Cheating may be the secret to unlocking marital bliss.

This controversial advice comes from an academic who claims that a 'sour' view of cheating has weakened family life by encouraging couples to divorce.

British social scientist Dr. Catherine Hakim, author of the book The New Rules of Marriage: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power, argues that rather than having an unyielding and intolerant opinion on extramarital affairs, British couples be more like the French and learn to be more liberal with their lovers.

Hakim says that people should meet secret lovers for casual encounters just as frequently as they dine out in nice restaurants with their long-term partners.

Hakim, who was educated in France and is also a bestselling author, compares fidelity and long-term exclusivity in relationships to "traps" which turn people into "caged animals" and advises that married couples look to the French, which she calls "masters of seduction" and “experienced libertines” who have a "philosophical approach to adultery," and loosen their opinions about sex outside of the marriage.

The former London School of Economics social scientist who also previously wrote for the think-tank the Center for Policy Studies also provoked controversy in 2011 with a book encouraging women to exploit their "erotic capita" to get on life.

In her newest book, The New Rules of Marriage: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power, she calls adulterous affairs “parallel relationships” and “playfairs” and extramarital lovers "playmates."

Hakim claims that there "successful affairs" where both parties are happier but no one gets hurt does exist, and notes countries like France and other southern European nations with more liberal attitudes to marital betrayal also have lower divorce rates.

She also praised Japan with its Geisha culture and greater acceptance of pornography in contrast to "killjoys" in Britain and America.

“Sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal,” she writes. “The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues."

“Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognize the benefits of a revitalized sex life outside the home,” she adds.

Hakim argues against traditional morality about sex and accuses relationship counselors and therapists of trying to "pedal a secret agenda of enforced exclusive monogamy”.

The internet, where people can easily find new lovers, is changing human sexual behavior on a par with the introduction of the contraceptive pill.

Adultery is now simply the “21st century approach to marriage," she wrote.

She argues that rather than growing bitter, cheated husbands and wronged wives would be better off if they accepted infidelity and tried it out for themselves.

Hakim said that having an affair often makes people "nicer" and more appreciative of their long-term partners, and may even reduce the incidence of sexual harassment cases in the workplace.

“Affairs like sex itself get a negative press in Anglo Saxon countries where they are regarded in pejorative terms such as ‘infidelity’, ‘adultery’, ‘cheating’ and ‘dishonesty’," she writes. “It is an approach to relationships that turn marriage into a prison, by insisting that marriage entails absolute sexual fidelity."

She argues that society's puritanical views on sex in the current age will only result in soaring divorce rates and a lifetime of unhappy serial monogamy.

She recommends that people in celibate marriages alter their perception to see that their situation is something that can and should be remedied, instead of being something to put up with.

“Websites make it easy and provide mass access to finding your own mistress or lover," she wrote. “Something that used to be a luxury of kings and millionaires is now open to all.”