Sarah is a sad, somewhat lonely 27-year-old woman who has been married for five years. At this moment she is looking at a website that advertises, “Life is short. Have an affair.” And at this moment, she is seriously contemplating it.
If I could, I would tell her, “Sarah, cheating on him, will cost you everything that is important to you, and what you hold dear.”
There is an old saying that goes something like, if you think the grass is greener on the other side, it’s because it’s fertilized with manure!
Between Facebook, Tinder, and now websites like Ashley Madison, it’s becoming normalized to stray from your relationship. Yet what Sarah doesn’t know is that the average cost of divorce runs from $4,000 to $40,000 in Canada. Not only that, it will likely cost her the house that she has invested in, her health, and incredible amounts of stress.
Out of curiosity, I logged into this site, only to find 200 women like Sarah, in Sarnia alone, who are looking to cheat on their partner. There was at least triple that number of men.
We all want the same things in a relationship. We want to feel important, desired, loved, and wanted. But kids, jobs, bills and life so often get in the way.
And our relationships, which are our foundation to the hierarchy of responsibilities and obligations that we have in our life, become horribly neglected. So, if you are like Sarah, or her other half, and you are beginning to see cracks that are starting to crumble in your foundation, it’s time to take action.
Rule 1: Be honest. Sit down, silence life’s distractions, and be brutally honest around your struggles. If you are worried that your relationship is falling apart, then say it out loud. And together try to make a plan of action. That could include more intimacy, more time together without distractions, or reducing each other’s stress.
Rule 2: If rule 1 isn’t working, than you need to get help. Millions of couples have benefitted from couples counselling. Sometimes working out deeper attachment issues, or understanding how certain patterns of negative communication can be harming your relationship, can transform a marriage.
Rule 3: Your relationship is the single most valuable asset that you have invested in. Protect it, nurture it, and fight for it. There is no perfect marriage, and temptation, be it in the form of cheating or addictions or hurting one another, can devastate it. Recognize those red flags, and respond to them, before it’s too late.
Lastly, the best advice I could give Sarah is to turn off that computer, and step away from the manure.
Ronnie Littlewood is a Psychotherapist and Registered Social Worker at Sarnia’s newest counselling agency, The Couples Clinic (www.thecouplesclinic.ca)