L.S., Ph.D., Seattle, Spokesman-Review, October 4, 1997
Dear Ann Landers: You have printed many letters about extramarital affairs. Here are some things your readers should be aware of:
- About half the men and a third of the women who are cheating say they are perfectly content and there is nothing wrong with their marriages.
- Being religious does not prevent infidelity.
- Women are as willing as men to have an affair.
- Fewer than 10 percent of those having an affair will divorce their spouses to marry their lovers. A large percentage of those who do often have another divorce.
- People who have affairs are more likely to be divorced, distressed and disappointed.
- The chemistry that drives an affair lasts anywhere from a few weeks to three years before it cools down.
Infidelity can happen to anyone. Here are a few tips for your readers to affair-proof their marriages. I call them "the four P's" for prevention:
- Be protective of your marriage. Avoid risky situations such as long lunches with a co-worker or drinks for two after work. Most people do not plan to be unfaithful.
- Be positive. Look for what is right in your spouse and tell him or her daily. People who have love affairs are often looking for appreciation and affirmation.
- Be polite. Always talk to your spouse with respect. Be careful what you say to each other and how you say it. Show courtesy and caring in the way you treat one another.
- Be playful, and make fun, sex, and humor a mainstay in your marriage. Schedule time to play with one another, and have a "date night" at least once a week.
Marriages can and do survive affairs, and many become stronger having weathered the crisis but not without pain and a genuine desire to recommit.