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.
'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 SmartMarriages.com, 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:
- Knowledge about each other's past and present lives;
- Mutual reliance on each other;
- 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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