It looks like there might be a genetic mutation in men that makes it easier for them to cheat, and if it is true, the nature of marriage, not to mention country music, could be changed forever.
The hormone vasopressin, known in rarefied scientific circles as "the cuddle chemical," is released in men under the direction of a particular gene.
Swedish researchers found that men who have extra copies of that gene actually produce less of the hormone, and those men are less likely to marry.
They also appear to struggle with monogamy when they are in relationships.
Meanwhile, the women in their lives report feeling less secure and less loved.
I am not making this up.
The research from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which may be experiencing an up-tick in the demand for subscriptions about now.
Apparently, the reluctance of some men to marry and remain faithful is much more complicated than "Why buy the cow when the milk is free?"
It is genetic, like male pattern baldness or brown eyes. They, like, can't help it.
"Just what we need," women everywhere muttered under their breath. A genetic predisposition to be a lying snake. Women immediately christened this gene "the rat gene" or "the cheating gene," and became active in the cause of stem cell research.
The mothers of teenage girls are advocating for cheek swabbing and DNA testing before boys are permitted to enter high school in the prom-date equivalent of "Have they had all their shots?"
They are also demanding money for research into gene therapy. They want to know, "Can these guys be fixed?"
Women voters, too, are asking for genetic testing for political candidates, wondering if we might not be saved the despair of giving our hearts to a handsome populist only to find out that he was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. (Some female political activists have begun to call it "the John Edwards gene.")
This is all great fun and a lark if we are talking about that incredibly rich father of four, Balthazar Getty, being snapped with a half-naked Sienna Miller on his boat.
But it is something else again when your child's best friend's father blows up the family by announcing that he has found his soul mate in a woman 25 years younger than his wife.
Women are looking longingly at nature for some comfort only to learn that swans and osprey are not nearly as monogamous as scientists once thought.
They are just better at hiding their cheating than Eliot Spitzer.
Instead, many animals "pair bond" and practice a kind of social monogamy wherein Dad agrees to hang around and help support and raise the kids, and Mom puts up with his philandering as part of the bargain. Not an unheard-of arrangement among humans, either.
Fidelity would not matter so much to researchers and to women if it were measured by, say, feet and inches instead of by the emotional land mine that is sex.
All of this came up in my own life recently when my son declared that the fact that my husband and I had been together for 25 years, and his fiancee's parents had been together for longer than that, meant good things for the two of them.
"What are you thinking?" I asked, exasperated. "Marriage is a lot of hard work. It isn't genetic, for heaven's sake. It's not like you can inherit it from your parents."
Now, of course, it appears that you can.