5 Steps To Affair-Proof Your Marriage

Disclaimer: This blog is written by a licensed marriage and family therapist but this method is not a clinically tested method for preventing cheating in a relationship. These are the personal thoughts of the writer. This method will work for some individuals that are in healthy and securely attached relationships. But for some people, these techniques could cause more harm than good.

….

When you read the words:

Cheating

Adultery

Infidelity

Affair

Adulteress

Adulterer

CHEATER

I bet with non-statistical but 99% certainty, these words bring some kind of emotion to the forefront of your mind.

Let me list them again to hone in on my point and to give you a moment to really pay attention to what you feel when reading them.

Cheating

Adultery

Infidelity

Affair

Adulteress

Adulterer

CHEATER

Now take a moment to notice your body. Your mind. Your thoughts.

What comes to your mind as you read over these words?

Do they make you feel secure?

Do they make you feel guilty?

Do they remind you of the insecure relationship you were once a part of?

A time in your past you’re ashamed of?

An ex that still makes you twinge with pain?

Do they make you wonder, “Has she heard about me?”

Or serve as a reminder that your current relationship is rocky?

Or do they remind you of the reason you avoid relationships in general?

Well let me say, the reason I ask is not to make you feel uncomfortable.

Or sad. Or worried.

The reason I ask is to highlight why I am passionate about helping couples find ways to keep their relationships strong, passionate and committed to ONE ANOTHER.

If you’re interested in hearing more about that, keep reading.

My tips or approach for reducing the opportunity of infidelity in your relationship are somewhat radical so please know that my approach does not work for every couple or relationship. But it does work for some that are securely attached, highly honest and feel strong trust in their relationship

Five Ideas to Help Affair-Proof Your Marriage

Step 1: Admit that both you and your partner will find members of the opposite sex attractive. 

If you are a female and I lined up a lineup of 100 men in front of you and had you walk by each of them, the fact is, you would likely find some of the men more attractive to you than others.If I said, pick the 5 men that are the most attractive in this line up, you would be able to find some that fit this category. (Reverse this if you’re a male.)

And the reality of it is, if I asked 100 different women, this same question, they would likely pick 5 different men than the previously person asked, which means every person is uniquely attracted to different people.

For instance, have you ever muttered the phrase, “I have no idea why in the world she is dating him/married him?” left your mouth?

Me neither. ;) But I know for some people, they have certainly wondered why people they know are dating someone.

Maybe you’ve even muttered that phrase about yourself, “What in the world was I thinking when I dated him? He’s disgusting.”

And all this goes to prove is that attraction is mysterious. And can sometimes defy logic.

Here’s another important point.

Does admitting that you think a man or woman is attractive mean you are a cheater?

No. (And in my opinion, just acknowledging that might even help you from ending up being a cheater.)

However, through my work with couples, I have found for some people, this thought does make them feel like a cheater. Because in their mind, they feel that when you find your life partner, any attraction to others should stop. And if it doesn’t stop, you are doing something wrong.

I disagree. Instead, what this says to me is two simple things.

  1. It means you are sexual being (designed by God to be this way) that is human.
  2. You have a unique set of physical and personality features that are more or less attractive to you.

And that’s as simple as that.

Step 2: Never breed a relationship or friendship with someone that meets the “I find them attractive”  category for you.

Here’s the deal. I believe that there is absolutely nothing a person can do to stop the awareness that some people in life are more or less attractive to you than others.

But it is absolutely possible and your responsibility once you’re in a relationship to never do anything to breed a relationship with a person who meets this category.

But they’re so nice.

I just want to be friends.

They really understand me.

I love my wife/husband. This relationship is just platonic.

Blah, blah, blah.

These are the types of things that are not healthy when you are speaking of someone that you do find attractive. Not healthy at all.

According to marital expert and researcher, Dr. John Gottman, the marital friendship is the basis for healthy relationships.

Simply said, the basis of a good and strong marriage is to best friends with your partner.

Even simpler said, you only need one best friend of the opposite sex that is attractive to you. ;)

A recipe for an affair is feeling a distance with your spouse, a lack of connection both physically or emotionally and a budding and flourishing friendship with someone of the opposite sex.

That last point was incredibly important. So I’m going to write it again.

A recipe for an affair is feeling a distance with your spouse, a lack of connection both physically or emotionally and a budding and flourishing friendship with someone of the opposite sex.

If this is happening currently for anyone reading this blog, my best advice to you is this.

STOP.

DROP.

AND ROLL OUT OF THERE.

Their friendship is not worth your marriage. Take the focus you are putting on your relationship with a friend and focus it into your marriage.

The grass is green where you water it.  Right? (As so eloquently sung by “Big Sean and the Biebs” in as Long as You Love Me.)

If you find a strong need to water grass in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, ask yourself this.

For what purpose? Name a good purpose for doing this.

Because I can’t think of ONE.

I’m not saying you can’t have friends of the opposite sex. But I think they can get tricky quickly without really strong boundaries if there is an attraction there.

And here’s something even trickier about it. Sometimes attraction with an unlikely person can develop because a connection is so strong. Another reason why watering your own relationship is important.

Step 3: Be Honest When Something Seems to be Happening

Now here’s where many people jump ship with my method.

This piece of advice was always my most radical piece when I was working with couples. Many people said they’d rather be in the dark about their partners’ feelings toward someone else.

But for me, I am a fan of honesty. I think secrecy breeds lies. And lies can breed broken relationships.

Therefore, I think the best way to stop something from going anywhere is to be honest with your partner. From the little things to the big things. Which takes some very differentiated people that are secure in themselves and their relationship.

Not easy. But possible.

“Hey, honey. I just wanted you to know I now sit next to a young woman in the office. Other men say she’s hot.” ;)

“Hey, babe. The instructor in my workout class hit on me yesterday. He’s a total idiot. But I wanted you to know.”

Some would say that by sharing things like this, they believe it creates worry. And if that’s the way it feels to you, this method isn’t for you.

But for me, I feel the exact opposite. Because I believe the best part about sharing life with someone is that they are in on your entire world. The good. The bad. The ugly. And vice versa.

And they. More than anyone should know your secrets. Your fears. Your thoughts. Your struggles.

That is what marriage is. Right?

For better or for worse?

And they more than anyone deserve to know if you are struggling with having feelings toward someone else that you are regularly having interactions with. (*I do not feel it necessary or beneficial to tell them every random person you find attractive but have no regular interactions with.)

How would a hard conversation like that go? Well I think the safest place for it to happen is likely in counseling. But if not, here’s an idea.

“Honey, I want to talk with you about Mike, the guy that started at the office who took a trip with me last week.

I’m feeling somewhat uncomfortable around him. Because I do feel like we have a strong connection and I don’t like it.”

Wow! You say.

That’s the worst piece of advice someone could give me! Why would this marriage and family therapist be encouraging me to hurt my spouse by being so honest?

Well. Because I would rather someone be hurt before anything has happened as a way to keep something from happening than to be hurt because their marriage is over.  

If you are secretly feeling uncomfortable with another budding relationship, it’s hard to know how far is safe without something inappropriate happening. The average person hasn’t had an affair so they don’t know what it feels like until it happens.

Therefore, I believe this raw and brutal honesty takes the mystery out of the aforementioned connection with someone else. Affairs are so often alluring because of their secrecy and mystery and escape from reality.

Taking the person you’re potentially cheating with and putting them smack dab in the middle of your family life puts that exotic relationship into a harsh reality check. And knocks them down from a pedestal to everyday life.

Which is good. Moreover, for most, the physicality of an affair isn’t what hurts a partner. It’s the thought that their partner actually cares about the other person. Shares a special secret world with that person that they have intentionally chosen to keep secret from their spouse.

That is the part that can permanently destroy trust. That is the part that can violently rip someone’s heart open.

Which is why I believe honesty eliminates that. It proactively causes awareness and hurt versus reactively and destructively causing it.

This approach will not work in jealous or violent relationships. It does take two securely attached people that have strong trust and love in one another.

Step 4: Make a love contract.

When you get married, verbally or physically write out how you plan to deal with situations like I mentioned above. Are you people that prefer honesty? Are you people that prefer to keep things in the dark?

If you know the way you want to handle something difficult and you agree to certain things before anything difficult might arise, you already have a plan to fall back on.

A contract would have answers to the question, “If I ever were to have strong feelings for someone else, how would you want me to approach that?”

And once you agree to the way you like to handle things, then agree to how you will create a safe place for your partner to be honest with you without discouraging it.

What I mean by this is, if you truly want honesty from your partner, you need to consider the way in which you respond to them when they are trying to be honest with you.

If you throw things and cuss when they are trying to be honest and open, it may discourage them from ever wanting to be open again. ;)

You have a lot of power in how approachable and safe you are to your spouse. Consider that when hearing things that are hard.

You may not enjoy hearing hard things. But you probably would rather have a relationship that doesn’t just focus on the fluff but also on the meat. Am I right?

Step 5: Water the Heck Out of Your Marriage

In my next blog, I plan to focus on ways to strengthen your marriage. But for now, I will just say this. There’s good news if every other part of this blog has seemed ridiculous and impossible to you.

If you water your marriage and put it first even before your kids (which is shown to be better for children too), you will likely never have cheating in your relationship.

Spouses that are focused on and supported and encouraged and cherished by their mates, see little need to look anywhere but home.

So take your metaphorical water jug, and go pour it on your spouse. Just not while they’re sleeping. (Or maybe while they’re sleeping, if you know what I mean. ;)

If you want to keep up with this blog regularly, click HERE to ‘LIKE” Sanctification and Spitup on Facebook or hit Follow in the right-hand panel to receive email updates.

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Quinn is a wife, blogger and boymom with a degree in marriage and family therapy. 99% of her time is spent keeping her four boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog called Sanctification and Spitup also found on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to instantly feel better about the hecticness of your life, give her a follow to see it could be much worse. (She only wishes she was kidding.)

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