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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ideas for staying together.

An awful lot of us are suffering from long-term broken trust issues. Interesting to me in the article below is the realization that the next generation, my daughter Melina and my son Zed for instance, have seen even more divorce than we have and have been truly frightened by it.

My parents divorced, my ex- and I divorced, divorce is everywhere. It's hard to find people who still have courage and optimism about commitment. I hope the tide turns.

Extracts from
'Honey, I'm Thinking of Having an Affair': Therapists Advise Confessing Temptation
by Sue Shellenbarger for the Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2006

Instead of waiting until after spouses stray and then attempting damage control, therapists and marriage educators are urging couples to build trust upfront by acknowledging the possibility of cheating and heading it off through explicit spoken or written agreements.

To guard against damage from affairs, experts suggest couples:

  • Acknowledge the risk of an affair occurring
  • Discuss circumstances that might pose a risk
  • Agree to talk about temptations before acting
  • Disclose any affairs promptly
  • Agree not to counterattack if a spouse strays
  • Learn to ask, give and receive forgiveness

The agreements are part of a broader emphasis on trust-building in marriage. In a pop culture ridden with images of infidelity and marital mistrust, experts are using a variety of techniques to "super-glue couples together," says Diane Sollee, founder of, a marriage-education Web site. "It's a huge crisis right now. Twenty- and thirty-somethings are just terrified. They've seen the divorce rates and they see what's happened to their parents, and they think they can't trust" prospective spouses.

Working on the knowledge that many people enter marriage with an impaired ability to form intimate attachments, therapists aim to help couples consciously construct a new foundation for trust. Dr. Van Epp uses a "relationship attachment model" -- a graphic tool that looks like a five-dial stereo-system equalizer.

Each sliding vertical dial symbolizes one of five building blocks of attachment:

  1. Knowledge about each other's past and present lives;
  2. Trust;
  3. Mutual reliance on each other;
  4. Commitment;
  5. Sexual intimacy.

When all five ingredients are present and in balance, Dr. Van Epp says, marriages tend to be strong. Couples are taught to evaluate their relationships on each of the five dimensions of attachment using a cardboard model of the tool.

People are at greater risk of infidelity when they or their family members have had affairs, Dr. McCarthy says. One couple he counseled, who had actually met each other through an extramarital affair, agreed in writing that if either felt the urge to stray, they'd talk to each other about it first.

One bonus, couples say, is that telling your spouse about an extramarital desire tends to quash it. ... "all of a sudden, that power, that pull, was gone in a flash. When you shine the light on something, then the darkness goes away."

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At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It takes two to make it happen, and both folks involved have to have the same set of fundamental goals and ideals. I believe it's really very hard to find someone like that.

Usually, one partner might be thinking "it will be different when we're married". Fact is, if things are not right now, it will be worse when you're married.

To me, marriage is a word that means the government is involved. I was married once and it was a bad relationship. I was sort of pressured into the act. It cost 25 bucks to get married and tens of thousands to get divorced a few years later. The divorce stripped away all the happy memories too.

Marriage is useful if you plan to have kids or want to make sure your partner will get your social security payment (if there will be one). It's pretty much a given that if one partner outlives the other, the surviving spouse will get the estate.

I've been with my sweetie for over 14 years now and we have no children together. Lately, it's becoming more important to have the gummint involved, for reasons given above. I'm less than a year from being a senior citizen discount user now. ;)

Whenever I wasn't in a relationship before, I wanted to be in one. Then... it seemed like I was happier before when I wasn't in a relationship. I expect that many folks have had the same feelings. I think that the "in and out" cycle stops when you no longer look back to happier times, because you are happy in the now. That's when the relationship is a good one and a keeper.

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the 5 points they give for a strong marriage are right on the money. I've been married quite a while, and despite a few ups and downs, I think we've both been pretty happy because of those 5 points. I know that I've never had an affair, and I'm very sure that my spouse hasn't either. Our daughters judge guys with their dad as a standard. ~~~~Susanlynn, knowing he's still the one


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