Happily Ever After
While most of us associate Valentine's Day with candlelit dinners, roses and chocolates, would it surprise you to know that February 13-15 is the most lucrative time for detectives to catch cheating spouses?
We hear about infidelity all the time. Everybody's doing it, or so it seems: politicians, celebrities, star athletes, CEOs, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Most of us believe (or want to believe) that our own marriages are safe, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
According to WomanSavers.com, conservative infidelity statistics estimate that 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. Before you even think about becoming one of those numbers, let's consider the consequences.
The truth is, for whatever reason they begin (and the excuses are many), affairs never have a happy ending. To give into temptation for the sake of a moment of pleasure that is consummated by sneaking around and lying is guaranteed, sooner or later, to bring heartache to everyone involved. Guilt becomes the constant companion of a cheater. Even if you never get caught, it will gnaw at your gut until it devours your soul. But the pain doesn't stop with the cheaters. Infidelity discovered or not, touches the lives of innocent spouses, children, extended families, friends and even future generations.
The good news is, infidelity can be prevented, or at least you can reduce the chances of either you or your partner straying. You see, temptation is a gradual process that begins in the mind. Suggestive articles, movies, books, magazines and Web sites initiate lustful thoughts which turn to desire and may ultimately result in action. Even a one-night stand doesn't happen completely by accident; it is preceded by improper thoughts. So the first step toward an affair-proof marriage is to monitor what you put into your mind. This may mean tuning out certain television programs or radio broadcasts, boycotting vulgar movies, canceling racy magazine subscriptions and avoiding risquÈ Internet sites, chat rooms and inappropriate social networking sites. It means refusing to patronize establishments that sell so-called "adult" literature or provide "adult" entertainment. You want to be an adult? Be man or woman enough to say no to anything that threatens the sanctity of your marriage.
This, in my opinion is where our world has gone astray. By making sex a common commodity, easily accessed and blatantly distorted, we have spoiled its beauty and undermined its meaning. Sex is not just something you do for fun with anyone who happens to strike your fancy. If you have ever experienced the real deal-the passion and ecstasy of sex that is driven by deep love and affection for your partner-you will never again consider settling for the cheap imitation motivated by lust alone.
I'm no prude. Over the course of a lifetime, I've had my share of experiences and made my share of mistakes. Believe me, there is nothing outside of marriage that can compare. It is the ultimate connection possible between two human beings. Want to have a hot sex life? Keep it exclusive.
The Faithful Marriage
But fidelity is a lot more than abstaining from extramarital sex. True faithfulness is the acknowledgment, in everyday actions more so than words, "Your needs and interests are important to me. I care for you more than anyone or anything else." That's what forever love is about. And that is the true source of satisfaction in a committed marriage.
Contrary to what the mainstream media would have us believe, affair-proofing your marriage is not about wearing seductive underwear or learning new tricks to perform in bed. It is about fortifying your relationship through clear communication and reaffirming your commitment to do the right thing.
While no marriage is completely immune to adultery, here are some positive steps you and your spouse can take toward prevention:
Don't flirt. However innocent it may seem, expressing interest can open the door to inappropriate actions.
Avoid workplace/career danger zones. Don't lunch alone with or take frequent coffee breaks with the same person. When you travel with a co-worker, meet in a public place, not in a room with a bed.
Beware of online temptations. So easy. So available. So dangerous. Don't go there.
Keep old flames from re-igniting. Protect your marriage by avoiding partners from past relationships. If you must meet up with a former lover, include your spouse.
Socialize with like-minded people. Spend time with other married couples or friends who share your values and respect monogamous relationships.
Beware of lonely hearts. Resist the call to rescue an unhappy soul who pours his or her heart out to you.
Keep relationship issues private. Discuss any intimate matters or marital problems with your spouse. If you need to talk to someone else about your marriage, consider a licensed counselor.
Let your spouse know what you need and expect. If you feel you are not getting the attention and affection you need from your partner, talk to him/her about it and/or seek professional advice.
Be cautious in the use of alcohol. Alcohol consumption tends to lower inhibitions and impair judgment, which can make you more susceptible to outside influences. Steer clear of situations where drinking and temptation coexist.
This Valentine's Day, renew your vow to keep only unto your spouse. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. Make it known by your words and actions that you are committed to your marriage and that no one can come between you and your mate.
CAUTION: If you are thinking of having a fling, DON'T. Talk to your spouse about what is missing in your marriage and work together to correct the problem. See a counselor separately or together, and find a way to get your needs met within your marriage. If this proves impossible, then have the courage to ask for a divorce before you step out on your partner.
If you are already involved in an adulterous affair, end it today. It may hurt to do so, but you will save yourself and others from much greater agony down the road. Understand that you will never find the happiness you seek by robbing someone else of theirs. Remember: to steal away time from a committed relationship is to take something precious from another person whose heart you are breaking whether they know it yet or not. Whether you cheat on someone to whom you are committed or with someone who is committed to someone else, the biggest loser is you. Don't you think you deserve better?
Coming next month: What to do if you suspect your spouse is cheating.