07/23/2013 01:53 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2013

5 Ways To Affair-Proof Your Marriage Before It's Too Late


Once you cross the line, it's too late. If you or your partner cheats, you can expect up to two years, maybe even three, of hard work and pain to get over the betrayal. If you make it through, and you may, trusting each other again can take even longer. Preventing an affair now while you can is the key. There are five ways you can do it and if you start today, it may not be too late.

1. Honesty. Seems obvious, right? But I'm talking about the hard kind of honesty. Be honest with your partner about your attraction to other people. Tell them before something happens, not after. It's much more painful to apologize after you cheat than it is to admit you are interested in the possibility. We all fantasize about other people. In fact, 98% of all of us fantasize about someone other than our partner. But when a fantasy or an attraction starts to turn into something more serious, communicate with your partner about how you feel. The key to preventing an affair is to talk with your partner before anything happens.

2. Appreciation. You always get more of what you appreciate. This prevention tip will only come back to you in positive ways. Tell your partner every day what you appreciate about them, and be specific. Try to give them appreciation not only for their actions, "you are a great driver," or "a great cook," but also for their character "you are a wonderful person," and "you are so generous." Don't forget to appreciate how they look every day as well, for instance: "You are so sexy," or "I love your arms." You can never give your partner too much appreciation, so don't worry about laying it on too thick.

3. Tell them what you need. Your partner cannot read your mind. I repeat, they cannot read your mind, and they won't know what you want unless you tell them. You have to share with your partner what you long for in your relationship. This includes telling them not only the small things, like how you like your coffee in the morning, but the big things, like what you desire in bed. Don't expect things to change in your relationship if you haven't shared what you want. It's not fair to be disappointed if they haven't sent you flowers if you haven't told them you like flowers. And yes, it still counts even if you have to tell them. How else are they going to learn what you want?

4. Communicate. This is such an overused word. Everyone knows you are supposed to communicate to have a good relationship. However not everyone knows what it really means. Communicating does not mean simply waiting for the other person to stop talking so that you can speak. It means having regular, open dialogues and sharing your feelings. Check in daily about how you are doing in the relationship. One method might be "How are you? How am I? How are we?" And when you have this conversation, really listen to what your partner is sharing.

5. Have sex. And lots of it. And don't blame your partner if you are bored with your sex life. If you are bored, so are they. It's your fault too. Shake it up. Share some fantasies. Dig deep and talk about something you might like to try. Even if you never take a fantasy into action, it's the discussion about the fantasy that will turn both of you on, and that energy will begin to shift your erotic life into something more exciting, even more than something hot you might watch on the Internet. Your mind is the sexiest thing you own, don't waste it. Turn it on today and enjoy your erotic life together. It's the one thing that makes you more than just roommates. And you could probably find a better roommate.

If you can do these five things: be honest about your attraction to other people, appreciate your partner every day, tell them what you need, communicate about your feelings and really listen and work on sharing fantasies to improve your sex life, there is no reason that either of you ever needs to stray. Besides, you will be so busy happily working on your own relationship, where will you ever find the time?

Tammy Nelson, PhD is a sex and relationship expert and the author of Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together, and The New Monogamy; Erotic Recovery After Infidelity. She can be found at