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More married women are cheating on their spouses than ever before and the infidelity gender gap is almost certainly closing,

Newsweek - NEW YORK, USA, July 4 /PRNewswire/ --  report Contributing Editor Lorraine Ali and Senior Editor Lisa Miller in the July 12, 2004, Newsweek cover story

It's hard to say for sure just how many married women are having sex with people who are not their husbands, because people lie to pollsters when they talk about sex, and studies vary wildly. (Men, not surprisingly, amplify their sexual experience, while women diminish it.) But couples therapists estimate that among their clientele, the number is close to 30 to 40 percent, compared with 50 percent of men.

American women today have Read More ..portunity to fool around than ever; when they do fool around, they're Read More .. likely to tell their friends about it, and those friends are more likely to lend them a sympathetic ear, report Ali and Miller. They probably use technology to facilitate their affairs, and if they get caught, they're almost as likely to wind up in a wing chair in a marriage counsellor's office as in divorce court. Finally, if they do separate from their husbands, women, especially if they're college educated, are better able to make a go of it-pay the bills, keep at least partial custody of the children, remarry if they want to -- than their philandering foremothers. The road to infidelity is paved with unmet expectations about sex, love and marriage, report Ali and Miller; women think they should be having great sex and romantic dates decades into their marriage, and at the same time, they're pragmatic enough to see how impossible that is. Couples begin to live parallel lives, instead of intersecting ones, and that's when the loneliness and resentment set in.

Marisol can't remember the last time her husband paid her a compliment. That's why the 39-year-old grandmother, who was pregnant and married at 15, looks forward to meeting with her boyfriend of five years during lunch breaks and after work. "There is so much passion between us," she says. "He tells me my skin is soft and that my hair smells good. I know it sounds stupid, but that stuff matters. It makes me feel sexy again."

Many married women are finding their boyfriends at work, reports Newsweek. Nearly 60 percent of American women work outside the home, up from about 40 percent in 1964. Women and men bring their best selves to work, leaving their bad behavior and marital resentments at home with their dirty sweatpants. At work, "we dress nicely. We think before we speak. We're poised," says Elana Katz, a therapist in private practice and a divorce mediator at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City. "And many people spend more time out in the world than with their families. I think sometimes people have the idea that [an affair] will protect the marriage."

Along with its 4 million porn sites, the Internet has exploded with sites specifically for people who want to cheat on their spouses-sites like "Married and Flirting" at Yahoo, "a chat room dedicated to those who are married but curious, bored or both!!" Online romances have a special appeal for married women. For one thing, you don't have to leave the house. "You can come home from work, be exhausted, take a shower, have wet, dripping hair, have something fast to eat and then, if you're feeling lonely, you can go on the Internet," says Rona Subotnik, a marriage and family therapist in Palm Desert, Calif.

John LaSage tells Newsweek he was shocked to come home one day and find his wife of 24 years had disappeared. He'd bought her a computer four months previously, he says, and he knew something was wrong: she'd stay up until 3 or 4 a.m., browsing online. She told him she was doing research for a romance novel she was writing, he says, and after her disappearance, he hacked into the computer to investigate. "I have transcripts. I can't tell you how excruciating it was to read the e-mails from people supposedly speaking with my wife, but she wasn't talking like my wife. That was just weird."

Two weeks later he discovered she had left the country, he says. "I wasn't the perfect husband. I would have done a lot of things differently, but I never got the chance," says LaSage, who has since founded an online support group ( for people with spouses who stray.

Also in the cover package is a guest essay by Hollywood-based personal trainer Mike Torchia, who writes that in his 30 years in the business, he has probably had affairs with more than 40 married women. "Most of them were in their 30s, married eight to 10 years, with kids, and their husbands weren't paying attention to them," he writes. "It's natural to want to have sex with your trainer. Remember that training is very hands-on. I'm touching them, motivating them, encouraging them, listening to them, relieving their stress and channelling their energy in a more positive way. Just as their husbands used to do at the beginning of their marriage." Torchia writes that he doesn't regret having affairs with married women who "just wanted to be loved." "I like to make them feel young, mischievous, alive. If they can have a taste of it again, they can realize they haven't lost it."