Infidelity: Stop It Before It Starts

Reviewed Feb 27, 2017

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Summary

  • Choose to remain true to your spouse.
  • Don't test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage.
  • Be radically honest with your spouse.

Infidelity—it’s the driving force in soap operas and country music. It’s so easily glamorized, trivialized, or accepted in films and novels. What about you? Has your own attitude about unfaithfulness been softened by the world?

If you truly do not want to hurt your spouse, your children, or your own psyche by becoming involved in an extramarital affair, know that you have the power to remain true to your spouse. Also know that the further you test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage, the harder it is to resist temptation.

Cause of infidelity

Psychologist Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, asserts that the most common cause of infidelity is when a partner does not meet a person’s most important emotional needs. If you are in this situation, this makes you vulnerable to someone who comes along who meets those needs.

Harley defines emotional need as “a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment.” Feelings of unhappiness and frustration with your spouse may indicate that at least one of your emotional needs is not being met in your marriage. Heed those feelings—they might be your earliest warning sign that you are vulnerable to infidelity.

Influential emotional needs

After years of counseling and interviewing couples whose marriages need help, Dr. Harley compiled a list of the top 10 emotional needs most likely to lead to trouble when unmet by a spouse. As you read over the list, take some time to consider how well you and your partner satisfy each other in these areas:

  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Conversation
  • Domestic support
  • Family commitment
  • Financial support
  • Honesty and openness
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Recreational companionship
  • Sexual fulfillment

If your partner does not fulfill some of these or other needs, Dr. Harley strongly encourages you to be what he calls “radically honest.” It’s possible that he simply does not know how you long for what’s missing. Be willing to ask your loved one what his unmet needs are too. The two of you can work together to resolve this before an affair is imminent.

Tracey Young, a licensed counselor in Charlottesville, VA, cautions against believing that your spouse can meet every one of your needs. She warns that “to expect perfection sets him or her up to fail.” Try to focus on what you consider your most important emotional needs and the reality of your partner learning to meet them.

Warning signs

Whether you are being realistic or not, understand that if your spouse cannot or will not meet the needs you ask her to, you are much more likely to stray. If you do not want to be unfaithful, you must be aware of the risks involved with associating even casually with someone else who fills your deep longings.

Don’t overestimate your ability to restrain when it comes to infidelity. Most people don’t go looking to cheat on their spouses. With this is mind, Young cautions against close friendships with members of the opposite sex, asserting “such friendships lead too easily to infatuation.” Both Dr. Harley and Young maintain that the conditions that follow place you in jeopardy of being unfaithful:

  • Feeling drawn to someone else and growing more distant from your spouse
  • Worsening of communication and ability to resolve conflicts with your spouse
  • Creating more ways to spend time with the other person
  • Thinking and talking about him increasingly more
  • Having romantic fantasies about that person
  • Being tempted to tell the person that you feel attracted to her
  • Beginning to justify in your mind why it might be acceptable to get involved with him

Putting on the brakes

If you are knee-deep in signs that you are at risk of infidelity or even if you’ve already made choices that you regret, it’s not too late to save your marriage, if that’s what you desire. Here again, Dr. Harley insists that you be radically honest with your spouse. He cautions against working it all out on your own in an attempt to spare your partner’s feelings. Your marriage can be better strengthened against infidelity if you work as a team against it. Dr. Harley advises anyone tempted to be unfaithful to:

  • Tell your spouse the truth.
  • Identify what emotional needs the other person is meeting.
  • Give your spouse loving suggestions on how she can meet those emotional needs.
  • Avoid seeing the other person, even if it means changing your job.

Seek professional help if you and your spouse are finding it difficult to conquer this crisis.

Resource

His Needs, Her Needs, (rev. exp. ed.), by Willard T. Harley, PhD. Revell, 2011. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Willard T. Harley, PhD; “Coping With Infidelity” Marriage Builders, www.marriagebuilders.com; Tracey Young, First Stone Counseling Center, Charlottesville, VA; Dr. Don Fava, “Infidelity: Common Causes,” Counseling Net Online

Summary

  • Choose to remain true to your spouse.
  • Don't test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage.
  • Be radically honest with your spouse.

Infidelity—it’s the driving force in soap operas and country music. It’s so easily glamorized, trivialized, or accepted in films and novels. What about you? Has your own attitude about unfaithfulness been softened by the world?

If you truly do not want to hurt your spouse, your children, or your own psyche by becoming involved in an extramarital affair, know that you have the power to remain true to your spouse. Also know that the further you test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage, the harder it is to resist temptation.

Cause of infidelity

Psychologist Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, asserts that the most common cause of infidelity is when a partner does not meet a person’s most important emotional needs. If you are in this situation, this makes you vulnerable to someone who comes along who meets those needs.

Harley defines emotional need as “a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment.” Feelings of unhappiness and frustration with your spouse may indicate that at least one of your emotional needs is not being met in your marriage. Heed those feelings—they might be your earliest warning sign that you are vulnerable to infidelity.

Influential emotional needs

After years of counseling and interviewing couples whose marriages need help, Dr. Harley compiled a list of the top 10 emotional needs most likely to lead to trouble when unmet by a spouse. As you read over the list, take some time to consider how well you and your partner satisfy each other in these areas:

  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Conversation
  • Domestic support
  • Family commitment
  • Financial support
  • Honesty and openness
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Recreational companionship
  • Sexual fulfillment

If your partner does not fulfill some of these or other needs, Dr. Harley strongly encourages you to be what he calls “radically honest.” It’s possible that he simply does not know how you long for what’s missing. Be willing to ask your loved one what his unmet needs are too. The two of you can work together to resolve this before an affair is imminent.

Tracey Young, a licensed counselor in Charlottesville, VA, cautions against believing that your spouse can meet every one of your needs. She warns that “to expect perfection sets him or her up to fail.” Try to focus on what you consider your most important emotional needs and the reality of your partner learning to meet them.

Warning signs

Whether you are being realistic or not, understand that if your spouse cannot or will not meet the needs you ask her to, you are much more likely to stray. If you do not want to be unfaithful, you must be aware of the risks involved with associating even casually with someone else who fills your deep longings.

Don’t overestimate your ability to restrain when it comes to infidelity. Most people don’t go looking to cheat on their spouses. With this is mind, Young cautions against close friendships with members of the opposite sex, asserting “such friendships lead too easily to infatuation.” Both Dr. Harley and Young maintain that the conditions that follow place you in jeopardy of being unfaithful:

  • Feeling drawn to someone else and growing more distant from your spouse
  • Worsening of communication and ability to resolve conflicts with your spouse
  • Creating more ways to spend time with the other person
  • Thinking and talking about him increasingly more
  • Having romantic fantasies about that person
  • Being tempted to tell the person that you feel attracted to her
  • Beginning to justify in your mind why it might be acceptable to get involved with him

Putting on the brakes

If you are knee-deep in signs that you are at risk of infidelity or even if you’ve already made choices that you regret, it’s not too late to save your marriage, if that’s what you desire. Here again, Dr. Harley insists that you be radically honest with your spouse. He cautions against working it all out on your own in an attempt to spare your partner’s feelings. Your marriage can be better strengthened against infidelity if you work as a team against it. Dr. Harley advises anyone tempted to be unfaithful to:

  • Tell your spouse the truth.
  • Identify what emotional needs the other person is meeting.
  • Give your spouse loving suggestions on how she can meet those emotional needs.
  • Avoid seeing the other person, even if it means changing your job.

Seek professional help if you and your spouse are finding it difficult to conquer this crisis.

Resource

His Needs, Her Needs, (rev. exp. ed.), by Willard T. Harley, PhD. Revell, 2011. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Willard T. Harley, PhD; “Coping With Infidelity” Marriage Builders, www.marriagebuilders.com; Tracey Young, First Stone Counseling Center, Charlottesville, VA; Dr. Don Fava, “Infidelity: Common Causes,” Counseling Net Online

Summary

  • Choose to remain true to your spouse.
  • Don't test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage.
  • Be radically honest with your spouse.

Infidelity—it’s the driving force in soap operas and country music. It’s so easily glamorized, trivialized, or accepted in films and novels. What about you? Has your own attitude about unfaithfulness been softened by the world?

If you truly do not want to hurt your spouse, your children, or your own psyche by becoming involved in an extramarital affair, know that you have the power to remain true to your spouse. Also know that the further you test the boundaries in relationships outside of your marriage, the harder it is to resist temptation.

Cause of infidelity

Psychologist Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, asserts that the most common cause of infidelity is when a partner does not meet a person’s most important emotional needs. If you are in this situation, this makes you vulnerable to someone who comes along who meets those needs.

Harley defines emotional need as “a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment.” Feelings of unhappiness and frustration with your spouse may indicate that at least one of your emotional needs is not being met in your marriage. Heed those feelings—they might be your earliest warning sign that you are vulnerable to infidelity.

Influential emotional needs

After years of counseling and interviewing couples whose marriages need help, Dr. Harley compiled a list of the top 10 emotional needs most likely to lead to trouble when unmet by a spouse. As you read over the list, take some time to consider how well you and your partner satisfy each other in these areas:

  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Conversation
  • Domestic support
  • Family commitment
  • Financial support
  • Honesty and openness
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Recreational companionship
  • Sexual fulfillment

If your partner does not fulfill some of these or other needs, Dr. Harley strongly encourages you to be what he calls “radically honest.” It’s possible that he simply does not know how you long for what’s missing. Be willing to ask your loved one what his unmet needs are too. The two of you can work together to resolve this before an affair is imminent.

Tracey Young, a licensed counselor in Charlottesville, VA, cautions against believing that your spouse can meet every one of your needs. She warns that “to expect perfection sets him or her up to fail.” Try to focus on what you consider your most important emotional needs and the reality of your partner learning to meet them.

Warning signs

Whether you are being realistic or not, understand that if your spouse cannot or will not meet the needs you ask her to, you are much more likely to stray. If you do not want to be unfaithful, you must be aware of the risks involved with associating even casually with someone else who fills your deep longings.

Don’t overestimate your ability to restrain when it comes to infidelity. Most people don’t go looking to cheat on their spouses. With this is mind, Young cautions against close friendships with members of the opposite sex, asserting “such friendships lead too easily to infatuation.” Both Dr. Harley and Young maintain that the conditions that follow place you in jeopardy of being unfaithful:

  • Feeling drawn to someone else and growing more distant from your spouse
  • Worsening of communication and ability to resolve conflicts with your spouse
  • Creating more ways to spend time with the other person
  • Thinking and talking about him increasingly more
  • Having romantic fantasies about that person
  • Being tempted to tell the person that you feel attracted to her
  • Beginning to justify in your mind why it might be acceptable to get involved with him

Putting on the brakes

If you are knee-deep in signs that you are at risk of infidelity or even if you’ve already made choices that you regret, it’s not too late to save your marriage, if that’s what you desire. Here again, Dr. Harley insists that you be radically honest with your spouse. He cautions against working it all out on your own in an attempt to spare your partner’s feelings. Your marriage can be better strengthened against infidelity if you work as a team against it. Dr. Harley advises anyone tempted to be unfaithful to:

  • Tell your spouse the truth.
  • Identify what emotional needs the other person is meeting.
  • Give your spouse loving suggestions on how she can meet those emotional needs.
  • Avoid seeing the other person, even if it means changing your job.

Seek professional help if you and your spouse are finding it difficult to conquer this crisis.

Resource

His Needs, Her Needs, (rev. exp. ed.), by Willard T. Harley, PhD. Revell, 2011. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Willard T. Harley, PhD; “Coping With Infidelity” Marriage Builders, www.marriagebuilders.com; Tracey Young, First Stone Counseling Center, Charlottesville, VA; Dr. Don Fava, “Infidelity: Common Causes,” Counseling Net Online

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