chapter  4
20 Pages

Communication and Marital Infidelity

WithAnita L. Vangelisti, Mandi Gerstenberger

Traditionally, relational infidelity has been defined in terms of sexuality. Researchers, theorists, and clinicians typically viewed marital affairs as including a range of sexual behaviors, but some sort of sexual behavior was seen as the defining component of these relationships. More recently, researchers have made note of the emotional or affective components of marital affairs. This chapter argues that extramarital relationships have yet another defining component: communication. Communication is central to the initiation of affairs, it affects the various relationships of individuals involved with affairs, and it influences how people deal with affairs once they have ended. In line with stereotypical sex role attitudes, men tend to report their extramarital relationships as more sexual, while women report theirs as more emotional. The researchers found that some of the cues were more diagnostic of sexual affairs, whereas others were more indicative of emotional infidelity.