Affair-Proof Your Marriage 7 ways to make sure your marriage does not fall to infidelity. BY SHARON M. RIVKIN, M.A., M.F.T.
Before your marriage gets to the edge, take these steps to affiar-proof your marriage.
Recent studies estimate that 45 percent of married women and approximately 54 percent of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their marriage. An affair is one of the most difficult challenges a couple can face, and nothing destroys a marriage faster than marital infidelity. As shocking as statistics are, you may wonder then if itís really possible to affair-proof your marriage. The answer is, "Yes, itís possible." But in order to make that happen, itís important to know what can cause an affair.
An extreme symptom of a relationship that has been in trouble for some time, affairs do not happen out-of-the-blue and rarely happen because someone is a bad person. Cheating in a marriage is caused by one single factor: "Lack." In the relationshipóa lack of love, attention, sex, recognition, respect, connection, etc., that builds up over the years. Over time, this lack can become so painful that the person in the most pain will often act out by cheating. And because communication has broken down, the cheating partner doesnít feel like they can talk to their spouse, so that makes them vulnerable to cheat.
So, how do we avoid getting to this point in our marriage? Below are seven ways to avoid the lack and a potential affair:
1. Avoid complacency: Donít ever take your relationship for granted. Relationships need to be nourished daily by a kind word, appreciation, a loving kiss, a smile. Complacency is a warning signal that you and your partner are out of touch with each other.
2. Keep the lines of communication open: Donít sweep issues under the rug. They wonít go away! Learn ways to resolve arguments so recurring arguments donít continue.
3. Pay attention to your gut: If youíre feeling something isnít quite right in your relationship, 99 percent of the time youíre correct. Find a way to approach your partner to talk about things. Keep your relationship current by checking in on a weekly basis to make sure things arenít building up.
4. Find time for each other: Donít get so busy that you forget to have a date with your partner. Make time away from the kids, chores, work, etc., to renew your loving feelings. Remember how important your partner is to you. Tell them, by making time for them.
5. Know when itís a time of stress and pay attention to your partner even more: Some common trigger times for extra stress in a relationship are having a baby, buying a house, changes in finances, empty nest syndrome and death of a family member or friend. During these stressful times, pay extra attention to the marriage. Let your spouse know youíre there and make even more time to connect with each other.
6. Understand the real issues in your relationship: Learn tools for resolving arguments. Avoid blaming, shaming and the need to always be right in an argument. Learn what youíre really fighting about so that you can resolve your issues. If youíre fighting about the wrong thing, youíll never resolve the arguments.
7. Always remember what it was that made you fall in love with your spouse: Too often we allow our disagreements to cloud our love for our partner and we forgot why we even fell in love! Keep your sense of humor. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and donít make them your enemy.
Avoid the lack and affair-proof your marriage by staying conscious of yourself and your spouse by nurturing each other and keeping the lines of communication open.
"Whatís the big deal? All I said was . . ." Sound familiar? Argument/affairs expert and therapist Sharon Rivkin helps couples fix their relationships by understanding why they fight. Sharon says, "If you donít get rid of the ghosts that haunt your arguments, youíll never stop fighting!" Read her new book, "Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy," to learn the tools of therapy to break the cycle of destructive fighting. www.sharonrivkin.com.