Marriage is not easy. There are times when you argue too much, fail to connect, and have little in common. In these times, you might find yourself having some of your needs met by people other than your partner. This is fine, even healthy. A good friend, your sounding board; a relative, your problem solver. You may also find yourself connecting at some point with someone with whom romantic feelings have potential. This is where to draw the line.
1. Who, What, When, and Where of Encounters:
Who are you spending time with and why? There are healthy and unhealthy individuals; however, if attraction is of issue, best to avoid both.
What is the nature of the reasons for spending time together? Would your spouse be okay with the circumstances?
When are you placing yourself with that person? Is it day or night? Also, be aware of what you are giving up when you spend time with that person and whether you are sacrificing work or family time to meet.
Where are you spending time? Think location, location, location. Are they private or public spaces? What is the nature of the environment? If alcohol is available, monitor consumption.
2. Watch What You Watch:
How often is the premise of what you are watching or reading include some star-crossed couple beating the odds, even leaving marriages to get together? We practically cheer for it! Frankly, I am sick of the morally vapid plot line of nice married guy with mean wife accidentally falls for sweet girl and leaves wife —sometimes she even gives her blessing, as she isn't happy either! Easy-peasy! Affairs are portrayed as just that simple, exciting, and happiness guaranteed. Not so with Fatal Attraction. That movie goes a long way to support an argument for fidelity. So guard your mind, especially during times of vulnerability in your marriage.
3. Know Yourself:
Why is this person a temptation for you? What is missing in you? You are likely seeking intimacy, connection and attention that you feel is lacking in your marriage. Perhaps you no longer feel attractive or important. Be honest with yourself as to what is drawing you. When clients are in affairs, I often hear how this person gets them in a way their wife couldn't, or they connect on a different level than their husband feeling someone else can fill the void they haven't been able to heal in themselves.
4. Be Honest:
Be honest that you could have an affair, and be honest with your partner about the temptation of the affair. Talk about what needs to be worked on. Don't overestimate your resolve by putting yourself in questionable circumstances, and don't underestimate the damage an affair can cause. Frank Pittman, author of Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy, writes in Psychology Today, "Beyond Betrayal: Life After Infidelity":
“Romantic affairs lead to a great many divorces, suicides, homicides, heart attacks, and strokes, but not to very many successful remarriages. No matter how many sacrifices you make to keep the love alive, no matter how many sacrifices your family and children make for this crazy relationship, it will gradually burn itself out when there is nothing more to sacrifice to it. Then you must face not only the wreckage of several lives, but the original depression from which the affair was an insane flight into escape.”
5. Work on Your Marriage:
Affair love isn't real, it is novel, exciting, and prohibited. It is a series of fantasies built on lies worked to maintain the fantasy at all costs. A marriage rarely gets this desperate focus and need for exoneration. Imagine putting energy into your marriage and working as hard to remove obstacles to have success with it.