5 tips to AFFAIRPROOF your marriage
Strengthening your relationship starts with having the right approach
While no one sets out to cheat, sadly, it seems to happen all too often. “We estimate that around 40 to 50 per cent of people will end up cheating in a long-term relationship,” says relationship expert Dr Gabrielle Morrissey. This is despite most couples having the very best of intentions to remain faithful to each other.
“Being proactive in dealing with common relationship hurdles that cause people to stray is healthy because not only can it affair-proof your marriage, it can actually strengthen your union.”
Talk It Out
We have all been there: You come home from work to find a sink full of dishes that were not there when you left, or discover a pile of dirty clothes right next to the washing basket.
While these day-to-day annoyances might seem too petty to discuss, it is important that you sort them out sooner rather than later.
“Just like a physical ailment, if you ignore the little things, they can develop into something bigger and more serious," says Dr Morrissey. "The underlying issue – which could be that you feel unappreciated – will not just resolve itself.”
Deciding what both you and your partner qualify as cheating is as important as choosing where you want to live or which religion you are inclined to practise.
“You need to know what each other’s deal-breakers are,” says Dr Morrissey.
While this is something that should have been discussed at the start of your relationship, it is never too late to bring it up. In fact, modern life makes it even more vital to be frank about this most important rule of your relationship.
“How you define cheating needs to be explicit and not assumed – and that is largely thanks to the internet, where people can have a virtual relationship without their partner ever suspecting a thing,” she says.
For example, what you think is an entirely harmless email conversation could be perceived as dangerously flirty by your partner.
Now that you know what is the deal-breaker for your partner, be aware of this in your daily life.
“The rule of thumb is, everything you do when your spouse is not around should be something you would be comfortable doing if they were present,” Dr Morrissey advises.
“For example, if you are chatting with your co-worker at a pub, or dancing with another guy at a salsa class, consider whether your partner would be comfortable with your behaviour if they were a fly on the wall.
“If the answer is no, then you need to remove yourself from that situation.”
Prioritise Each Other
At the beginning of a relationship, we long to spend every minute together and simply cannot get enough of each other. But as the years roll on and work, kids (then grandkids) appear on the scene and spending time with your partner can tend to take a backseat.
“Many couples who end up seeking help for their struggling marriage reveal that they
actually spend very little time with one another,” Dr Morrissey says. “Talking about anything meaningful or doing anything fun is so far down their priority list that their partner is often left feeling neglected, which is why they might try to find attention elsewhere.”
Acknowledging that there is a lack of time spent together is an important first step. Next, you need to reprioritise things in your life.
“Remember those early days of courtship. Try making each other your primary source of entertainment, support and fun again, as you once did,” Dr Morrissey suggests.
Fall In Love Again
After years of being together, your marriage can begin to feel more based on companionship that the big heady rushes of love.
“One of the most common reasons people say they cheat on their marriage is because their needs are not being fulfilled in an intimate sense,” Dr Morrissey says.
“It might be daunting to try to reignite the spark after a long lull, but in my experience, intimacy builds again very quickly among couples who have been together for a long time.”
That does not mean suddenly jumping into bed with your partner several times a week.
“For couples who have not had sex for a long time, it helps to remove the pressure to talk about why you have not had regular intercourse by focusing on rekindling your desire for one another instead,” says Dr Morrissey.
Go for a walk, hold hands, try a new hobby together, and slowly rebuild that closeness that makes you prefer each other’s company over anyone else’s.