Being Married Makes Us Happier, But We Still Cheat

marriage relationship advice

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re married to your soul mate. On a certain level we all seem to sense this is the best formula for happiness, but now a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research gives us some clinical support for what we always felt to be true.

Claire Cain Miller explored the study for the New York Times and discovered some convincing evidence in support of marriage. In her article, Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married, Ms. Miller relates that while the scientific world has always known that married people tend to be happier, there was always a causality problem.

In other words, did happy people tend to get married, or does getting married make people happier? The study found that yes indeed: marriage does make people happier than they were before getting married. It’s not just a “happy people club” consisting of people who are already happy.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of marriage, according to the study:

  • marriage is extremely helpful when people are stressed
  • the role of friendship plays a huge part in marriage success & happiness
  • marriage helps us get through mid-life crises, which become less extreme for married people
  • unfortunately, happy marriages are more common in high-income people with more education

Cheating Still Happens

While that’s all good news, marriage is never 100% bliss, and it’s hardly ever simple. Despite the married happiness that study suggests, infidelity still exists. It happens to young married couples as well as couples who’ve been together for years.

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We’re here to explore this notion- and we’ll start with what constitutes cheating. Why? For the simple reason that men and women don’t always agree!

Yes, Emotional Infidelity is Still Cheating

In a study just released by Chapman University, it’s revealed that men and women differ in their views on cheating. The study, discussed in an article entitled “Chapman University Publishes Research on Jealousy – Impact of Sexual vs. Emotional Infidelity“, differentiates between “sexual cheating” and “emotional cheating”.

As it turns out, men get more rattled by sexual cheating- when there’s sex involved, than the other type. Women, on the other hand, are more disturbed by emotional cheating. Emotional cheating is when you fall in love but you don’t have sex.

So yes, emotional infidelity is still cheating and men be warned: it really pisses off women! Likewise, women should know that men’s proclivity to jealousy (in the face of infidelity) is biological and actually threatens their masculinity, according to the Chapman article.

Even People Who Seem to Have it All, Cheat

So, we’ve got a clear sense on all sides of what constitutes cheating. But why do people cheat, even when it seems they have it all? That’s a deeper psychological issue and of course completely personal to whomever’s involved in the act. It’s always hard to understand, even in ourselves.

Heck, we’ve been mulling over famous cheating episodes for decades, in some cases. In an article titled “6 of the most sensational celebrity affairs of all time” some of the most famous cases of infidelity are held up to the light. Some famous infidelity cases from history:

  • Bradd Pitt with Angelina Jolie- will we ever understand it?
  • JFK with Marilyn Monroe
  • John Profumo with Christine Keeler- a Secretary of State for War and a teenage prostitute. Big time OOPS. Plus, she was also dating a Soviet defense attache…during the cold war!
  • Hugh Grant with Divine, a prostitute. His girlfriend at the time was the lovely Elizabeth Hurley. What gives, Hugh?
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As you can see, even the rich, famous, and powerful don’t have it all figured out.

3 Unexpected Ways Cheating Hurts You

We all know cheating is bad for your relationship. Here are a few more ways, which you probably didn’t even consider, according to the author of “Thinking About Cheating? 12 Reasons Why You Should :

  • Cheating is disrespecting your significant other (SO). The cheater’s impulsive behavior is considered more important than the SO’s feelings. The cheater makes the SO look stupid, ignorant, and foolish and that’s simply cruel.
  • The cheater is making him or herself known as someone who can’t be trusted. He or she will eventually come to lose self respect.
  • Even emotional cheating hurts- it hurts the sex in a good relationship because good sex is a result of a trusting bond…especially for women. Simply knowing a bond has been broken will cause a couple to begin a mental separation.
  • Cheating can drive someone crazy, living with the paranoid feelings that your SO could do the same to you and might be presently, if they’re hiding it as well as you are.

So…How’s Your Marriage?

Of course there are things you can do to keep your marriage as close to “cheat-free’ status as possible. To stay in touch so you don’t miss the signs of infidelity, Sarah Abell in her article “Give your relationship a check up – what’s working and what’s not?” advises asking the following questions, among others:

  • What’s your “couple’s mission”?
  • What memories are you creating together?
  • Are you sharing your emotions?
  • How’s the sex?
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How One Woman Missed the Signs of Cheating

Here’s what can happen if you don’t put that type effort into your marriage. In “6 Signs I Completely Missed When My Husband Was Cheating On Me“, a victim of infidelity lists what (in retrospect) seem like obvious signs of her husband’s cheating:

  1. new attention to appearance
  2. no more invitations to work events
  3. outbursts of anger
  4. new sex moves
  5. new bad habits and avoidance
  6. secrets with communication devices

Her point was that although the signs were obvious, she wasn’t seeing them because she had such low self esteem at the time it caused her to ignore her gut feeling. Don’t ignore your instincts when it comes to your marriage.


In the end, while marriage may make us happier and healthier, there’s still work to be done for all involved. Nobody’s immune, emotional cheating counts, cheating hurts us in ways we never knew, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be blind to the signs that something may be amiss. A marriage can survive. It’s not easy, but if couples do just a few things, they can save the marriage.


2 thoughts on “Being Married Makes Us Happier, But We Still Cheat”

  1. Thank you for sharing my article, “The 6 Cheating Signs I Missed.” And more importantly, for getting the point that my self worth was so low that I kept believing there was something wrong with me that I needed to fix, when it was actually the cover up of lies and guilt turned outward toward me as anger.
    My personal research on narcissistic personality attributes led me to conclude I was caught in that never ending, crazy-making dance.
    Today, with healthy self worth, that story couldn’t be written – thankfully.
    Sadly, there are many men and women trying to please their narcissist and earn the love they used to get.
    I also have an article on Your Tango on Self Love, a practice that will make it easier for someone to put an end to unkind treatment from anyone in their lives.
    Patty Blue Hayes
    author of , “Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce.”

    • Hi Patty,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m happy to share your article with my readers as so many of them probably experienced what you went through. I experienced the same thing too. In my case I felt that if I was a little more “attractive” he would not have cheated. For years I struggled with low self-esteem. Still to this day it rears it’s ugly head and I’m still learning to love myself just the way I am.


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