After all of the mean letters I’ve received from people who are upset about my book, House of Lies, I was pleased to find this email in my Inbox this morning.
Dear Susan, I enjoy your outlook on sex and marriage. I was wondering if you had any advice on how to affair-proof a marriage?
Well, Mariah, I wish I had a magic solution to “affair-proof” marriage, but unfortunately there isn’t one. Affairs happen because people make mistakes. The human heart, mind and psyche can be fallible, corruptible and, at times, weak. We choose unwisely, not realizing all we have to lose or the people that may be hurt in the process. There is no magic solution. However, I believe there are ways to minimize the chances.
Unbeknownst to a lot of people, marriage isn’t just about love. You can love someone and still end up making a stupid decision. Marriage is about working to protect that love.
How? When we lose the metaphors, what does that look like in real life?
I believe it’s all about staying connected. Communication is the conduit that holds partners together. It’s the pipeline. If the pipe gets clogged, everything backs up; so you have to keep yourself open. Communication comes in many forms and all of them are important.
Key to marital success is to know and understand your partner. You need to know them from the inside out. Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually and Physically….these are all key components to the whole. Men and women are made differently, and I believe that was God’s design. He made opposites attract so that we would complement one another with our differences. I’m going to speak in generalities here for a moment, realizing that this doesn’t apply to all people, but to a majority. Men are simpler creatures than women. They tend to be less emotional and more logical. They tend to breeze over the details and get to the summation. They tend to let things roll off their back easier than a woman. Their needs are fewer than ours. That is not to say that their needs are less important than ours. Women are emotional creatures. We are more intuitive and sensitive than men. We get our feelings hurt easier and we hold a grudge longer. Our needs are extensive and ever-changing.
· Men need to feel respected, enjoyed, loved, wanted and needed. (See video)
· Women need to feel beautiful, wanted, loved, respected, needed and enjoyed. (See video)
If you look at the raw, natural elements of the sexes, your partner’s basic needs become clear.
For example: Men need to feel respected for who they are and what they do. Berating a man or minimizing his role in your life tears him down at a core level. Similarly, women have an innate desire to feel beautiful. Making a woman feel that she is ugly or unattractive, or making her believe that you are no longer attracted to her, tears her down at a core level. Core-level damage clogs the communication conduit. Over time, if the clog isn’t removed the marriage becomes endangered. Temptation lies just around the corner. If a man feels berated at home and then meets a woman who lavishes him with words of approval and respect….with whom will he desire to communicate? Likewise, if a woman is made to feel unattractive and unappreciated at home and then meets a man who dotes on her with words of affirmation and wanting…with whom will she desire to communicate?
Your job in marriage is to know your partner’s needs and then meet those needs. Your job is to hold one another up, to support, to nurture, to excite and to love so that as you grow, you are growing more openly together and not apart.
If you know your partner’s needs and ignore them, do not be surprised if, over time, they end up in the arms of someone who meets those needs. That is the harsh reality of the human heart’s design.
Your job is to keep the communication conduit open so that you can know one another better. With knowledge comes the power to make a difference. This takes the work and commitment of both partners. One person cannot do it alone. The two must come together as one in order for the marriage to flourish.
Success often lies in the little things. My husband and I have been married for twenty years and there have been some rough patches along the way. One of the many things I have learned is that marital success lies in the consistency of doing the little things. Often it is the little things that are the most meaningful. Tiny acts of love and appreciation carry far more weight than most people realize.
For example: my husband fills my coffee cup and brings it to me in the morning. I’ve never asked him to do this. He just does it out of love for me. He might think it’s no big deal, but to me, it warms my heart. It shows me that he thought of me and it’s an effort of directing his attention on me for a brief moment at the start of the day. It’s a tiny gesture but it’s wonderfully meaningful. Another example is that whenever my husband and I sit together on the couch, which is rare with our busy schedules, we hold hands. It’s simple, but it signifies a connection, a longing, and a certain comfort. In addition, we always kiss goodnight…even if we are angry at one another…we ALWAYS kiss goodnight. It’s an unspoken vow that says, “even though you piss me off, I love you and I’m not going anywhere.”
Now… there is one element of communication I have yet to discuss… Sex. It’s important. It’s essential. Sexless marriages aren’t fulfilling for either partner. Period. I’ve spoken with a lot of couples through the years and never once has anyone said to me, “thank God we don’t have sex.” More likely the complaint is, “she doesn’t want sex,” or “he wants it too much,” or “he doesn’t find me attractive,” or “she’s always too tired.” These are common marital challenges involving sex.
Let me speak frankly: Men, you need to understand that for a woman to desire sex, she needs to feel sexy and beautiful. YOU have to find a way to make her feel that way about herself so that she will be more prone to respond positively to your sexual advances. Women, you need to understand that men always want sex. They want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They want it, want it and want it and your husband wants it from YOU.
God created human beings with a sexual drive. Most men have a greater sex drive than most women and that’s okay. Thank God they do! Because if they didn’t there would be more sexless marriages in the world and more miserable people. Sex is a necessary component of a marriage. And hear me out on this… it’s SUPPOSED to be fulfilling. Sex is not supposed to be a chore, a have-to or a dreaded experience. If it is then you’re doing it wrong. It shouldn’t involve guilt or pressure. It should be fun, erotic, playful and loving. Sex between a married couple should be the best sex of all because you have the freedom to make it whatever you want it to be. It’s a safe place for exploration. Everybody’s body is unique. What takes one person to the throes of ecstasy, another person will find annoying. That’s why it is imperative that you get to know your partner’s body. The safety of sexual exploration is one of the great benefits of marriage. Instead of moaning about getting too little or your partner wanting too much, put your heads together and find a way to sexually satisfy one another.
How? Dress up. Role play. Buy some toys. Watch a kinky movie. Read Penthouse Letters. Go to a nude beach. Explore things of a sexual nature together and see what turns you and your partner on. If you bump into something you find offensive, turn it off or walk away. If you try something that hurts, don’t try it again. But, read your partner’s body language as you explore. If there is something that heats them up, make a mental note to incorporate that activity into your sex life. If she needs bubble baths and rose petals to get in the mood to make love, then do it. If he needs you to put your hair in pigtails and don a pair of bobby socks, do it. Do whatever you and your partner need to get it on…because sex should be one of the fun, let-off-steam, exciting elements of your marriage. Marriage takes hard work and sex is one of the fun benefits you get to reap for putting in the work.
Married people have the ability to climax together every day... so why are you not taking advantage of the joys of physical bonding? Get on - Get in - and Get off together! Get excited about it.! The sexual energy you share will propel your marriage into a better place. Sexual exploration adds comedy, it gives the two of you secrets about which only you two can giggle, it adds a depth that other forms of communication lack. It works in conjunction with verbal, mentalm, spiritual and emotional intimacy and heightens all of these.
Your job as a spouse is to be there… to be emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically available. When two become one they share everything. That means thoughts, prayers, hardships, joys and orgasms. That’s what marriage is all about.
Can you affair-proof it? No. But you can make yours so open, so uplifted, so entangled in each other that temptation can scarcely find a foot-hold in either of your hearts. Work hard to meet one another’s needs, wholly and intentionally, and in doing so, you will minimize the urge for either of you to look elsewhere.
The best things in life take hard work and marriage is no exception; but it’s worth it. ~