When Gary was introduced to his new co-worker, Katy, he had no inkling their business relationship would lead to an affair. He had been “happily” married for 18 years, though he and his wife had emotionally and sexually drifted apart to some degree – not much different than most of the other couples they knew.
Katy’s consistent admiration of Gary’s work stirred feelings he hadn’t felt in ages. Her flirtatiousness seemed innocent enough and it wasn’t harming anyone. During lunch together in the company cafeteria, Gary revealed to Katy that, in the last couple of years, he had become disconnected from his wife. She listened with empathy and shared she was recovering from a painful divorce.
Later that day, when Katy asked Gary for a ride home, he had no intention of kissing her, but the sexual tension was so strong “It just happened.”
An affair is the most devastating act perpetrated upon a marriage or monogamous relationship. In one fell swoop, a lifetime of trust is shattered. Though intensely painful, the sexual infidelity is not the leading cause of the devastation. It is actually the broken promise, the secrecy, the betrayal and deception that wreaks the greatest havoc upon a couple.
Recent research on affairs gives us reason to pause and become more intentional in our marriages. In their book, Intimacy after Infidelity: How to Rebuild & Affair-Proof Your Marriage, Steven Solomon, Ph.D. and Lorie Teagno, Ph.D. share some interesting statistics. They say:
Studies done in the last 5-10 years reveal
45-50% of married women and
50-60% of married men engage in
extramarital affairs at some point in their relationships.
Half of married couples will experience infidelity in their marriage at some point. A very shocking statistic. Surely no one imagines that on their wedding day.
You may be thinking, “Why is this the case?” I believe it’s because we are not taught to stay connected, we have to actively and intentionally feed and nurture our connection over the years. There are so many demands on families today with kids and careers, we don’t make time for our marriages, and relationships insidiously drift apart.
How can you prevent infidelity? How do you “affair-proof” your marriage? Here are some tips:
Talk frankly with your partner about attractions to others.
There will be others you feel attracted to over the years. The couples who stay monogamous understand boundaries need to be drawn, especially with other’s you find attractive.
Agree upon boundaries.
Boundaries are not universal. Each couple needs to create boundaries that work for them. Share with each other what would make you uncomfortable. For example, going to a non-business lunch or dinner with someone you are attracted to; or, having a close friendship with someone you are attracted to in the workplace; or, sharing intimate details about your family life and your marriage. In addition, it’s wise not to discuss deeply personal information with a “friend at work” especially about marital issues or problems. That can easily become a slippery slope. Many affairs start in the workplace.
Have your friends become “friends of your relationship”.
Introduce each other to people at your places of work. Include your partner in your day-to-day life by sharing what happens in your daily work life. Invite colleagues out after work with their partners if you want to develop a closer friendship.
Discuss the value you place on monogamy.
Talk about the value of monogamy in your relationship. Discuss with each other whether your sexual relationship is meeting your needs. It may be difficult to have those conversations. Have them anyway. Make sure your intimate life is satisfying for you and your partner.
Share how your parents’ fidelity or infidelity affected you.
If you have a family history where your mother or father cheated, talk with your partner about how that affected you. Bob and I have talked a lot about how the infidelity of my father hurt me and deeply affected my ability to trust.
Set yourselves up to be in the relationship 24/7.
Carry your relationship with you at all times. In our work on affair recovery, we often hear that people who betray their partners compartmentalize their affair, so they don’t feel guilty.
To stay connected with each other:
- Keep pictures of each other at work.
- Tell co-workers you are happily committed.
- Touch base with each other during the workday.
- Don’t get too personal with co-workers or create an emotionally intimate bond.
Most importantly, make your emotional and sexual intimacy with your partner a priority.
Your relationship deserves the highest level of support. Relationship Experts, Bob and Lori Hollander are committed to helping individuals and couples build connection and deepen bonds in a world that often makes it difficult.
Call them at 410-363-2825 or email them today, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit Charlie Foster on Unsplash