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Marriage and Relationships

Marriage: Hottest Tip for Affair-Proofing

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by Dr. Angela Bisignano

Lurking in almost every social setting, waiting to ambush your marriage is the possibility for an extramarital affair. Most of us never seriously contemplate the dangers of having an affair until it is too late. On our wedding day, we make vows of faithfulness. Yet, how many of us place intentional safeguards around our marriage? Affairs are happening in the workplace, over the internet, in our social spheres with friends, neighbors and even in our churches. Whether it’s a physical affair, an emotional one or sexting, affairs are rampant and wrecking marriages every day.

Exercising clear boundaries is vital and may be the sexiest thing you do for your marriage.

Boundaries can keep you from stumbling and falling on the slippery slope of infidelity. A boundary is a clear line of demarcation. Recently, the property right next to our home came up for sale. When our soon to be neighbors were inquiring about the property lines an engineer came out. Placing stakes around the property, it was clear where the property lines began and ended.

In like regard, we should be putting up stakes around our marriage. We are stating claim to what is ours in our relationship. Boundaries in marriage are like property lines and we should include them in our:

  • feelings
  • behaviors
  • thoughts
  • values
  • motivations
  • needs
  • choices
  • commitment

Our marriages should be a united front that has clear lines of demarcation. In many situations, the shift from friendship to affair is unnoticeable, subtle. Quite often it happens gradually over time. Having clear boundaries for this reason is paramount. At any given time you know what is acceptable in a friendship and what is not. One very effective metaphor for keeping boundaries in mind is knowing where the walls and windows are in your marriage.

In, Not ‘Just’ Friends: Protect Your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal, Dr. Shirley Glass discusses the importance of walls and windows. She explains that when a couple constructs a wall it shields them from forces that have the power to separate or tear them apart. The marital couple views the world outside of their marriage through a shared window of honesty and openness. They are a unified force exercising a united front when interacting with their family and friends. An affair creates an interior wall of secrecy; opening a window of intimacy between the affair partners. The marriage no longer holds the united force it once shared.

A good idea is to regularly check in with your spouse to make sure your boundaries are in place. It takes more than knowing about clear boundaries. It takes responsibility and being proactive. We need to acknowledge that taking responsibility for the safety and security for our marriage resides with us. Meaning I am responsible for keeping my boundaries in place. I am trusting that my spouse is doing the same. In so doing we are actively protecting our marriage. A good question to ask yourself: Have you let anyone cross the boundary lines via work relations, internet communication, or friends? If you have, exercise clear boundaries today.

When we get an inclination that something is off or doesn’t feel right in our marriage we need to check it out right away. If you are not sure follow up, ask questions. Detecting the red flags is not always easy, especially in our fast-paced world. Often marital couples are juggling two careers, raising children and planning for the future. For many, the importance of keeping marriage a priority begins to wane. We only have so much energy and emotional reserve. Often our marriages can take a back seat to all the other priorities. Being attuned and aware of what is happening in our relationship is vital. Practicing regular times to talk, connect and making regular dates is key to keeping boundaries in place.

Dr. Angela Bisignano is a licensed clinical psychologist in the South Bay area.