Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? – Proverbs 20:6
Magazines like Cosmo shout from the newsstands that infidelity is rampant. Every month there seems to be another celebrity couple breaking up due to infidelity. From a single girl’s perspective, I know I thought many times that if it was just inevitable that infidelity was going to happen, then I’d rather not get married at all!
But are those magazines giving a truthful portrayal?
It will perhaps come as no surprise that the answer is no. From reading books like Lust in Translation (about infidelity rates internationally) and For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples can Help You Succeed, the truth is that infidelity rates remain in the single digits for women and the low double digits for men (within the past year).
What may surprise you, though, is how much expectations factor into it. In Lust in Translation, one of the major points is that where cultures have come to expect (and expect) infidelity, infidelity is more likely to happen. After all, everybody’s doing it, right?? Even the wives were more likely to permit it.
In a similar vein, For Better indicated that one of the best things that a couple can do is set high expectations for each other. If people expect to be treated respectfully and actively promote that expectation, then they are more likely to receive that treatment.
It reminds me of that famous saying: whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Our expectations matter.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that people’s religious beliefs made no difference in infidelity rates. Does this surprise you? Shouldn’t Christians be less inclined to infidelity?
But Proverbs already has told us that that’s not the case. Christians aren’t more faithful just because we’re religious. We’re still human, still sinners, still given to disappointing both other people and God.
So what’s a single person to do? First, you can have more faith in marriage. Divorce rates are actually falling, particularly as other factors (like marrying later, which is important for us Modern Ruths!) play a role. Infidelity is not as rampant or common as you think. Marriage is still a good goal.
But we also need to do everything we can to guard our marriages against infidelity, without relying on solely Christian faith as insurance against infidelity. As a single person, the first step is choosing the right person with the same expectations of fidelity (starting with interactions with the opposite gender) and openly discussing them in dating so that you know you’re on the same page.
Join the conversation! What do you think about how to prevent against infidelity or what struck you from Proverbs 20?