The 13 ways to prevent your partner from cheating (and having lots of sex ISN'T on the list)
- Tracey Cox reveals the tell tale signs your marriage is heading for an affair
- Volatile relationships can feed the temptation for partners to stray
- Having alone time can actually prevent a partner from straying
It’s a depressing and shocking statistic but around 60 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women will cheat at some point in their marriages.
Why? Because affairs are exciting, energising and a huge boost to the ego - for the person having one.
The person on the other side of the affair is left with very different emotions: unhappiness, despair and a desperate feeling of helplessness.
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Tracey Cox reveals the warning signs that your marriage could be heading in the direction of an affair
Who wants to be on that side? No one!
Nothing will really affair-proof your marriage because each infidelity is unique and you can’t control your partner’s thoughts or actions.
But there are things you can do to increase your chances of having an affair-free marriage.
And guess what? Surgery and having copious amounts of sex aren’t on the list.
Here’s what’s really important.
Have you chosen the right partner?
The most important predictor of whether your partner will cheat is what sort of person you’ve chosen.
People are more likely to cheat if they work in a profession where cheating is considered the norm (banking, football) or if their parents had an affair (we often emulate the parent we think got hurt the least – usually the person who had the affair – to avoid being hurt ourselves).
In certain cultures, infidelity isn’t a big deal. The French and those from Mediterranean cultures are most likely to agree with this sentiment though – obviously - it doesn’t mean all people from these countries are unfaithful.
Tracey says that being experimental in the bedroom can help keep a marriage alive
The more someone travels with their work, the higher the incidence of cheating: they have motive (loneliness or sexual frustration) and the opportunity to get away with it.
Your partner’s relationship history also plays a part: if they’ve cheated on other partners, it’s more likely they will cheat on you.
One recent study found every person you sleep with before marriage increases your likelihood of cheating by one per cent.
The ‘sow your wild oats’ theory turns out to be rubbish.
Far from getting it out of your system, the more your partner slept around before you settled down, the more likely they are to have an affair.
Narcissists are also ripe for affairs.
If your partner is focused on themselves and their own needs, rather than what’s best for the relationship, they’re more likely to indulge and have a fling.
This is a predictive rather than definitive list so it doesn’t mean your partner is certain to cheat if they tick some or all of the boxes.
But it does mean having some frank discussions about what each of your definitions of infidelity are, to make sure you’re on the same page, are a very good idea.
Have you talked through your definitions of infidelity?
Even if you scored low on the question above, it’s much harder to justify an affair to your partner if you’ve both discussed exactly what constitutes an affair.
Sit down together and spell out exactly what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable.
Let them know what you will and won’t put up with - and what would make you walk without looking back.
Do you fight fair?
Next to choosing the right partner, this is by far and away the most important thing you can do to affair proof your relationship.
If you’re both able to solve arguments quickly and easily without leaving one or the other feeling resentful or hurt, you are way ahead of the game.
Tracey says that toxic marriages with unresolved anger lay the foundations for unhappy partners to dabble in affairs
Toxic marriages that have a foundation of unresolved anger are affair breeding grounds.
If you both have very different communications styles and struggle to resolve problems, get yourself off to see a therapist quick smart (see below).
Do you let them do things without you?
However close you are and however much your partner loves you, no one person can satisfy all their needs.
Let them have their hobbies, time alone with friends and time alone to indulge in whatever it is that makes them happy.
We need lots of things to make us feel content, not just a great relationship.
Instead of seeing their time away from you as a threat, think of it as a guarantee they’ll be more fulfilled and less likely to search for excitement in the form of an affair.
Do you do lots of exciting things together?
Countless studies tell us quality time spent together as a couple is a huge factor in keeping you both happy.
Just make sure it’s not all comfort based – like snuggling in front of the telly (even if new research did find couples who binged on box sets were happier than those who didn’t!).
People don’t just have affairs when they’re unhappy. They do it because they’re bored.
If you’re constantly doing exciting things together – travelling, coming up with joint projects, trying new restaurants and experiences – you’re getting that need met within your marriage.
Do you check in regularly?
Text, phone, email, social media – it doesn’t matter how you communicate just that you do it regularly when you’re apart.
Regular check-ins don’t just keep you connected, they make long stretches of time with someone they shouldn’t be with harder to get away with.
It’s not a terribly flattering reason for your partner to remain faithful but if they know it would be extremely difficult to get away with having an affair, they’re far less likely to start one.
Are their friends ‘safe’?
We can’t choose the friends our partner hangs out with but you can be on the alert for friends who are a bad influence.
YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO CHEAT APPROACHING A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY
People who are 29, 39, 49 or 59 are more likely to cheat and make life-changing decisions as they approach a milestone birthday, a study published in November revealed.
Researchers analysed the responses of 42,000 adults from more than 100 countries who completed a survey about their values between 2010 and 2014.
They found that people with an age ending in nine were more likely to make changes ‘that suggest a search for meaning’ such as taking up marathon running or joining an extramarital dating site.
Lead author Adam Alter, from New York University, said: ‘People audit the meaningfulness of their lives as they approach a new decade.
'People tend to either conclude happily that their lives are meaningful or they decide their lives lack meaning.
'...some people might struggle to come to terms with the conclusion that their lives lack meaning. They might seek a socially damaging extramarital affair.'
The researchers obtained data from an online dating site that targets people who are already in a relationship and found that there were far more 9-ender men - 18 per cent more - than would be expected by chance.
Further analysis found a similar, though less-pronounced, pattern of results for women.
Ideally, your partner would befriend people who are also in good relationships and take a dim view of infidelity.
Lots of people view single friends as the ones most likely to lead people astray but far more dangerous are people stuck in bad relationships and desperate to get out.
Being constantly reminded of the negatives of relationships has a rub-on effect plus these are the people most likely to cheat (and possibly encourage your partner to do the same).
Do you spend time with happy couples?
Recent research found couples that are good friends with happy couples are far less likely to cheat or split up.
Not only is it inspiring to be around people who clearly enjoy each other, we learn how to successfully resolve conflict by watching how happy couples do it.
Are you open to trying new things sexually?
The more sexually satisfied your partner, the less likely they are to seek sex outside the marriage.
But that doesn’t mean having so much sex your partner’s too exhausted to seek it elsewhere: it’s quality not quantity that matters.
Affairs aren’t always about sex but they are frequently about craving novelty within a monogamous relationship.
The amount of sex you have is significant but it’s the level of experimentation that’s crucial.
Does your partner feel comfortable suggesting new things to try without you having a kneejerk reaction?
Have you met their work ‘wife’ or ‘husband’?
Look but don’t touch affairs are becoming exceedingly common.
Most of us work long hours – much longer than we spend with our partners at home – and the more time we spend with someone we like, the more likely we are to develop feelings for them.
It creates a false sense of single when your partner is never in the picture.
The more their workmates meet you, the more they’re reminded that your partner is in a relationship.
Anyone who thinks they could steal your partner away is discouraged by seeing the two of you interact happily.
Has there been a dramatic life change?
When life circumstances change dramatically (new job, death of a parent) or your partner is about to reach a milestone birthday, relationships are vulnerable.
If they’re just about to enter a new decade, they’re highly likely to reflect on their life and identify what’s missing.
An affair often seems like the quickest way to fill any void – even though they usually do the opposite and create rather than solve problems.
Would you get therapy if you needed it?
In the old days, seeing a couples counsellor was considered the death knell of a relationship.
Couples went into therapy with grim desperation and rarely came out of it holding hands and skipping off into the sunset.
Happily, the stigma has now gone and therapy is more acceptable, practical, accessible - and successful.
According to BACP (the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), forty per cent more couples seek therapy now than they did six years ago.
Therapy doesn’t just solve big problems. It can help with the little ones (that turn into the big ones) by teaching communication skills and healthy ways to dissolve anger.
The earlier you seek help, the more effective therapy is at solving problems – and the less likely it is your partner will start looking outside the marriage for excitement and enjoyment.
Would your partner be open to seeking help from an expert, if you needed it?
Do you look after yourself?
A three minute click through this website will tell you being beautiful doesn’t guarantee that people will be faithful.
You can be beautiful and boring. Or beautiful and difficult. Or dull. Or bitter and resentful and horrible to be around.
All these things nudge people into having affairs.
But pretending that it’s ALL about ‘what’s on the inside’ is an equally foolish assumption.
Stay healthy and take pride in your appearance and your partner won’t be the only one to benefit.
The more attractive we feel, the better we feel about ourselves.
Check out traceycox.com for more of Tracey’s advice, products and books.
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