Concerns about infidelity plague many couples. People might be suspicious of their spouses, worry that trouble in the marriage might tempt their partner into looking elsewhere for affection, or be susceptible to falling into an affair themselves.
Because this very painful potential exists, couples often wonder what conditions might make their partner cheat, or want to know what signs to look for – to find if their spouse is cheating already.
While every couple is different, there are definitely some common symptoms that can lead to affairs. In fact, a recent study from the University of Connecticut found a surprising factor that most people will be totally unaware of. In looking at economic factors related to infidelity, professor Christin Munsch found that financially dependent spouses have a higher probability of being in an affair.
According to the research, both men and women who are economically dependent on their spouses are more likely to cheat.
For women, the study found that those who are “totally economically dependent” have a 5.2% probability of infidelity, outweighing equal income (3.4%) and breadwinners (1.5%).
For men, the numbers are a little more worrisome. Financially dependent men showed a 15% probability of infidelity, compared to sole breadwinners (4%) and the lowest probability for men – 2.9% likelihood if they earn around 70% of the couple’s combined income.
For a little context: as of 2011, 15% of married mothers out-earned their husbands.
It’s tough to know what to think of this study’s results. It definitely doesn’t mean that, if you’re the major breadwinner, your spouse is guaranteed to cheat. It doesn’t mean that, if you’re financially dependent on your spouse, you’re guaranteed to cheat…
It does, however, raise some interesting questions about why the numbers came out as they did. Do the financially dependent members of these marriages somehow feel less valuable in the relationship? Is there an underlying sense of inferiority there? Are these people seeking approval, power, or appreciation some place else?
This could be the case for some, but again, it’s too tough to make those kinds of broad assumptions. What these figures really tell us is that the couples experiencing a disparity in their financial contributions to the household may also have other gaps in their marriage.
A difference in income isn’t enough to drive people to infidelity, but because the factors that lead to an affair build up over time, resentment over financial disparity can certainly play a role.
If nothing else, we take this information as a reminder that marriage is a complex, nuanced thing, and that even factors we might not consider (like difference in income) can play a role in the success of our relationships. With this in mind, we can take extra efforts to further “affair-proof” our marriages by voicing any concerns or resentment we might feel, and openly communicating with our spouses to get it sorted out right away.
The best way to avoid an affair is to make the connection you share as strong as possible. This comes with communication, positive (and new) experiences, and of course, spending quality time together.
If you’re focusing on building up these practices in your marriage, and creating an environment where concerns, problems, or anything else can be openly discussed, you’re setting the stage for a virtually affair-proof marriage, where issues are resolved before they spiral out of control, and where your connection to one another is so strong, you’ll be opening up about problems long before either if you is tempted to infidelity.