Tag Archives: fidelity

Preventing Extra-Marital Affairs by Rick Holmes, Ph.D.

I recently attended a Couples Counseling workshop with Dr. Barry W. McCarthy. Let me share some of his thoughts and things I have seen to help prevent extra-marital affairs.


You have just gotten married, so the idea of discussing risks of an extra-marital affair is foolish. Young couples are immune from affairs and anyway; affairs occur after many years of marriage as a result of boredom.

As long as you have a loving marriage, you need not worry about an affair: affairs only occur when there are marital or sexual problems.

Prevention strategies

1) Develop an active plan to nurture marital trust and intimacy.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated and not taken for granted. Find three things each day you can compliment your spouse about. How are they a blessing to you? If you are thinking about how you appreciate your spouse each day, you will see them in a more positive light. This helps to build more closeness, increases healthy communication, and strengthens the relationship.

2) Discuss the importance of fidelity.

Don’t just assume it is a given because you are married. Talk about your morals, values, and beliefs.  Be explicit about your desire to discuss any outstanding concerns. Many couples are vulnerable to affairs because there is a lack of communication that leads to an emotional connection with someone else.  With a positive, respectful, affirming process of conflict resolution, you can reinforce respect and admiration for each other and help reduce the risk of infidelity.

3) Avoid high risk situations.

Be honest with yourself and with your spouse about what kind of person, mood, and situations would be high risk for you. Affairs thrive on secrecy and impulse, and talking about a possible affair makes the process explicit. It also makes clear that this is a choice that will have consequences for the participating partner, the spouse, and the marriage.

4) Invest in the marriage.

A successful marriage takes time, effort, and work. Things are always evolving in the relationship with children, jobs, or different stages of life. There is no substitute for regularly spending quality time together.  Find a balance between short bursts of focused attention with limited distractions, and sharing new experiences or memories together.

5) Talk to a counselor.

This can be beneficial for multiple reasons including: starting the process of assessing strengths in the marriage and how to build on them, creating common goals, and managing areas of emotional distress. Make a healthy choice for your marriage and consider giving PCPC a call. Your marriage is worth it!

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