10 Tips to Help Affair-Proof Your Marriage, Starting Today

6 months ago
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As someone who works with couples who are struggling with infidelity, I often hear people say that their partner's affair "came out of nowhere" or took them by "total surprise."  Yet when calm prevails and they are willing and able to look back at the marriage, they will often admit that there were little cracks that were beginning to show.  While the reasons for infidelity are many, there are ten proactive steps you can take to limit the chances that the "little cracks" in your marriage will expand to create a larger break.  
 
1. Don't ignore your partner's complaints. It is foolish, short-sighted and selfish to shrug off a partner's complaints, whether they are about housework, money, a lack of affection, in-laws or texting. It is even worse to become ignorant or defensive when your partner tries to express the reasons for his or her unhappiness. You don't need to agree with what he or she is saying. But you do need to listen, care and do something to improve the situation.
 
2. Don't let sex fall off the radar. Sex is a big part of marriage. In fact, regular sexual intimacy is a prevailing reason to get married. Order-in supper more often, put the kids to bed earlier, chew on a handful of chocolate-covered coffee beans before bed -- do whatever it takes to keep some energy for sex. If you are having relationship problems that are standing in the way of a healthy sex life, fix them. Get professional help if you must. But stop making excuses.
 
3. Show interest in your partner's life. Ask yourself every day, "What can I do to make my partner's life happier and easier?" If both partners are doing this, you have it made.
 
4. Have fun together. When was the last time you and your partner shared a good belly laugh? When was the last time you couldn't stop smiling? If it's been a while, you need to "lighten up" your relationship. People are naturally drawn toward those who are fun to be around.  Boredom can kill a marriage.
 
5. Appreciate your partner. Not a day should go by that you don't express appreciation for your partner in words and deed. Feeling unappreciated is a major complaint in almost all troubled marriages.
 
6. Put technology in its place. Translation: Put down the damn phone and talk to your partner! Nothing is more irritating than feeling second-place to a smartphone...or Facebook...or Twitter...or Snapchat...you get the idea.  Also, agree to be transparent when using your personal devices by sharing your passwords and so on.  Those who have nothing to hide hide nothing.
 
7. Talk to your partner like he or she is someone you love. Be vigilant of your voice tone. Keep contempt, defensiveness, criticism and rudeness out of your marriage.  Also, mind your manners in a larger sense.  Keep your spouse's dinner warm.  Hold the door open and compliment him or her.  Just be nice!
 
8. Create shared rituals. Whether it's Walking Dead Sunday nights or Sunday night walks in the park, it is important for couples to have traditions. These give couples a sense of identity and continuity as a couple.
 
9. Beware opposite-sex friendships.  We all have them; however, opposite-sex friendships that become too close can easily create a rift between an otherwise happy, devoted couple.  Almost all affairs begin as "innocent friendships," so keep these at bay and you'll spare yourself a world of grief.
 
10. Raise your kids together.  Get on the same page with respect to parenting.  Present a united front to your kids and share parenting responsibilities.  Respect your partner's right to parent his or her children in his or her own way, and praise your partner in front of your kids. Build each other up as parents - that makes people feel a lot more invested in the family unit.    
 
So there you have it.  Ten easy, proactive steps you can take to limit the chance of infidelity destroying the foundation of your marriage and family life.  They aren't guarantees, but they're certainly better than doing nothing and just waiting for those cracks to get wider.  
 
Visit Debra's practice at DebraMacleod.com
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