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Is there a formula for preventing infidelity in a marriage? The short answer is no, but there are ways to reduce the probability of this occurring. Many of the couples that I work with have progressed along a very slippery slope for an extended period of time and have ignored the “red flags.” The pattern that I notice is that couples start experiencing frustration and/or anger which is totally normal, but don’t talk it through. The anger turns into resentment (which is anger with a history) and before long the couple becomes detached from each other. Sometimes they enter counseling at this point, but when they don’t, either one or both parties move towards self-destruction. People can self-destruct through infidelity, pornography, substance abuse, work addiction, retail therapy, food addiction, and/or any other destructive behaviors. The point is that the couple didn’t resolve their conflicts and grew more disconnected over time. That said, in some cases, infidelity has everything to do with the cheater and very little to do with the victim. The person may have a sexual addiction and will need professional help to understand and manage this condition.
The way to keep the relationship connected and secure starts with communication. Be able to discuss openly conflict, negative emotions, and aspects of your physical relationship. Recognize that emotional intimacy and physical intimacy are essential for connection and attachment. Create opportunities for connection through dates, weekend getaways, and even simple conversations on the back patio without distractions from technology. Plan time for intimacy consistently and treat each other with love and respect. When we feel special and valued by our partner we are more inclined to desire a connection.
Lastly, avoid situations and people who are going to make you more vulnerable to being unfaithful. Recognize that alcohol reduces your inhibitions so be especially cautious in those circumstances. Sometimes our marriage gets the scraps, whatever is leftover at the end of the day, which prevents growth and success. Remember that love is a verb and requires action to keep it alive. Nurture your marriage and experience the joy of connection.