Men Are Only as Faithful as Their Opportunities

11/07/2011 08:01 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

I cringe when I hear this old chestnut because it paints men with way too broad a brush. It demeans us and suggests that we're shallow and without souls. Unfaithful men keep making the news because they're famous and everyone likes to watch a train wreck. But that rubbernecking shouldn't ever be confused with admiration or desire.

In contrast, there are few stories about men who don't cheat on their wives and work hard on their marriages. Perhaps stories about faithful men lack the salacious pizzazz the media is so addicted to. After working with men for over twenty years, though, I know that the title of this article is dead wrong. Opportunity--or its lack--is not the determining factor in fidelity for most men.

Men are faithful to their wives because they appreciate the richness of being in loving, supportive relationships. Although I have a tight-knit group of men friends who've always been there for me and have taught me most of what I know about relationships, my wife is my absolute best friend when I need advice about something other than our marriage. When I ask her opinion about a problem I'm struggling with, she tells me what she believes might work best for me. She doesn't pause to consider whether or not her advice works for her too--and sometimes it doesn't. I do the same for her, and our willingness to act selflessly with each other is a strong foundation for trust in our marriage.

We also offer each other unconditional support--a shoulder and compassionate ear in crises, cheer-leading for one anothers hopes and dreams, and sharing disappointments. That dependability has helped build and deepen the intimacy between us.

Intimacy requires the courage to commit to a woman without fear. But when that fear comes up for me, I remember how I felt before I found a woman I could commit to. I remember how empty dating and casual sex felt over time. What I also remember is that the only married men who envied my single-guy sexual exploits were in marriages devoid of intimacy or trust. After I married, I found listening to their extramarital stories sad and boring. Their character as men suddenly seemed a mile wide and an inch deep.

Of course, marriage takes work--hard work--but every relationship in my life that I hold dear involves some amount of work. My relationship with my son takes energy at times, but I never think twice about making the effort because I adore him. My relationships with my friends sometimes falter, and when that occurs, we talk about the problem and work through it because we place the highest value on our friendship. I feel similarly about making the effort with my wife.

I don't know any man who wouldn't prefer to be in a loving, satisfying relationship, and that includes the men I know who cheat on their wives. Most married men appreciate the value of shared intimacy, and lying and cheating just don't figure into that. Being a faithful partner has absolutely nothing to do with opportunity. It's all about character, integrity, hard work--and acting like a man.