It’s a short and painful ending to what should be a “happily ever after” story: a newlywed partner, wife or husband, cheats on his or her partner after only a few short months of marriage. Once a phenomenon that seemed to occur only with the rich and famous (and promptly plastered all over the tabloids), newlywed infidelity has become much more common in the U.S. and Europe than in decades past.
Growing up in a family steeped in tradition, Simon always knew he wanted to get married and raise a family. Just after graduating from college at the age of 23, he thought he had found the perfect partner: Julie, a fellow Catholic whom he had met at a church retreat. As far as Simon could tell, they had an ideal relationship, and after a couple of years together, the pair got married, with plans of raising a family together.
Within a few months, however, Simon discovered that his bride was unfaithful, using Craigslist to meet up with other men while he was at work or at band rehearsal. Heartbroken, Simon put an end to their young marriage, divorcing less than a year after the wedding. It’s a story that has become more common in couples of all backgrounds and one that is keeping relationship experts busy.
Newlywed Cheating Statistics
- According to a 2005 British survey, about one in seven newlyweds will cheat on a spouse within one year of tying the knot.
- Sixty percent of cheaters have been in a relationship for at least five years.
- About 20 percent of newlywed men and 15 percent of women will cheat on their spouse in the first year of marriage.
Why Newlywed Cheating Occurs
It’s easy to see that newlywed infidelity is on the rise, but the reasons are varied and a little more complicated.
A Continuation of Infidelity
In some cases, the unfaithful bride or groom wasn’t faithful, to begin with. They simply continue their activities after getting married. Many times the unfaithful partner tries to change – perhaps believing that marriage is going to “fix” them – going months or more after getting married without pursuing anyone, but eventually falling back to old habits. Other times, the husband or wife never had any intention of remaining faithful after marriage.
Why marry then? As relationship experts point out, people get married for a number of reasons, some of which may not necessarily match with their partner’s ideals. Convenience, companionship, emotional or financial security, and social or religious pressure are all factors that can push even an unfaithful boyfriend or girlfriend into a supposedly faithful marriage.
Temptation of Online Culture
The rise of the Internet has been called out as a major contributing factor to cheating, both in married and unmarried couples. Numerous opportunities present themselves in the virtual world that could drive new husbands or wives to cheat, even if they weren’t seriously considering cheating on their spouse at first:
- Anonymity: The anonymous online world can make newlywed cheating both tempting to start and difficult to detect.
- E-flirting: Ranging from cute compliments to steamy online conversations, e-flirting is also on the rise, including flirting with past lovers, and is helped along by social media outlets such as Facebook.
- The grey area: A full-blown physical affair can easily start as what the partner views as a “harmless” habit that spirals out of control. Participating in chatrooms, posting self-videos and pictures, and similar online conduct is easy to justify as “not cheating” at first but can nonetheless cause severe emotional strain in a newlywed couple.
Escape from Responsibilities as Husband or Wife
Many newlyweds, especially those who are young or inexperienced, find themselves in a near panic after the knot is tied. Marriage is, after all, a huge responsibility, and the change can be quite a shock to some.
All of a sudden, they are expected to fulfill a new role in life, as a dedicated wife or husband, and perhaps later as a mother or father. For some, marriage can suddenly seem daunting and confining, not the fairy tale that they may have thought or been told. Feeling trapped, new husbands or wives might stray early on to get a sense of that “freedom” that they feel they’ve lost.
No matter the reason, newlywed cheating is a rising trend that has relationship experts advising all couples to become more aware of. For some newlywed couples, cheating is a massive challenge they find can be overcome, but for others, it causes a rift that leads to an early divorce. Either way, the consequences of newlywed infidelity are very real.