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Record Woman: So when will you start your affair?; If it's not happened already, you have 1826 days to go.

Byline: VICKY SPAVIN

IT seems everybody's doing it ... having an affair, that is. From princes to pop stars to telly censorship watchdogs - infidelity is definitely in.

Someone in your street or in your office will be having a secret tryst.

And statistics say that the chances are you will have one, too.

Forget the seven-year itch - relationships today are more likely to be hit by a five-year hitch.

Even if you've just settled in with your partner, the sexual time bomb is ticking at 1826 days to go.

Every year, thousands of couples say "I do", hoping that, for them, it really will be happy ever after. But, in reality, five years down the line, they could be heading for divorce.

It's a statistic most of us would love to ignore, but UK figures show an increasing number of people reaching the crunch time in their relationship between wedding anniversary number five and nine.

An investigation into sexual behaviour in Britain has found that 55 per cent of men have cheated on their partners.

The findings, to be revealed in the December issue of B magazine, have emerged from a survey of 3000 British men - more than half of whom admitted they had been unfaithful.

While 97 per cent said they would rather have pounds 1million than sex with Pamela Anderson, on a more serious note, 19 per cent said they wouldn't tell their girlfriend if they'd cheated.

Marriage guidance expert Julia Cole, a Relate counsellor and author of After An Affair, believes that women tend to look for involvement when having an affair, whereas men prefer just a one-off sexual encounter after a purely physical attraction.

She said: "Divorces shoot right up within the first five years of marriage. The stumbling block seems to be when couples start a family. Adjusting from being partners to being parents is not easy.

"People's tolerance of putting up with an unhappy situation is coming down. It used to be that couples stuck it out, but today they are more likely to admit they are unhappy and can't go on as they are."

Although stars including Meg Ryan and Amanda Holden have cheated on their spouses, Julia still believes that women are more likely to be faithful. Men are more liable ot stray.

In one survey of 1000 males, more than a third of men admitted to one affair.

Julia said: "If there are already problems in a relationship, affairs are an escape route. But affairs always hurt, even if they do bring problems right out into the open."

Comic Lenny Henry felt the wrath of a woman scorned when his brief encounter with blonde Merri Cheyne in a York hotel became public.

Although Cheyne later said she did not sleep with Lenny, she admitted she wanted to.

Friends said Lenny's 15-year marriage to Dawn French had been going through a rough patch, but Lenny's indiscretions left him battling to save the relationship.

TV presenter Vanessa Feltz's marriage also went through a "rough patch" with husband Michael Kurer, but her relationship was beyond salvation.

Surgeon Kurer announced the 15-year marriage was over after he had an affair with a young doctor. And while Vanessa was at first devastated, shedding five stones in weight, she has since found new love herself with her personal trainer.

At the time, she admitted she felt humiliated - an emotion not foreign to Princess Diana when her cheating husband hurt her in front of a nation.

"There were three people in this marriage," Diana famously said of Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was another cheating spouse to feel the wrath of a wife scorned. He and his wife of 29 years, Margaret, divorced in March 1998 after he had an affair with his secretary, Gaynor Regan. He later went on to marry the woman who started off as his mistress.

Not one to leave quietly, Margaret went on to write an intimate account of the breakdown of her marriage, A Slight And Delicate Creature.

But, of course, it's not just men who are straying.

Les Dennis, host of ITV quiz show Family Fortunes, was left heart- broken when his wife Amanda Holden spent a romantic weekend with Neil Morrissey. She moved out of the marital home in Primrose Hill into a rented flat after their tryst and Dennis quit work temporarily to win back his wife.

His determination paid off and the pair are regularly photographed celebrating their new togetherness.

Like Amanda, Meg Ryan proves that women are just as likely to carry on a secret liaison as men.

She shocked Hollywood this summer when she cheated on husband Dennis Quaid and had a runaway romance with Gladiator star Russell Crowe. At first she denied the affair, but she was spotted around London in June with the New Zealand-born actor and later admitted she had cheated.

In July, Quaid began proceedings to have their nine-year marriage dissolved. But after filming on the set of Proof Of Life ended - in which she was starring with Crowe - Meg returned to the marital home. Six days later she was back with Crowe - and filing a counter divorce suit.

TV gardener Charlie Dimmock's wholesome reputation wilted when her 13-year relationship with boyfriend John Mushet ended in recriminations.

Famously bra-less Charlie became a national favourite as she created garden makeovers with Alan Titchmarsh for the BBC1 series. But when her lover Andy Simmonds - a sound man on the show - phoned her at home, her long-term partner intercepted the call and her two lives collided.

Similarly, the bubble burst on Anthea Turner's squeaky-clean image when she lifted the lid on her controversial love life. One-time golden girl Anthea revealed all about her affair with married man-of-three Grant Bovey, now her second husband, in a sensational autobiography.

Her marriage to Peter Powell was wrecked when their affair became public in January, 1998.

To Anthea's humiliation, Bovey was back with wife Della two months later. However, by the end of the year, Bovey returned to Anthea and they wed in August.

So at least some relationships can come out of an affair.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 3, 2000
Words:1016
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