Protect Your Marriage From Infidelity
7 ways you can strengthen your relationship
En español | We all know about the athletes, actors and politicians who cheat: The tabloids and celebrity magazines are filled with stories detailing their steamy exploits. So maybe you think that high-profile men are more likely than others to be unfaithful. While there may be a grain of truth to that, it hardly means the average guy isn't out there having affairs as well. And that goes for women, too!
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While the majority of spouses remain faithful, a significant minority does not. Depending on which study you read, as many as 33 percent of men — and 20 percent of women — cheat on a spouse at some point in their relationship.
You can deal with this information in two ways: You can decide that infidelity is inevitable and there's nothing you can do about it. But I'm a big proponent of the second approach, a prophylactic one — that is, taking measures to protect a partner (or for that matter, yourself) from straying. Here are seven tips that will make infidelity much less likely to happen.
Talk about what fidelity means to you. Make sure your partner knows that fidelity is extremely important for you and what it would do to you, and the marriage, if you had to cope with a betrayal. Your partner may not realize how important this is to you and what your reactions would be. You need to hear his feelings on the matter, too. It's much harder to cheat on someone if you have talked about fidelity from time to time and made your feelings clear.
Keep your sex life active and exciting. If a spouse feels neglected, unwanted or just tolerated, those feelings of being undesired could generate a big push toward someone else's bed. Don't think that you can allow your sex life to deteriorate without any consequences. If you think "he's too old for that sort of thing" or "she is not the kind of person who would do such a thing" you may be sadly mistaken. Your partner may not intend to seek sexual healing in another person's arms, but if you starve a person long enough they will eat anything.
Make sure your relationship is intimate. Sometimes infidelity happens out of angry or vengeful feelings. Perhaps you have been going through a rough period for a long time and both of you feel lonely and isolated. It's not uncommon for a husband or wife to seek comfort and consolation from a friend. If that friend makes you feel more appreciated, well, one thing can lead to another. It's far better to create a situation where your partner can work things out — with you. If things are tense or unhappy for a while, face the issues and work them out together. If you can't do it alone, get a counselor to help restore your relationship.
Keep things romantic. Don't let your partner fantasize about a moonlit night on a tropical island with someone else because they are sure you'd never be willing to do such a thing. If you can't afford the stars on the beach, create a candlelight dinner at home, turn the lights down low and the music up high. Dress up occasionally and wear something flattering. Wear something you know your partner likes to see you in. Say "I love you", "I am so lucky I married you" and other mushy sentiments like that. They really never go out of style.
Spend time together. Sometimes long-term couples get very efficient about getting their day-to-day tasks done — and they barely see or talk to each other. If you are spending a lot of time having fun with your friends instead of your spouse, it can create big spaces that someone else could step into. Needing too much private time puts the whole idea of being a couple into question. I can't say arbitrarily what is "too little" time together, but if you start to feel unconnected from your spouse, change things, as quickly as possible.
Steer clear of temptation. There's no doubt about it: You're going to run into someone — a co-worker, a neighbor, a hairstylist, an old flame from high school — who you find unbelievably sexy and attractive. Fair enough. But if there's any risk of things getting too hot to handle, simply keep yourself out of the path of temptation. Avoid that person — and any situation that might put you in a compromising position. I advise accompanying your spouse to any kind of class reunion, which can be a major danger. I personally know of three people who left their spouse for a childhood sweetheart after reconnecting at high school reunions!
Pay attention to appearance. You don't have to be thin or look like a 30-year-old. But no matter how long you've been married, you need to watch your hygiene, avoid bad breath, comb your hair and brush your teeth and keep yourself looking as fit and healthy as possible. It even can be fun to dress up in fancy clothing every once in awhile — then to go out for a romantic evening. Attention to such matters keeps you attractive and alluring to your spouse — and helps keeps his or her eyes off someone else.
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