“We told ourselves we had forever and we never looked back. The problem was that we never really looked ahead.”
Marital infidelity is often defined as a breach of trust emotional or physical outside of the marriage. In a typical monogamous marriage we vow to be faithful to each other both emotionally and physically. When we hear stories of infidelity of our friends Rita or John, we think to ourselves ‘thank god my marriage is strong’.
We often think we have reached the safe harbour and no strong winds and waves are going to hit us anymore. What do most couples constitute as a safe harbour or green zone in their marriage? A zone where they are protected from the big A- Adultery. Most couples believe that years invested in the marriage, a happy family and a general sense of wellbeing are the pillars that protect a marriage from infidelity. But if that was the case many couples with happy families and well paid jobs would not be embarking on this risky terrain.
We are surprised to see individuals committing adultery that we consider “the perfect couple”. So what are the risk factors?
- Dangerous partner profile-
According to Dave Carder (close calls) we all have a particular partner profile that can make us more vulnerable in our marriage. It may not be the tall, dark and handsome as we envision it. It is someone with whom the attraction can be immediate and passionate.
- Shared Hobbies and Interest-
“I love dancing and he doesn’t”. I join a dance class and I meet this man who is such a great dance partner, we start hanging out with each other after dance class. And there you are walking on choppy waters that pose a threat to your stable marriage. We all have hobbies or interests that are different from our significant other but this can at times attract us to the opposite sex who have similar interest, which your wife/husband don’t care to develop.
- Emotional connection-
When we start dating or the initial years of the marriage, we tend to be appreciative of our spouse, we admire and adore them more often. These are the qualities that attract you to each other and then over the years they fade. These are exactly the kind of expressions that the danger partner profile will use to attract you. Don’t we all love hanging out with people who accommodate us, adore and appreciate us?
- Activity component-
This is something I have personally seen in relationships as a counsellor and as a mother. We start believing that trips to the Zoo with the kids are memories we are creating for us as a couple too. Families with children start exhausting all their time as a family and little or no time is left for the couple to have fun with each other. When you stop having fun together as a couple there is a chance that you will find fun with someone else. Having fun together will prevent having a close call of having fun with someone else.
- Internal age-
This is an interesting perspective of couples where their internal age does not match. Internal age is an inner developmental age vs our external age. We may think and behave younger or older than our actual age. Almost always our internal age matches with that of our dangerous profile partner.
Is it really possible to completely protect our marriage? The answer is ‘No”. Marriage is a commitment where we can falter and fall. But understanding and communicating the factors that could be relevant in triggering this fall, is important to the marriage. Talking about what attracts you to the other person, how you would love it if your partner learns that hobby that you enjoy or initiating more activities that involve just both of you can minimize the chances of your spouse seeking or falling prey to an outsider.
But if the unexpected happens, avoid blaming yourselfthat you couldhave done something to control the outcome. Dwelling in a thinking pattern which reduces your self-esteem and endorses the myth that you could have led your partner to have an affair. Remember you did your best and everyone has choices now it is time to look forward to the future and nurture yourself.
“What comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy” Psych Quotes
Blog was written by Aarti Mundae, Masters in Counselling, Bachelors in Psychology, Registered with SAC, Psychotherapist from Incontact Counselling & Training. Aarti provides counselling for couples, individuals, children and families.