How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage
Steven D. Solomon, PhD
t seems that every week we learn about another politician, sports star or celebrity caught having an extramarital affair. But public figures are hardly the only ones guilty of infidelity. Surveys show that between 40% and 60% of husbands and between 30% and 50% of wives will be unfaithful at some point during their marriages.
Loneliness is the most common cause of infidelity. Almost everyone who enters into marriage does so intending to remain faithful to his/her partner, but long-term relationships are difficult. Partners often drift apart. The romance and the excitement of the initial period eventually ends. Many people do not know how to recover the closeness of a relationship once it fades, so they look outside the marriage for the fulfillment that they no longer receive at home.
The secret to a fulfilling and faithful long-term marriage is maintaining "emotional intimacy" -- openness, trust, communication and caring between partners. When spouses feel this intimate closeness, they are unlikely to cheat.
Emotional intimacy is not just one skill -- it is a combination of several different abilities...
In order to have an emotionally intimate relationship with someone else, you first must understand your own emotions. Men in particular tend to pay insufficient attention to their emotions.
What to do: Take one to two minutes a few times a day to ask yourself three questions -- What emotion(s) am I feeling right now? What specific situation is causing me to feel these emotions? What, if anything, do I need to do about this situation to take care of myself?
Example: I'm feeling anger... I'm feeling it because that guy cut me off on the highway... The best thing I can do to take care of myself is let the anger go.
Run through these questions two or three times each day for 60 days and you will become much more aware of, and in charge of, your own emotions.
All couples fight, but couples with emotionally intimate marriages fight productively. They don't just try to win arguments -- they listen to their partners and come to understand their points of view, even if they do not agree.
What to do: When you are at odds with your spouse, try an established technique called Initiator to Inquirer or I to I. One spouse serves as "initiator." This spouse raises a troubling issue and shares his feelings and opinions on the matter. The initiator presents these thoughts as his perspective on the situation, not as the only way to look at it.
Example: The wife, as the initiator, says, "I felt hurt because it seemed to me as if you intentionally were trying to hurt my feelings," rather than "You intentionally hurt my feelings."
The other spouse's role is "inquirer." He is to repeat back the substance of what the initiator has said to show that he has heard and understood. The inquirer then asks questions that aid in understanding.
The inquirer is not allowed to question the validity of the initiator's feelings. When the desire to do so arises (and it will), the inquirer should silently remind himself that "this is not about me... it is only about my partner's perspective on the situation, and it is important for me to understand this perspective." When the initiator has had her say, the partners can switch roles. Avoid distractions during I to I time, and do not try this when one or both of you are exhausted.
This will not be a comfortable process at first, particularly if lots of negative feelings exist between you and your spouse. If you practice it two or three times each week for about 20 minutes at a time, it can become a very useful process for working through the marital conflicts that could lead to unhappiness. You and your partner will get good at fighting productively, which will end up bringing you closer.
Being in love with your partner is not enough to prevent infidelity. You also must show your love and affection in the ways that your partner needs. Even a well-meaning spouse can run into trouble here if he fails to realize that the type of affection he is providing is not the type that his partner desires. Types of marital affection include...
What to do: Do not assume that your partner desires the same types of affection that you do or that you know what your partner needs because you have been together for years. Come right out and ask your partner what types of affection he/she would like you to provide more often. Get specifics. Then communicate your own needs. Do not take it personally if your partner says you have not shown enough affection. This reflects the partner's personal affection needs, not your own shortcomings.
Example: A man thinks he shows his wife plenty of affection by buying gifts, holding hands and helping out around the house. His wife feels he is never affectionate, because she wants verbal affection and he never says, "I love you."
If you fail to provide the types and amounts of affection that your partner considers appropriate, your spouse may stray. Provide the desired affection, and your spouse is less likely to seek it from others.
To tell or not to tell
My patients who have had or are having extramarital affairs often ask me if they should tell their spouses about the affair. I tell them that if the affair is ongoing and you have no intention of ending it, then you must. Infidelity is a major violation of marital trust, and the very least you owe your partner is the opportunity to deal with the violation as he sees fit, whether that means divorce, separation, couples therapy or something else.
If your infidelity has ended and you have no intention of repeating it, it might be better to leave the past in the past. Do not confess to unfaithfulness simply because it will feel good to get it off your chest. Telling your spouse could cause more pain and problems than it solves.
Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Steven D. Solomon, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist based in La Jolla, California. He has more than 20 years of experience in couples therapy. www.therelationshipinstitute.org. He is past president of the San Diego Psychological Association and coauthor of Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild & Affair-Proof Your Marriage (New Harbinger).
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
--- On Sat, 5/23/09, Natural Solutions Foundation <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Love is the Only Engine of Survival..
Elitists divided on whether to quickly sink economy and replace it with new world order, or set in motion long, agonizing depression
Monday, May 11, 2009
Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons. Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870, followed by a bit of history (or should I say "herstory"):
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.
Julia Ward Howe
Thank You Jesus Christ for Creating The Way of Your Word!