An annual survey recently released by accountancy firm Grant Thornton has shown that infidelity is no longer the most commonly cited reason for divorces in the UK; it is now officially more likely that couples will split simply because they have 'grown apart'.
While the latter might suggest fewer people are willing to stick it out and work at what they once (presumably) thought was going to be a forever-and-ever relationship, the former suggests that either fewer people are having affairs or – more likely – fewer people are so troubled by their partner's dalliance that they actually end the marriage.
So is infidelity becoming more acceptable? Amazingly, Louisa Plumb, an associate director at the firm behind the study, believes it might be – but also that it may be the result of people flocking to and following the UK's newest 'religion'. Ah, yes, of course! It's all down to celebrity!
She was quoted in the Guardian as saying: "The movement in the reasons for divorce is interesting and certainly difficult to explain. We are seeing an increasing number of 'celebrities' putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship – with Abbey Clancy staying with Peter Crouch, and Cheryl Cole looking set to go back to Ashley.
"It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity."
Speaking for the ladies, as someone who has always considered herself the type who would remove the genitalia of a cheating partner (and knowing I'm in the good company of most of the women I know), I do find this hard to believe. Just because Cheryl's a big doe-eyed drip it doesn't mean the rest womankind wants to be, does it?! She might be lovely in every other way but being a doormat is not something most women aspire to.
However, Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union shares Plumb's opinion. He expressed concerns earlier this year that the widely reported adulterous behaviour of footballers and other celebrities is likely to be teaching young fans that infidelity is the social norm.
Whether or not people do find cheating more acceptable, they must certainly find it easier to do. Believe it or not, Facebook has been mentioned in the majority of divorce cases so far this year and it seems clear that the internet and social networking sites are making affairs easier both to start and to sustain. Hell, there are even websites dedicated to it! Just like you can buy anything else your heart desires you can now go online, search for and purchase an extramarital affair.
As for why fewer people are divorcing over it, well, that's the mystery. Infidelity is far from rare, but it is also still far from from acceptable: why else would sites like MaritalAffair and IllicitEncounters guarantee complete confidentiality?
My money is on, er, the money. My bet is that there are thousands of wronged spouses out there, knowing their partners' secrets and just stewing on them, waiting for the economic climate to pick up so they get more dollar in the divorce courts. But then again, I'm the old cynic who'd take the two-brick approach to a philandering husband – you might know better!
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