The recent Ashley Madison hack has made infidelity front-page news. And I’m sure you couldn’t help but think – did my spouse have an account? Maybe you even searched the hacked files for your spouse’s name.
Infidelity can destroy marriages. Even strong marriages. And in the wake of a cheating spouse, you are left with betrayal, anger, guilt, and insecurity.
While statistics on infidelity probably aren’t 100% accurate due to couples wanting to keep their privacy, research estimates that one-quarter to 60 percent of married couples will engage in some sort of infidelity during their marriage. These numbers might even be a bit conservative when you remember that nearly half of marriages end in divorce.
Even though you don’t plan to cheat on your spouse when you get married, there’s always the thought of what if. What if my spouse cheats on me? What if I cheat on my spouse? On some level – even if we don’t think about it on a day-to-day basis – we all know that there’s always a possibility.
So why is cheating on our minds?
There are tons of reasons out there. Cheating is prevalent everywhere we go. We talk about it more openly. It’s depicted on TV shows and movies. And with all of the technology we use on a regular basis, cheating seems easier than ever – if not inevitable. The internet and social culture we perpetuate seems to only help infidelity with the existence of e-mail, texting, chats, and the recent development of apps that can hide texts and pictures or even make them disappear.
With cheating all around us, it’s difficult to move past this fear unless you confront it from the get-go. It’s impossible to guarantee that you or your spouse won’t cheat. But it is possible to try to affair-proof your marriage and take steps towards reducing the likelihood of infidelity.
- Talk to your partner. This is probably the most important step in addressing any marital issue. If you don’t talk to your partner, you can’t voice your fears or concerns or hear their side of the issue. This kind of communication is important to all marriages. But it’s also important to just talk. Find time to have a meaningful conversation with your partner every day. Ask your partner about their day or what they’ve been thinking about recently. And then make sure you really listen to them. Turn off the TV, put your cellphone down, make eye contact with your partner and show them that you really care about what they are saying. By deepening your bond and fully investing in your marriage, it will be harder for a spouse to cheat.
- Be a part of your partner’s life. It’s easier for spouses to cheat if their partner isn’t around. That doesn’t mean you have to constantly be with your spouse, but make it a point to do things together – with friends and by yourselves. Establish a weekly date night and take turns doing something you love one week and something your spouse loves the next. If you maintain your connection and spend quality time together, your spouse won’t want to cheat.
- Be affectionate. Couples who are affectionate are more likely to stay together. Show your spouse that you love them and you care. Hug them. Kiss them. Hold their hand when you’re out in public together. A physical connection is just as important as an emotional connection. If your spouse doesn’t feel like he or she is getting that physical connection, they might seek it elsewhere. It also helps to be thoughtful. Your partner needs to know that they are valued. Surprise them and do nice things for them – even if you don’t really feel like it. Your effort will go a long way with both your partner and your marriage.
- Have regular sex. Just like affection, if you and your partner aren’t having regular sex, there’s a higher chance your partner will stray. It’s important that both you and your partner’s sexual needs are being met. Sometimes this is difficult because life tends to get in the way, especially if you have children, but that can’t always be an excuse. If you’re concerned about your sex life, take the time to talk to your partner and find a solution you’ll both be happy with.
- Avoid temptation. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. If you find yourself in a precarious situation, get out of it. Set clear boundaries with someone who flirts and shows interest. If that person ignores those boundaries, then they don’t respect your wishes or your marriage. Also, it’s easy to get caught up in telling other people about your marital woes. Maybe they listen better or understand you more. But confiding in someone else can lead to an emotional attachment, which can then subsequently lead to an affair.
- Evaluate your insecurities. Even if you adhere to all of these steps, you may still feel insecure and vulnerable when it comes to your spouse having an affair. There might be things out of your control – jobs, personality traits, people – that play a part in your marriage on a regular basis. If that’s the case, then you need to address these issues with your partner to see how you can alleviate those insecurities so you can move past them.
Marriages are hard work. But if you don’t want cheating to ruin your relationship, you have to be willing to work hard and put forth any effort necessary to keep your marriage strong and afloat. That involves talking, listening, understanding, and just simply being there for your partner. While you can’t totally affair-proof your marriage, you can take big strides to make sure it’s unlikely to happen.
If you need marriage help because you or your spouse has had an affair, you are worried about your spouse having an affair, or you just want to be proactive by making your Marriage a more conscious and intentional Relationship, consider attending a safe, yet powerful IMAGO Couples’ Workshop or seeking out Houston relationship counseling. Contact me today to set up a consultation.