Date of Graduation

Summer 2017


Master of Science in Counseling


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Cornelius-White


interviews, qualitative, extramarital sex, marriage, marital satisfaction

Subject Categories

Community Health | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Other Psychology | Psychological Phenomena and Processes


The influence of extramarital sex (EMS) on marriage has been a topic of discussion in the research community for over 30 years. This thesis explored the influences that drive the EMS participants’ decisions, whether to abstain, continue while in the marriage, or to leave the marriage, and, those influences that affect whether they later participate in EMS or not. This study also used individual semi-structured interviews of ex-husbands who have participated in EMS in the past, as well as husbands who are participating in EMS currently. The four men interviewed were from southwest Missouri. The interviews were reviewed to identify recurring influences on the participating spouses’ decisions regarding EMS, which included employment influences, physiological elements, logistical details, and social/emotional processing. The goal of the study was to increase knowledge of factors influencing a participating husband’s choices following the initiation of EMS. A significant finding was that social/emotional processing was the leading theme in motivations and restraints of EMS. Participants could recall motivations more than restraints. A strong motivation toward EMS was when participants believed their spouse was not as invested as they were in their marriage. While participants recalled what was labeled as “more powerful” motivations and restraints prior to EMS, they shared a higher number of motivations and restraints that were highlighted through EMS. These were, generally, EMS partners meeting needs that arose from the previously mentioned motivator.


© Casey Marie Stinley

Open Access