Many people look at infidelity as an unforeseen natural disaster that no one saw on the radar screen; it just happened without warning. But the reality is that we can often see it coming and we can sometimes prevent it from happening as well. Does “affair proof” mean that if you do these 10 things that it’s a 100 percent guarantee that you will never experience an affair? Of course not. It means that you are doing some very important things that will significantly decrease the likelihood of an affair striking your marriage.
Authors Brett and Kate McKay provide some important points on affair proofing a marriage which I’ve used as a basis for the thoughts below. Here are 10 ways to affair proof your marriage.
1. Avoid temptation.
Several years ago, I made a trip to Orlando, Florida for a business meeting. I arrived at my destination and the guy I was meeting with came out to my car to greet me. He noticed that one of my office team members drove up in a separate car and he said, “Oh, Jennifer must have another meeting today in Orlando, huh?” “No,” I replied, “I just don’t travel alone with a woman.” He seemed a bit surprised, but I think he understood my reasoning even though we spent a few more dollars in gas to get there in two cars. I also avoid intimate conversations about my personal life with any women other than my wife, Susan. Many an affair begins when people start talking about their personal pressures and problems with another person besides their spouse. They feel like the other person empathizes and understands them better. This can then lead to a feeling of closeness, which, if left unchecked, can lead to an intimate emotional or physical relationship.
2. Date your spouse.
Establish a “date night” and treat this time as sacred by putting it “in ink” on your calendar. Some people are able to do this every week. Susan and I find that every other week seems to work better for our schedules. Make your date something fun and interactive. Have dinner at new restaurant, play tennis, go bowling, go dancing, take a walk or take a class together.
3. Stop the pornography.
Pornography destroys people and relationships. Porn creates unrealistic and false expectations for your sexual relationship with your spouse. It promotes the lie that relationships are all about getting, instead of giving. Another lie about pornography is that “I’ll do it one more time, then I’ll stop.” But some is never enough, you always want more. Pornography is like a drug, you always need more and more and something stronger and stronger for the high to continue. As a result, soft porn leads to hard porn. And pornography often leads to an extramarital affair. So, what should you do? Start by bringing to light what has been hidden in darkness by sharing your struggles with your spouse, pastor or friend. Immediately flee from it and avoid pornography completely. Put your computer in a very public place in your house or get rid of it for a season of time. Never erase your computer history. Allow your spouse to hold you accountable.
4. Be romantic.
It doesn’t take much to be romantic. A short love letter or email only takes a few minutes to write. Putting a post-it note on the mirror telling your spouse that you “can’t wait for your date tonight” can work wonders. Flowers for women are always welcome, even if you picked them up from the grocery store on the way home. These small gestures show your spouse that you’ve thought of them and will help you reinforce your commitment to your partner.
5. Initiate affection.
Studies show that couples who are affectionate with each other stay together. Make an effort to initiate spontaneous affection with your spouse. Give them a hug or surprise kiss and say how much you love them. Hold their hand when you’re out together. Cuddle without making it a precursor to sex. These small gestures will help strengthen the physical connection that every relationship needs.
6. Have sex regularly.
Men sometimes stray because their wife is not interested in having an intimate sexual relationship. It happens all too often, and it’s easy to understand why interest in sex wanes. Exhaustion, busyness, emotional distance and many other things cause sexual encounters to wither. While those might be valid excuses, they must be dealt with to the extent possible so that the welcome mat of physical intimacy will be rolled out in your marriage.
7. Talk some and listen always.
Find some time each day to have meaningful conversations with your spouse. If you have children, find a few moments after you put them in bed. Talk about what you did during the day. Discuss what you’ve been thinking about lately. Share your dreams with them. And be sure to be a good listener by dropping what you are doing, making eye contact, and showing that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. The idea is to deepen the bond between you and your spouse. It’s harder to withdraw from your spouse when you’ve made such an emotional investment.
8. Share interests and recreation.
When you first started dating, you probably had everything in common. Well, at least you thought you did. So you would spend lots of time together doing things you both enjoyed. Then you got married and started working, having kids and dealing with the cares of this world. Pretty soon there were fewer things you did together. So if you don’t have something you like to do together, talk about it and agree on one thing you’ll do as a couple.
9. Speak kind words.
After many years of marriage, I noticed that I wasn’t speaking kind words to my wife as much as I should. It’s so easy to take the one we love for granted. So, I went back to the basics. When I wake up in the morning, I say, “Good morning, honey.” When I arrive home, I ask “How was your day?” When we go to bed, I pray with her and say “I love you” every single night.
10. Evaluate your vulnerabilities.
Sit down with your spouse and evaluate your vulnerabilities. Some people have jobs where they travel a lot. Being away from home in tempting environments can create challenges. See #1 above. Some have personality traits that open themselves up for infidelity. These traits don’t have to be bad either. For example, you might naturally be an empathetic listener or an affectionate person. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some people may take this attention the wrong way.
These are just 10 things you can do to “affair proof” your marriage. I’m sure you can add a few to the list. Please do so by sharing your comments with me.