Nicola Beer, through her work as a relationship counselor, works online with couples all over the world. What she can say from her experience is that infidelity is, by far, the most common presenting issue she helps couples recover— and transform their marriages—from. There are many reasons why people cheat. She believes that focusing on the factors contributing to extramarital affairs is futile; a bleak outlook doesn’t help a couple remain connected or move forward after the fact. Connection is key, not communication. And this is supported by Stonsy and Love in their book ‘How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It’. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and below I’ve compiled a tried and tested list of four critical steps to support you with affair-proofing your marriage. If an affair is already happening in your marriage, these steps can help put an end to a cheating spouse’s need to stray
Recognising that we are all vulnerable to affairs can help the marriage. Apart from cheating that occurs in the form of a onenight stand, most cheating stems from unmet needs. What typically happens is that someone feels hurt or frustrated that their need for attention/affection/physical intimacy/engaging conversation/respect/ care isn’t being met, and as a result, they feel resentment towards their partner. Over time, distance builds and the simple act of someone outside of the marriage offeringthe person what they have been longing for in their relationship, may be all it takes for temptation to come into play.
When we feel neglected it becomes easier to justify cheating. My experience has taught me that in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, many of us are susceptible to an affair. It may sound strange, but awareness of how vulnerable we all can be is the first key to protecting your marriage.
The impact of this is massive and they will reciprocate. One person alone has the power to transform a marriage and nearly 40% of the marriages I save starts with one person. By focusing on turning these four A’s into daily actions you will soon reap the rewards.
#1 Make it a habit to greet your partner when they come home.
#2 Kiss and cuddle them every morning before you part ways and at night before you head off to sleep.
#3 Ask them how they are and really listen. Give them your whole and undivided attention: no phones, TV or other distractions.
#4 Express and show your appreciation for their unique qualities. I’m not talking about a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘you’re great’. Be specific; what is special about them? With a bit of thought, compliments can be meaningful.
#5 Admire them. We love and need to be admired by our partner; it makes us want to be around them more. If we feel criticised/not good enough/not respected, we will want to avoid them.
It’s loving actions—not talking about problems—that can save a marriage and help prevent a cheating husband or wife.
If you feel yourself getting close to someone else, the best thing you can do for your marriage is to pull away. Avoid being alone with that person, ideally only see them in group settings and decline any one-on-one invitations. You have to shield yourself from temptation.
Another strategy that works well is to bring your spouse along to meet the person you feel you’re getting close to, or invite this person over for dinner with you and your spouse. It will change how you interact with them and that is a good thing if mutual flirtation has been going on.
Some married men and women end up avoiding the person they’re experiencing feelings for. While that may seem a bit extreme, ask yourself: is your marriage and family worth protecting? Most people answer yes, especially those who have cheated. Here you need to get honest with yourself, and if you do this, your spouse won’t need to control you.
Controlling each other doesn’t work, before or after an affair. Monitoring each other’s phone, social media and whereabouts will drive them—or you— further away.
If you do find yourself fantasizing about what it might be like to be with someone else, look for what the fantasy could be telling you about your current relationship. Could it be a signal that you need more attention, affection
or intimacy? Is it highlighting that something is missing? Can it give you clues as to what you and your partner could be working on together, to be happier?
Analyze your thoughts and see what you can learn from them. They can often teach us how we wish we were with our partner. Once you know what you need, you can use this information to increase the love, passion and happiness in your own marriage. To reconnect you need to focus on your partner’s needs and they will reciprocate.
I recommend you first ask them how they view the relationship; what you could do to make them happier. If done honestly, this approach can spark relationship transformation and a new era for you both.