Marriage is a source of happiness but in affairs, heartache and pain are most intense. Moreover, if it leads to divorce, its adverse ripple effects dwell long and deep in both partners and the children.
Like driving in a treacherous, winding road, when unwarned, we drive leisurely or even at high speed, negligent of danger. But when alerted to warning signs, we exercise caution, slow down, and are extra watchful. Thus, we avert fatal accidents.
Usually, people do not intentionally have an affair. They are mostly caught unaware. Relationships developed in close proximity in the office or business meetings. By and by, conversations deepen, feelings develop, and before they know it, they are in an intimate relationship. So here are a few tips on being vigilant on the road of marriage and warning signs to heed.
1) Be aware of any distance that has developed between you and your partner. Identify your need and gently make your request known to your partner. For example, say “I notice that we are having tiffs about household chores often. I really like to have more peace at home. Can we sit down and talk this over and see what I can do to help you feel better?” Notice this is not finger-pointing nor a power struggle but stating your need and phrasing it in a way that contributes to the partner’s sense of well-being. Be a model of good communication rather than a critic. Affair usually meets an unmet need in marriage. An unaddressed dissatisfaction becomes long drawn likely causes the partner to look elsewhere to meet an unmet need.
2) Build a secure sense of self. It is easier to blame our partner for our dissatisfaction with the relationship. But marriage is an interaction between 2 persons. The only behaviour we can change is our own. Our marital relationship mirrors our relationship with parents – is there a lesson or discovery to be made from our family of origin?
3) One of the innocent ways of starting an affair is to share your marital dissatisfaction with your friend/ colleague of the opposite gender – resist that. Instead, seek professional help.
As early detection of cancer has a higher success rate of treatment, early intervention in marital discord increases the chances of repair.
Tan Soh Hiang
Marriage and Family Therapist