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What We Can Learn from David Letterman's Infidelity
David Letterman's recent exploits offer a perfect opportunity to help understand and avoid affairs in the workplace.


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Letterman's actions show that even if you have a relationship with millions, your spouse needs to be No. 1.


I love watching David Letterman just before going to bed. He gives me a funny spin on the day and a more peaceful sleep at night. The other evening was different. As Dave took the stage and admitted having an affair, and asking his fans and family for forgiveness I went to bed wondering why? It happened with Clinton, Kennedy and thousands of others, why?

The answer came to me so strongly the next morning it almost woke me: Love. Here I am lying in bed with my wife Lynda—why am I not having an affair on her? Because I love her. When my feelings of connection are strongest, my vulnerability to having an affair is non-existent. Everyday occurrences cause us to be disconnected from each other, work, kids, money, stress, outside activities; this is a normal part of life. However, being less connected makes us more vulnerable to an affair. If Lynda and I were to get caught up with the kids or going to work, along with that would come the possibility for a workplace affair.

Love is something we all crave, but I am not sure we always understand that. Letterman, like every other guy, needs and wants to be loved, but because he does not understand love he’s looking for it in all the wrong places.

Love is very simple. Love is attention. They are the same thing. In fact, we use the words interchangeably, yet we don’t see how perfectly these two concepts fit together. In fact, there is no way to show love without bringing attention.

What does this have to do with Letterman or workplace affairs? Research shows that most couples spend only 10 minutes a day talking to each other. Our conversations are often in the car or over the phone and either focus on the kid’s schedules or household responsibilities. At work, we can spend 8 to 10 hours a day talking and interacting. If there is the slightest feeling of attraction, combined with hours and hours of attention, feelings of connection will develop.

Think such as what you know about attention. Attention loves novelty—it is stimulated by things that are new. Letterman has been having sex with his wife for years, that’s not new. He wants to feel his attention stimulated again because unconsciously it is related to the feelings of love. But instead of doing what he should do, which is to create newness inside his marriage, he goes outside the relationship.

Here’s the antidote: spend time talking. Everyday couples need to be spending at least 20 minutes of face-to-face conversation. Television off—mute doesn’t work here—and talking about each other’s lives. Schedules and activities are off the table, it should be about frustrations, disappointment, joys and successes. Cap the week with a date night. Where you will follow up with the conversations of the week, but more importantly you will have fun doing something together.

Women are talkers, and the conversations along the way are designed to meet her needs. Men are doers and going out for a long dinner or taking a walk out in nature will be a much easier way for men to bond. Date nights help both connect.

Here are some dos and don’ts for your date night:

* Don’t do a movie—at least not for the entire date because no attention is given.

* Do have fun—when men bond with friends they don’t sit and talk, they do things together.

* Do a lot with PDA—not the electronic kind but public displays of affection. Men love touch as much as women love to talk.

* Don’t vent—this is not the time to be negative or to even talk about serious issues.

* Do try something novel—miniature golf, riding bikes, dinner on your front porch; attention likes novelty.

Perhaps if Letterman spent more time communicating and going on dates with his wife, he wouldn't spend so much time apologizing. Personally, I liked the show better when he focused on being funny and I would go to sleep peacefully.

Brett Williams ( www.helptalking.com ) is the clinical director of Help Talking, coaching couples through conflict (http://www.helptalking.com); and executive director of the non-profit OC Marriage, flooding Orange County with marriage education classes (http://www.ocmarriage.com). He is also the author of "You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Married" (http://www.helptalking.com/book).

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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