As a relationship therapist, I see cheating couples every day sitting in my office looking dazed and confused, like they have no idea what just happened to them. They move unconsciously, sluggishly, like Zombies waking up from a bad dream.
Most of them don’t regret the affair. In fact, no one comes back from an affair and says "that sucked for me." They usually liked the excitement; the forbidden and illicit passion of an affair. That is until they wake up or get caught or until the guilt takes over. Then their Zombie selves are suddenly pushed aside and they look down and think, "How did I get here?"
Monogamy is hard. We know that. It’s something you have to practice. It doesn’t come naturally. It isn’t always fun. But there are ways to avoid becoming drooling Zombies blindly following the next sexual encounter and ignoring the consequences.
Here are some ways to affair-proof your relationships.
1. Start small: communicate. You and your partner need to talk about the little stuff. Don’t wait till the Zombie wakes up and you have no choice but to fight about the big stuff. Start small, now. Spend 15 minutes a day catching up.
Ask your partner these three questions every day:
- What was a highlight of your day?
- What was a down moment for you?
- How are we doing, as a couple today?
2. Say something nice. Stop criticizing everything they do. When you first met you flirted, flattered and found your way into their heart with kindness. Don’t expect to get the same love and affection now by yelling, blaming or belittling. Say something kind.
- Every day say three things you appreciate about your partner.
- Ask them to repeat back to you what they heard.
3. Make it hot. Sex is an important part of a relationship. It’s the one difference between a romantic relationship and a roommate. Keep the erotic side of your life alive by focusing on it as a priority. If you’re not into it, find out why. It’s not your partner’s fault that you are not turning yourself on.
Dr. Gina Ogden, author of Return of Desire, says to ask yourself these questions:
- What do I do to turn myself on?
- What do I do to turn myself off?
Take responsibility for making your love life hot and exciting. Why think about going somewhere else when you and your Zombie can be perfectly satisfied right at home?
For more info about affair proofing your marriage, and visit www.drtammynelson.com for more about writing your monogamy agreements for a lifetime of passion and connection.