My one deal breaker with my husband, which I've been very vocal about throughout our relationship, has been infidelity. I could forgive a thousand other things -- the dirty clothes, forgetting my birthday, calling me a nag, telling me I'm crazy, and yes the worst of them all telling me, "You are your mother". All those other transgressions seem to pale in comparison (yes EVEN the "you are your mother" comment) to stepping outside our marriage, our union, the lives we've built, the unit we've created as a couple and sharing himself in the most intimate way with another person.
For me, all I really have in this marriage (aside from the money I didn't sign a prenup for -- really we're NOT talking Trump money here -- trust me) is trust. When I married this man I took a huge leap of faith -- just based on his words -- and for 13 years I have trusted him (quite blindly I might add) that he wouldn't desecrate our marriage by stepping outside of it with another person in the most biblical sense. But of course this infidelity is not just physical -- I also trust that he's not having an emotional affair with another.
I trust him and he trusts me -- and so if I were ever to find out that this trust had been broken, I think I too would be broken, I think our marriage would be irreparably damaged. I also feel that if my husband had a burning need to step outside our marriage, that rather than cheat on me he would tell me, and we'd try to work on it. But the act of undermining the trust I have given him, well I just don't think it is something I could ever recover from.
Of course I am the FIRST person to tell you that marriage is just about the hardest job you will take on in your life; living day in and day out with someone else is a series of compromises, and restraining oneself from breaking a series of vases over the other's head. But I am committed to this man, for better and for worse, and whenever I can glean a tip or two to keep my marital trust strong and relevant, well, I'm open to it.
So without further ado, here are three tips to help you cheat-proof your marriage. If nothing else they're worth reading, because once that trust is broken, it will be that much harder for you to invest in your marriage with that same blind and all encompassing trust and love.
#1 Be an active listener: Stop what you're doing. Really hear your partner and when they feel understood that will go a long way in helping the two of you feel validated as individuals and as a couple.
#2 Have a couples play date: With our kids, we see the importance in creating and keeping fun in a relationship. Invest the same fun factor into your marriage: Dance around the kitchen, or if you can't go on a date, create space where you can re-energize your relationship and just have fun together.
#3 Stay curious about your spouse: Remember in the beginning when you asked so many questions about one another? Of course as a relationship/marriage progresses we get lazy -- and we assume we know what partner is feeling and thinking. But like any relationship or friendship, if you stop engaging in conversation, asking questions and really connecting with that other person, the relationship will simply cease to be vital. Our marriages are subject to the same issues, they are not made of reinforced steel. They too will crumble if we are not constantly nourishing them... so STAY curious about your spouse!
Okay married men and women- got any tips to add?
Melissa Chapman blogs about her marriage and everything in between at www.marriedmysugardaddy.com.
She is currently a writer for Lifetime Moms and her work has appeared in The Staten Island Advance, Care.com, ABC News,BlogHer, Baby Center, Momtourage, Babble, The Washington Post, Time, Out NY Kids iVillage and http://www.thestatenislandfamily.com/