Is Any Relationship Affair-Proof?
I was sitting in a café with my study partner, studying for an upcoming test. We ordered coffee and settled in. As we started digging into the material, I noticed a couple seated to our right. Their energy didn’t match a typical married couple to me. Being a couples’ therapist, I decided to observe, just for a moment. I had to avert my eyes a couple of times. I’m pretty sly though, so I was able to watch them for as long as I needed to form an opinion. Were they married, dating, co-workers, two single people just meeting for the first time from an on-line dating site, two people having an affair, one of them having an affair? I slid a note over to my study mate asking her who she thought they were. She immediately agreed with my suspicion.
As a couples’ therapist, you might imagine, there are many thoughts and questions going through my mind. No judgment here, mind you. Some of the thoughts that flooded those moments were the following:
They look very, very, very happy.
Why are they so happy?
Are they married? They can’t be married, they are too happy, unless they are newlyweds. Are they just married? Are they having an affair?
Why does it look like they are having an affair to me?
The woman is wearing a wedding ring, but the man is not.
They are intermittently shooting hyper-vigilant glances around the room. The man’s body language is possessive.
The woman is constantly looking for validation from her table mate.
They are really leaning in to one another.
My thoughts then were:
Whatever their relationship is, what a beautiful moment I am witnessing.
They are really into each other and for the most part, they are oblivious to the outside world.
At what point does someone decide to cheat on their mate? When do couples settle in their marriages and no longer experience joy, interest, or fire? There is a plethora of reasons for infidelity: domestic violence, stale marriage, ailing mate, they are no longer compatible, or for excitement because one can get away with it. The reasons why married people cheat, both researched and un-researched, are numerous.
While I have no facts about the couple, just my biased lens, a slice of time, my imagination, and my study mate’s concurring opinion, I still wonder. What can a couple do to maintain this level of fire, at least from time to time? Is any relationship affair-proof? Are these people truly happy? I feel sorry for their mates waiting for them at home.
An individual’s tipping-point to cheating is affected by so many factors: wealth, opportunity, religion, personality, maturity, the lack of a good relationship with the one they are with, communication issues, etc.
What can we individually do to nurture our marriage or long-term relationship so one can be sitting with their partner, leaning into them, physically protective of them, possibly unconsciously, wanting only them and having a deep, connecting, attached relationship?
Improving a love relationship is work. Seeking couples counseling is one way to rediscover what once connected you and your partner when your relationship was deeply fulfilling.