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Tiger Woods In An Age Of Infidelity

As you know, infidelity stories were at an all-time high in the media this year—from former Senator John Edwards and South Carolina Governor Terry Sanford to Late Night host David Letterman and Golfer Tiger Woods. It’s enough to make many people wonder if long-term marriage is even possible! Or desirable!

Well, we’re out here working harder than ever to contribute stories about great marriages by sharing news about our research on successful marriage around the world.

We’ve devoted our lives to studying people who are successful at being husbands and wives. In fact, we just returned last month from the continent of Africa where we studied successful marriage in the Sunni Muslim tradition. We plan to visit our 7th of seven continents – Antarctica – for more research sometime next year after our new book, Building a Love that Lasts, comes out in January 2010.

Frankly, we shudder to think why some folks think it is okay to cheat on their spouses – not one time, but over and over and over and over and over and . . . . . .

Hard to believe that some people have so little respect for their own spouse that they will cheat on them repeatedly! And in the end, what does this say about their character – their honesty as a human being – their integrity? There is an old adage that says, “If you cheat on your spouse and your family, you will cheat on anyone!”

Do they ever learn the lessons about infidelity? Do they not realize that they will eventually get caught? Do they let their own arrogance delude them into thinking that cheating on their spouse is okay? And worse yet, do they think that their infidelity will be held harmless when they wake up in the morning?

We have learned many lessons over the 27 years we have been conducting our research about successful marriage, but there is one lesson that stands out more than the others – a marriage rarely recovers from infidelity – you can take that to the bank! Yet, we continue to be amazed at the number of people who think they can cheat on their spouse and then expect to be forgiven.

And worse yet, try to imagine the pain and suffering a philandering spouse can have, not only on the one they are married to, but on their children, their parents and grandparents, and their friends. Families get destroyed, relationships get squandered, and the children get caught in the middle. You see, a “cheating heart” as the song goes, “will tell on you.” Not only will others find out and be hurt by your careless actions, but you will know – you will have to live with your conscience – you will have to live within your skin knowing that you betrayed the fundamental trust of others whom you purported to love. Think about it.

Over the years, we have interviewed a lot of people who are in love. We have interviewed a lot of couples that repeated the vows, “Until Death Do Us Part.” And these are not just words! To love someone for a lifetime does not occur by accident. To be in love is not an accident. To be in love is to do the simple things day in and day out of your relationship with the one you say you love. But trust us on this – you cannot betray the one you love and expect your marriage to survive and thrive.

It pains our heart to see couples espouse the virtues of the “Desperate Housewives” who think it’s okay to cheat on the one you love, and everything will be okay. It drives an arrow through our heart to think that there are people engaged in a loving relationship who think that betrayal is an offense for which there is forgiveness. Trust us, there rarely is.

The ultimate betrayal of the one you say you love is almost always an unrecoverable act! Writers, therapists, counselors, and psychologists who suggest otherwise are not only fooling themselves, they are misleading those they purport to represent.

Don’t be fooled and don’t be foolish. Relationships that are the victim of betrayal, infidelity, and disloyalty almost always end in failure. Those who have been successfully married for years and years know this to be true. Don’t be misled by those who suggest otherwise.

Let’s hope that this “age of infidelity” will soon pass and that couples who have made the vow to “love and honor in sickness and in health until death do us part” will hold true to the meaning of this constant refrain of the successful marriages we have studied around the world. There is much to learn from a successful marriage!

And a postscript – we are keenly aware that, for whatever reason or reasons, some couples simply fall out of love over time. It happens. Sometimes, going your separate ways is a good thing, particularly if you have tried your best to work out those issues that divide you. But know this, engaging in infidelity is not the way you should deal with falling out of love. Infidelity will not fix your marriage; it will only make matters worse. Confront those challenges that are eroding the quality of your marriage. Talk it out. Read a good book about what makes marriage work. See a marriage counselor. Try your best to save your marriage. However, if all of your actions are to no avail, then go your separate ways, but do so honestly. Cheating your way out of a failing marriage spreads out the hurt to so many others and never, we repeat never, saves a failing relationship.

Simple things matter in love and marriage. Love well!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards
(Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.

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