Safer Sex and Marriage
Tara M. Emmers-Sornmer
University of Arizona
Tara L. Crowell
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
As indicated in chapter One, a marked increase exists in the numbers of individuals acquiring AIDS through heterosexual contact. Although research on individuals at risk (e.g., bisexual men, gay men, IV drug users) remains warranted (and reports of increases are sometimes noted), the aforementioned research findings suggest that some persons may to be at “low-to-no risk. ” This perception may be shared by society and the sexual partners of the person. One such group considered in this chapter is individuals that are married.
Spouses often perceive little to no risk of contracting HIV due to their relational status (Crowell & Emmers-Sommer, 2001; Ellen, Vittinghoff, Bolan, Boyer, & Padian, 1998; Willing, 1994). Individuals in marital relationships typically view themselves involved in committed, higher-level relationship than those in nonmarital relationships (Knapp & Taylor, 1994). With that perceived “safety and security” generated in what many consider to be an exclusive heterosexual partnership (at the current time law does not permit homosexual marriage) comes a perceived safety and immunity from sexually transmitted diseases (Willing, 1994). Sexually transmitted diseases become something associated with those in noncommitted, nonsexually exclusive relationships that involve either casual or commercial sexual encounters. Yet, a review of various recent studies on extramarital infidelity suggests that 15% to 25% of married individuals engage in adultery (Wiederman, 1997). A paucity of research on safer sex in marriage exists; yet, for a large number of spouses,