14 Ways To Affair Proof Your Marriage

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 13, 2008 · 92 comments

in Marriage, Relationships & Family

fidelity1.jpg
Photo by HarveNYC

This week New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was forced to confess his involvement in a prostitution ring. The story has been all over the media and many blogs have done posts compiling lists of other prominent men’s fall from grace. But some of the most important questions aren’t being asked. Mainly, how does this happen, especially to a man who has spent his life crusading against corruption? And how can other men avoid falling into the same trap?

The Sptizer case, while certainly high profile, is hardly a rarity. 25% of all American men (and some studies put the number even higher) will have extramarital affairs during their lifetime. Will you be 1 of the 4? Or will you be able to stay true?

Many people look at infidelity as if it was a natural disaster; no one could see it coming; it just inexplicably happened. Perhaps this is because we are a country that has abdicated its belief in personal responsibility. The truth is that not only can men see it coming, they can prevent it from happening as well.

It is possible to affair proof your marriage. Will it be a lot of work? Yes. But that’s what you signed up for when you decided to marry your sweetheart.

What is cheating?

Before we begin our discussion on how to immunize your marriage against infidelity, we should establish what constitutes cheating. Having sex with another woman other than your wife is obviously cheating. But it’s also possible to be unfaithful without having to go that far. Infidelity has shades of gray that should likewise be avoided. It is possible to be emotionally unfaithful without crossing any physical boundaries. A perfect example of this is online infidelity. More and more married men are having online romantic and sometimes sexual relationships with women other than their wife. While there’s no physical contact, I would definitely say this is cheating. Men who “date” online are violating a trust that their wife has put in them to be faithful-both body and mind.

Now let’s get down to business. Here are 14 ways to affair proof your marriage:

Make your Marriage Your #1 Priority

This past summer my wife and I spent a week in Montpelier, Vermont. If you were to picture the ideal small American town, Montpelier would be it. It’s an absolutely charming place. One of the town’s tourist brochures carried the tagline: “Places like this don’t just happen.” The citizens of Montpelier have put in a lot of work to maintain the town’s magic.

Similarly, successful marriages don’t just happen. You have to be willing to put in the effort. This is especially true as couples get busier with careers, kids, or community activities. Those things are important, but if you want a strong marriage, your wife must come first.

Keep dating your wife. We’ve written about this before, but it deserves repeating. Establish a weekly “date night” with your wife and treat this time as sacred. Your dates don’t have to be fancy, but you do need to work to keep them fresh. A recent study showed that injecting novelty into your dates can bring back the butterflies you experienced when you were first courting. So visit a new restaurant, try a new hobby, or take a class together.

Quit the porn. Bringing porn into a relationship is not healthy. It’s like bringing another woman into your marriage, except she’s glossy and airbrushed. Porn will only create an unrealistic expectation in your mind about your spouse’s libido, body, and comfort level with weird sex positions. Pretty soon you’ll find that your wife isn’t satisfying you and your eyes will start to wander. Dump the porn.

Focus on being romantic. Any woman will tell you it doesn’t take much to be romantic. A romantic letter or email only takes a few minutes to write. Flowers are always welcome, even if you picked them up from the grocery store on the way home. These small gestures show your wife that you’ve thought of her and help you reinforce your commitment to your wife.

Initiate affection. Studies show that couples who are affectionate with each other stay together. Make an effort to initiate spontaneous affection with your wife. Give her a hug or surprise kiss and tell her how much you love her. Hold hands with her when you’re out together. Also, don’t make your wife cuddle-rape you. Invite cuddling with her without making it a precursor to sex. These small gestures will help strengthen the physical connection that every relationship needs.

Have sex regularly. Many men stray because they’ve gotten bored with their sex life with their wife. It’s pretty easy to get into a slump in your sex life when you’re married. Things just get busy and by the end of the day, couples are just too tired for it. Make sex with your wife a priority. It doesn’t have to involve kama sutra and edible underwear. Just do it. Frequent sexual encounters with your wife will strengthen your emotional and physical attraction to her.

Spend time just talking. Find some time each day to have meaningful conversations with your wife. If you have kiddos, do it after you put them in bed. Talk about what you did during the day. Discuss what you’ve been thinking about lately. Share your dreams with them. The idea is to deepen the bond between to you and your wife. It’s harder to cheat on her when you’ve made such an emotional investment. Deposit into this investment by frequently engaging in meaningful conversations.

Share a common interest. A big reason men stray from their wives is that they begin to find less and less in common with them. When you first started dating, you probably had everything in common. Well, at least you thought you did. So you would spend lots of time together doing things you both enjoyed. Then you got married and started working and your wife either started working too or stayed home to take care of the kids. Pretty soon there begins to be much fewer areas in which your lives overlap.

Avoid this by maintaining a common interest or hobby with your wife. For example, my in-laws do ballroom dancing lessons. Every weekend they’re out dancing. When they’re at home in the evenings they practice in the living room. My wife and I have made it a goal run in a 5K and we’ve started to run together. We also have this blog that we do together. Just find something that both of you can enjoy and participate in it together.

Have a sense of honor and duty. Remember that when you got married you made a sacred promise or vow that you would be faithful to your wife. There was a time when a gentleman was judged on whether or not he was a man of his word. Sadly, people today don’t take those sorts of things seriously. Many people feel justified in breaking their promises when something stops being easy and pleasurable. Buck the trend. Be a man of your word. The honorable thing is to fulfill the duty to your wife that you freely took upon yourself the day you got married. I know some will say, “You shouldn’t stay in a terrible marriage just to avoid breaking your vows.” Perhaps not, but you do have the duty to do everything you can to save that marriage before calling it quits. And I mean everything.

Establish boundaries

Many men feel they are manly enough to handle any situation with a woman. For them, setting firm boundaries reeks of weakness or unnecessary zealotry. But that is what every man thinks right before they take it too far. Far better to be safe than sorry. If people think you are a prude, so be it. You are prude going home to the love of your life each night with a head held high.

In your quest to avoid temptation, it should be understood that there’s nothing wrong with having friendships with other women. In fact, it’s inevitable. You probably work closely with other women at work or school. The key is to know where to draw the line and then to stay as far away from it as possible. This will require you to do some serious introspection and figure out what your boundaries are. Here some things you can do to help you in that process.

Establish boundaries with your wife. Sit down with your wife and find out what she’s comfortable with in regards to your relationships with other women and vice versa. It will be different with each couple. For example, you might make it rule that neither of you will drive or ride alone in a car (unless absolutely necessary) or dance with a member of the opposite sex.

Evaluate your vulnerabilities. Sit down with your wife and evaluate your vulnerabilities. Many people don’t realize that they may have personality traits that open themselves up for infidelity. These traits don’t have to be bad either. For example, you might naturally be an empathetic listener. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some women may take this attention the wrong way.

How do you know if you’ve crossed the line between friendship and something more?

There are three signs that indicate that you may have crossed the line into infidelity:

1) Emotional intimacy

Do you find yourself sharing more of your feelings and thoughts with your female friend than with your wife?

2) Sexual tension

You instinctively know when it is present. Huge red flag. Don’t rationalize it away.

3) Secrecy

Do you close your email window when you wife walks by? Do you leave out details of your day because they include encounters with your friend? The minute you fudge anything about your relationship with your female friend, you’ve stepped over the line.

If you see any of these signs, it’s time to re-evaluate your friendship with that other woman. You may need be broaden your boundaries in order to avoid any temptation in the future.

Avoid temptation

Meet in groups, if possible. If you know you can’t handle situations of being alone with another woman without it crossing the line, avoid being alone with another woman.

Avoid frequent conversations about your personal life. Many an affair begins when people start talking about their problems with another woman besides their wife. They feel like the other person understands them better than their wife. They feel a closer connection with them, so they start spending more time with them. If not checked, it may eventually lead to infidelity. Not always, but why risk it?

Stay away from online dating sites. A recent study shows that a large percentage of men who surf online dating sites are married. Virtual affairs are still affairs.

It’s harder to cheat on your wife than stay faithful

Think about the consequences. It’s actually much harder to cheat on your wife than it is to be faithful to her. When you’re unfaithful, you have to start sneaking around, hiding phone calls, and lying. That’s a lot of damn work. While being in a committed relationship takes a lot of work too, it pales in comparison to the rigamarole you’ll have to go through to have those few moments of excitement with another woman.

Another way cheating makes your life harder is having to deal with the consequences when you’re finally caught. Imagine having to face your children and tell them you haven’t been completely faithful to their mother. Imagine the look of hurt and sadness you’ll see in the eyes of the woman you told you would love forever. If that doesn’t make your stomach sink a bit, you’re a giant douchebag.

Conclusion

Making your marriage affair proof requires a large investment of time and emotional capital. But the investment is well worth it. Set high standards for your marriage and for yourself. Man up and you’ll never stray.

{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kevan March 14, 2008 at 12:10 am

I could not agree more with this post, kudos to you for writing this. Governor Spitzer’s moral shortcomings should serve as a reminder to us all how important it is to step up and care for our marriages, and to cut out any sort of behavior that could jeopardize them. This post inspires me to continue to try my best to honor my wife and my marriage, which is truly the manly thing to do. God bless you for this post, I hope it gets a lot of reads.

2 peterrabbid March 14, 2008 at 3:37 am

I’d like to add to this that if you can’t be man enough to treat your wife with enough respect to not be a dick, then at least be man enough to leave before putting her through the hell of finding you cheating.
At the end of the day, you can’t be blamed for losing interest; this happens all the time and can be difficult to avoid, but you’re better off being honest and admitting it, and talking to your wife about it. Even if the end result is that you split up, at least you’re not deluding each other.
And if you’re too pathetic to admit to yourself and your wife that you’re no longer happy in your relationship and need to go and sneak around behind her back, I suggest imagining how you would feel if you caught her in bed with another man before breaking her trust.

3 Sandro March 14, 2008 at 4:20 am

I’ve just read this excelente articule and I’d like to share it with my fellows here back in Brazil.
To do so I’d like to ask for your permission to translate it into Portuguese so more people around here are able to understand it.
Of course if you aloow me to do that, a proper hyperlink will be appointed to artofmanliness.com
Please let me know if you agreed.

Kind Regards

4 Hayden Tompkins March 14, 2008 at 7:13 am

I would add, keep your closest friendships SAME SEX. Friendships by design mean that you are intimate in what you share with someone. Women demand emotional intimacy from all their friends, men and women both.

Start on a friendship with someone of the opposite sex and you are opening the door, especially when your marriage starts to have problems.

5 Brian Timm March 14, 2008 at 9:03 am

Bravo!

thank you for writing this post, i have already subscribed to your blog but if i hadn’t, i would right now.

I’m absolutely excited that someone is talking about being a real man, especially when relationships are concerned. Society has got it all wrong. I was raised primarily by my mother and sisters and am grateful for it everyday. Respect for women is a sign of manliness. and the ultimate respect for a woman is when you make her your wife and treat her as so.

thanks again, and i LOVE this blog.

-Brian

6 Jeremy March 14, 2008 at 9:07 am

Except for the porn bit, which is ridiculous and a total stereotype (My wife and I enjoy porn together quite often, and completely writing it off like you have doesn’t apply to everyone), this article is spot on and very informative. Here’s to ten years with you next month, sweetie. :)

7 Brett McKay March 14, 2008 at 9:19 am

@Jeremy-

I will concede that not all couples find porn destructive to their marriage, especially when they view it together. I was aiming more at men who look at porn apart from their wife, and use it as an easy way to get off, without having to deal with pleasing their wife and the work that goes into having sex.

Also, while the idea that porn is bad may not apply to everybody, I do think it is one of those areas where it is better to be safe than sorry. Not every man will get addicted and start indulging in it to the detriment of their relationship with their wife. But I have known enough cases in which this indeed happened that I think it it better to swear it off than tempt fate. It is another one of those areas where a man must be honest with himself in knowing his boundaries.

8 Brett McKay March 14, 2008 at 9:30 am

@ Kevan- Thanks for the kind words!

@ Peterrabbid- I think you make a good point. Sometimes marriages don’t workout. When they don’t, the only honorable thing to do would be honest with your wife. Cheating should not be an option.

@ Hayden- I think that’s a good point, too. I think many men have a hard time keep close friendships with women just friendships. I’ve heard of several instances where men start having marital problems, start confiding it to their best female friend, and WHAMO! guy’s in bed with his friend.

@Brian- Thanks for the kind words. We agree that a true sign of a man is the way they respect and treat women. We hope to see you around here more often.

9 A-F-R-I-C-A-N March 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm

AWWW how sweet but look at these numbers:
Studies from PlayBoy magazine.
1. 2 out of 3 women and 3 out of 4 men admit they have sexual thoughts about co-workers.

2. 86% of men and 81% of women admit they routinely flirt with the opposite sex.

3. 75% of men and 65% of women admit to having sex with people they work with.

4. “Most experts do consider the ‘educated guess’ that at the present time some 50 to 65 percent of husbands and 45 to 55 percent of wives become extramaritally involved by the age of 40 to be a relatively sound and reasonable one.” According to Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth, first published in 1989 by Newmarket Press (third edition published 2003).

5. Conservative infidelity statistics estimate that “60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. These figures are even more significant when we consider the total number of marriages involved, since it’s unlikely that all the men and women having affairs happen to be married to each other. If even half of the women having affairs (or 20 percent) are married to men not included in the 60 percent having affairs, then at least one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of all marriages. With this many marriages affected, it’s unreasonable to think affairs are due only to the failures and shortcomings of individual husbands or wives.”

NOW for the “banger”:
Note that the above adultry statistics of the prevalence of affairs were made more than a decade ago; so based on changes in society during the intervening years, the current percentage of the population who have had affairs is probably somewhat HIGHER. For instance, the continuing increase of women in the workplace and the increase of women having affairs on the Internet means that the numbers for women having affairs is probably similar to those for men—about 60%.

So with all that extracted info at your disposal, I say this; as much as I enjoy reading your blog, I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. None of those things you listed will work. It’s no such thing as “affair proofing” your marriage. Even if you don’t cheat( which actually means you haven’t cheated YET), your wife probably has or is cheating. This is true in 80% of marriages.

10 Keith March 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Awesome post! Helpful indeed.

@A-F-R-I-C-A-N- I think that Playboy mag statistics are a little liberal considering the people they interview. 80% pshhh.

11 anon March 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Another fantastic article from the AoM chaps, to date it’s the only blog I’ve subscribed to.

I think this article made some very valid points of what constitutes infidelity, all of which I wholeheartedly agree with.

What I’m curious about though is people’s opinion of an “infidelity threshold”. While this article discusses marital situations I firmly believe that these principles should be applied from the very start of a relationship. A weight on my mind however is: Say you’re a man making his way in the dating world and there are two (or perhaps more if you’re particularly lucky) women with which you have developed a connection; at what point in proceedings are you being unfair to the lady in not disclosing the fact that you’re courting another?

Personally I find this a difficult question. For me an absolute boundry is love making, should that happen then all dating with other parties should cease immediately. I’m interested to hear what other folks think. Somewhat off topic perhaps, my apologies.

Take care all

12 amy March 15, 2008 at 6:39 am

A-F-R-I-C-A-N: We can’t be sure these things won’t work until we give them a try, now can we? Personally, I think they would work wonders in any marriages, even those that are already happy, and I plan to invite my husband to read them so we can discuss and implement. I don’t know if you are married, but if you are, perhaps you would want to try them as well. If you are not married, I suggest you examine what marriage means, in terms of commitment before you tie the knot. A never-say-die sense of commitment is a saving grace, as Brett eloquently stated.

anon: I am a full-discloure type of person, and it has served me well in marriage, family and friend relationships. I recommend being totally honest with everyone in your life (especially those you are considering for the position that will require more honesty than any other in your life!), if for no other reason than the one Brett, again eloquently stated: it’s easier! Lying is hard and stressful and honesty, while it may seem intimidating at first, leaved you on solid ground no matter what. I can think of nowhere I’d rather stand.

Brett: you are a genius.

13 Brett McKay March 15, 2008 at 10:48 am

@ Amy- Thanks for the kind words, but I also need to share the glory with my wonderful wife, Kate. We write the posts together. I would be a complete cad if I didn’t share the kudos with her.

@ AFRICAN- I’m cool with you disagreeing, but can you at least bring statistics from a legitimate source? It’s pretty hard to take Playboy as a reputable source for marital statistics.

14 Kate McKay March 15, 2008 at 11:00 am

But Brett is a genius, that’s true. :)

15 Milo Kappinwood March 15, 2008 at 2:19 pm

This blog gives me renewed faith in humanity.

So often men are just portrayed as the dumb oaf Homer Simpson/Peter Griffin stereotype. It is good to see a place where men are being challenged to be real MEN again.

Oh, and I would like to give you an accolade for speaking out against porn.
I firmly believe that porn is destroying modern man and reducing the mutual respect and friendship of the sexes to zero. It makes women soulless sex toys and it changes men into animalistic scumbags.

It stuns me when guys say that “porn is bad” is just a “ridiculous stereotype,” because I know from experience of its destructive properties. Almost every man struggles with porn. For me, it almost destroyed my life and made me so depressed and angry that I wanted to die. i felt powerless and worthless. It wasn’t until I confided in my girlfriend so she could hold me accountable that I was finally able to overcome it. And even then, I failed again and again, confessing to her, until I reached the state where I am now and I feel human again.

To say that porn is harmless is to deny the existence of true love.
It turns love into just “sex” and changes it into a mere self-serving transaction. Love is about giving; porn is about taking. It shuns responsibilty, encourages unfaithfulness, and promotes an industry that largely enslaves unfortunate girls into degrading themselves for a living.

What could be less manly than participating in that?

Next time you convince yourself that porn is fine, think about your daughter being that girl.

16 Brett McKay March 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Wow Milo, thanks for those kind and insightful words. It is people like you who inspire us to keep the blog going and growing.

You’ll be happy to know that we have blog posts planned for 2 of the things you touched on. First, you are very right that TV and movies all portray men as clueless oafs who bumble along without a clue. We want to do a post that highlights this unfair stereotype.

More importantly, we couldn’t agree more with you on your view of porn. We actually have a post all queued up that discusses all the reasons porn is detrimental to men.

I hope you stay tuned for those and that we see you around the site often.

17 Amy March 15, 2008 at 9:01 pm

@AFRICAN

I assure you, if you are busy doing all the 14 things Brett & Kate listed, you won’t have the time or inclination to start an affair yourself.

And as a woman and a wife, I assure you, if you are doing all of those things for me, I’m not going to even notice another man, no matter what he may say or do, because all my thoughts, time, and energy will be directed entirely toward my wonderful husband who is busy showing me every day how loved and important I am to him! There is nothing more attractive or alluring than a man who pays attention to you and wants you.

This is a GREAT site! Thank you so much for speaking up for the real men out there!

18 j.d. March 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm

This article should have a nice big asterisk at the top

* this article only intended for men who are married to women who are interested in keeping the attraction, thier weight down, and thier attitudes in check. If you have seen signs of laziness, poor eating and stoppage of working out, increased b!tching about unimportant things, and who have seen a total loss in sex drive in thier partners, you need not read further.

Men sacrifice everything to marry that one specual person who he intends to give his entire life to. It is for the woman to lose this dedication, not the man. Like Amy said, “There is nothing more attractive or alluring than a man who pays attention to you and wants you.” But this makes one wonder WHY the man does this? Well, it’s probably because there are things he loves about this woman: her looks, her character, humour, intelligence, and fashion, amongst others. When the woman makes the decision to stop the upkeep (ie, she starts gaining weight, becomes crass, watches more television and gossip magazines and reads fewer books, and starts dressing down more often, see generally, Brett’s line on diminished personal responsibility), what is a man to do? Keep saying the mantra “Be a man, and just deal with it.”?

I’m in accord with A-F-R-I-C-A-N in so far as none of these things will not work where there’s only one person doing the tango: it does take two, and it does take some skill on behalf of both parts: which is what this article lacks: a second side.

I’m in accord with Brett in so far as that marriages, like any relationship, takes a lot of work. I think he’s posted some decent points above, although i think the premise is laughable (that men are cheating because they fail to affair-proof thier marriage because they aren’t proactive about it: As Amy notes towards the end, if a man was doing all of these things, then she’ll never be susceptible to looking at other men. But what prevents a man from cheating even though he’s still doing all of those thigns? I think this article is best for men who think thier wives are cheating. A discord in cause in effect, I believe. In fact, I think the title itself supports this: affair proofing your marriage implies that the threat of affair comes not from within the man, but from elsewhere (the wife)).

The approach of this blog, unique and fascinating to many including myself, is to outline the essence of what it is to be a man. I think there is a better discussion on how to outline the perameters of preventing the possibility of a MAN having an affair outside his marriage, including the discussion of seeking out the perfect mate (sharing a common interest, as noted above, is a really important approach, but not the only one).

That said, i come from the perspective that men cheat when the persons they had fallen in love with begin to become unrecognizable to the man’s heart, and his mind. Being manly has little to do with living the life of the knight in shining armor encapsulated by oh so many female-centric fairytales. It is not defined by the opinions of women, but that of his fellow man. Furthermore, being manly has some common ground with being a gentleman, but they are not the same. Nor does manliness have common ground with fleeting adolescent interests. I think it’s really diffcult to pin down what manliness is about, however I think this website has done a fantastic job of doing it. However, this article I think falls short of the standards that have been set here.

19 Brett McKay March 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm

JD-

While your approach is harsh, you are right that marriage is a two way street. This site is for men and thus the content is focused on things related to men. Therefore the tips in this post are directed at things men can do to keep their marriage on solid ground. Obviously, a man cannot be making this kind of effort alone. The woman must also be committed to taking the same kind of actions. But, again, since this blog is directed at men, we presented the things that a man could do. If we wanted to present both sides, then we would start having posts about shaving one’s legs, applying make-up, and female fashion. But I am not sure that the readers of the Art of Manliness would go for that.

20 j.d. March 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I agree that my approach is harsh; it goes against the grain of both pussified American male construct (the one we see often in television, see: Everyone Loves Raymond, Ed, etc…), and that of the impervious masculine identity where man can do no wrong (the one we rarely see on the tube, but which both men and women see in the workplace, particularly in high-power fields, such as politics and money, and one that i think Spitzer fell into). It demands men to think and engage in a way that is a postponement of immediate benefits, giving consideration to all consequences, and weighing the potential and probable benefits.

It’s certainly not necessary to demand men to know the object of leg shaving, mascara application, or female fashion (though the last does, in fact, help in relating to females and building social value in general). Even if men were interested in those things, it would still not help them down the road of marriage, because a man should not be expected to put on his wife’s makeup, dress herself nicely, and so forth. For a man to keep HIMSELF from straying, requires a commitment different than that of doing what you’ve suggested above: it requires a strong commitment to mate selection, and this, i’m sure you’ll agree, is of great interest to readers.

A man should first decide if he even wants marriage in his life. A man does not take marriage as a given in his life, he does not accept the pressure of his community, his religion, or his friends: it must be a well-thought out process. Thinking is required. Many youths today assume that the next step after high school is go directly to college. But this takes for granted that this is in thier best intersts: and like this analogy, so too should men make this decision regarding thier own lives. There’s a growing number of males in this country who are boycotting marriage in general: if this is the decision you’ve made, then so be it, and you need not read further.

If you have decided that marriage is what you want to experience in your lifetime, then you’ve mastered one of the biggest questions you’ll ever face, save only to the follow-up question of “who?”.

To make a few jumps in my train of thought,….if you can answer ‘who’ AND find that woman, then you have constructed a mighty affair-proof barrier in your marriage already….one that won’t need to be re-sealed down the road.

I know this sounds obvious; but i think you can agree that even some of the most blatantly obvious things are ignored nowadays. I just had an acquaintance of mine end a 4 year relationship (plus engagement) because he realized how dissonant thier values were. Similarly, a very close friend of mine who was dating a girl for three months just broke up because “i didn’t rely on my gut instinct….I thought she would change”.

The heart of what I’ve been getting at is this: Affair-proofing your marriage begins even before you’ve met your future wife. The solid foundation begins with a string of questions and an insistency to not sacrifice those answers.

Reconciling my points, I want to explain that, indeed it does take two to tango, and both spouses should be held to keeping the attraction. But, a man can benefit from finding a woman who puts a high value on her nutrition and her shape. Or, one who spends lots of time reading scientific journals or is employed in an intellectual occupation (science, math, law, psych….). A man who enjoys heady and intellectually-stimulating conversations is not going to pair well with a kindergarten teacher, no matter how attractive she is, no matter how big her trust fund is, no matter how fashionably she dresses. A man who gets involved with a genius of a woman who doesn’t ever work-out would not be suprised if she started gaining weight down the road: a visual turn-off that, despite the joy he gains from discussing ideas, hypotheticals, and possibilities, is difficult to repair. I am, of course, generalizing here, but I think it does convey my point. This can be said for religion, philosophy, perhaps even politics. Type A and B personalities. and so forth.

Harsh? Absolutely! I But necessarly so.

I think we would both agree with this, Brett. But I think where my statements have gone on a tangent are where I’m addressing those who have yet married, while your article addresses those who are already married.

perhaps we could…er…marriage….these ideas.

food for thought by a dedicated reader.

21 Tyler @ Building Camelot March 18, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I have to say that this is a great article. I’ve been a reader of this site for a few weeks now and this is one of those subjects that seems to stir up a ton of emotions.

Men out there married to a beautiful wife with a healthy sex life will accept this article with arms wide open. However, if your a guy and you’re tired of “giving” to your wife, some of this might feel like salt on a wound.

I’ve read almost all of this page and I’ve only seen kids mentioned once or twice. Kids do amazing things to women and to marriages. I’m expecting another one this summer.

Putting your marriage first is easy for guys and fathers…it is NOT easy for moms. Men easily take a back seat to kids any and all day! If showing affection or trying to have a grown-up conversation gets in the way of interacting with the kids – forget it. The kids always come first.

Dating your wife becomes much more difficult when you have children. This is especially true if your wife works. I often get the “But I don’t get to see her much during the week…I don’t want to miss out over the weekend” line from my wife. It’s also hard to go on dates and not talk about the kids. It really takes some creative thinking to have an effective date night.

I think sharing a common interest is a great idea. It’s something that my wife and I lack and I feel it would help our marriage. I’ll take it one step further and add that it would be beneficial for your spouse to have an interest in something…other than the kids :-)

A great article. I’ll check back to see what others have to say.

22 Brett March 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm

@Tyler @ Building Camelot:

Thanks for your comment! I can see how putting your marriage first can be more difficult for moms. Kids definitely have much more urgent needs than husbands. You’re right that when you have kids, you have to get creative for date nights.

23 Kate McKay March 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Tyler-

You bring up some good points. Brett and I don’t have kids yet, but our friends who do have complained of similar difficulties in trying to have “couple time” when they have little tykes running around.

I think this is one of those situations where it does take two to tango. As you said, men seem to have an easier time wanting to make time with their wife than women do in dropping the kids to hang with their hubbies. But a woman should make that effort. The things we outlined in this post are not easy things for men to do. Many require men to overcome their natural instincts in order to do what is right. Likewise, though woman may have a greater hormonal attachment to their kids, they have to be able to temper that sometimes and put their husband first.

There was a minor brouhaha awhile ago when a woman wrote a column for the New York Times in which she said she loved her husband more than her children. While some woman criticized her for it, I think I will feel the same way (although I guess you’ll have to check back with me when my brain gets a bath in baby-induced oxytocin). I think women should put their husband first, even above their kids. And again, that will take effort. If a husband is working to keep the romance alive, than the wife should be doing likewise. Because though kids will be around for 20+ years, when they do finally leave, a husband and wife will still have perhaps 40 years alone together. How well you stay together during the child raising years will be how well you get on as empty nesters.

That NYT article I mentioned can be found here. It’s an interesting read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/27/fashion/27love.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Finally, I checked out your blog. It’s great!

24 SensuousWife March 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Great post!
While no one is immune to temptation, and I know couples who have recovered from an affair, I like your proactive stance and your practical ideas on how to bond with and enjoy your wife. It reminds me of that old story, “don’t think about yellow elephants” and then of course that’s all you can think about! I like your ideas about “focus on having pleasure and intimacy with your wife” instead of “try not to have an affair”.
Everytime a publicly known person has an affair theres a backlash of people saying “oh that’s horrible and that could never be me” along with all kinds of critical comments.

My approach is to recognize how rare and precious and valuable a sexual friendship with your spouse is and to be grateful for what you have and make every effort to cherish and protect it. It’s arrogant to say you’re bulletproof but being humble and thankful and choosing to protect and enjoy your marriage can only lead to good.

25 Peter March 18, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I couldn’t disagree with you more about the porn. If your wife has a problem with porn, then, of course, it will cause a riff. However, my wife has no problem with porn. I have a higher sex drive than she does, and frankly, often she is not in the mood (we still have sex very regularly). She views the porn as a substitute, for when she isn’t in the mood (or is away). As long as I’m not turning her down and viewing porn, instead, then I don’t know why there would be a problem with it. And really, watching porn is never as good as actually having sex. We do also watch porn together, on occasion.

26 Matt B. March 18, 2008 at 9:31 pm

I’ve never understood why prostitution is illegal, but porn is okay. A person getting paid to have sex is bad, but paying to watch people who were paid to have sex is okay. Lots of people say porn is great, but I’ve never really gotten over the fact that I am paying to watch two strangers get it on so I can get off. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

27 Yatrik March 20, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Wow! what an awesome write up! I think in reality these are things that we all know, but have to be reminded of them from time to time. Thanks!

28 Happily Married March 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Kudos! I’m filing it under favorites and will show my husband later. I plan on keeping it in case he ever slips up. ;-) But in all seriousness, this was a great article and hit the nail on the head. Very informative and hopefully it will help with a lot of marriages. Great work Brett and Kate McKay!

29 Jeff March 26, 2008 at 9:50 pm

There’s nothing in here about the womans role in affair proofing her man? I would think that the reason a lot of men stray is that the woman in their life is no longer filling a crucial role for him, and to say that its all on the man to appease the relationship is simply foolish.

30 Brett McKay March 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm

@Jeff-

Of course the woman in a relationship has just as big a role as a man is preventing affairs. But this is a blog written for men and most of our readers are men. Thus we have here presented the man’s role in preventing affairs. The woman’s side deserves a whole post in and of itself, but it wouldn’t fit well on this blog.

31 hafeez April 3, 2008 at 6:22 pm

After searching through many sites reading differents articles on how you can starts and make conversations with your wife………………. I found out that there is no other way you could unless you read the logic base on the sites, it has really help me in knowing what to say………….. and how to start a nice conversations with my wife…………and keeps me away from infidelity………. but i would love to know some other ways to do this so it won’t be like am doing the same thing over and over again cos am a young guy with an earlie marriage status……

32 anonymouse April 6, 2008 at 8:57 am

great article, however I’ve already been cheated on by my girlfriend. we’ve decided to stay together. is it possible to affair proof my relationship now?

33 Phil collins April 9, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Your article ’14 Ways To Affair Proof Your Marriage’ is a good article and advice for those couples who both are working and committed together. If one is not, then your article is useless. My wife and I have been married 43+ years, 2 fine grown children. A healthy sexual marriage begins mentally, in the head, the rest of the body just follows. The communication I hear constantly from my wife is negative and critical, pointing out what I do wrong. I know I have been a poor husband, I have admitted it, confessed this to my wife verbally and in writting and the response each time was silence. That is ok-as rotten as I have been, I don’t blame my wife. She deserves a better man than me. But good words of advice only work when both are committed to the same goal. There has been no physical contact in over 11 years except for a hug I tried to give to my wife, in a safe place-the kitchen and she acted like a teenager being hug by his mother in front of his friends-she couldn’t wait till the hug was over. I long to enjoy closeness and intimacy and I am not talking about sex but physical contact is just not in her interest. So all the articles in the world say the same thing but if both are not committed to the same goal, it will not work. I expect to go to my grave without ever again knowing and enjoying the beauty of the closeness of a woman.

34 Brett April 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm

@Phil collins:

Thanks for your comment. You’re right that it definitely takes two for a marriage to work. I’m sorry to hear about the problems your having with your wife. It’s a really tough and sad situation. Have you ever tried to get your wife to go to marriage counseling with you?

35 Greg April 23, 2008 at 5:15 am

This is 100% right on. I’ve been married 30 years.
It’s been tough sometimes. But always worth it. I love one woman…that’s the way it should be. (Now I’m starting to sound like a country western song.) Anyway, keep up the god work, thanks. g

36 lin April 24, 2008 at 3:47 pm

We have not been intiment for years and he has had 2 affairs that he published on the internet (that’s how I found out, emails from somebody who recognized him” stupid, he posted his picture). Yet, I gave him the option of divorce on numerous occassions and he didn’ t bite. Yes, we’ve had our troubles and yes we are both at fault, but I didn’t screw the people that I had encounters with. Now I wish I had and am considering this We will probably stay together for our daughter (or should I say my daugther as I am the one who makes sure she has everything) and then it will be KAPOOT. I can do almost anything for her for one and half years till she goes to college (which is the difference between us) She would be devastated to find out that we are possibly considering divorce. Unfortunately, this is what I’m leaning toward, but I WILL get her by the next year one way or the other. If he leaves me now I will charge him with abandonment and sue his ASS for everything I can get. I know this is a sad case, but all said and done, I WILL SURVIVE

37 realist April 27, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Affair proofing your marriage is simple. Do not get married.

I am amazed that any American men are foolish enough to risk the legal, economic, and emotional consequences of marriage in 2008, given the state of the nation’s family laws and culture. It is not fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago. Things are different now.

If someone presented me with a business proposal with an equivalent amount of risk as a modern American marriage I would kick him out of my office.

But sheep get sheared I suppose.

38 Kathleen April 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm

I like the way this article explains how an affair is not just the physical act of sex. and how being secret about a relationship with another is cheating as well. I personally have been dealing with a situation in my marriage where my husband is very popular in his life and is always talking to mostly other women. Him talking to other women would not normally be a problem, but after I found out he has been having a almost daily secret conversations with the woman next door. And the women next door has been for a while treated me badly, so badly that you could call it abuse. then later when he is in the hospital after having a stroke I am made to feel I was not wanted in the room when she came to visit him. And then even later was told by him in front of her that she had priority about being in the room over me. It makes a wife feel there is a lot more going on than what is showing on the surface or a lot more than just a friendly relationship. I have been married to my husband for three years and we have not been intimate for three years as he claims he can’t “do it” and later claimed he is not interested in “it”. As a matter of fact that is his biggest claim on why when confronted with the secret relationship that he can’t be having an affair because he can’t “do it”. But the point I have been trying to make with him for a long time is the fact it is not the “physical” part that just makes it cheating. It is how he closes his email window when you come up the stairs and how he leaves the room or waits until he is at work to to call her or receive a call from her and how he leaves out details of your his day because they include encounters with her, only later to slip up and mention something and also how I catch him in small lies to cover that he has talked to her or that he does not want me to see the phone bill as it will show how often he does talk to her and then lies to me telling me he has not talked to her in a long time. So with all that, it all makes me feel like there is a lot more going on. My husband claims I am jealous and that nothing is going on, but what I have not been able to get across to him is that is it more how he is making me feel when he continues to do this even after being told that it bothers me. And consider this one extra thought.. It is not like I have anything more than a mental relationship with my own husband as he claims he can not “do it”, so when other ladies are given too much attention by my husband or lets just say they are given more attention than I am, then is that not something to be jealous over?

It is not like I want my marriage to end and I do keep trying everyday to somehow make things better, but with this daily feeling of my marriage being violated, I am not sure where it will end up.

I am not saying that I am a perfect person, but I defiantly can say I am a loyal wife and have always made him my priority in my life.

Instead of going out and mentally or physically cheating on him I feel I am becoming a work-a-holic to stop thinking about being violated daily.

P.S. I liked the article so much that I signed him up to subscribe by e-mail. I just hope he validates it and starts reading the articles.

39 Cowboy Way May 9, 2008 at 10:31 am

This article is totally gay. Go back to watching Dr. Phil and Oprah.

40 Mar May 14, 2008 at 9:48 am

This blog gives me hope, that´s all I needed right now!

Thanks

41 McCarthy May 14, 2008 at 11:34 am

Old married guy, here. This is all good advice. At one point or another, all of the article’s suggestions were implemented by me or by us, and that’s how-come the 26th anniversary this year. And we had a rocky, rocky start.

As to porn: 100% agree with Brett. Shitcan the porn, gents. Worth any struggle. You will feel better about yourself and like women, esp. your woman, more.

Why not try the amazing and novel suggestion of getting your rocks off with your wife somehow involved? If she says no or can’t or won’t then find out what the problem is and work it out—don’t retreat into private fantasy land. The retreat itself is a passive-agressive and hostile act. How can she not see it as that, and be hurt further?

42 Art May 14, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Nice points except for the Drop The Porn suggestion. Men are visual and enjoy looking at it. Some women (especially younger women) enjoy it as well. Instead of denying yourself the wonders of fantasy and enjoyment of all that is on the internet (often for free), learn to be sensitive about it. Don’t shove it in your wife’s face if it’s not her bag of chips.

Explain to her that you’re a man and that you’re visual. Believe it or not, men can enjoy porn alone AND a real woman. Our sex drives are often much higher than women’s and porn is a nice way to calm the beast.

If she insists you drop the porn, she’ll just drive you underground. Of course, she should no more ask you to drop the porn than you’d ask her to stop reading romance novels.

I do, however, lean towards what REALIST said above. Marriage is not a natural state for man and if looked at like a business deal, seems too heavily skewed towards satisfying the emotional and financial needs of the woman.

Given the current laws and worsening statistics (50% and growing divorce rate), a man should look long and hard at the prospect of marriage and consider other options, including living happily single.

43 Howard May 19, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I couldn’t agree with the article or the replies. I am in the process of removing myself from a spouse who chose to have an affair. I was told they were just friends, but more and more time was spent away from home and with this friend. I had to find out for myself just what level of friendship was involved and confronted my spouse. At first they denied denied denied! Then I quoted a few emails and it was all over. I will not shut the door on a possible reunion, but therapy is absolutely necessary and a deal breaker for me.
Thanks for saying all the right things!!

44 TMo May 20, 2008 at 7:46 am

Question-

I like porn. But so does my girlfriend. We bring it into the bedroom sometimes, and we enjoy watching it together. Mind you this is not something I force into our relationship, it’s actually her idea 90% of the time. I don’t really have anything against it, I don’t think, but she does get a little disappointed if I watch porn alone, like I’m stealing something from her or keeping something from her…

Also, in terms of having a nice, smooth relationship from the start, HAH. I think many great potential soul mates would pass each other up if it had to be easy from the start. It’s a great show of love and commitment to put forth the time and energy to work through problems than to run from them.

45 TMo May 20, 2008 at 7:46 am

I just realized there was no ‘question.’

46 MsTweetie May 22, 2008 at 6:39 am

I thought your article was spot on. Alhough I am not married, I have been in a relationship with a 50 year old man for almost eight years. I am almost six years older than he is.

Four of these years we were apart as he had to move to another state to take care of his ill mother (althought there were other circumstances that required him to move). I did everything I could in the meantime to work on keeping us together, hoping eventually, we could be reunited. We visited each other back and forth during this time and I learned that he had begun verbally abusing his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

This definately was a red flag and I called him on it often. But it continued and escalated in intensity to the point where he was forced out of the home by Social Services when his sister got wind of this abuse and he got a job in his profession back in my area and we moved in together last year. We had not lived together prior to this, and I feel it important to say that he was not employed for over a year before he left town and the four years he lived in his mother’s home.

I have also had issues with my health, having to undergo a series of four back surgeries within two years – the last of which left me permanently disabled and in chronic pain that I will never recover from. He was away during the time I had the last two and I had to go through recovery alone. After my second one I stayed with him for about three weeks, as I could only stand it for that long. He is demanding I come off my medications and calls me weak. He has no empathy for my pain, but he gets a hangnail and whines like a baby.

I suppose when we moved in together I went into denial about the abuse, but soon after we got together he targeted me. We have experienced some of the most wonderful times I have ever experienced with another man and when he treats me well, I am in heaven.

However, during the past month or so the verbal abuse has gotten so that I am having difficulty coping. He is extremely critical of me for the smallest thing and hates the fact that I need to take medication to control my chronic pain. He has started criticizing me for the smallest mistake and expects me to be more “aware” of things that need to be done and my surroundings. He is anal retentive and a control freak. He doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong and I believe he thinks I should be able to read his mind. He is expecting perfection from me whatever that entails. I used to be a perfectionist but finally gave up when I realized I was fine just the way I was. This was before I met him however.

We have been constantly fighting and bickering – he mostly through email will send me vicious complaints about my ‘foibles’ and mistakes he perceives I make – even the most smallest of things. I have told him I am sick of him treating me this badly and that it IS abuse and I will no longer accept emails from him this way. It is very complicated. I am on permanent disability so don’t bring in much money and he earns a tremendous amount in comparison. He was even recently given a performance review at work and the only one thing he was asked to work on is his interpersonal relationships with a couplel of his co-workers.

I was abused growing up, both physically and verbally and he was verbally abused by his deceased father, but lately I feel he is beginning to treat me the same way he was treated. I believe he has a rage problem, among others although he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him. He is “right” all the time. I should point out too, that he has never said the words I love you to my face the entire time we’ve been together. I asked him why recently and he said he thinks I’ll over-react if he does. What’s with this? What an excuse!

I have talked to my pain specialist about this and my twin sister and they are both afraid that his abuse will turn into physical abuse although I don’t believe he would ever hit me. This is besides the point. The verbal abuse can be worse. I handed him something the other day and told him to just hit me with it because maybe I’d feel better (in jest), but you get the point. I have been advised to get out of this unless things change. He would never consider counseling although I am. My self-esteem is deteriorating badly. And when I try to stand up for myself he accuses me of trying to start a fight or arguement. This is as extremely ridiculous as it sounds.

I can bet what you are going to tell me without having to ask. We are coming up on renewing the lease on our house for another year and I fear I won’t be able to live up to my end should things get worse. I pay half the bills, though less in rent due to the disparity in our incomes so I don’t have any savings as I am still working on getting out of debt, which I am not far off from doing. He will be spending a big chunk of change on dental work is sorely need and he keeps bringing up the past and blames me for not taking care of myself prior to meeting him, hence the issues I now face in this regard. As I said, it is complicated. I will leave him if things don’t improve or get worse, but I would like to know if you can give me a few pointers on how I can cope in the meantime.

All my regads,

MsTweetie

47 MsTweetie May 22, 2008 at 6:43 am

I meant to say “All my regards”,

Respectfully,

MsTweetie

48 Denise May 23, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Hoping for some serious feedback and perhaps also from a qualified counselor that deals with this type of situation. I need help and this is my first time writing online after doing an online search for information on “men with friends that are women” while in a relationship with significant other. I am seriously concerned about my 27 year old daughter (lives 3 hours away), never married and four months pregnant. She recently moved in with the father of her child and on and off boyfriend of 2 years. He is also 27. My daughter has serious issues concerning trust and the other women (just friends per future father) in her relationships and that is because of her past with her father and I, and the relationships with her boyfriends since leaving home. Her father and I separated several times in 28 years due to his infidelity and have been separated going on 1 year now (not legally).

Trying to condense but very hard to do. I will try to keep unbiased. My daughter has a heart of gold, very insecure, and her boyfriend cares for her but can’t stand her not trusting him. He has several women friends that he went to college with along with several others of whom he talks to several times a week and feels that there is nothing wrong with meeting up for lunch, inviting to stop by poker game, etc. while my daughter is working or sleeping (she works 7pm-7am). He never makes or receives any calls from them when by daughter and him are together on days off. He is not open about the communication or invitation activities with my daughter concerning these friends, she finds out later by snooping. This week it involved my daughter snooping into his cell phone and computer and the recent friend is someone that he went to college with and was a sexual partner. They have been calling each other throughout this past week after my daughter leaves for work and he invited friend to come to the poker game at the house where daughter and he reside, without daughter’s knowledge (she was working). During the explosive event that followed a day later when he found out that she snooped and my daughter called a bluff, he told her her that ex-girlfriend came to the house and that he is sick and tired of my daughter’s mistrust and that he would never screw around on her and the only reason he does not relay what he does is because she is screwed up and she would think he is screwing around. This is not the first time this has occurred in their relationship, it has been many. So too many that I don’t know how much more I can take when she calls me crying, so distraught, so hurt. It breaks my heart.

Daughter has been very open and honest with boyfriend (they were friends in high school and met up 7 years later) from the beginning about her past and her insecurities. Every time this happens she completely breaks down and can stop crying for a couple of days and takes off work. It is even worse now with her being pregnant, she keeps crying and talking about how all she wanted was for them to be a family and her daughter could have the opportunity to really bond with her father (daughter relationship not good with her father in her teens and never really recovered). She is close to getting fired but I asked her check with HR and invoke her rights under FMLA, although it wasn’t put into place for these type of events.

My thoughts and conclusions:
I try to give her advice as best as I can along with that I want her to move in with me and we can work together. On the first day she gets put into place verbally by boyfriend after event she is so ready to make changes and then day 2 (boyfriend still relaying he can’t take it anymore) comes (she’s still crying) and she starts to relay a different side to me where she thinks that if it wasn’t for her “snooping” and if she would just be able to trust him……………………….and “maybe I have a serious problem” like Shane said. She said that “even his friends told him that he should have gotten rid of me along time ago. ” And yet for some reason, he won’t let her go, even before getting pregnant, with the same type of things occurring.

So I will end this saying what I feel (can’t relay to daughter, but have in small portions). I think what he is doing is dead wrong. He knows her past, he knows her insecurities, he knows her heart and yet he still continues to hurt her. She is not that far gone that she questions him on day to day activities with other women that he works with or contacts that he might have. On the other hand, she is so accommodating that she doesn’t look at things the way they really are until a big episode occurs. I think boyfriend has used her insecurities and vulnerabilty to his benefit, therefore allowing for his dishonesty to accommodate his own agenda.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

49 sexlessmarriage May 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm

It is NOT CHEATING is your wife REFUSES to have any sexual relations or sexual activity with you.

This is a primary reason why multiple marriages aka polygamy works. Women stop being sexual when they are pregnant or do not want to bear any more children.

It is inhuman for a wife to expect a healthy 30 year old man to forever refrain from having sex just because she has had enough children.

50 jen May 27, 2008 at 7:29 am

I agree with JD. I was recently faced with a situation when my husband of 6 years (high school sweethearts together almost 20 years) had pulled away. I knew something was wrong, and after many attempts at trying to get to the bottom of it my husband finally was honest informed me that he thought he wanted to leave me to explore his feelings for a co-worker. He said that I was not the same person I was in past years, that I had let my appearance slide, and he was not attracted to me anymore. I used to be wild, but then I became plain and made no effort.

Bottomline- it is a 2 way street and my husband communicated with me the things he wanted, that he needed to be happy. We are in love, and I wanted to please him. I did everything he wanted and more. We went to dinner yesterday, and the man in front of us said he wanted a table for 3 (for him, his wife, and me)looking at me and told my husband he wasnt invited. My husband was floored., especially because the man said it in front of his wife. I think being sexy and showing your partner that you can turn heads and that others desire you is important so that you will not be taken for granted.

To everyone- if the husband tells you he may wanted to leave and he has not done anything with the object if his interest, what is likely the truth? (If his attitude truely changes and he spends all of his time with you) Can things change back, or if his mind wanders will it continue?

51 Mattias May 31, 2008 at 1:41 pm

A quote from the Holy Scripture: “Flee fornication”. If you can’t flee mentally, flee physically. Get out of that situation by any means. Porn is also fornication (according to the Bible), both on behalf of the participants and on behalf of the viewer. I am still an occasional viewer, mainly I use my single status as an excuse. And the long term effect is depression and a sort of basic hate for the woman – whom I ought to love. There is a dark part of me who wants to lure the woman into degradation, to feel powerful(?). It bothers me, and it’s due to all the pornography I have seen, coupled with past rejections.

In my few but intense relationships with women, the love I felt for my woman made every other specimen (as well as imagery) superfluous. I got furious when one young woman I dated alluded to vulgar sex (a school mate of her sent her despicable pictures thought e-mail), but as a rule I kept those sentiments under a lid. If I had put my foot down maybe she would have respected me enough to stick around. Maybe my lack of initiative in other areas contributed as well.

I see as part of my responsibility the protection of not only my would-be children from both mental and physical harm, but also of my would-be wife. Instead of feeding her fornication imagery and ideas, I would save her from it. I think people today are standing at a crossroads: Accept the prevalent culture (due to peer pressure or a selfish love of pleasure and self), or choose the straight road and the narrow gate – don’t get distracted by temptation. Getting married to a submissive, relatively soft-spoken and motherly woman is what I aim for. Those characteristics will bring out the best in me, and I will live up to my potential in every aspect of my life and allow her to blossom too. The problem is to find a pocket in this culture in which to raise children. Public school is out of the question.

52 Jonah Dempcy May 31, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Good article but I think it is very over-simplistic and harkens back to this ’1950s’ style of relationships which isn’t entirely relevant … I mean, sure these are tried-and-true techniques, but times are changing and this just seems a bit dated.

Also, I think it’s ridiculous to say you can’t dance with a partner of the opposite sex (or same sex in the case of homosexuals– remember, this is “How to Save a Marriage” and same-sex marriage is legal in some states).

Finally, it’s only cheating if you keep it secret, but if you tell your partner you are looking to try new intimate experiences with other people then it is no longer cheating, and for some people (e.g. polyamorous couples) it actually increases attraction to each other.

So, while this article offers good advice for couples living in the 1950s, I feel that it doesn’t accurately reflect current relationship practices and the prevalence of alternatives to this “cookie cutter” 50s lifestyle.

53 me June 5, 2008 at 5:24 am

Quit porn coming second most important advice?

Well, I quit reading.

54 Joe June 9, 2008 at 5:21 am

Yeah, ditch the porn bit. You just sound very…conventional sometimes.

55 Brett June 9, 2008 at 6:48 am

@Joe-Actually, I can’t think of any thing more unconventional than saying no to porn.

56 Lisa June 22, 2008 at 12:50 am

Seems good, except for the porn rule! It’s not like you’ll cheat her with a magazine or fall out of love with her because the piece of paper or DVD is hot.

Especially if your wife will not or cannot do some of the things you have kinks for, using porn can take a lot of pressure off her and remove tension in your relationship.

57 Kayla July 23, 2008 at 12:18 am

Every single one of these things I’ve come across all bring up the porn bit.. which.. continually makes me wonder: Do ALL women refuse to admit they watch porn? Or maybe I’m just the only one in existence.. well that just makes me feel darn special. Funnily enough, I’m the only one that looks at porn in our relationship, he doesn’t. Even if he did, I wouldn’t care. If I’m not available for him sexually at the moment, he can do as he pleases to be satisfied so long as it doesn’t evolve another person. The whole “no opposite sex friends” rule doesn’t work all too well when one of the people in the marriage isn’t ~only~ attracted to the opposite sex. A entourage full of female friends wouldn’t have any less risk for me than one of men.

Someone in the comments mentioned the woman’s maintenance and gaining weight, yadda yadda.. which made me laugh considering if I gained any, I’d be ~more~ attractive to him.. ha.. Maybe my relationship is just too outside the norm for conventional advise to be much use. :-)

58 Dave October 8, 2008 at 5:55 pm

GREAT READ!!

59 Timothy Wright October 8, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Hi,

The only person I want in my bed and in my head when we are making love is my wife. That is what a marriage vow truly means. I gave up porn 30 years ago when I decided I wanted to stop using other people for my pleasure. Thats not why people were born.
Tim

60 Paul October 22, 2008 at 4:33 am

About a year ago, i gave up porn cold turkey (and masturbation, and “looking” at women in general, i might add), when i was given this simple piece of information: one of the things that being married involves is making your wife the ENTIRETY of your sexual fulfilment.

This concept blew my mind, and i couldn’t believe how much difference it made in our relationship. Once i did this, my wife took on a whole new beauty to me. I realised i had been feeding myself a wrong notion of what marriage is about. I now have a serious case of “Shallow Hal” syndrome: my wife is absolutely stunning, and no hypnotic pass phrase can snap me out of it!

I can’t see myself getting to retirement age (30 or so years away) and saying to myself, “I wish i had looked at more porn.”

Dump the porn. You won’t regret it.

61 Dani October 29, 2008 at 1:39 pm

What Brett has stated about it being a two-way street is very true. To justify an affair by saying its the spouse’s fault is immature and a lie.

One person can start the changes. If your relationship has hit a rough spot, instead of being prideful and trying to justify poor treatment of your spouse (or an affair), be the bigger person. If you are committed to the marriage, change what you are doing. Spend more time with your spouse – love them the way they need to be loved. Listen to them – if they say you don’t help out enough, then perhaps that is how they need to be loved by you – by you showing it in helping out.

For many, one person making changes will initiate changes with the spouse and therefore the relationship.

If not, then perhaps other steps – or a breakup – may be in order.

Did you know that women and men feel loved in different ways? Usually, women need to feel loved (listened to, helped, and praised) to feel amorous (give sex), and men need to feel amorous (get sex) to ‘love’ (give help, listen, and praise). Its a losing situation if both stand in their corner crying that the other is not meeting their needs. It only takes one of them to ‘wo/man up’ and give what the other needs for them to get their own needs met as well. Its a natural response. Its not about blackmail, but of understanding that people need to feel loved and have their needs met. Want your needs met? Meet your spouse’s first.

That is really what the core of a healthy relationship is – putting your partner first. When you start putting yourself first, you are shifting the dynamics in the relationship.

62 Rebecca March 7, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Brett, you and your wife did an excellent job on this article. I have to say I’m not surprised by all the people who disagree with your view on porn, it is so accepted nowadays. I agree completely with what you said, I think it’s absolutely unnecessary and will ruin a lot of (if not most) marriages.

I am, however, surprised at how many people said that you sounded dated and too old fashioned. When it comes to relationships, why wouldn’t we want to be old fashioned? 50 years ago, getting a divorce was difficult and frowned upon. Cheating was a complete disgrace. But now when people get married, they practically plan a divorce right away just “in case”, so they have an easy way out if it gets hard, and cheating is actually sometimes said to be a good thing for a relationship. A GOOD thing!! I have never heard of such a low, horrible way to look at it before in my life.

Anyway, just my opinion. I hope you suckers out there, with your porn and fantasies, lose your wives soon because you sure as heck don’t deserve them!

63 Ali H. April 22, 2009 at 7:12 am

Here’s another tip to avoid infidelity; just don’t flaming do it! Too many people have a real attitude of entitlement. Add the current culture of blame to that and any wonder STD and divorce rates are way up.

My late mother told me something about marriage which I’ve never forgo; trust, once broken, is very difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild.

Stop being selfish and put the shoe on the other foot. How’d you like it if your spouse was cheating on you? I love the advice on communication. No one is a mind reader so it there’s something within your relationship that you need or want and aren’t getting, talk to your partner about it.

64 dave bery April 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

how to get back together when we are separted

65 Geemoney August 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

A-F-R-I-C-A-N I think you are wrong. Where did you get your numbers. I am a Born Again Christian and I have never had an Extramarital affair, Nor do I plan to ever have one. My Faith demands purity.

Believe me It is possible it all depends upon what you are feeding yourself with on a daily basis. I don’t watch secular TV. I don’t go to sexually explicit movies without my spouse. I especially do not EVER look at Pornography. Also all you guys who say Pornography is not destructive. You can only feed your imagination with that garbage for so long. Believe me it will take its toll. I practice Mental Monogamy. I don’t let my imagination go there.
Pick up a copy of the book My Brain Doesn’t Cheat on My Wife
by Wade Young (Author)

66 john pecci August 28, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Dear John: I would lke your thoughts on this article in person. You don’t have to read all the blogs.

Love, Sherree

67 ruby victoriano October 30, 2009 at 12:08 am

i’ve learned so many things…….

68 Brandon McMinn December 6, 2009 at 2:42 am

Thank you so much for writing this article! My brother had told me about this site so I decided to check it out. It has helped me out and gave me a new way of thinking. Thank you so much, keep up the blogs!
Thank you!

69 kirsten December 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

quit porn
while i doubt very much that watching porn together is bad for all couples…… most of the time even when it started with watching porn together, it ends up with the man (and sometimes woman) watching porn alone…
and that is taking sexual gratification out of the context of the marriage, where it belongs.

if you are not getting sexual gratification, or sexual thrills from it, it isn’t porn, right?
so obviously if you are viewing reading whatever porn, you are seeking sexuality outside of your marriage.

if you are being open and honest with your spouse, then perhaps it wouldnt be so bad.. but you know.. i have NEVER met anyone who watches porn alone, who was honest with their spouse about it. ever

and as to not harmful?
dude, if you are taking your sexuality away from marriage, thats bad
you are lying or concealing things from your spouse, thats bad
and you are meanwhile developing a rather unrealistic idea of what your sex partner should be like….

and lets not forget the other problems.
like my friend who lost his job when they found porn on the work computer.. porn he had sworn to his wife he wasnt watching

70 JC December 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

@Geemoney — does your faith also demand random capitalization of words? Or is that just some side effect of working so hard to convince everyone that you’ve completely repressed all natural impulses?

71 Wes January 18, 2010 at 8:22 am

Just stumbled upon this browsing the site and I think it’s a good post. But come on Brett, “cuddle-rape”? I find it well below the character you and Kate have shown to make light of the very serious problem of sexual assault. When an issue affects 1 in 4 women in their lifetimes, and 1 in 12 men, it should be taken seriously at all times (US Department of Justice statistics). I guess I’ve just come to expect better from you. Keep up the good work.

72 Ralph February 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Hey Brett first off i want to tell you i have enjoyed the information i have read on this site and man talk about hitting home with a lot of this info. For awhile now my wife and i have been going through a lot of things that would end most marriges. We have been married for 5 yrs and have had good times and it seems a lot more bad times. I feel sometimes maybe we get caught up in all the negative things in our marrige that its hard to find the good things anymore. In our marrige i have made some desions that one should never make. I have never slept with another women other then my wife since we have been married. On the other hand i have been involved emotionally which i know is just as bad. At one point in my marrige i would have blamed my wife for that now after checking myself i have found that the things she has told me that i thought was nagging i now know i was way off in left field for ever thinking that. I am very sorry for the things i have ever done to her and would spend forever making it up to her. Its hard for her to trust what i am saying and doing because i have burned her to many times. i am so close to losing her that it worries me to no end. Not so long ago somthing that i cant explain happened that made me realize just how much she does mean to me. She and our kids will be leaving at the end of April to move while i stay and work til i can find another job the last thing we need is for me not to have a job. You know i have told her how much i want to work on our marrige and she tells me she wants to believe me but its hard which I complety understand on her part i understand it will take time for her to truley believe me and who knows it could be to late which would only be my fault I will continue to work on becoming a better husband and to show my loving wife that her and our kids are my life and thats all that matters to me. I know what kind of wife i have and the last thing i want is to lose her. thanks again for the great great info i will put what i have read to use i know if i really want this marrige then i will do what ever it takes to prove that to her i love her so very much

73 John Johnson April 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Great article. I don’t want to patronise you, but I am proud of you.

74 SD April 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

I start masturbating thinking about other women after I’m into a few months of my relationships. I would never cheat because I don’t want to make the same mistakes my father made. But I think this is cheating as well and I feel guilty.
I don’t know how to improve myself. I’m not a douche.
Maybe I should cut out porn or lower down my libido somehow. It’s really hard though. I’m 20.

75 HarveNYC May 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

The Photo you’re using is In-Laws.
They were married in 1945 and are still together
I’m certain neither of them would mind your using their photo, you should have asked.

Don’t you think that would have been the “Manly” thing to do ?

HarveNYC

76 Steven August 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Recently I heard something that every man needs to hear:

Women need communication the way men need sex. Talk to your wife every day.

Not having a conversation with your wife for a week would be for her like not having sex for a week for you.

Make time to talk.

77 paul September 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

Thanks, my marriage has gone through a rought ime recently, but you have given me some ideas to help to work through our problems together.

78 Northern Guy October 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm

A big part of the problem (the 800 pound gorilla in the room) is that some people are never meant to get married – especially some men. Some men *believe* they can fall in love with someone because of their inner qualities but either change their minds (or figure out otherwise) or she loses her looks and he finds out what he really liked. I’ve met women, too, who claim to want long term relationships yet are inept at obtaining them, and other women who openly admit to losing interest in the man after the “honeymoon stage” is over.

For myself, I think I always knew that marriage would be a stretch. As long as it feels like you’re making a big sacrifice to be there, you really can’t give it 100%.

Some people are born to run free and have no damned business getting married – or even being in long term relationships. Some conveniently call this selfishness or immaturity, but to me that’s backlash from a crowd of hurt people who wanted to go for the long haul with someone who won’t, or simply can’t.

It’s taboo to be the “not marrying” kind in our “get hitched and have kids” society. It’s even more taboo when this person marries and finds this out too late – after the honeymoon is over.

79 Charles LeDoux January 7, 2013 at 11:07 am

If you haven’t, you should look at the book [Holy Sex!](http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Sex-Toe-Curling-Mind-Blowing-Infallible/dp/0824524713) by Gregory Popcack. (Spoiler: It has little to do with the act of intercourse.) Yes, it’s a Catholic book about sex. No, it is not prudish, nor does it read like it was written by an old nun.

The book is basically an explanation of what the Catholic Church’s view on sex *really* is (Hint: it’s actually very pro-sex), and why that viewpoint is awesome. Every point Brett and Kate made in this post is presented and expounded upon.

If you’re worried about the “preaching” in this book, let me set your mind at ease. It was written in a style that seeks to inform, not convert. Regardless of your religious viewpoint, I consider “Holy Sex!” a must read for couples.

80 jasmine January 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Hey, omg your website is amazing. especially because you guys are telling the truth about how men SHOULD be behaving especially in a relationship. I especially enjoy it because its not based on christianity. so many guys think that all these things youve said in theis article are rubbish that only christians should care about. this is REAL. the effects of pornography on men in relationships and single men is REAL and dangerous if you really want a healthy satisfying relationship

81 Endi April 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Wow! Fantastic article. I’m giving it to my husband to read. I can’t believe this was written by a man! How in the world did you get inside our brains! Anyways, all you men out there…. doing all of these things should make almost any woman in the world do back flips for you! But beware! A smart woman can tell if you are not being sincere, so when you do these things, you need to try to mean it! Cheers to all of the real men out there!

82 Sergio May 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm

This article is about what I can do to keep myself from cheating. However, I don’t have an issue with this & have never had thoughts of cheating on any of my past relationships. Has there been a follow up article on flags/signs to see if your partner is cheating? If not, could you do one? My most recent relationship was the first time I’ve been cheated on (or at least 1st time I caught it). I’m really laid back, so maybe I trusted her too much & gave her too much freedom. Had never questioned her wanting to hang with friends or party, but suspicions arose & sure enough I caught her… but man, was she a great liar before that lol.

83 Tasha May 25, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Thank you so much for this post. It was helpful for me, as a woman, to read this so I could internalize certain things for myself as well. It’s also nice to know that I’m not being unreasonable in thinking certain things should just be standard in relationships. I know every man is different, but I like these general suggestions because, as you say, why risk it?

84 Scott Caser July 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Thumbs up! Well done. I learn something every time I take the time to read your posts.

Very nice and helpful. I’ll be sharing this with my Facebook Page fans and Tweets.

I wish I had seen something like this when I was married.

85 tanya August 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

I love this article! It expresses everything I feel is right to make a relationship work. Both people need to give 100%, be interested in their partner & not take sexuality outside the partnership. And I agree with Northern Guy that not all people belong in long term relationships. I think about 80% of people aren’t designed for it. Now the rest of us 20% have to just find a like minded soul & not be decieved.

86 Aaron August 29, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I think the key to understanding fidelity is to recognize that we have two separate “programs” that govern our relationships. The first is the mating program that drives us to fall in passionate love, have sex, and produce babies. This program has a shelf-life of 1 – 2 years, just long enough to produce offspring and perhaps stick together for the first year after birth. Once the program has run it’s course, the couple has fallen out of love and are primed for another round with another partner. The ultimate goal of this program is drive us to produce lots of babies, not have long-term monogamous relationships. If left to it’s own devices it will push into the arms of new lovers every 1 – 2 years (provided we can find a willing lover).

The second program is the “attachment/bonding” program which originally evolved as a way of ensuring that kin would care for babies long enough for the baby to reach maturity and fend for itself. This program is about caring and love, not about sex and passion. It is more subtle than the other program, which makes it harder to cultivate, but it must be cultivated if you want a relationship to last. If your goal is to maintain a monogamous relationship, then you will have to find a way to deeply cultivate the attachment program with your spouse, while simultaneously suppressing the mating program’s proclivity to push you away from your spouse and into the arms of another lover.

This article is basically advice on how to do just that. Of course, it assumes that monogamy is your goal. But to me the advice seems relatively sound. Monogamy is really hard…it is not for the faint of heart. Being monogamous AND cultivating a deep bond with your partner is even harder, and this article acknowledges that.

87 joshc September 1, 2013 at 1:41 am

what about a dual military couple? i deploy for 9 months come this november, and she deploys about 3 months after i get back. this is our first time being separated for so long, we’ve been together for two years.

88 Betty September 27, 2013 at 7:48 am

@J.D.
Hold up – I understand that marriage is a two way street, but making a woman maintaining her weight a prerequisite for fidelity is just wrong. Marriage is “in sickness and in health”, first of all. A person who would leave another person for developing cancer would clearly be a jerk. With weight, some may argue that it’s a lifestyle choice, but women who have children, especially after the age of 25, aside from pregnancy weight gain, face hormonal challenges that make it very difficult to maintain their former figure/weight. Sure, if someone has an eating disorder that leads them to self destructive behavior, like alcoholism or drug addiction, then that person needs help. This is not a free pass for infidelity though – this is an opportunity for you to man-up, honor your commitment, and stay with your spouse despite rougher waters.
Still, some people may argue that weight gain can lessen attraction and that you have to fill that void elsewhere. You know what else can lessen someone’s physical attractiveness? Aging…disease…pregnancy (stretch marks, hyper-pigmentation splotches, occasional hair loss) and NONE of those are reasons to cheat on your spouse or end the marriage.
Any real man should be able to conclude that general weight gain of any sort is an excuse for ending a marriage, and even in extreme cases, it is not an excuse for infidelity. No pun intended, be the bigger person and stand by your spouse if they’re having medical problems.

89 Betty September 27, 2013 at 7:50 am

Silly type: *is NOT an excuse for ending a marriage. Hopefully my point was still clear!

90 Jasper October 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I will remember this article until the day I die. Thank you

91 Flávio November 12, 2013 at 5:50 am

Great article. But I got to say that the comments are the most interesting bit, they show how much people are commited to porn, and prefer to stick to it than even trying to make their marriages better.

92 Setsu December 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

“Invite cuddling with her without making it a precursor to sex.”

Oh man, that’s a big one. Thank you for mentioning it.

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