Avoiding Temptations of an Affair Don’t let lulls in your marriage dictate its future. Stay positive and use these tips to avoid the temptation of an extra marital affair. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
Don't get caught up in the fantasy, a need for affection and attention can be had in many other and healthy ways.
Your spouse, in hot pursuit of a promotion (or just struggling to keep their job) has been putting in overtime at work and you ask yourself, "Who is this person snoring in my bed at 2:00 a.m.?" You do your best to be supportive and handle daily life, while the other is to all intents and purposes, absent. You figure every marriage goes through periods like this where you set aside your personal desires for the good of your spouse.
Frustrated, and craving for attention, a dynamite-looking temp or newbie walks into the office and you begin to notice that this person has eyes for you. Or perhaps, it’s a single parent dropping off their child at the daycare or the barista at your local coffee house.
Suddenly, you’re getting so much attention, so many veiled innuendos of how delicious a romance could be, so many compliments, that you're carried along on a veritable sea of wonderful emotions and you begin to daydream and wonder, "Isn’t this what it’s supposed to be like? Isn’t this how I’m supposed to feel?"
You've never felt so beautiful and so wanted. How can you possibly resist when, after just a few short weeks, this person wants to sweep you off to some romantic location? Then, in order to speed things up, you entertain the idea of meeting this person at a local motel one afternoon so they can show you just how much they adore you?
Hopefully at this point, you return back to reality and say to yourself, "Slow down hot stuff, I’m married," which of course this adoring fan knew, but ignores. That right there should be a danger sign. A big, fat, red flag. Someone who does not respect other people’s commitments will not respect their own—like to you, down the road.
What you may not realize is that you’ve been drugged—not by him, but by your own emotional response. You're getting too much, too soon. All those flattering words, all that attention and affection are acting like a drug. The brain has a "pleasure center," which when stimulated produces endorphins that make you feel good. When we’re flooded with so much of what "feels good" nothing else matters. It's as if our ability to think rationally is put on hold.
In scientific experiments, rats that are given cocaine will literally press a bar for more until they die. They cease to eat, drink or do anything else that is "normal." The same goes for humans. When given their drug of choice repeatedly, they seemingly lose the ability to think straight.
Make no mistake, romance can be a particularly potent drug. We forget that it is just as possible to be emotionally overwhelmed with positive feelings as it is to be overwhelmed with negative ones and just as mind-numbing—especially when things aren’t quite as rosy or satisfying as you’d like at home.
What Should You Do?
First of all, take stock of your marriage. If basically all is well, you’re just feeling lonely and neglected, there’s no reason to pursue involvement with someone else. On the contrary, this is a perfect opportunity to discuss with your spouse ways to get some together-time without jeopardizing their goals. It’s also a great opportunity to re-kindle friendships that you may have neglected so you can get some attention and affection; or re-invest time with relatives and in-laws.
Beyond that, find a hobby, volunteer activity, church activity, or a sport that would give you some feel-goods that don’t threaten your marriage. If in taking stock of your marriage you find there’s more going on that displeases you than just a period of lonely neglect, speak with a counselor, a good family friend or someone who can give you a reality check.
Don’t allow the drug of romance to sweep you off your feet. Take a step back and use your mind to sort out the questions you may be thinking of when it comes to having an extra marital affair. Use the tips above to work it out and make your marriage stronger. Don’t make destructive life-altering decisions, no matter how tempting that afternoon delight might be.
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including her most recent, "Your Man is Wonderful" (www.yourmaniswonderful.com) and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves and others. Visit www.drnoellenelson.com for more.