Some marriages survive the discovery or admission that a spouse has been engaged in an extramarital affair. However, many do not.
Recently-published research by the Institute for Family Studies found that people over 55 (a big part of the Baby Boomer generation) are more likely to be cheating on their spouses than younger couples. Although the rate of people who admit to straying outside their marriage has been holding steady at approximately 16 percent, a widening "generation gap" has developed since 1990. It's now 20 percent for those 55 and older (up from 10 percent) and 14 percent for those younger than 55.
What Factors Influence This "Generation Gap?"
Perhaps not surprisingly, those born between 1940 and 1959 who came of age during the sexual revolution reported the highest rate of extramarital affairs. The author of the study, entitled "America's New Generation Gap in Extramarital Sex," hypothesizes that "the propensity for extramarital sex is a product of what people experienced while growing up, not a question of how old they are."
Of course, the number of years that a couple has been together could contribute to the temptation to wander. The study found that those Baby Boomers more likely to cheat had been married for at least two or three decades.
Further, just as access to the birth control pill likely spurred more "free love" for women in the era when Boomers were young, new pharmaceuticals like Viagra can help men from that generation remain sexually active into their senior years. Interestingly, this rise in extramarital affairs among those in their 50s and older since the 1990s coincides with the increase in "gray divorce" during that period.
Will the Trend Hold as Younger Generations Age?
It remains to be seen if the trend of older, longtime couples being more prone to cheat than their younger counterparts holds true when these younger couples reach their senior years, or whether people who grew up during the AIDS/HIV epidemic rather than during the era of free love will be more likely to remain more faithful to their spouses.
If your marriage is ending because your spouse has been unfaithful, it can be tempting to get back at him or her by seeking as much money, property and child custody as you can get. However, anger, jealousy and the urge for some sort of revenge can cloud your judgment about what is smart for you and your children in the long run. Experienced family law attorneys can help you make smart decisions during this painful time.
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