Dear Steve and Cathy,
In the past 10 years, I've been involved in two affairs. They are hard to forget and I have the strong desire to leave the area and start over in a new place. However, my husband doesn't agree. We are now working to rebuild our marriage. Do you have any advice or tips to help us get through this tough time? --J.
I wouldn't recommend a geographic cure for what ails you.
Two affairs in 10 years says to me that you might be seeking substance and solace outside yourself. Now you want to move, hoping that will stop either the longing, frustration or dissatisfaction you experience in your life. How do you manage your day-to-day living, like your work, friendships, family life and leisure activities?
Sometimes we hope to be distracted from boring or difficult tasks by looking for new or more rewarding activities. Affairs can add spice and distraction. You might want to search for more practical and less disruptive ways to change or maintain your lifestyle and marriage.
Take a look at what you want out of life, make a list and prioritize it. Now cross out the items that are unrealistic. (They might be reasonable, but not realistic.) Then separate the list into two columns -- those within your control and those beyond your control. Narrowing a list of wants in this manner can improve the odds of getting some of your needs met. Look at the items that are realistic, under your control and a top priority -- then give yourself permission to go after them.
If your husband knows about the affairs, he might need information on a regular basis about where you are and details about the relationships. This can rebuild trust in your marriage, but it can also be particularly trying.
How do you prevent affairs? That's the question.
A word of warning to you guys out there: If you want to prevent your wife from straying, talk to her. Share your hopes and dreams. Ask her about her day, and mean it. And (don't fade out on me here) listen to her. The bad news? Most guys aren't like that.
So print this puppy out and leave it by his favorite chair.
Better yet, be realistic and go after what you need. True, it would be nice if he initiated the contact. But reality isn't always made to order. If you want more hugs, hug him. Sit next to him while he's watching TV. Take the bull by the horns, so to speak.
If your timing is half decent (don't do this late in the fourth quarter), odds are he'll welcome and enjoy the contact and even reciprocate a bit.
As long as we're talking about being realistic, develop a strong female support system. You're more likely to feel listened to and understood by your women friends than your husband.
Also, be realistic with your expectations. Don't expect too much romance. Develop your marital friendship instead. There's a good reason why marriage was traditionally a functional rather than romantic union. Life wasn't a romance novel back then, and it still isn't.
Finally, consider counseling. The earlier the better. To give birth to a new relationship, it helps to have a midwife. Pick one who specializes in marital therapy. And consider marriage enrichment workshops in your area.
The Bottom Line From Cathy and Steve:
1. Add spice to your life, yes. But forget about affairs! Too hot a spice can ruin the meal -- and burn your tongue in the process.
2. To prevent affairs, guys, talk to those ladies. Gals, be realistic with your expectations, especially when it comes to romance.
Source: Relationships & Love