More newlyweds than ever before are cheating. In fact, recent studies have shown that 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women admit to cheating in the first year of marriage — and that’s just the people who own up to it. So what is it about our current culture that encourages this unfaithful behavior so early on? Experts say it’s due to many culprits, including unrealistic expectations.
It’s long been proven that our brains have chemical reactions to love. During the so-called “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, endorphins spike and we feel blissfully “in love.” Shortly after tying the knot however, a different phase sets in. That flying high feeling is replaced with a realization. You are no longer an “I,” but a “we,” requiring a whole new level of intimacy and compromise, and the power struggle is on.
Some truths about marriage
Unlike the “happily ever after” tale we see in the movies, settling down requires commitment, something many of us mistake for being synonymous with marriage itself. Anyone can get married, there are even people who reportedly do it just to have the wedding. The truth about marriage is that it’s an adjustment. Not only do you have to commit to being only with this person (physically and emotionally), but you have to compromise regularly and even make sacrifices on occasion, for the greater good of your new family, which is what a newlywed couple is, though they often forget.
Likewise, while we all dream of having the marriage where the spark never fades or falters, routine will replace romance at least some of the time. If a marriage is to be successful, both partners will have to be honest, and most importantly, communicative. This can be hard, especially since we often expect a fairytale that somehow just “works.” As a result, when faced with the realities of the new commitment, many people are finding it’s easier to stray than talk about what they’re feeling. Translation? It may sound cliché, but what most newlywed cheaters are experiencing is a fear of true intimacy.
The internet age
Finally, it’s not like cheating is new even for newlyweds, but today’s husbands and wives have a whole new set of obstacles to overcome when it comes to fidelity. There are internet sites and social networking pages geared toward married people looking to cheat, that put prospective extra-marital lovers just a click away. Worst of all, they don’t always start out as potential partners. Unhappy newlyweds may tell themselves that they’re not cheating by flirting online or secretly looking at porn. And while they may not be physically cheating, this emotional dishonesty breaks bonds and ultimately compromises trust, which is of course the key to holding a marriage together.
More than ever before, honesty is the best policy. But we must first be honest with ourselves. There are highs and lows to any situation and marriage is no different. It’s not always going to be a passionate, connected fairy tale. However, if you choose to be married, and remain truly committed, the feeling that will result from weathering and surviving the storms will be deeper than any instant high of infidelity.
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