Last week I wrote about how to protect your relationship from infidelity. The truth is that we are never more vulnerable to having an affair than when we are not putting up protective boundaries around our relationship, and then that relationship becomes strained. We will all go through periods of time in our marriages when we aren’t clicking; when we aren’t feeling connected; when there is so much fighting that we begin to feel hopeless. Those are the times when we are most open to the attention of someone else. Those are the danger zones.
Affairs are exciting and fun (in the beginning) for a number of reasons.
– They are secretive, and secretive things seem more exciting.
– We know they are wrong, and unfortunately that also makes things seem more exciting.
– They are insulated from real life. Affairs don’t have to deal with who is going to pick the kids up, or broken water heaters, or crabby spouses. When you are having an affair, you are only seeing that person at their very best, and you are only doing fun things with them. Real life cannot compete with that. (That is also the reason by the way that over 90% of affairs that become real relationships where the individuals left their spouses end within 3 months of the real relationship starting. Still think that grass is greener?)
– They are still in the honeymoon period of a relationship. There was a time when you felt about your spouse the same way you would feel about someone you had an affair with. Time killed that feeling. If you spend any amount of time in a relationship with another person that really intense feeling at the beginning will fade. It just will.
So what to do when you are feeling disconnected from you spouse, and you don’t know how to get back to that place where you feel that love, like, and excitement again?
Have an affair!! But do it with your spouse!
Affairs are a lot of work. They take time. They take money. They take attention. So what if instead of destroying our lives, and imploding our families, we took some of those resources and directed them back into our marriage?
Here are 5 ways to do just that:
1. Spend some time alone reflecting on what you found most attractive about your spouse in the beginning of your relationship. What did you admire about them? What made you excited to spend time with them? Now think about how many of those things are still there. Often those things that we loved in the beginning are the things we stop paying attention to as life gets in the way, but they may still be there. Try to put on “new relationship” eyes when you look at your spouse so that you can recapture some of that feeling you felt in the beginning when you felt so lucky just to be with that person.
Another question you can ask yourself is, “If someone wanted to have an affair with my spouse, what would they find attractive?” Living with another person is the fastest way to kill romance. We get to see all the gross things that they do, and all the little irritations add up. Seeing them through the eyes of others can help us set aside those annoyances, and appreciate what we have right in front of us.
2. Send flirty texts, messages, emails.
A lot of people get busted when they are unfaithful because of technology. Someone who is having an affair takes the time to flirt. Emojis are great for this! Not only is it fun, but it lets your spouse know that you are thinking of them during the day.
3. Get a room!
People who have affairs have to spend time together somewhere, and it often involves hotels. If you are going to take time off work, and spend money on a hotel, please just make everyone’s life easier and do it with your spouse! Hotels give you that space from daily life that can help you remember why you fell in love in the first place. There’s no laundry piled up in the corner, or dirty dishes sitting in the sink. You could even find another couple to swap having the kids sleepover to make this possible.
4. Sneak off to lunch.
Are the kids in school? Meet your spouse for lunch during the week, and put some effort into looking great. (This is true for guys and the ladies!) Think of it this way – you won’t have to pay a sitter!
5. Use your words to encourage and love.
Most affairs start because people feel heard, understood, and cared about by the other person. As a married couple, you can do that for each other! When you were first dating, or first married, you set aside time to care about what the other person cared about. The relationship was not a competition, but instead it was a team sport. Work to get to that place again.
Building a solid sense of friendship, partnership, and a healthy sexual relationship are the three top indicators of having a successful long term marriage. Taking some of these steps to invest in your spouse can go a long way to bringing some fun back into your relationship, and feeling connected again. When your grass is green, you won’t care what the grass on the other side looks like anymore!