No one enters into marriage expecting it to fail. Any newly-married couple would not expect an extramarital affair to occur.
However, so many couples are blind-sided when unanticipated feelings develop for someone outside marriage. When this happens, resentment can build up as we wonder why our spouses fail to measure up with a potential romantic interest.
How can we guard against such situations — when things get really messy and suddenly divorce becomes an option for greener pastures?
Here are some possible suggestions to help us remain faithful to our spouses.
Stay away from risky situations that might cause us to stray
We must not underestimate how very quickly attraction can develop for another person outside marriage. I have a male acquaintance who would avoid being in a car alone with a female friend or colleague, and unless he really needed to, he’d call his wife to inform her first.
Find opportunities to have lunch dates with your spouse, but be quick to rope in another lunch buddy if a colleague of the opposite sex asks only you out for lunch, for example. Don’t allow yourself to confide in friends or colleagues of the opposite sex if you are having issues with your spouse, and never ever flirt with anyone but your partner.
The key is intentionally taking steps to ensure that both of you do not put yourselves in compromising situations that might result in unfaithfulness. Find out what works best for you and your spouse to build an unshakeable trust in each other.
Do not underestimate how very quickly attraction can develop for another person outside marriage.
Confess to your spouse or a trusted friend if you find yourself attracted to a 3rd party
If you do find yourself romantically and/or physically attracted to anyone other than your spouse, one of the most helpful things you can do is to confess it to a trusted friend or perhaps even to your spouse. The accountability provides an additional barrier that will minimise your inclination to act on the attraction.
Don’t keep secrets from each other
Trust is built when there is honesty in marriage. Is there a reason why you feel you cannot reveal your passwords to email or social media accounts to your spouse? If you feel inclined to keep things from your spouse, it is a clear warning sign that there are issues to be worked on in your marriage.
Resist being lazy in marriage
Work hard at developing healthy communication and conflict management skills. Be intentional about treating each other with respect and never take each other for granted. It’s a slippery slope when you start becoming complacent with your spouse. Seek to look for the good in your partner and work at being other-centred – seeking to do things for your spouse that makes them feel most loved.
My husband and I have realised over time that we still need to make the effort to “woo” each other, just like we did when we were dating. “Aiming to impress” has become somewhat of a mantra in our marriage – it helps keep us on our toes and to not take each other for granted.
If things have gotten a little rough, start making changes on your own first — be surprised at how positively your spouse will respond when he or she sees good changes in you. Get help from marriage enrichment programmes or professional marriage counsellors if you sense that issues cannot be resolved by yourselves.
Prioritise your marital relationship over all other relationships
The amount of care you put into maintaining a healthy relationship should be the greatest for your marriage.
Go to bed together. Don’t spend time catching up on your social media feeds while your spouse goes to sleep first, for example. Endeavour to finish your work up by a certain time and head to bed together. Spend a few moments in pillow talk before you doze off to catch up on the highs and lows of each other’s day.
Going on regular date nights and sharing a hobby together has helped us deepen intimacy in our marriage. We’ve learnt our parenting duties cannot take centre-stage and we shouldn’t spend copious amounts of time with friends or colleagues to the point of neglecting our marriage.
Be clear that marriage is a lifelong commitment
When you and your spouse are committed to a lifelong partnership, there will be a greater determination to work hard at staying in love with each other. If divorce is not an option, a trust that you will work on your relationship together can be firmly established. You can know with certainty that the big, bad arguments you have with your spouse will not be the deal breaker; instead you know that once the raw emotions subside, steps will be taken to make things better in marriage because you are both in it for the long haul.
If divorce is not an option, a trust that you will work on your relationship together can be firmly established.
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