Can cheating on your spouse save your marriage?

Sheryl Nadler
Shine OnJune 14, 2012

Can cheating on your spouse really help save your marriage? Many experts would say no, it doesn't. But Eric Anderson, the author of The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and the Reality of Cheating would beg to disagree.

In his new book, Anderson, an American sociologist who specializes in sexuality and sport, claims men have a need for sexual variety. While they may love their wives and don't want to leave them, he says they can get sexually bored, and concludes that monogamy is unrealistic. He even goes so far to recommend men seek casual sex outside their relationships instead of walking out on their wives, and that women should be OK with this.

"Dr. Anderson, professor of sociology at the University of Winchester, interviewed 120 men and discovered that those who cheated did so because they were sexually bored, and not because they weren't in love," reports The Daily Mail. The Guardian points out those 120 men were university students, aged 18-22.

[See also: Secrets of happy couples]

But Vancouver-based couples and sex therapist David McKenzie, Ph.D, isn't buying it. He says studies have shown both males and females to be equally promiscuous and that cheating is never a good idea.

What does McKenzie mean by cheating?

"I don't mean having sex outside your relationship if it's agreed upon by both of you. I don't mean that having a polyamourous or open relationship. Cheating is deception. Cheating is telling one person one thing and then going behind their back and doing something else deceptively. That is always wrong. It breaks trust. It destroys a relationship."

He goes on to say that sex outside of a marriage does not destroy the relationship when it's consensual — as evidenced by the swinging community. It's when trust is broken that the damage occurs, as it's hard to get it back.

There are three types of cheating, according to McKenzie. The first example is someone who has a meaningless one-night fling, at, perhaps, a conference after having a few too many drinks.

[See also: What to avoid when dating]

"Those are usually very hurtful but they're usually recoverable," he says.

The second type of stepping out is the affair, which he says is the most damaging.

"It goes on for a long time, you're developing a parallel relationship," he says. "It's actually a cry for help. An affair is never, ever about the new relationship, it's always about the old relationship."

McKenzie's coined the third type of cheating pathological cheating. In this example,  "A person is getting all they want at home, there's no problem and yet they're still going out having affairs or seeking prostitutes. And that is an issue that arises, not from the primary relationship, but from deep pain in one's past."

So how does a couple work it out if one spouse has cheated? Well, for starters, the cheater must cut off communication with the person with whom they have been cheating with, they must become visibly transparent to their spouse, and then seek professional help.

Watch the video below as real people share their shocking stories of catching a cheater.

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