Marriages after infidelity: A prospective study

by Stanford, Paul S., Ph.D., THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY, 2012, 88 pages; 3551181


The purpose of this study was to examine the trajectory of marriages following reported experiences with infidelity. General Stress Theory was used to conceptualize the effect of infidelity on subsequent marital stress. Using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Marital Instability Over the Life Course, I explored the effects of infidelity on short-term and long-term consequences for individuals (depression and personal satisfaction) and their relationships (marital distress, domestic violence, marital instability, and divorce). I used t tests, logistic regression, and hierarchical regression to test my hypotheses. Examination of the results suggests that infidelity is significantly associated higher levels of short-term depression, lower levels of personal satisfaction, and higher levels of marital distress, domestic violence, and marital instability. These findings remain true for marital distress, domestic violence, and marital instability over a longer period, but not for depression or personal satisfaction. Infidelity was not significantly related to short-term divorce, but did significantly impact whether the individual reported being ever divorced. When only a respondent's spouse committed infidelity, respondents were not more likely to report feelings of depression than respondents who had committed infidelity themselves. Reports of domestic violence were not significantly affected by the wife committing infidelity compared to instances in which only the husband committed infidelity. Unexpectedly, a wife's infidelity significantly reduced the probability of subsequent divorce. Limitations, implications for practitioners, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

AdviserB. Kay Pasley
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsSocial research; Social psychology; Individual & family studies
Publication Number3551181

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