Affair-Proof a Marriage?

Q: In the past, when I found myself losing affection for the person I was with, I have cheated. I have resolved never to do this again. What can I do to ensure that my future husband and I never have to experience this kind of pain? I have friends who are unhappily married, and my own sister cheated on her husband. I refuse to accept that I have to let my husband sleep around or that I have to go outside my marriage for emotional fulfillment. Although my parents had a wonderful marriage, I do not see much hope for people in my generation (I am 26). What can I do to "affair-proof" my marriage? -- Sharon

Dr. Susan: You might be surprised at how many couples of previous generations had less perfect marriages than was apparent to outsiders. The difference is not that people used to be happier, but many of them used to take commitment more seriously and stayed together regardless of their day-to-day dissatisfactions. Young people today do seem to feel that they're owed instant - and lasting - thrills in their relationships.

Can you affair-proof? There's no 25- or 200-word answer that would be personal enough to your unique relationship. Unfortunately, I can tell you that affair-proofing can never be 100 percent guaranteed. No more than you can ensure you won't become ill, even if you follow every health rule pushed by the latest medical science.

What you can do, though, is ask your mate that question! Once the two of you air your fears and talk about how you'd handle tempting situations, you're halfway there. Face the fact, together, that you create a wonderful marriage, over time. You just don't happen upon one. Since you asked, though, let me offer a few tips that some very happy couples shared with me when I wrote "Loving in Flow": Agree on what infidelity is. Never keep secrets. Make time in your marriage for shared risk and adventure. Build your intimacy.

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