One question I get asked a lot is: how can I make my relationship affair proof? Some people ask why are some marriages affair proof and others aren’t? Is there something that I can do to reduce the chances of an affair? My answer to that is yes! There are things you can do to make your relationship stronger and reduce the likelihood of infidelity. However, I will say that this is a two way street and should your spouse or partner not be committed to making i work in the first place or have a mental health condition such as sex addiction, there is more work to do. But, nothing is impossible so let me start by saying that one of the most important ingredients is COMMUNICATION.
Communication is vital for a healthy relationship to last. Breach of trust is one of the most important reasons why affairs happen in the first place. Many couples’ satisfaction varies during a couple’s relationships. Stressors such as parenthood, finances, in-laws and changes in sexual satisfaction can affect the couple. Leading partners to argue or even withdraw from each other. These are often times triggers that lead to a decrease in marital satisfaction and can pose as risk factors for divorce. Without healthy ways to communicate each others thoughts, worries and problems, individuals turn to others to help them relieve their anxiety about their current life and this could often lead to an affair.
One way to repair tears in a relationship that have been affected by negative communication is through a couple therapy. A good couple therapist will look at the way you communicate with each other and help you make improvements or adjustments. Dr. John Gottman, a guru when it comes to couples described four different styles of communication; complaint, criticism, contempt and defensiveness. He was able to predict with a 94% certainty if couples would stay together. Watch the video below and think about which styles you use most often.
The Four Horsemen-John Gottman
Another major component of a successful relationship is TRUST. Many couples will start by trusting each other but as routine sets in and discussions become more intense trust can dwindle. Trust can be affected when one or both partners feel like they are not heard. They feel that they cannot be who they want to be because they don’t trust that their partner accepts them or their ideas. Trust is also important when it comes to feeling loved. When partners start using one or more of the Four Horsemen, they start feeling that there is less love and acceptance. This feeling can often lead a partner to seek the feeling of acceptance and sometimes love elsewhere. It is important for couples to communicate their deepest fears, wishes, dreams and thoughts in a way that the other person understands.
Partners who feel hurt and their trust is broken often end up shutting down. This can be done in many different ways either sexually, communication wise or just internally, where on the outside things seem fine but inside they have given up on the relationship. When people shut the other one out, by stonewalling, they make it very hard for the other person to be heard. This is difficult both for the one that has the wall up and the one that is getting shut out. Sometimes this can come in the form of ignoring. When this is done, even more distance is created and leaves room for someone else to get your partner’s attention.
How Can a Couple Therapist Help you?
Gottman claims that couples wait 6 years from the moment they notice a problem to actually seeking outside help. When you notice that there is a problem in terms of trust and communication seek help from a therapist that can teach you skills that will help to bring each other closer.
A couple therapist can help with:
- Learning different ways to handle conflict.
Opening communication channels to talk about extramarital affairs or affairs that have affected the relationship.
Strengthen trust and commitment.
Revise expectations of each other.
Reduce tension within the relationship.
There is a saying that prevention is better than the cure and this is especially true for extramarital affairs. Just remember that it takes work and commitment from all partners to make a relations affair proof. If you are both committed and work on it, you will see that it can be affair proof.
Here are a few tips that you can follow in order to make your relationship “Affair Proof”:
Discuss what affairs mean to you and your partner from the beginning. Is sending a text to someone considered as cheating? Or is cheating only referred to physical interaction with someone? Everyone is different so don’t expect everyone to think the way you do. Talking about it also leaves less space for confusion and excuses.
Avoid any online affair by being open about the use of technology and having clear boundaries with other people.
A marriage, just like any relationship has its ups and down. Know this and don’t give up the moment things are become difficult. Work on getting to know each other better. Experiencing new things together and if routine sets in, changing it up from time to time.
Keep the passion alive by using creativity not only outside but within the bedroom as well.
Learn new ways to communicate effectively, take a communication class, go seek couples counseling from a therapist or read some self help books that can pave the way to learn new skills. Remember new skills should be learned before the crisis sets in. Couples who constantly strive to improve their relationship will not be shocked when they hit some obstacles.
Set up less expectations. The less you have the less you will be disappointed. That is not to say that you should not have any, but if you do, then talk to your spouse about them. Remember that they do not have a crystal ball so don’t expect them to know everything about you.
“Relationships are hard but they are worth it”
Monika Kreinberg, LMHC, LMFT, CST, CCTP
Monika Kreinberg is the owner of Mind Wellness Center and a Relationship and Sex Expert. She offers individual and couples counseling to help people improve the relationship with themselves and with others. Her private practice is located in Miami, Florida. She is a dually licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Mental Health Counselor who uses Imago therapy and the Gottman Method to help couples improve their relationship. She is also a Board Certified Sex Therapist, a National Certified Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and is trained in modalities such as psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desinsitatization Reprocessing). Monika is a culturally sensitive therapist who is fluent in five language (English, Spanish, French, Italian and German. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, Therapist Certification Association and the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association. You can read more about her at: Mindwellnesscenter.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mindwellnesscenter, on twitter at https://twitter.com/MindWellnessCtr and Instagram at Mindwellnesscenter.com