Affair-Proofing Your Relationship

February 1, 2010

I wrote a few weeks ago about the devastating aftermath of an affair. It hurts, no doubt. Someone wrote me and asked, “But how do you keep it from happening? If you’re doing all you can, then it’s not your fault, right?”

I have a friend who got engaged last year in June (the one year anniversary of their first date). The wedding was schedule for next June, a year later. To be fair, the girl he was with was waaaaaaaay out of his league and I have no idea how he landed her in the first place, but somehow he did it. I personally would never have gone with a year-long engagement, as too many bad things can happen. Sure enough, she was in a friend’s wedding and while in the rehearsals she hit it off with the groomsmen walking her down the aisle. A couple of weeks later, she told my friend it was over and gave him the ring back. He was floored because he had no idea anything was wrong.

While there’s no 100% infallible method for keeping that partner from straying, there are some things you can do to help shore up the walls of your relationship so they aren’t so tempted to stray. Looking at my friend’s relationship as a model, here are some things to learn:

1. Take care of yourself.

When I said my friend and this girl were different, I mean it. She was this supermodel who always looked perfect like she’d just come off the page of a magazine. He looked ok when they started dating, but for some reason in the last weeks of the relationship he’d decided to develop this “different” style. He grew this scraggly beard, went for untucked flannel shirts, and wore these weird hats. In other words, she was a supermodel, he looked like a hobo. The guy she left him for? Yep, clean cut.

Just because you’ve (temporarily) won the person of your dreams doesn’t mean you let yourself go. Stay in shape, and continue to dress to impress all the time…even after you’re married. That doesn’t mean you wear a tux to bed or anything, but it means you are always careful about what you wear when in public with them. Whether you realize it or not, you are representing this person to others (and they feel that way, believe me). While a ratty tee shirt and jeans may feel good and be perfect for Saturday afternoon at home, you need to reconsider if she’s in a fancy dress with hair perfect.

Likewise, watch the weight gain. It’s perfectly understandable for people to become slightly less active after a relationship kicks in, but don’t let yourself go. They may joke about the love handles and pudge, but it’s not cool and they will start looking elsewhere if it gets to be too much.

2. Keep the fire alive.

My friend was all about the physical stuff (no way to blame him for that). The problem is that he lost sight of the fact that passion must be kept alive. Lust may last a long time for you, but if your partner is more into intimacy and passion you’re going to lose their interest quickly.

I know it doesn’t always sound fun, but dating has to continue well past consummation. Just because she’s screaming  your name tonight doesn’t mean your awesome moves will keep her coming back forever. Ladies, just because he’s getting to have some fun with you doesn’t mean you can just lay there and plan your day for tomorrow. Keep the fire and the passion alive by always remembering what it took to win their love in the first place. No taking it for granted, and no forgetting what love costs.

Ladies, surprise him in the shower one night. Guys, have a candlelight dinner waiting for her when she gets home one evening and have the kids packed off to a movie somewhere (preferably a double feature). Sound like too much work or sissy stuff? Wrong. This is the stuff that shows your spouse they were worth some effort.

3. Respect…always.

You’re on the first date and every word, gesture, and moment is carefully planned. Suddenly you fart as loud as possible and say, “Oh, yeah!” She wouldn’t be around for dessert, let alone a second date. So why do people develop this attitude after they’ve had a few dates? “Familiarity breeds contempt”, I suppose. You wouldn’t make fun of her mother. You wouldn’t tell him how hot so-and-so’s husband looked since he’s started working out. Stop it all. Stop it now.

Treat them like you did on the first date. Open the door for her when you get to the car. Take an extra few minutes to really look good before walking into the room. Listen attentively to every word they say.

4. Light up when they come in the room.

Every morning I get up and take my dog out, then I leave him in the kitchen eating his breakfast while I go get my shower. When I come back in the kitchen, he goes crazy and acts like he hasn’t seen me all day, when it’s only been ten minutes. That’s why men love dogs so much…we are their world. Do the same for your significant other. I’m not saying jump up and down and start humping their leg or anything…but give them a killer smile when you see them come into the room. Make them feel like, to you, they are the most important person on Earth and things were not right until you arrived.

In my friend’s case, there were many times when his girlfriend would walk into a crowded room and it would be ten or fifteen minutes before he even acknowledged she was there. He saw her, she knew he saw her, but he talked to his buddies before going to her. He wasn’t “putting her in her place”…he was subtly showing her how important she really was to him.

Everyone loves to feel valuable and like they are special. When you take the time to show that person that just the fact that they are in the room with you makes you happy, it makes their self-worth go through the roof. While some people may say this is too much and makes you seem desperate or clingy, I say they’ve never been the recipient of “that smile” in their life. As soon as it happens to them, it will be what they love and the highlight of their day.

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Are any of these things guaranteed to keep your marriage safe from an affair? Not any single one of them, no, but taken as a whole they can at least be a deterrent. Let’s face it: some people are just born to cheat.

This is probably all I’ll say on affairs (what more is there?), but let me stress again that if you’re feeling the temptation to stray, stop and really think it through. Consider it from every angle. You’ll find that it’s not worth it.

If you’re on the other side and you think your spouse might have a wandering eye, be proactive. Really go out of your way to keep their love. Let me just say that everyone sees how you treat your spouse, and if they do choose at some point to cheat on you while everyone else saw you keeping the fire going as best you could, they’ll think “Man, that one’s a keeper! He was an idiot to let her go!” and they might just come after you themselves.

Here’s hoping something I’ve said has worked in someone’s favor someday…


The List

December 10, 2009

Every man (and many women) has “The List”. It’s a list of the people they are going to sleep with given the chance. Here’s the key weakness to them, however: they usually involve people that the guy has no chance of ever hooking up with. People like Angelina Jolie or Penelope Cruz may be on the list, but the man knows he’s going to spend the rest of his life fantasizing about it and nothing more.

But then there are those who have a different list. Their list is filled with possibilities. These are those women who might have been, but weren’t…yet still could be. From my honest friends and co-workers (their names changed to protect the truthful), I give you “The List”:

1) The Former Best Friend

Tom says, “Before I met my wife, I had this incredibly close female friend. We would hang out together all the time, and we just clicked. She made me laugh, and we always had fun together. It never go physical though. We’d go to the movies, out to dinner, even hang out at her place and watch TV, but we kept it cool.

“After I got married, this girl and I lost touch. As I looked back on our times together, I suddenly realized some of the things she’d talked about during our conversations. She’d casually tossed out hints about what kind of kisser she thought I’d be. She mentioned her past and a few sexual things she liked, and stuff like that. And for some reason, all of those conversations just zipped right past me until much later.

“Don’t get me wrong, I know we wouldn’t have been a good married couple. There were too many differences. But I always think of her as a perfect lover for me. We clicked on so many levels, I can’t help but think she would have been incredible. She’s married now too, but if the opportunity ever came, I know I’d give it a shot.”

2) The “Almost”

Frank said, “There’s this woman I was crazy about. The first time I saw her, I was in love and was sure this was the woman I was going to marry. I tried everything and she flirted with me all the time, but for some reason we just never got that connection. She eventually chose another guy over me and she’s married now with two kids, but I see her all the time. She still looks good for a mother of two, even all these years later.

“Every time I see her, I still feel that connection that might have been. If she ever has a fight with her husband that’s one of those ‘I’m leaving for the night’ kind of fights, I hope I’m the one she comes to see. We may not last more than a night together as a couple, but I’m sure it’ll be the greatest night of my life.”

3) The “Forbidden”

David says, “I have a girl in my office who is an intern. She’s 23 and has the most perfect body I’ve ever seen. The thing is I’ve known her and her family for years. Her father is a friend of mine and even though his daughter’s all grown up, he’s still protective of her.

“There was a time last year when the girl and I really started talking. She mentioned dreams she was having about me (nothing sexual) and the more I talked to her about everything from books to music to life in general, the more I realized how much I wanted this woman. Of course, I don’t think my wife would approve, and I know I’d lose this girl’s father as a friend forever. Even with that, I see this girl and know that if the opportunity ever came up, I’d take the chance.”

4) The Freak

Mike says, “My wife isn’t into sex. She was a virgin when we got married–her idea–and I just trusted she’d get into the swing of things. Unfortunately, she didn’t and we have the most vanilla sex ever. On the rare occasion that it happens, I swear it’s like a script and no matter how hard I try to get her to try something just minutely different (like being on top) she just gives up two seconds into it and we’re back to ‘the usual’. I want a half hour of foreplay, whereas her idea of foreplay is to say, ‘All right, let’s get this over with.’

“Her best friend, on the other hand, is a freak in bed. She tells my wife all about how she wants it all the time, but her husband never does (the stupid moron). I encourage my wife to spend time around this girl in the hopes that some of her libido will rub off on my wife. Instead, as my wife tells me what this girls mentions, I’ve found myself fantasizing about my wife’s friend. The funny thing is that I dated her before I dated my wife, and now that rubs salt in the wound because I realize I could have had this ‘acrobat in the sack’ if I’d just stayed with her. I never slept with the woman though, and that just makes it worse.

“I realize now that my wife will probably never change and every story her friend tells her won’t pique her interest in trying something new. Instead, I think about this woman all the time, and think about how she’s just as frustrated as I am. I try to spend time with her when she’s with my wife and test to see if our connection is still there when my wife’s not around. I love my wife dearly, but sex is a big part of any relationship and she’s just doesn’t accept that. If there was any way for her friend and I to get together and satisfy each other’s needs on a regular basis, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. The way I see it, we’d be helping both of our spouses because they don’t want to do it, and they wouldn’t have to anymore. We’d be taking care of each other.”

So there you have it. It’s not really pretty, but you can sort of see a trend. A passionless marriage/relationship is one that is ripe for an affair. Of course, you can’t blame it all on a passionless partner. The guy has to keep his mind away from the “forbidden fruit” and realize that the more he thinks about it, the more likely he is to act on it.

Is there anything wrong with having “the list”? Well, being truthful (as my blog title implies) I imagine everyone has that list, even if they don’t realize it. Subconsciously we are attracted to people. Just because you get married doesn’t mean you never find anyone else attractive! Even the most faithful husband still finds that temptation to watch a tight sweater as it goes by. But the key is to fight the temptation.

At some point, I’m going to write a post on the after-effects of an affair on a relationship. For now, let me just say if you aren’t happy in the relationship, instead of throwing it all away for one night with a “list person”, move on. It’s better for both of you.