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Are British Couples Accepting Infidelity Or Embracing Non-Monogamy?

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Monogamy keeps bubbling up in the press as more and more people, it seems, question sexual exclusivity in their partnerships and marriages. But a study out of the United Kingdom shows that the number one reason divorce is no longer extramarital affairs. Feel free to interpret that as the Brits being more faithful to one another, but myself and the divorce lawyers of the United Kingdom find that motivations for divorce are indeed shifting.

The Guardian reports:

Extramarital affairs are no longer the leading reason why couples decide to split up, according to accountancy firm Grant Thornton’s latest annual study of divorce in the UK.

Instead, “growing apart” is now the most popular motivation to file for divorce. Divorce lawyers interviewed by the firm said in 27% of cases falling out of love had led to a marriage breakdown.

Extramarital affairs, which had been the prime reason since the survey began in 2003, fell to second place, with 25% citing this. Unreasonable behaviour was given as the reason for 17% of marriage breakdowns and 10% of couples cited a mid-life crisis.

Those at the aforementioned firm are quoted as saying that a growing number of British celebrities are tolerating infidelity in their very public relationships which is influencing how Brits conduct their own  marriages. But in America, we are seeing increasing testimonies to the open relationship or open marriage in which sexual exclusivity and love for one’s life partner are not necessarily the same.

Earlier this summer, Dan Savage was interviewed on the subject after the rash of extramarital affairs by American politicians, specifically Anthony Weiner. The Times quoted him as saying:

“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”

Savage often advocates in the press and on his podcasts that a little more flexibility around monogamy could — for some couples, not all — save marriages and lead to less divorce, less broken homes, and fewer fractured families. Perhaps the United Kingdom is beginning to accept negotiated nonmonogamy in addition to infidelity.