News and Resources for Fathers and Families

David Letterman’s efforts to save marriage after infidelity reflects growing national trend

David Letterman with Regis PhilbinIn a recent interview with Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, David Letterman spoke about trying to save his marriage following his public admissions of infidelity.

Letterman said he and Regina Lasko are working to save their marriage. “Right now, that’s what we’re doing, we’re putting the thing back together to see what it’s going to look like …maybe you can put it back together. And maybe it won’t be the same, but maybe it will be different, and maybe it can even be better in a different way.”

Lasko and Letterman married in 2009 after dating for more than 20 years. The couple had a son together in 2003.

National trends show couples are increasingly trying to save marriages rocked by infidelity. While research shows the rate of infidelity continuing to rise among both men and women, marriage educators report seeing more couples coming to classes for help repairing relationships after one or both partners have strayed.

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has been tracking social behaviors of Americans since 1972. A 2008 study found that in any given year, ten percent of married people (12 percent of men and 7 percent of women) commit adultery.

David C. Atkins, research associate professor at the University of Washington Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, estimates that the lifetime rate of infidelity for men over 60 is 28 percent and 15 percent for women over 60.

Seth Eisenberg, President of PAIRS Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest relationship skills training programs, said the organization is seeing more couples participating in marriage education classes after a spouse has been unfaithful. “Instead of rushing to divorce, more couples are searching for understanding and skills to rebuild trust and intimacy,” Eisenberg said. “They discover that when they stop being emotionally open and physically close to each other, relationships become highly vulnerable,” he added. “It’s becoming more common for both partners to recognize they’ve contributed to making the relationship vulnerable and looking to marriage education for help preserving their marriages.”

Dr. Frank Pittman, an Atlanta psychiatrist who specializes in family crisis and couples therapy, says he has noticed more women talking about affairs centered on “electronic” contact. In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Pittman said, “I see a changing landscape in which the emphasis is less on the sex than it is on the openness and intimacy and the revelation of secrets. The relationship evolves because you become increasingly distant from whomever you lie to, and you become increasingly close to whomever you tell the truth to.”

Last year, PAIRS Foundation surveyed participants in marriage education classes who were assessed in the highest risk category for divorce prior to their participation in nine hours of skills training. When researchers followed up with participants six months later, they found 77 percent showed significant, sustained improvement.

Letterman’s hope that his marriage can become better is quite possible, Eisenberg said. “Nearly half of the participants who began PAIRS in the highest risk category jumped to the highest level of relationship pleasure and satisfaction six months later.”

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Resources for Rebuilding and Preventing Infidelity

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