People cheat for a variety of reasons, including anxiety, boredom, alienation and compulsion. While in a marriage or a long-term relationship, you may be tempted by infidelity, but it's important to first consider its consequences and implications. Here, three YourTango Experts discuss their approaches to temptation, including the steps you can take to prevent yourself from succumbing to it. It's how you deal with thought and impulses of an affair that defines your character and the integrity of your marriage.
From Ken Burns:
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Infidelity causes huge damage to a relationship. If you cheat and choose to move on, you have the rest of your life to be without your partner. Why not give yourself a little time to S.T.E.P. back and make the best choice you can — one that's reflective of rational decision making?
1. Slow down. All decisions in life are affected by our emotions; even the ones considered to be purely logical. If you're human, you cannot sever emotions from your life experience. The bigger the decision, the more emotionally charged it will be — and the more your feelings will play a part. Slow down and take some time to consider all aspects of the choice you're about to make. Sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning.
2. Think. While you're slowing down, take time to consider the consequences of what you're contemplating doing. The need to be emotionally connected to someone is programmed into the most primitive part of our brain. It exudes an enormous influence on our world. Oftentimes, we can get caught up in these feelings and don't think about the long-term effects.
3. Explore. When you have slowed down and are thinking, look inside and explore the reasons you find yourself considering being unfaithful. How and why did you get here? You may be considering straying because this new person meets some unmet need or longing. Explore what these needs and longings are. There is a very good chance that what you are getting from this new person is what's missing from your current relationship. Explore if those good qualities are really gone from the relationship or just covered up by hurt. Were they ever there? The more you understand what you are getting from this new person, the better chance you have at figuring out what is missing from your current relationship.
4. Plan. Make a plan to do what you have to do to get these needs and longings met in your current relationship. Plan to make some quality time with your partner and discuss all of this. Although if you find yourself at this crossroads, you amy feel you have already attempted to talk about this to no avail. If this is the case, seek out a trained therapist to help you and your partner figure out how the two of you keep missing each other. Why hasn't your message been received?
From Vidica Simpson:
1. Love yourself. Ghandi's quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world" is perfect in its simplicity and accuracy, because you are the only person you can change. Love starts with the self. You can't treat your loved one differently from yourself, and you can't give to your loved one what you won't give to yourself. You are in denial if you believe otherwise.
2. Think of your relationship as a mirror into your innermost self. When you notice yourself feeling negatively as a result of something your partner said or did, go within yourself to search for the answer. Ask yourself, "Why am I feeling unhappy, vulnerable, and threatened right now?" Then become very still and listen for that little voice inside yourself — it always knows the answer. As you confront your own fears and insecurities, you will notice they start to disappear. As they disappear you will feel better about yourself and start to attract better experiences.
3. Stop jugdging. Accepting, without judgment, all the parts of yourself, including flaws, fears, and insecurities, automatically enables you to accept someone else without judgment. Taking responsibility for your own happiness means you won't feel the need to control or manipulate anybody else. Being respectful of your own needs teaches you how to respect somebody else's needs. By being honest with yourself you give others permission to be honest with themselves. Unconditional love is rooted in self-love, self-acceptance, and self-respect. It is exciting, inspiring, supportive, compassionate and everlasting. It is our life's journey.
From Richard Nocera:
1. If you've been cheated on, work on not feeling victimized. The goal of my book Women Own All The Vaginas: Why Men Do What They Do is to help make non-monogamy a victimless event. The overarching question I address is: "Why do we get so hurt when someone we love chooses to have a non-romantic sexual encounter with someone other than us?"
We spend exorbitant energy chasing happiness. But the road to genuine happiness starts by looking at what makes us unhappy. Each of us carries within us four to six seminal moments from our past that have triggered negative myths we believe about ourselves: "I am not good enough." "I am defective." "I am unworthy." I help clients delve into the real reasons why they hurt and work with them on a series of applied steps the heal the pain. When we heal even one or two of these moments that have been informing our reactions for years, it leaves a calm space where there used to be anger, fear, and rejection. Suddenly, we are no longer automatically victimized by what someone else does.
The temptation to cheat — as well as the inclination to lash out angrily if cheated on — is often overwhelmingly strong. But as our experts explain here, feeling at peace with ourselves and being willing to dig deeper into our insecurities is one of the healthiest things we can do as half of a couple.
What do you think: does every marriage feel the urge for infidelity at times, or is it on a case-by-case basis? How can couples refocus their commitment to each other?
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