What causes adultery?

Freelance writer Katrina Fox, in her article on same sex marriage published on Wednesday, suggests that “monogamy may not be natural to humans,” and “the proliferation of adultery websites offering extramarital dating services is one indicator that the expectation of lifelong sexual bonding to one person ‘till death do us part’ may well be unrealistic for many people.”

Well of course.  That’s one reason why Christians promote the civilizing influence of marriage, which remains the ideal, the goal, for most of us.

Unfaithfulness in marriage normally results from either boredom or fatigue.  Sometimes there is simply a lack of good role models, or poor relationship education.  Or we seek to live out the hollow and contrived norms of our screen dramas.  And there is the pressure on advertisers to squeeze out every last drop of sexual energy and titillation as they spruik the product, which affects us all.

Often what we’re searching for is what will make us whole; we seek acceptance and intimacy, and an absence of masks.

And that is often best achieved in the kind of marriage relationship that Christians have encouraged and facilitated for thousands of years.  We can all do more to respect and strengthen marriage as a public good. 

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 6 Mar 2011.

7 Replies to “What causes adultery?”

  1. How very simplistic.

    What about the pain and anguish of realising you are living an unfulfilled life? In what way does compromising your own life’s dreams and desires make you a good example for your children?

    Marriage is about obeisance to constructed ‘societal norms’ – that a ‘proper’ life is one in which marriage and children is the ultimate aim. That love, passion, connection take a back-seat to true connection and intimacy (and let’s not confuse intimacy with sex).

    Marriage is ‘civilising’? Oh heavens, tell that to battered and abused spouses and children.

    The best relationships, the healthiest relationships, should have very little to do with marriage or monogamy, but everything to do with companionship, empathy, support and intimacy.

    Things happen, people grow, people change – we truly are a cruel society if we expect people to simply live with it, deal with it, and not seek learning, enjoyment and perhaps even happiness.

    A ‘civilised’ society would encourage growth and support each other during whatever life changes and challenges we go through.

    1. Shalimar,

      It’s not a matter of marriage versus “the best, the healthiest relationships.” And of course marriage does not by itself prevent family violence. Do you deny that the practice of marriage is a public good?

      1. Not at all, but I do think it is an outdated concept. Protecting the family, protecting children – we do that every day without traditional marriage. One relationship, no matter it’s form, should be just as valued and respected as any other.

  2. I don’t know about Shalimar but I’m not sure marriage is a public good. And even if it is maybe we could come up with a better one (a public gooder, so to speak).

    1. Evan – As I get older (I’m in my 40s, a parent, de-facto … and yes I hate that expression, too!) the more I feel convinced that we place unrealistic expectations on each other to the detriment of each of us. We have made a mess of love vs monogamy – we’ve created a scenario were only one way of having a relationship is considered proper, respectable, recognised.

      When our first child was born, my ‘husband’ expressed a fear that he couldn’t possibly love another child as much as he loved this first one. I reassured him that when child number two came along, he would simply ‘grow more love’! Love is not finite. So why should we demand that people only love one partner?

      I personally feel sometimes that we have three great loves in our lives (aside from our kids) – our first big romantic love, the person with whom we create our family, and then, if we’re lucky, a third love with someone which is perhaps more real, more sympathetic, more mature, than the others. That is not to negate the others, but to suggest that as we go through our life stages, we learn, we grow, we change. I am not the same person I was at 20 (thank your God, Rod!) – I am more at ease, more at peace, kinder, more generous, less self-centred. Less fearful?

      I think we could do to be a lot kinder to each other and the way we live our lives.

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