HOW TO AVOID INFIDELITY
Is Infidelity Inevitable?
If you have wondered whether today's high rate of sexual affairs means that infidelity is inevitable, even in your relationship, I have good news: you can keep the odds in your favor by avoiding certain pitfalls that weaken a relationship and make it vulnerable to sexual affairs.
As a psychotherapist, and certified sex therapist, with more than 20 years of relationship counseling, I have seen a lot of couples torn apart by affairs. In many cases, the infidelity could have been avoided if the couple could have recognized and remedied the conditions that provided fertile ground for infidelity. There are some people, of course, who will stray no matter how good things are. These people may have emotional or psychological problems.
Why People in Committed Relationships Have Affairs
The causes and issues involving infidelity are complex, and come from both within and outside the individual. Changes in lifestyle or health, trauma, psychological or emotion distress sometimes trigger an affair. However, it is usually a combination of factors that ultimately lead to unfaithfulness. The underlying or fundamental causes of infidelity are:
What You Can Do To Help Protect Your Relationship From Affairs
Think of your relationship as having an "immune system" just as the body does. You probably won't catch a cold or the flu if you keep your immune system strong with sufficient rest and healthy food, etc. But if you neglect your health maintenance, get worn out and eat only junk food, eventually germs and viruses will attack your weakened system and make you sick.
I have outlined five steps you can take to strengthen your relationship and help avoid the conditions that could make the relationship vulnerable to affairs. This guide is based on research, therapeutic experience, and the explanations by those who have had extra-relationship affairs.
Step 1: Establish Good Communication Skills
If you don't think you and your partner have good communication skills, you can get professional help in the form of a communication class taught at a local night school or coaching from a therapist or relationship counselor.
Step 2: Learn to Handle the Truth - Both Yours and Theirs
Be gentle with yourself, too. Harsh self-judgment can also impede good communication . If you hold back telling your partner something because you fear what they will say or do, you may be projecting your own feelings of self-rejection onto them. Try some self-acceptance and self-forgiveness ahead of time. It will make talking about it with your partner a lot easier.
Step 3: Respect Your Partner's Needs and Wishes
The other side of this coin is, of course, to make sure your partner knows what you need and want, too. But don't get caught up in making demands. It is not your partner's "mission in life" to fulfill your every need. This type of expectation can be a burden and even the cause of resentment. The key here is to ask for what you want, but not expect, or demand it. Your partner may not be able to give you what you need in a particular instance. Stay flexible, try to negotiate, and most importantly, respect your and your partner's position on the subject.
Step 4: Stay Attractive to Your Partner
If your partner has made changes in their physical appearance that are unappealing to you, tell them so in clear terms. Remind them how attractive you found them before the changes.
Step 5: Renew Your Commitment to the Relationship Regularly
When To Get Professional Help
Sometimes, no matter how good the conditions are in a relationship, a partner will stray. This is because sexual affairs can be symptoms of emotional or psychological problems. Individuals with unresolved pain and trauma from past events in their lives often exhibit problem behavior such as sex addiction, violent or abusive acts, substance abuse and compulsive lying.
It is important to understand that until a person resolves their emotional or psychological issues, they probably will not be able to sustain a healthy, loving relationship. The good news is that effective, relatively short-term therapies are available.
If you suspect that this is the case with yourself or your partner, I strongly advise you to seek professional counseling.
Infidelity Doesn't Discriminate
An affair can happen to any couple, in any social or economic group and among people of every education level, sexual orientation and lifestyle. There are no absolute guarantees of faithfulness --even strong religious beliefs don't always work.
In terms of sexual monogamy, a good marriage is one in which a conscious and continuous effort is made to keep the relationship faithful to its vows. But no matter how sincere and fervent your promises to each other, you still must be aware of the pitfalls. Your best defense against affairs is a pro-active stance based on the guidelines outlined here.
As saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. Keep focused on the goal of sexual fidelity and never take it for granted.
Dr. Carol Boulware is a Psychotherapist and a Certified EMDR Therapist practicing in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. She is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network. Contact Dr. Boulware at (310) 395-3351 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is http://www.EMDR-Therapy.com
© Copyright 2009 by Carol Boulware, Ph.D.
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