IT'S hardly a secret that in the world of TV soap operas and Hollywood movies make-believe marital infidelity is nearly as common as make-believe murder and mayhem.
Alas, real-life lapses in good judgment occur too. Charges concerning both the Prince and Princess of Wales have helped write a sad chapter of a storybook royal marriage. A recent book and TV special about President Franklin Roosevelt paints a complex picture of his relationship with Eleanor - a productive and supportive partnership in many ways, but frankly including infidelity as well. Other examples are disturbingly easily to cite.
Which leaves many of us wondering how much all this seemingly pervasive moral turpitude is affecting ordinary Americans. The hopeful answer from a new survey is: not much.
A careful study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago released Oct. 7 found that 85 percent of wives and 75 percent of husbands have been completely faithful to their spouses over the course of their marriages.
This finding of overwhelming marital fidelity is considered more authoritative than earlier surveys, such as magazine polls, which depicted America as well on the way to becoming a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.
Humorists and jaded sophisticates have used the occasion to poke fun at ``boring'' faithful couples - even though the survey showed that married couples have more satisfying sexual relationships than unmarried couples.
Most news organizations found other aspects of the survey more interesting: For example, fewer people identified themselves as gay or lesbian than in earlier polls. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study also showed that in marriage like attracts like: 82 percent of couples have a similar amount of formal education, and 72 percent are of the same religion.
The Founder of this newspaper and of the Christian Science Church, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a century ago that the Biblical command `` `Thou shalt not commit adultery,' is no less imperative than the one, `Thou shalt not kill.'''
In an age awash in sensualism, it's gratifying to learn that most Americans share her sense of the protection this timeless Biblical guidance affords to both individuals and society.