Although monogamy and sexual exclusivity are the expressed cultural norms for the great majority of married, heterosexual couples, the occurrence of adultery and infidelity is widespread (Treas & Giesen, 2000). “In major U.S. survey of married individuals, as many as 25% of married men and 15% of women reported having had an affair at some time in their lives”(Lauman, Gagnon, Michael & Michaels, 1994). Given the extent to which infidelity occurs in the general population, it is likely that counselors of various types and affiliations will encounter couples and individuals who present with this type of problem at some time in their clinical practice (Snyder, 2005). Marriage and Family therapists are often the first to respond to the couple’s request for help following discovery or disclosure of an affair. Brown (2001) suggests that 70% of couples who request marriage counseling do so because the occurrence of an affair precipitated a crisis in their relationship.
Eva Spijkers is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Fairfield University.