Local News

UNC Psychologists Looking At Marital Infidelity

Posted October 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Adultery is viewed by many as the ultimate betrayal, one with lasting consequences that can affect the whole family.

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

More than half of the marriages that experience infidelity end in divorce. Ironically, counselors say there are not many treatment programs 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 a few men and women who want to give their marriages a second chance.

Often, adultery is glorified, as in the book and movieThe Bridges of Madison County. It's no wonder, then, that unfaithfulness has become an act which researchers say is played out thousands of times a day and often leads to divorce.

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

withtherapy, Gordon admits the outcome can be unpredictable 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 all participants will be kept confidential. While the program's primary goal is to reunite couples, counselors say some couples may learn they don't belong together, and they want to help thosepeople part on good terms.

Photographer:Terry Cantrell