity case, and for his irresponsibility in the marriage. Such like rhetoric continues to be rampant in today’s society, with the growing cases of infidelity and subsequent divorce. This paper dwells on this case with the objective of finding out the various causes of infidelity and their relevance to this case. The findings reveal different factors that contribute to infidelity and their unfortunate influence on the longevity of marriages. The paper also touches on the options that spouses have with regards to solving marital issues of this nature so as to protect their children from the debilitating effects linked to having one’s parents divorce. 


In an age that has rendered the world a global village, the choice of marriage patterns has become complex. Even more complex has been the longevity of marriages. There is much evidence of a sharp growth in divorce rates across the world, starting a few decades ago. Divorce, a phenomenon that was once frowned upon as shameful, and which formerly was deemed to evidence failure in life, has grown to be widely accepted by both law and society. Now, divorce can be actuated on relatively vague grounds of unhappiness amongst other reasons. But even in a jungle of uncertainty, there have been cases that have been legitimate and thus warranting and even needing a divorce . These cases, based on irresponsibility and blatant disrespect for marriage have become more frequent. While the decision is usually painful and bearing great consequences, spouses on the receiving end are usually forced to make the decision based on the proverbial last straw which is the final reason that governs their decision to divorce their partner. (Scott, Rhoades, Stanley, Allan and Markman, 2013). There are various causes of infidelity that should be looked into with an aim to determine the root of the problem and probably save the marriage from being broken. 

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Case study. 

After having dated for seven years, a young woman married her high school boyfriend. During the course of their marriage, they were blessed with three daughters. After 12 years of an exclusive and fairly successful marriage, trouble rocked the marriage when the husband committed adultery. This act was even made worse by the fact that it involved two different women and both resulted in the conception of two babies outside of the marriage. The wife tried her best to get over the failings of her husband by embracing church and even, by trying to pick up the pieces of shattered trust. All this while, the husband continued to show zero commitment to the family, as the woman was forced to shoulder all of the financial obligations in the family. Dealing with this rampant immaturity and irresponsibility on the part of her husband, the woman finally filed for divorce after eighteen years of marriage. 

This case is just a tip of the iceberg of the marriage scene today but a stark representation of the causes of divorce. One would imagine that after 18 years a marriage is basically fool proof of divorce given the spouses have lived together for so long. This case actually entails couples who have been together for approximately 25 years. What would be the cause of the sudden shift in affection or sudden drifting apart of the couple leading to cracks that eventually, lead to the breaking up of the marriage? 

Research and statistics 

The causes of divorce are wide-ranging and diverse. There have been different dimensions that have been established as pertaining to the causes of a sudden show of non-commitment in spouses. Some of the causes have been termed as internal while others have been regarded as external. Infidelity alone accounts for 21.6% of divorce cases today. (Scott et al , 2013). The case presented above gives a vague outlook of the factors that inadvertently force the woman to file for a divorce. What we are blind to, however, are the internal factors that might have pushed the husband to behave in the way that he did. Did the husband grow tired or bored of the marriage? Did the couple fall out of love prompting the husband to engage in such like hurtful infidelity acts? There has been numerous research done on the causes of marriage break-ups and divorce. Such studies are usually conducted among divorced couples and entail questions about what prompted the divorce. The results of these studies show marked differences in male and female response showing exactly how the different genders go into marriage, their conduct and observations in a marriage and their outlook on the marriage after the divorce. 

These studies also dwell on the decision-making process and consider the place of children in the decision. Our case study involves a multifaceted problem in marriage including infidelity, siring of children out of wedlock and irresponsibility. The scope of research, therefore, will be these three entities in addition to the internal factors that spur the external triggers of divorce and the effect of divorce on children. 

The first point of focus is infidelity. The review of the numerous studies conducted on infidelity reveal the different factors that cause infidelity, together with the gender implications that also form a substantial part of the studies. First, it is worth noting that infidelity has been the number one cause of infidelity all around the world. 90 percent of all divorces are caused by infidelity (Zare, 2011). Apart from these statistics, there are more statistics depicting the number of couples in terms of percentage that have been unfaithful during the course of their marriages. Zare (2011) notes that about 12% of men and 7% of women engage in infidelity annually in married unions. Other estimates show that over the course of marriages, 25% of men engage in infidelity while 20% of women also do the same (Russel, Baker and McNuity, 2013). 

The significance of these statistics to the case presented above is clear. The problem of divorce has grown to heights previously unimagined, and this has been exacerbated by the equally growing number of infidelity cases. What does this show, the problem of infidelity is one of the causes of divorce and the case of the woman in the case study was no different. We see how the woman tries to salvage the relationship, even seeking support from the church in a bid to get to forgive his husband. But what really is the proverbial last straw that leads one to finally throw up their arms and call it quits? This question cannot be completely answered before an attempt is made to identify the root of the infidelity problem. There was a study that was conducted among dating couples on the influence of attachment on infidelity occurrences on spouses after marriage (Russel, Baker and McNuity, 2013). Attachment here refers to the closeness of the spouses to each other and their (attachment) anxiety in the lifetime of the marriage. 

In these study, two cases were examined, the spouses with low attachment anxiety and those with high attachment anxiety. The low attachment spouse is the one that appears to be detached from the partner and unabashed by the attention (or lack thereof) from the partner. The high attachment spouse is quite the opposite. This type of spouse scrutinizes the relationship deeply and feels obliged to show the spouse more attention if it's lacking or initiates conversations on the state of the spouse or the relationship when things seem abnormal in the relationship. However, most of these cases don't usually involve conversations as a way of addressing their attitudes to the relationship. This has been a great pointer to the high number of infidelity cases being recorded today. The converse of attachment anxiety is attachment avoidance, which refers to the behavior that is averse to intimacy and excessive show of affection (Russel, Baker and McNuity, 2013). 

The study, while being slightly inconclusive gives a glimpse into what could be regarded as the prime cause of infidelity outside of monetary factors. The high attachment anxiety spouse is exceedingly worried at all times and seeks to feel loved and cared for by the partner. When there is even a slight hint of detachment, the high attachment anxious spouse, fuelled by the possibility of being unloved, seeks sexual gratification outside of marriage (Russel, Baker and McNuity, 2013). This is usually caused by the need to feel loved by someone in case the spouse feels unloved. On the other side of the coin, is the partner who shows all signs of caring less about the relationship. The high attachment avoidance partner is completely detached from the relationship and therefore, more prone to extra-marital affairs (Russel, Baker and McNuity, 2013). This study which in this case counts as an analogy one can use to speculate over the case study would identify the woman's husband as a high attachment avoidance spouse. This is shown in his lack of concern about the relationship and marriage as a whole. The fact that he sires two children with different women sheds more light into his attitude to relationships. His infidelity prompts can, therefore, be attributed directly to him riding the wife of all fault. The fact that attachment avoidance- related infidelity is mostly seen in men also emphasizes this fact. 

Another cause of infidelity that has been studied is a phenomenon known as life course variables (Amato and Previti, 2003). Studies have been conducted on the relationship between the duration of the marriage and the infidelity causes. Newly married couples that are mulling divorce have been found to have markedly different reasons for divorce when compared to couples that have been married for a longer time. In the case study presented, the couple had been together for an estimated 25 years, warranting the categorisation of this marriage as having been long term. The life course variable encompasses certain factors including age at the time of marriage and whether or not there are children involved (Amato and Previti, 2003). The underlying factors that spur these variables are mainly the change in life outlook and in some cases boredom. This coupled with the fact that marriages at younger ages tend to have a greater probability of divorce indicates that the situation in the case study could have been quite tacitly predicted. As opposed to longer duration marriages, early marriages are caused by the early realization of incompatibility or varying interest and are generally, better preferred than later divorces. This case, for instance, occurs after the conception of three children and 18 years of living together. 

Amato and Previti (2003) note that the challenges of long-duration marriages include difficulties in raising children, boredom with the relationship, and disconnect in terms of attitudes and interests. These factors spell certain risks for the long-term marriage generally and might be the much-needed clue to the abrupt dissociation of the marriage in question after 12 years together. It is believed that a single infidelity act in a long-term marriage might have a devastating impact on the marriage from that point on (Omics International). This coupled with younger age marriage just leads to the complete dismantling of the relationship. These studies shed more light on the situation at hand giving us more clues to what could have led to the husband's infidelity and sudden disinterest in the family. The couple were high sweethearts and went on to get married after dating for seven years. Making the assumption that both practiced sexual exclusivity during their dating period and their marriage, there is a strong possibility that both individuals had very little experienced in the dating world and had had fewer experiences with relationships with different people. While this might be a greater incentive for the couple to be closer to each other, it is dangerous when one person attempts to get some experience when they are well into the marriage and children have come into the picture. 

The most probable reason for infidelity might have been boredom (Tsapelas, Fisher and Aron, 2010). Which led to the attempt of the husband to try out new experiences outside of the marriage. The consequences of this 'experimentation' could have been the two kids that came into the picture. This predicament puts the husband in a tight spot where he faced with the insurmountable task of regaining the trust of a wife that he supposedly got bored of leading to his infidelity acts. What we get from his conduct after that is his growing detachment from the family (Fagan and Churchill, 2012). Perhaps the desire to leave the marriage has grown to the point that he is no longer interested in the family. Perhaps he prefers one of the women involved in his extra-marital affair. The wife sensing this despite her futile attempts to save the marriage decides to end the marriage. 

Other studies have come out in defense of infidelity especially in this age of unlimited access to different partners and digital transparency. Social media, dating sites, and the Internet, in general, have made it quite irresistible to cheat (Bielski, 2016). Some researchers reckon that it is unrealistic to expect one's spouse to be completely unattracted to other people. Well, the access to other people doesn't make it any easier to do so. Given this realization and growing acceptance of these facts, there has been a growing trend of couples deciding to rebuild their relationships from the ground up instead of filing for a divorce (Bielski, 2016). A duration spanning more than ten years especially brings about challenges of starting all over again to find new people. The woman in the case study turns to church as a remedy for her marriage that is obviously on the rocks, and this does little to salvage the situation. The growing trend has been the sorting out of issues by seeking help from marriage counselors or therapists. One case that is vaguely related to this case that involved infidelity after ten years of marriage and children yielded more desirable outcomes when the husband and the wife sort help from the expert and made a conscious decision to build their marriage all over again instead of ending it all together (Bielski,2016). This is where the ball goes back to the woman's court. In the event that a wife had incorporated her estranged husband in her church revels with a positive goal of mending the relationships perhaps they would have salvaged the marriage saving the children from the dire effects of divorce on children and individuals. 

The effects of divorce on children have been documented as far reaching (Fagan and Churchill, 2012). The have been variations of implications starting from health (Reiter, Hjorleifsson, Breidablik,and Meland, 2013) , to educational attainment (Bernardi and Radl, 2014), and even in some cases mental health. The experience of separation of parents also brings with it long-term effects of relationship outlook of the affected children and their future relationships with their spouses. 


The menace of divorce has been increasing over the years. There has also been marked a reduction in younger age marriages with growing desire for the specificity of partnership otherwise known as the quest for the perfect partner. This has been happening all in response to the high divorce rates. The case depicted in this paper provided a great template for the discussion of the root cause of the divorce that resulted and how it could have been prevented. The causes of the infidelity act that inadvertently led to the divorce can be safely linked to a wide range of factors given the state of the marriage and the duration it had lasted. From the theory of attachment, life course issues to the presence of numerous partners and the corresponding human infallibility there are various causes that could have led the husband to cheat. If the opportunity is included, then one can speculate that the wife could have cheated too if the theory of boredom after a long marriage was applied to her (Omics International). Despite all these we, at the end of the day, what matters is the resolution of the infidelity. With a better approach to the problem, the couple could have successfully tackled their differences, therefore, saving their children from the various effects that have grown to be linked to divorce (Haimi and Lerner, 2016). 


Amato, PR and Previti, D. (2003). People's Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment. The Journal of Family Issues , Vol 24, No.5, pp. 602-626 

Bernardi, F, and Radl, J. (2014). The long-term consequence of parental divorce for children's educational attainment. Demographic Research , Vol 30, Article 61, pp. 1653-1680 

Bielski, Z. (2016). The Truth about Infidelity: Why Researchers Say it's Time to Rethink Cheating . The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/the-truth-about-infidelity-why-researchers-say-its-time-to-rethink-cheating/article28717694/ 

Fagan, PF, and Churchill. (Jan 2012). The Effects of Divorce on Children. Marriage and Religion Research Institute . Retrieved from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A22.pdf 

Haimi, M, and Lerner, A. (2016). The Impact of Parental Separation and Divorce on the Health Status of Children and Ways to Improve it. Journal of Clinical and Medical Genomics , Vol 4, Issue 1, pp. 137-144 

Omics International. (n.d). Infidelity . Retrieved from http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Infidelity#cite_note-Blow.2C_A._J._2007-8 

Reiter, SF, Hjorleifsson, S, Breidablik, H and Meland, E. (2013). The impact of Divorce and Loss of Parental Contact on Health Complaints among Adolescents. Journal of Public Health , Vol 35, No.2, pp.278-285. 

Russel, MV, Baker, LR and McNuity JK. (2013). Attachment Insecurity and Infidelity in Marriage: Do studies of Dating Relationships Really Inform us about Marriage. Journal of Family Psychology , Vol 27, Issue 2, pp. 242-251. 

Scott, SB, Rhoades,GK,Stanley,SM, Allan ES and Markman, HJ. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention for Improving Relationship Education. Couple Family Psychology , Vol 2, Issue 2, pp. 131-145 

Tsapelas, I, Fisher HE and Aron, A. (2010). Infidelity: When, Where, Why . IN WR Cupach and BH Spitzberg, The Dark Side of Close Relationships II, New York: Routledge, pp 175-196 

Zare, B. (2011). Review of Studies on Infidelity. 3rd International Conference on Advanced Management Science . Vol 19, pp. 182-187 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Infidelity and Divorce: How to Cope With the Aftermath.


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