We live in a day and age where it can be difficult to keep your marriage safe. Everything is fast-paced, and we are too busy. Sometimes the busyness of the day-to-day can make you forget to focus on and protect your marriage. It’s a very slippery slope when there are many outside pressures and temptations that can impact your marriage negatively. Today I’m going to talk about some simple ways to guard against infidelity. My hope is that you may see some areas where the two of you can work to improve and protect your marriage.
Opposite Sex Boundaries
Having boundaries in marriage is sometimes a controversial topic. Boundaries are meant to protect yourselves and your marriage, not control or exert power over your partner. When you don’t have communicated boundaries in a marriage, bad things can happen. Simple as that.
Usually when I address boundaries with couples, I get one of two reactions. Sometimes the reaction is “Oh that makes sense”. Other times the reaction is “That seems controlling” or “We don’t need those rules because we trust each other”. What I can tell you from my experience, is that most couples don’t get married with the plan of committing infidelity. Affairs happen (oftentimes) because there are no protective bumpers in place. Oftentimes, couples tend to be reactive versus proactive when it comes to boundaries.
When it comes to the opposite sex, it’s extremely important for couples to have boundaries. For example, the work environment is one of the most popular places for infidelity to occur. There’s a good chance your spouse works or is in close contact with someone of the opposite sex. What boundaries need to be in place to ensure there are no mixed signals sent? I would suggest starting with simple things like not being alone (at lunch or dinner, in a 1-on-1 meeting) with someone of the opposite sex. While your intentions may be good, that doesn’t mean the other persons are. It also doesn’t mean that you aren’t on a slippery slope with boundaries. Do what you have to do to protect and safeguard your marriage. Make sure that you are sending the signal that you are committed to your spouse, and not interested in any other relationship outside of being colleagues.
No one is immune from infidelity. Building on the theme of boundaries, I think it’s important to state that emotional infidelity often happens because of communication (or lack thereof in your marriage). Usually, infidelity starts off as a friendship, and someone confiding in someone else. Maybe your coworker is in a bad marriage, and their needs are not being met. You offer a listening ear because it’s the right thing to do. Then you start confiding in them. Before you know it, you are sharing intimate details of your own marriage, and they are consoling you. And you are connecting emotionally. You start texting outside of work, keeping secrets from your spouse, and looking forward to seeing your coworker. This is an emotional affair.
How do you safeguard your marriage from this? Setting boundaries like not texting coworkers after hours, and not sharing intimate details of your marriage with someone else is a good start. Make sure your communication with members of the opposite sex is not sending the wrong message. A good question to ask yourself is, “Would my spouse be comfortable with this interaction?”
If you are talking intimately with someone who is not your spouse, you need to figure out why you are turning away from your spouse. Talk to your spouse about this, and go to marriage counseling if possible to help figure out why you don’t communicate well. Start working towards increasing positive communication between the two of you by sending texts during the day, and carving out time for intimate conversation at night. Learn to work through conflict.
If you have lost the spark between you, it’s time to get it back! Work to communicate with your spouse about needs that are going unmet. Try to spice things up in the bedroom. Go on a date night, or do a date night in with candles, wine, and chocolate. Work to meet your partner’s need for physical intimacy by pouring into making them feel loved.
Remember that sex starts outside of the bedroom as well. Work to reconnect emotionally by increasing physical touch, asking the other person about their day, dreaming together, and spending quality time together. Try to remember why you fell in love with your spouse. Reminisce about the days when you were dating, and remember what was so attractive to you then. For more information about ways to improve romance, visit my blog called “Let’s Talk About Sex”.
Boundaries with Kids
When children come along, it’s a wonderful thing. But, they can wreak havoc on your marriage if you aren’t careful. Work together to make your marriage the priority. Simple things like making sure your spouse feels important, and carving out time for them is vital. Put them first, even when it’s hard. Spoil your spouse, not your kids! Infidelity will not happen if your spouse feels loved, appreciated, and valued by you.
Set boundaries with your kids. Give them a set bedtime, which in turn gives you both time together in the evening. DO NOT allow your children to sleep in your bedroom. Your bedroom needs to remain a sacred space for you and your spouse. Make sure that you have time together to be intimate in conversation and sexually. Take breaks away from your kids (vacations, overnights, etc.). Your children will be better off in the long run when they see two parents who are still together, and who love and cherish each other.
If life is too busy, you probably are not having fun together. It’s important to laugh together and be goofy. Take a day off from work and just go do something out of the ordinary together. Spend time reconnecting. Put down the phones, and unplug from work and other responsibilities. Pour into each other. I know I preach this all of the time, but date nights are a NECESSITY. If you are not dating each other, your marriage will suffer for it.
If you feel like you are drifting apart, it’s not going to get better on its own. It will take time, effort, energy, and commitment. Plan some date nights where you try something new together, go to an event, or learn a new hobby. Go to a restaurant familiar to you or a brand new one you’ve always wanted to try. For more ideas, check out my blog “Cheap and Free Date Nights”.
Final Thoughts: Make sure you are protecting and safeguarding your marriage from infidelity. It’s so easy for your marriage to be put on the back burner and not made a priority. Work together as a team to ensure you have good boundaries in place. Make sure you are communicating well and checking in with each other daily. Work to ensure you are meeting each other’s needs. Increase romance by working on intimacy. Increase the amount of good quality time together and have fun. Isn’t your marriage worth it?
Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling in Carmel, Indiana. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.