Approximately 25 percent of husbands and 15 percent of wives admit to sexual infidelity, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Cheating statistics are 20 percent higher for both genders if you include emotional affairs, where intercourse never happens but the affair partners build a strong emotional bond. Admit that it could happen to you and take steps to avoid situations where you will act on feelings of mutual attraction.
If you avoid situations where infidelity is likely, you reduce the temptation to act on feelings of mutual attraction, points out Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project.” Many cheaters meet their affair partners at work, so this could be the arena where temptation is the strongest. Rubin recommends that you avoid flirting, having drinks with coworkers, confiding personal details to coworkers, developing an emotionally intimate friendship with a coworker and meeting a coworker or client alone whenever possible. Consider how your actions would look to your spouse, and consider meeting the family of a special coworker friend to make the consequences of cheating more real.
A healthy, happy marriage won’t eliminate your infidelity risk, but it can help. Keep the lines of communication open and deal with problems as they arise, remain physically and emotionally available to your partner, plan times for intimacy and activities you do together, express your love verbally and in action and avoid friendships with those who cheat, suggests psychotherapist, columnist and radio host Barton Goldsmith. Consider how your spouse would feel if he walked in and caught you or came upon correspondence between you and your affair partner as a deterrent to putting your attraction into action.
Dr. Willard Harley, author of “His Needs, Her Needs,” writes that fulfilling the top five needs of your spouse will deter an affair, so turn that around and make sure your spouse is the one meeting your top five needs. Harley's "Emotional Needs Questionnaire" (see Resources) asks questions about your needs for affection, admiration, financial and domestic support, honesty and openness, sexual activity, recreational companionship, attractiveness, communication and family time to determine your top emotional needs and how your partner is doing with meeting them. Discuss these needs and help your spouse do a better job of meeting them in ways that work best for you both, and talk to your spouse when someone else is doing a better job of meeting those needs so you can apply correction before infidelity occurs.
Avoid the secrecy that feeds affairs. Maintain empathy in your relationship and avoid creating negative fulfilling prophecies that your spouse won’t meet your needs or will screw things up, suggests Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of “The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain’s Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship.” Cohen also encourages people to enjoy the differences in their personalities and strengths. Staying connected to your partner by spending time together and appreciating the joys in your marriage ensures that your focus stays on your marital relationship, reducing the temptation to get attention from someone else.
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