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Infidelity ranked highest in Gallop poll on immoral behavior

A new Gallop poll shows that many Americans views about marriage, divorce and relationships may be shifting, and recent marriage debates in Massachusetts shows that the state may be no different. According to the new poll, Americans views have shifted to be more accepting of divorce, pre-marital romantic relationships, same-sex marriage, and having children out of wedlock. On the other hand, Americans have overwhelmingly become less tolerant of one behavior in particular: infidelity.

When a spouse has an affair, it can ruin the trust in a relationship and indicate other problems in a marriage. According to the poll, most Americans have become less tolerant of infidelity while also becoming more tolerant of divorce. While past attitudes seemed to emphasize maintaining a marriage, perhaps at the cost of honesty, the new prevailing attitude appears to favor working through problems or ending a relationship instead of cheating on a spouse.

Some commentators analyze the poll results as meaning that Americans want more marriage freedom in all regards: they want to expand the right to get married and also the ability to end a marriage which simply isn't working. They argue this is a significant alteration in the way Americans view divorce, as the opposite seemed to be true only several decades ago.

Some experts think this also indicates a new approach to marriage, with many young individuals viewing marriage as something to be done when other aspects of their life have already been completed. For example, some may be putting off marriage until securing a career.

Given the pain that can be caused by a spouses infidelity, it may come as no surprise that it is ranked highest on the list of immoral behaviors. Those who have been cheated on may feel there is no way to restore the lost trust in a relationship, and may seek a divorce. Divorces involving infidelity can be contentious and oftentimes emotional proceedings, so it is important for those involved to gather as much information as possible and go into the proceedings prepared.

Source: The Atlantic, "How Marital Infidelity Became America's Last Sexual Taboo," Hugo Schwyzer, May 29, 2013

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