The news and details surrounding U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus’ affair has spread through social media like wildfire. Sadly, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, public demise of an influential figure that many regard, or regarded, in high esteem. In a recent article, Dr. Howard J. Markman, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies and a professor of psychology at the University of Denver, gives some tips on how to protect your own marriage from an affair. First, Markman points out that extramarital involvement (EMI) does not occur by accident. The decision to be unfaithful to your spouse is exactly that, a decision, regardless of the circumstances that may have led you to go astray. Being drunk, lonely, sexually deprived, or emotionally exiled from your spouse are all factors that could lead you to seek affection elsewhere, but these do not result in an affair. Ultimately, it is you who chooses whether to take a bite out of the apple. Markman cautions that before you pick the fruit from the tree of infidelity, you should carefully consider the effects it will have on you, your partner, and your life in general.
Markman suggests that couples make protecting the sanctity and commitment of their marriage a priority. Do not put yourself in situations where you can be tempted, and recognize that when you cannot avoid certain separations, calling in, sending a message, or doing something special for your partner reconnects you to them. Another important way to help protect your marriage from infidelity is to carefully evaluate your partner and the relationship before you take the plunge. According to Markman, too many partners shack up together without ever having a clear goal of marriage. The wedding occurs often as a natural progression within the relationship rather than being entered into as one of the most important steps in a person’s life.
“Finally, it is important to recognize and deal with early signs that EMI may be starting or are at risk for starting,” Markman says. If your partner is being secretive or distant, confront him or her in a supportive and loving way. It is better to dispel any unfounded fears you may have by approaching your partner than to wake up one day realizing your worst fears have come true. Markman also points out that even if the corrosive effects of an affair have already infiltrated your relationship, it is not too late. Marriage and relationship counselors can help couples learn why the affair occurred, how to overcome the damage and pain, and how to move forward together.
Markman, Howard J. David Petraeus’ affair: Could this happen to you? The Huffington Post (n.d.): n. pag. 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-j-markman-phd/david-petraeus-affair-cou_b_2109911.html?utm_hp_ref=fifty&ir=Fifty
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