How common is it for people to step outside of the comfort and security of their committed relationships and enter into a whirlwind of lies and deceit finding comfort in the arms of another? The statistics are actually discouraging and make you wonder if there is even a chance that your marriage will survive the ugly cancer of extramarital affairs……….. According to some, “everybody cheats!” It appears to be very easy for some of us to fill our emotional and physical needs with someone other than our spouses?
Even though we know it may be wrong, how easy is it to let go of these precarious relationships before we cross the line into the danger zone? Is it easy to back away once our heart carries us in a direction that we never expected it to? In a culture where we are taught to just do what “feels right to you”, it is so easy to miss the truth of infidelity……… So what is this truth about infidelity?
The truth is that affairs can happen to anybody and willpower alone is not an adequate defense. Prevention is often our biggest weapon. According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 74% of men and 68% of women said that they would have an affair if they knew they would not get caught. ( http://www.statisticbrain.com/infidelity-statistics/ ) 57% of men and 54% of women admitted to infidelity. I am sure that the statistics are actually higher due to the unlikeliness of people to actually admit to having an affair……………
When I first began my journey of working with couples, I was a little naïve. Of course I knew that affairs happened, I just never expected the scope of the problem to be so wide. I quickly realized how many people never even expected to step outside of their marriage but as life went on, emotional connections with outside people eventually led to intimate connections climaxing into infidelity. Of course there are some who like to cheat and who actually look for opportunities to break their marital commitment, but there are still vast numbers of individuals who find themselves in a situation they would have never dreamed of. They didn't look for the opportunity, it just happened!
So is there a way to affair-proof your marriage? Maybe………… or maybe not because we have no control over free-will. However I think the answer begins with the idea that we are all susceptible to making the wrong choices given the “right” set of circumstances. In essence it begins with “guarding” our hearts. Since it can
happen to anybody, the act of humbling ourselves to realize that we can all “fall” goes a long way in developing a resistance to cheating on your mate. Once we embrace this truth, we can then create a fortress around our marriages.
Here are four simple steps to begin creating your fortress:
1. Keep the lines of communication open……………Talk openly and honestly with your spouse. Secrecy often leads to disaster…… If you are struggling with feeling connected to your mate, tell them and come up with
solutions together to increase your intimacy and spark your passion for each other. There will be times when things get stale……so it’s on you to spruce things up a bit and it’s on you to communicate.
2. Take time to really study and learn your mate…………… What worked for you all years or even months ago may not work today. Seasons change and people grow. Desires change and habits change so we have to be sensitive to the evolution of our mate.
3. Know that it’s not all about you…………… The essence of a marriage is oneness which can take a lifetime to achieve. In order to adequately become one, there will be moments when you have to cater to your spouse in spite of what you really want at the time. That doesn’t make you weak, it makes you wise because the idea is to get your mate to connect. If both of you are working on the connection, oneness is inevitable. Oneness leaves less time for either of you to stray.
4. Maintain healthy boundaries……………..Know when your heart is being satisfied by another. When another man or woman starts occupying your thought life, it may be a good time to put up some boundaries. You may not be able to talk as often as you used to…….. You may have to quit having lunch together or chatting online. You may have to make the tough decision of completely letting go………….
These steps seem easy, however most of us take these steps for granted and we fail to put in the work required in maintaining a healthy and satisfying marriage. For some of us, it took work to capture the other person’s eye, so it will take even more work to keep their eyes focused on you for an eternity!