How to “affair-proof” your relationship
First, a disclaimer: there’s no surefire way to guarantee that your relationship will never be impacted by an affair. On the other hand, in my years of practice helping couples deal with the strains of infidelity, I have observed several measures that will certainly limit the probability of one, while simultaneously maximizing the possibility of an enduring loving connection.
Given our hectic lives, it’s all too easy to take our partner for granted. But it is vitally important to tell your partner regularly how important they are in your life. Specify how they contribute to your happiness and well-being. “I so appreciate how you help out with the chores of daily life,” for example. “It means so much to me how you support my career and independence, and that I can talk to you about anything that bothers me. ”
In addition to expressing your gratitude for what they do for you, it is equally meaningful to express your admiration and appreciation for the special qualities that are unique to him or her, and not necessarily related to you. This could be their sense of humor, for instance, or their honesty, steadfastness, or graciousness. When someone is recognized for their unique qualities, it inspires love and respect, opening both partners’ hearts and establishing a mutual bond of intimacy and devotion.
While expressing these thoughts and feelings can go a long way in preventing the conditions for an affair, the most crucial factor by far involves the way you as a couple manage your conflicts and resentments. If something is seriously bothering you about your partner, rather than place blame, it’s important to find a non-accusatory way to tell him or her what is on your mind. When you fail to express your resentment, it grows and festers in your mind. This exaggeration of your partner’s flaws can lead to troublesome disconnection, as you unconsciously emanate your irritation and your partner responds accordingly.
So how do you confront your partner without blaming them and eliciting unnecessary defensiveness? You have to take responsibility for your own emotions, pointing out the offense without blaming your partner for what you are feeling. At this point, it’s possible to add a request for change. Consider the difference between the following two statements: “You’re so disrespectful! Why can’t you just pick up the phone and give me a call when you’re running late?” Or, “If you say you’re going to be home at a certain time and don’t let me know when you’re running late, I feel disregarded and I get worried. Next time, please give me a call.”
If you’re the offending partner, you must also learn to listen non-defensively. Of course, this is much easier if your partner conveys his or her grievance in the above manner. But even if he or she expresses his or her anger unskillfully, it is still up to you to hear it openly to the best of your ability. You don’t have to necessarily agree with what your partner might be expressing, but it essential to recognize that their concern is valid for them and so are their feelings. Immediately arguing with them only produces conflict. Once they are heard and understood, you can then present your differing perception or point of view. If an apology is necessary, make it. If the offense is more serious, a genuine expression of remorse will be required. If you are willing to grant the request for change in behavior, make it and keep it, or offer your compromise. If you believe the request is valid, but your own resistance is preventing you from changing, get the therapeutic help to resolve or minimize your difficulties so that you can make the necessary changes. Committing to change and following through is an act of respect and caring. Expressing your genuine concerns without blaming and hearing your partner openly, validating them, and empathizing with their feelings creates an openness in communicating that strengthen the bonds of caring and closeness.
An additional effective strategy for deepening a couple’s connection is to share one another’s deepest concerns, aspirations, and dreams, expressing how and why they are so meaningful and important. But the most powerful safeguard of all is sharing not just your hopes and ambitions, but your insecurities and vulnerabilities. Nothing is more emotionally risky for most of us then to expose our imperfect or uncertain selves. But when you are able to do so with the knowledge that you will be heard and understood without derision or contempt, the result is an abiding love based on trust and an ever-deepening foundation of intimacy.
Couples who maintain this profound connection, wherein they are totally transparent and open to each other, are capable of creating an extremely vibrant and passionate erotic connection. The power of this unguarded openness creates an ecstatic connection and deep sense of for fulfillment, nourished by trust and tenderness, of which lust is only a flashy imitation All of this leads to a powerful core of love and passion that doesn’t need the excitement of an affair to keep it alive and vibrant. It takes an earnest ongoing commitment to share so openly and honestly, but the rewards are absolutely worth the effort.