I found the April issue of Women’s Health in my mailbox today, and I squealed just a little bit. Because I love new magazines, especially fitness magazines.
“Hooray! New reading material for my cardio time at the gym,” I thought, while thumbing through the pages. My eyes grew wide when I passed over “The Rise in Newlywed Cheating.”
SAY WHAT?! There’s a story in my fitness magazine about the increasing number of recently married men who stray far away from their beds during the first year of marriage? OK, fine. It’s a total-body health magazine. Marriages affect peoples’ health. I get it.
The statistics are astounding. It is true, says the General Social Survey analyzed by the University of Washington Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, that roughly 20 percent of men confessed to cheating on their spouses in 2006. That is an increase of 15 percent from 15 years earlier. It is also true that more than ever before men and women are living together before marriage—6.4 million couples in 2007 versus fewer than 1 million in 1977—and that infidelity rates are much higher among cohabitating couples than married folks who don’t live together first.
The article lists five reasons why newlywed men cheat:
- The men have played house for years (most noticeably by living together), thus the attraction is less by the time they walk down the aisle.
- The Web makes cheating easy. Several dating sites cater to married couples looking to stray. Pornography is rampant. And innocent e-flirting can turn into full-blown affairs in no time.
- Marriage hits guys harder. “Marriage is serious business. It can seem like a drag, especially to men.”
- The sex has gotten stale.
- Marriage didn’t fix him. Individuals with commitment issues—i.e. dragging their feet to get married or have cheated before—are very likely to “feel even more trapped, and be more compelled to cheat, using another person as an intimacy blocker to keep themselves from getting to close to their spouse.”
What astounded me (more than those enlightening reasons) was the line that revealed the crux of the story: “Here are the top reasons experts say newlyweds stray, and how YOU can take action to make sure your guy doesn’t.”
It’s the woman’s responsibility to make sure her husband doesn’t stray?
Are. You. Kidding. Me?
For each cheating reason the author lists, she provides a “How to cheat-proof your love” response. FOR THE WOMAN. At no point in time does she hold any of the men in her story responsible for their actions.
In fact, their exploits appear to be celebrated:
Mark, 28, a financial analyst from Connecticut, began using online dating sites when he was single and hasn’t stopped, even though he got married in 2004. At first he just chatted online, but eventually he started arranging dates in cities he traveled to for work. He had his first fling within 16 months of his wedding and has racked up four more since then—none with anyone from his hometown. “The feeling of having e-mails from women across the country in your inbox is exciting,” he admits.
WHAT?! The advice given to women to “cheat-proof your love” when it comes to men wandering about online is: 1) Don’t check your man’s Web browser history because he may think you don’t trust him; 2) It’s important to remember that most men who use the Internet to have an affair are looking for sex, not intimacy [BECAUSE THAT MAKES IT MORE OK]; and 3) considering the Web may be an issue for your husband, go ahead and sit down “with a steamy flick” to help “circumvent the temptation.”
You’re telling me that my husband is more likely to meet women online and then see them in person because I don’t watch enough porn with him?
I feel a letter to the editor coming on.
Dear Women’s Health,
Re: “The Rise in Newlywed Cheating”
Today, you have failed me. And you have failed women.
In an age when women have been taught to stand up for themselves in life and seek out healthy relationships, you have placed the burden of maintaining those healthy relationships squarely on our shoulders. And you have given men who cheat on us Get Out of Jail Free cards.
Suggesting that we can circumvent their actions by providing them with more sex, more attention and, quite frankly, every last part of our beings is a GIANT slap in the face. Particularly coming from a magazine that prides itself on catering to women and all aspects of their lives.
At no point in time did you say cheating was a bad thing, a sad thing, an unfortunate thing or anything of the sort. You simply said that men are cheating at increasing rates and that we, as women, need to do everything we can to please our husbands so that they won’t need to look elsewhere.
No doubt your partner-in-crime, Men’s Health, is currently running the story “How to Cheat and Not Get Caught.”
Thanks for making us more suspicious and giving men an easy out.
[Note: At post time, the article was not available online.]