Cheating is an age-old offense. Across continents, people have dealt with this offense by handing out sanctions of different forms and severity. In some ancient American cultures, husbands of cheating wives can impose severe punishment such as the mutilation of body parts, in the belief that doing so would make the woman unattractive to men. For the Aztecs, the legal sanction is impaling; however, in most cases men opted for stoning to death. In ancient India, a cheating wife is allowed to be devoured by dogs in public.
Even at present, adultery or philander is criminalized in many countries. Sanctions for offenders are often harsh such as among Muslim states where adultery deserves condemnation from Allah, their supreme deity. In their holy book, the Quran, fornication warrants flogging an unmarried person 100 times in public. Married offenders are dealt with the heavier sanction of stoning to death. In many African countries like Sudan and Somalia the same punishment of stoning to death is imposed. In India, imprisonment of five years is given to a man caught having sexual relations with another man’s wife. Oddly though, the woman has no legal liability for the crime. In many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, adultery remains to be considered a crime.
Ironically, in the US and among European countries, the incidence of cheating and marital infidelity is on a steady rise. What factors causes prevalence of this act in these countries and who cheats more?
Europeans are more liberal-minded
A vast majority of European countries are lenient on alcohol, soft drugs, and other acts considered heinous in many Asian countries. Prostitution is legal. This kind of freedom makes it too easy for married people to look for casual sex. They can slip out for a few hours, obtain cheap sex from prostitutes, and come back home to his family as if nothing happened. Moreover, adultery isn’t considered a crime in Europe at all and this can result in the high prevalence of cheating spouses. In the United States, it’s a lot better with adultery defined as a legal crime in about 23 states. Penalties vary widely from a severe life sentence in Michigan with a ten-dollar fine in Maryland for class B misdemeanor in Utah, Alabama, and New York. Some of the sanctions are laughable, indeed, but the scenario is a whole lot better than its European counterparts.
Americans place higher value on marriage and dating traditions
Despite the fact that there is such a high incidence of divorce in the US, most Americans still believe in the significance of marriage. Europeans believe otherwise. For them, marriage is nothing more than a folkloric tradition. This devalued look at marriage sends a negative message to couples not to formalize their relationship and set legal obligations and bounds to their partnership. Americans tend to celebrate weddings more formally than Europeans. They are very meticulous when it comes to choosing wedding rings, bridal gowns, invitations, wedding motifs, floral arrangements, souvenirs, etc. Sometimes, they would even call in a wedding planner to see too little details of the event. On the other hand European weddings, on the average, are quite informal family gatherings. The only area where Europeans got above Americans is in the acceptance of same-sex marriage.
The Little value of marriage allows people to put little value in their commitments as well. Without formally tying the knot, couples feel they are less obliged to remain faithful to their partners.
Logically, Americans have more formal dating practices. They follow rules on what to wear, what to give as a gift, and how to act and talk. Even the way they propose and the significance they attach to it are defined by well-accepted conventions. Europeans tend to be more spontaneous and informal in their approach.
Americans are more religious than Europeans
The sanctity of marriage is placed by religion. Americans are more involved in religious practices and church going is a big tradition and part of socialization. In many European countries, attending church is mostly done by old people or on very few occasions like Christmas.
In most European countries, there is a rigid separation of church and the state and for the vast majority, people find annoying practicing religion in public. This is the exact opposite in the US where most people find offensive openly declaring their disbelief in God.
On the average, Americans are less likely to cheat on their spouse because of religious and cultural considerations. They feel bound by what people uphold as right and virtuous. But as all people are not the same, we cannot generalize that all European men and women will soon cheat on their partners. The bottom line is, it still boils down to personal decisions and preferences. Essentially, the society cannot solely be blamed for every single adulterous act committed.