The reason a man or a woman has an affair is because his or her needs are not getting met in the primary relationship. Most often, these needs are emotional rather than physical. Affairs are not a way to exit a relationship or a marriage by finding a new partner. Rather, affairs are entered into in order to meet the needs that are not being met in the primary relationship, while keeping the primary relationship intact.
Back some years ago the Oprah show did a segment on a book by Gary Neuman called The Truth About Cheating, where he details the research he did about why men cheat In his research Neuman discovered that a man will most likely cheat if he feels unappreciated and unloved by his wife. This is absolutely true, as I have been telling clients for years. Interestingly women cheat for a slightly different reason, when their need for connection and being wanted are not met in their primary relationship.
How is it that important relationship needs go unmet in a primary relationship or marriage? For more on how needs work in relationships and marriages read my recent article on needs.
For now let’s just say that once partners’ needs go unmet in a relationship or marriage long enough, the relationship is in danger of triangulation, or cheating.
What can you do to avoid the devastation of cheating in your relationship or marriage? Here is my 4 step plan:
For women: Appreciate what you husband or partner is doing for you, your family, around you, regardless of what else he may or may not be doing. Tell him that you appreciate him and what you appreciate about him often.
For men: Appreciate her beauty, her body, her mind. Make her feel wanted. Make it a practice to find the things you appreciate about her in this domain and then tell her about these things often.
2. He needs to be your hero. She needs to be your queen.
This might sound incredibly corny, but if a man feels like the hero in his relationship or marriage, he will never consider cheating. Similarly if the woman feels like the queen in a relationship or marriage she will be completely devoted to her partner.
3. Give Respect
If there are things that bother you about what your partner is doing or not doing, how he/she is treating you or not treating you, ask for change in a loving, respectful way. Do not treat your partner as if he or she owes you something or as if you own him or her.
4. Do not criticize
Criticism makes people feel small and ashamed, which makes them want to see others who will make them feel ok about themselves. It’s ok to not like what your partner is doing and ask for what you want, but you need to do it in a way that leaves your partner intact, rather than tearing him or her down.
5. Pay attention
If your partner or you are repeatedly asking for something in the relationship and not getting it, your relationship is in trouble. It may not seem in trouble because men and women in long-term relationships or marriages tend to be patient. They will ask for what they need for a long time before they get fed up and head towards seeking to meet their needs elsewhere. But make no mistake – even quiet requests that go unmet for too long put your relationship in danger.
6. If your relationship is having issues, get help sooner rather than later.
Couples tend to wait to get help, hoping what ever trouble they are having will get better over time. Unfortunately once a relationship gets into a difficult pattern it is very unlikely to right itself without outside help. And while you too are trying to see if you can work it out on your own, and negative things you do in the relationship cause more deterioration.
You can affair proof your relationship or marriage. It’s not rocket science, but it does take right conscious choices and effort.