While brand disloyalty has become an accepted norm, this trend apparently does not extend to spouses. In a new USA Today/Gallup survey, just 10 percent of respondents said they’d “definitely” forgive a spouse if they discovered he or she was having a “sexual affair” with someone else. Another 23 percent said they’d “probably” forgive the spouse. Thirty-eight percent said they definitely would not forgive, and another 26 percent said they probably wouldn’t.
Would that marriage be saved? Sixty-two percent of respondents said they’d divorce a wayward spouse, while 31 percent said they wouldn’t. Comparing these numbers with those on forgiveness, we can calculate that a few of those discovered having an affair would end up neither forgiven nor divorced. (Makes your blood run cold, eh?)
People who actually have a spouse were more inclined to say they’d be lenient than those for whom these matters are hypothetical. Thirty-seven percent of married respondents, vs. 30 percent of unmarrieds, said they’d forgive a spouse’s infidelity. Likewise, 37 percent of marrieds, vs. 25 percent of unmarrieds, said they wouldn’t ditch the spouse and get a divorce.
Further extending the boundaries of human knowledge, the same poll asked respondents whether they think it’s worse for a husband to “pay to have sex with prostitutes” or “carry on a romantic extramarital affair.” The responses included an intriguing gender gap. A plurality of men thought the romantic affair would be a worse offense than paying for sex with prostitutes (40 percent vs. 32 percent, with 24 percent saying the two are equally taboo). A plurality of women said it would be worse if the husband consorted with prostitutes than if he had a romantic liaison (38 percent vs. 30 percent, with another 30 percent seeing one as bad as the other).
Whether forgiven or not, marital infidelity isn’t uncommon these days. Fifty-four percent of the poll’s respondents said they “know someone who has an unfaithful spouse.”