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12 Steps to Creating an
by Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.
There’s no way to completely protect yourself from an unhappy marriage resulting from
an affair on your part or your spouse’s, but there are defined steps you can take to greatly lower the probability of that happening.
It is important to know what you can do to strengthen your connection with your spouse and keep your relationship strong and healthy and avoid the risk of marriage trouble. A rewarding, satisfying marriage that meets the needs of both partners is your best protection against the marriage problems provoked by an affair.
So what can you do in order to “affair proof” your marriage as much as possible? The following twelve steps will direct you in building a stronger marriage and help you and your spouse to save the marriage needless stress due to infidelity:
- Make your relationship with your spouse your number one priority when dealing with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others.
Make a definite commitment of energy, time and effort to your marriage. You can end up torn in so many different directions and over-extended that your most valuable and precious relationship ends up as a casualty of a marriage crisis unless you make it a top priority.
- Protect the emotional intimacy in your marriage.
Make time to connect each day, not just about the events that have
happened, but also about your feelings. Share on an emotional level—what you're afraid of, your frustrations, your disappointments, your joys, and your
challenges. Let your spouse know how much you value being able to talk
to him or her about anything and to connect on an emotionally intimate level.
- Show your appreciation on a regular basis.
Be generous with thank you’s and compliments. Tell your partner at least
once a week how much you appreciate him or her and list the qualities
that you admire, love and respect. Don’t worry if you’ve said these
things before—no one gets tired of hearing their good traits recognized!
- Spend time together doing things that are fun and just “hanging out.”
Bonding can deepen when you and your mate have unstructured time to
just hang out and relax together. If every minute of your time together
is rushed and tightly scheduled, you’ll miss out on opportunities to be
spontaneous. Look for enjoyable things to do—a picnic in the park,
trying a new restaurant, a hike, going out dancing, or going swimming.
- Keep an active sex life .
Sometimes being fatigued or sick gets in the way of sexual desire, as
does family stress such as caring for an ill or aging parent. Certainly the
time and energy required to raise children can leave parents drained and
“on empty.” In spite of these challenges, it’s important to make time
for sex. The truth is that most spouses are more vulnerable
to sexual advances and flirtations from others when their sex life at home is
- Discuss and resolve issues when they come up.
Don’t just hide them or avoid trying to resolve them. Learn how you can disagree without being disagreeable and causing long-term harm to your relationship. Most importantly—communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep the communication channel wide open at all times to keep potential marital problems at bay.
- Talk about the risk of infidelity and know that it can happen in any
Bring the subject out into the open and show your feelings and
deepest fears. Brainstorm with your partner about how you can keep your
marriage strong and what the two of you believe would be helpful in
preventing an affair from happening. Commit to telling your mate if
you feel vulnerable or if things start getting out of control at any time in any
situation. Many a couple facing marriage separation neglected to consider this.
- Share with each other goals for the present and future that inspire you.
When your spouse and you share common goals that you’re passionate about, you will feel closer to each other and more bonded. It helps you to feel like a strong team. The feeling of partnership is essential in deepening commitment to each other. Whatever your mutual dream is, the passion you bring in going after it can draw you closer together and help fix marriage problems before you need a marriage counselor.
- Make wise choices about contact with the opposite sex at work and
You may encounter special situations and temptations at business parties or on business trips for your work. Talk candidly with your spouse and agree on what you both feel comfortable with. If your spouse is on a business trip and the group goes out dancing, will you be upset if your spouse participates? Plan ahead and head off potential problems so that you may never need marriage counseling to fix your marriage or to stop divorce.
- Know the danger signs.
Many an affair has started with individuals sharing intimate personal
information with each other on a regular basis without confiding in
their respective spouses. Intimacy can mushroom quickly when secrecy is
involved and a feeling of connection develops. Additional danger signals are
having increased sexual excitement about seeing a particular person,
being in settings with plenty of alcohol and drinking when your spouse
isn’t present, and being more susceptible than usual due to feelings of
rejection, loneliness, or anger at your spouse.
- Celebrate your love, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special
Value your marriage and take advantage of every chance to celebrate, such as your wedding anniversary, your spouse’s birthday, the date that you met, and any other special days that the two of you share. This helps to keep the romance strong and also to keep your connection alive. A good marriage guidance counselor will tell you to celebrate your love, your plans for the future, your time together, and the priceless present moment.
- Support each other’s dreams and goals.
Make a commitment to help your spouse be all that she or he is capable
of being. Your relationship is only strengthened when you are both happy
and fulfilled with your life. It’s to your advantage to help your spouse
reach goals that are important to her or him, even if they aren’t your
particular goals. Be encouraging and positive of your spouse’s desires
to live up to his or her potential.
By adhering to these twelve principles, you will minimize the risk of a troubled marriage ending with marital separation due to infidelity.
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