Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Bed and bored

Northern Irish couples are almost twice as likely to blame collapsing marriages on affairs as couples in the rest of the UK.

They're also twice as likely to blame boredom, though domestic violence and lack of sex are mentioned a lot less*.

Why so many affairs? Are there really that many or is it just that Northern Irish folk are more likely to know about them because it's such a tight-knit society?

People here are so closely connected through family, work and neighbourhood links that if your spouse is bedding someone else the chances are you'll find out pretty quickly through a mutual friend or workmate. Especially since Northern Irelanders are such avid gossips.

If you want to keep an affair under wraps, you'll have to do it in disguise or in a different country. And steer clear of that travel agent who just happens to be your plumber's cousin.

But what about boredom? Why do so many Northern Irish couples find each other so dull? Perhaps it's all those men whose idea of excitement is a day's fishing. Or all those women whose big thing is scouring the outlet centres for a flattering blouse.

Or maybe it's just that their minds have stopped functioning after another 10 hour working day to pay for the sky-high mortgage on their fashionable Malone apartment?

It's also interesting that although many Northern Irelanders are intensely religious, divine guidance doesn't necessarily stop hubby making out with Fiona from Accounts and upsetting the marital apple cart. Or maybe it was the missis yakking on about the benefits of the Good Book that drove him into Fiona's arms in the first place. God works in mysterious ways....

* A survey by InsideDivorce.com, reported by Relate Northern Ireland.


  1. I know of a couple where the woman came from a very staunch religious family of the presbyterian persuasion and she had an affair. It was "god's will" apparently, so that was ok. Her husband wasn't so pleased.

    Complacency and neglect will throttle any relationship.

    Maybe there is too much of it here?

  2. Ah, sure the divil made me do it!
    Seriously, I am astonished at the number of women who view 'retail therapy' as a cure for all ills and then hope the husband doesn't explode when he sees the bills. A very stressful way of living, in my book.
    Quite a few of my married friends live in separate bedrooms and don't have any kind of even casual intimacy with their partners.
    Ripe for affairs the lot of them.

  3. PS I love the titles to your blog posts, Nick!

  4. MFG - So the affair was God's will? Ha ha. I love the way the God-gazers twist all the religious principles to their own convenience. Indeed, complacency and neglect are fatal - any relationship withers if you don't nurture it.

    www - That's sad, all those couples who've given up intimacy. Yes, they're either ripe for affairs or they'll become grumpy, crotchety old gits. I'm sure plenty of physical intimacy is vital for spiritual and emotional health.

  5. Without physical intimacy, where is the motivation, the spark to stay together?

    WWW: I always feel sad when I hear of couples that live in separate bedrooms. Either you are together or you aren't. In which case, you are just two single people living together in the same house.

  6. Well, I suppose having separate bedrooms doesn't necessarily mean lack of physical intimacy. It might just be because one person doesn't want their disturbed sleep to wake the other, or because one of them persistently snores. But even so it must make physical intimacy less likely.

  7. Ah Nick, there's been a bit on this subject around the blogs I visit. I think that's what confession is for . . . sinners can behave badly during the week then repent on Sunday! Seriously tho, I worry more about the victims of infidelity. Interesting that boredom is the driver . . maybe we should introduce a new commitment/marriage vow "I promise to retain variety in the bedroom beyond the age of 40!"

    Oh incidentally, my mum often slept in a different room to my father - he SNORED!

  8. Yes, I like that vow, to retain variety in the bedroom after the age of 40. And variety generally of course. Except that the religious observers can confess on Sunday that they've been totally boring and they'll be excused! So I was right about the snoring explanation....

  9. I think your point about the close-knit community is key in people finding out about a cheating spouse, Nick.
    People cheat for a variety of reasons, but "boredom" just sounds sad somehow. Like you're dead inside or something.

  10. It is curious that folks still cheat even though they're going to be found out. It's like they want to be discovered! It's weird how it's so easy to get caught up in the busy nature of life and not take care of the romantic nature of a relationship.

  11. Medbh – Yes, it’s hard to understand how people can get bored with each other, unless they have a complete lack of curiosity and imagination and adventurousness. But I see elderly couples sometimes who look stone dead from the neck up – how do they get like that?

    Liz – There’s probably some truth in that, they actually want to be discovered. The want a little fling but at the same time they feel guilty and disloyal and they’re maybe relieved when it all comes out and they have to revitalise their existing relationship.

  12. I don't know about NI Nick, but I've always been astounded that anyone manages an affair in Ireland. Everyone knows everyone business and if you go away on a dirty weekend guess who you'll meet strolling up the street? your next door neighbours :)

  13. Yes, I guess the South is very similar to the North in that respect, G. Even if you hired some remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, you can be sure the first approaching rambler will turn out to be Declan from the corner shop.

  14. The Irish have no corner on infidelity, but it's a particularly hurtful way to treat a person one professes to love.

  15. Heart, that's just how I see it - if you genuinely love someone, how can you go behind their back and secretly get so involved with someone else?