Episode # 13 - Affair Proof Your Marriage
It is roughly 50/50
Hello, welcome to episode 13 of Better Wife Better Life. Today we are going to be talking about how to affair proof your marriage.
I first have to acknowledge that I am not the first one to come up with that term, and I am not sure who did as I read it so long ago. So, I apologize that I do not know who to give credit to. I just know that I read it somewhere and I latched on to that term.
Affair proofing your marriage, and I really want to be clear, this is more of the part where we can control whenever it comes to fidelity. I recognize that there are lots of situations where there wasn’t anything you did; it wasn’t something your partner sought after. But I wanna talk about some of the commonalities that happen with infidelity and maybe some areas that if we know enough about in advance, we can prevent these things as much as possible.
So, unfortunately, affairs are pretty equal these days between men and women. It is roughly 50/50. I think back in the day, statistics leaned towards a bit more men having affairs than women. But I think in the last few years I read a statistic that said that ever since more women have entered the workforce that infidelity has been more equal. Which I find interesting, right?
I think a lot of it just goes to that it isn’t just most of us seeking that out as much as there is opportunity and that there are vulnerabilities in relationships. It is the vulnerabilities in relationships that I want to speak to today.
It is more than just sex.
A lot of times affairs, for men, typically come from a place of respect. There is idea that men have affairs because of sex, or maybe just affairs in general are about sex and that is it. And it is really not, it is really deeper than that.
So, sometimes the affair for men can be about a sense of respect or admiration from somebody if he is not getting it from home. For us women, it can be quite a bit more about a sense of love, tenderness, affection, caring that kind of thing that we may feel that we are not getting at home. So, affairs really with the underlying stuff are about a lot more emotional and not sexual, usually.
When I think about affair proofing your relationship, I’m talking more about how we can address the underlying concerns there and give a few practical steps.
You better believe that I am going to try and do more of those kinds of things!
In terms of the underlying issues, that can be a bit more self-explanatory to what I just said. It is understanding what are more of the underlying needs of your partner that you can really make sure that you are intentional about and striving to meet.
In healthy ways, I am not talking about co-dependent stuff where we are taking ownership of our partner’s feeling and emotional wellbeing, and that kind of thing. It is, “If I know that I am married to a person with a specific love language or who feels especially connected when I do this” you better believe that I am going to try and do more of those kinds of things! I may not always be perfect at it, but I want to keep that in the front of my mind in our relationship.
Other things that might come in handy are kind of having this open dialogue or open communication about individuals you may come across that you are attracted to. This can be somewhat hard, to tell your partner up front that like, “Man we had this new colleague or work associate who started today and I found myself a little attracted to him/her and it reminded me of those times that I felt that way about you, and gosh I miss those times.” Just being able to have open conversations about that. Attraction doesn’t mean that you are going to have an affair or that you are going to cheat on your partner or your spouse. Attraction is one of those things that comes up without us expecting it.
Forgetting can fester.
One of the things that Jake and I do, and maybe this is something that you guys can consider is, trying to navigate this so that it isn’t a controlling thing. We don’t want that at all. We don’t want that desire to control each other.
But before we got married, like after we got engaged but before we were married, we sat down and had a conversation of how we want to handle exes and want to handle friends, new friends, work associates and that kind of thing, of the opposite sex. And it doesn’t have to just be the opposite sex. It can just be anyone who you might be attractive to and might distract from your connection that you have with your partner.
So, we decided that in terms of social media and reaching out to exes, that would not really be a part of our lives. Of course, if someone did reach out to us that we wouldn’t necessarily be mean about it but if that did happen we would tell each other, “Oh hey, I heard from so and so today, and I just wanted to let you know.”
There are sometimes a part of that, that keeping this seemingly innocent secret or forgetting to tell them can really fester and this can be where emotional affairs can happen. If you are emailing or texting an ex, or looking them up on social media and you are not telling your partner intentionally, those are some of the early warning signs that you are not feeling connected to your partner and that you are seeking it elsewhere. Those things can turn into something sexual overtime.
So, those are things that Jake and I do because we don't have a desire to control each other so we don’t check each other's social media accounts or like to go through our phones. If that is you and your partner mutually agreed upon, then that is totally fine. Jake and I don’t necessarily feel that we need to do that, we trust each other and thus far in our marriage we have hardly ever had to tell each other that we have heard from somebody, or that we were attracted to someone, or that we looked up someone or whatever. I think when you have that open dialogue it just happens. Over time anyways. It certainly takes practice.
Forgiveness is the process of us letting go of the bitterness that can eat away at us.
In my work with my clients, it is hard, I have had clients who were having affairs on their partners and had clients who have had partners having affairs on them. So, processing this and the complicated emotions that come from this can be really difficult in therapy.
But I think that one thing that it goes back to is the feeling of not being connected to your partner or spouse; having to go back and look at the early warning signs. But one of the things I can say to you is if you are in a marriage or relationship where there has been infidelity, I want to let you know that there are so many good resources for healing and reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are saying that it is ok or that it was right, forgiveness is the process of us letting go of the bitterness that can eat away at us. There are some really good resources out there like affairrecovery.com is a great one. And otherwise if you are in a position of being attracted to others kind of over and over and feeling disconnected from your spouse or maybe you are having an emotional or sexual affair right now, you might want to look into your own therapy and just kind of process what is going on, because I guarantee that it is not about the actual sex.
So, those are just a few things, food for thought, to think about. You can look at affairrecovery.com and we post a lot of things from Gottman articles on our social media.
Help in the meantime:
YouTube channel BWBL playlist
Gottman Institute Blog