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UNC Psychologists Looking At Marital Infidelity

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CHAPEL HILL — Adultery is viewed by many as the ultimatebetrayal, one with lasting consequences that can affect the whole family.

Researchers say 37 percent of men and 20 percent of women cheat ontheir spouses. That's why some University of North Carolina psychologistshave teamed up to study and treat couples who have experienced infidelity.

More than half of the marriages that experience infidelity endin divorce. Ironically, counselors say there are not many treatmentprograms specifically designed to help couples deal with this crisis.

Now, UNC has come up with an idea that stresses understanding, communication and making positive changes. Researchers are looking for afew men and women who want to give their marriages a second chance.

Often, adultery is glorified, as in the book and movieTheBridges of Madison County. It's no wonder, then, thatunfaithfulness has become an act which researchers say is playedout thousands of times a day and often leads to divorce.

UNC researcher Kristina Gordon believes with therapy, couples have abetter shot at recovering from an episode of infidelity. She says that's why the UNC psychology department is offering a free, 24-sessioncounseling program to help couples cope with infidelity.

withtherapy, Gordon admits the outcome can beunpredictable because people have such strong feelings about the issue.

Anyone interested in taking part in the UNC study can call the psychology school at919-962-5082. The names of allparticipants will be kept confidential.While the program's primary goal is to reunite couples, counselors saysome couples may learn they don't belong together, and they want to helpthosepeople part on good terms.

Photographer:Terry Cantrell