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By Ranae Aspen, writer https://www.facebook.com/ranaeaspenwriter

In a month, I will celebrate 22 years of marriage with my soulmate, Dan. Notice, I did not say “wedded bliss.” While some times have been blissful, others have been hard, really hard. 

It dawned on me while thinking about our upcoming anniversary that there are stages of marriage, just like there are stages of childhood development. Embrace each stage because you go from newlyweds to a seasoned married couple in the blink of an eye. 

Newlyweds, now that is the magic! This is the phase where you can’t stand the thought of being away from your spouse. At the drop of a hat, you are intertwined in blissful love. Bliss, this wistful state of love—where you breathe in love, you walk in love, and it is all-consuming. After a while, though, something happens, whether it is the birth of your newborn or just the routine of life, you realize you are not a newlywed, but you are moving into the business of marriage. 

What is the business of marriage? It’s mortgages, car payments, and in general, daily life. Raising a family is expensive, and if you are now a parent, there are expenses involved with diapers, clothing and activities. Then, as they grow older, there are even more fun expenses. The flow of money can be a source of distress or a source of joy. 

A lot depends on your planning and partnership when life hits you with unexpected expenses. Looking back, if I could do one thing before marriage, it would be to have extensive conversations about money. 

The day-to-day grind can be good, or it can be a source of stress. Life can become routine. You get to a point where it almost feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” You get up, you go to work, and you come home. You eat dinner (sometimes the same thing you had last week), you talk about the same things, go to bed, and do it all over again. 

Dan promised me one thing before we got married—every year, we would have a vacation. It may not be a glamorous vacation but time away to have different scenery. For a few years, we’ve hiked in the mountains of Colorado. Another year it was an epic trip to the west coast, and sometimes it is a day trip to Lincoln, to tour around the UNL campus where I attended college. 

Getting into a rut can cause issues. I find when that happens, we tend to take each other for granted. I recommend changing things up, even if it’s something out of the ordinary on your weekly menu. Discover a new place to have dinner or when the weather is nice, take it outside. Take time to talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. 

In a way, a marriage is like a child. The early stages require a lot of attention and nurturing. The years pass, and it is more routine. You still need to go back and water the seeds of love—where your story began. Growing in your love with one another is very important. We all evolve as we journey through life, and our relationship needs to evolve as well.

I have leaned on the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 

While this is a testimony of God’s love for us, it is a recipe for the love we should have for our spouse. Twenty-two years have allowed for opportunities to be proficient in recognizing what our relationship needs to keep it going. Twenty-two years have produced a family that we have centered our world around. Twenty-two years is a long time, but it also goes by incredibly fast. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 22 years in our book of love. 

Cheers to my soulmate Dan; I am thankful that we are together and navigating the waters of this thing called life.

You can read more stories about marriage, midlife, and filling your nest on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/idoparttwostories/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/idoparttwo/

*Neighborhood photo by David McBee from Pexels and Mountain photo by http://www.rachelclaire.co/?ref=pexels; other photo credits are unknown

Danielle and Adam—Podcast hosts, partners in marriage, and parents to three

I heard someone say that forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. This put so much in perspective for me. When people ask me if I forgive Adam for everything he has put us through, I feel like I should be able to say yes since I am still with him. But the truth is, there are moments when I look at him, and I don’t forgive him; it all comes spilling back and it’s so overwhelming that I almost can’t cope. But there are more moments when I know I’m right where I should be, and I know that we will be ok. 

Danielle and Adam together for over 20 years

We are working hard consistently to keep doing better and heading in the same direction, together. I truly think we are better as a team than apart. But I don’t think in order to be with one another there needs to be this ultimate release of everything that has happened in the past. It’s part of our story, just like the good times.

I need to stop thinking of forgiveness as a finish line that needs to be crossed. I don’t think in order to proceed ahead I need to completely put the past behind me.

It’s the hardships that we’ve been through that keep us both wanting to do better, and make us appreciate the present when it’s better than the past, and will make us hope for a future that looks different and fresh from where we’ve been. I think we’re constantly forgiving one another and ourselves over and over.

There will never, in my opinion, be ultimate forgiveness because we will be human until the day we are no longer here, and that means more mistakes and misturns.

Danielle and Adam

I’ve often felt this guilt for harboring some resentment. What’s the official time period for being allowed to hold on to something that’s happened to you? I know, we shouldn’t be constantly scolded for what we’ve done in the past, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be allowed to think about it, right? 

Sometimes I just want to feel whatever I want without there being a right way, a correct amount, and a psychological or spiritual system attached to it. So, I’m not putting a timer on forgiveness. I’ll keep traveling at my own pace for as long as I need. Along the way, I’ll have setbacks, all while working towards feeling more peace, acceptance and growth. 

*Danielle’s story is shared with permission. I Do Part Two encourages you to check out Danielle and Adam every week on their podcast, Marriage and Martinis.

Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

“The job did come with a strange disclaimer which escaped my notice at the time.” -Alison Swan

The interview for my dream job couldn’t have gone better! I was a young 25 years old and had envisioned this moment a dozen times. It was the position of a lifetime. I knew as soon as the offer came, I had been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. 

In some cases, I would be expected to use personal funds for travel and other work-related necessities. The firm couldn’t provide training, but I was welcome to seek assistance from more seasoned partners. 

The hours would be long, the starting pay minimal, and the schedule demanding. Yet I recognized the experience’s value would far exceed the firm’s ability to compensate. 

The job did come with a strange disclaimer that escaped my notice at the time: “Other industries may fail to recognize the transferability of your acquired skills.” 

These minor detractions did nothing to diminish my interest in the position, and I immediately accepted the job. After which, I was forced to endure a 9-month probationary period of waiting. During this period, I was permitted to decorate my office and wait. To this day, I am perplexed by the waiting. 

After the waiting period was complete, I was immediately thrown into the most demanding sector of the position. 

For the first three months, I was allowed less than 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Arriving each morning extremely exhausted had me wondering if my blurry-eyed negligence might result in a co-worker’s fatality. Thankfully there were no deaths to report.

You would think I might have quit from the stress of it all, but actually, I became quite good at juggling the requirements. Soon, what had been stressful became an enjoyable conglomerate of challenges to overcome. 

The best part of the juggling act was that no two days were the same. On a Monday, efficiency might be the best plan to achieve desired results. On a Wednesday, deep wells of patience might be needed. 

Those early years flew by—I was promoted and admired. (Well, not usually admired outwardly, but I understood, my co-workers were quite young.) The 22-year mark passed, and it felt good to know I had tenure—nothing to worry about when it came to job security with this position in the bag. 

What I am about to share next will come as a great surprise, as it did me…

I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around how it all unraveled. I was called into the head office one afternoon and told my expertise would no longer be needed. My position was being outsourced. 

I was welcome to retain my title, but every project I had worked on would be dismantled. My responsibilities outsourced to large academic institutions, and my office cleaned out. 

Years have passed since the day my position was eliminated. On most days, I hold such gratitude for the opportunity to have been offered the career of a lifetime. 

Once in a while, the memory of a position I loved so deeply leaves me wishing for what once was. In all honesty, my title became a significant part of my identity. 

It was a full and purposeful career to have raised our three beautiful and deserving children, now 25, 22, and 20. The role I accepted as a naive 25-year-old rookie resulted in greater fulfillment than I could have imagined and a lifetime of friendships with our young adults.

All grown!

An Afterword: In recent weeks, the firm asked me to return for minimal hours as a consultant—I was thrilled to be asked. Although the hours of work are greatly diminished and usually remote, it continues to be my greatest passion.

“She’s the puzzle I chose to solve. Far too many people are looking for an easy puzzle, you’re never going to have an easy puzzle” – Anthony Trucks talking about his lovely wife

A few months ago I heard Anthony Trucks speaking about his marriage, divorce, and remarriage to the same “amazing woman,” and I reached out to see if he would share his story with I Do Part Two—Anthony graciously agreed.

Anthony is a devoted husband and father. He is also an author, internationally known motivational speaker and has his own business http://anthonytrucks.com, where he coaches clients to reach their full potential.  In addition, he is the host of his own podcast Aww Shift, which can be found wherever you listen to podcasts.

Anthony is a former NFL player and interestingly enough— he’s a 3 time American Ninja Warrior, and the first NFL player to complete the very difficult obstacle course and push the ‘Red Buzzer.’

He has an amazing ability to navigate life’s challenges……which is so important right now. So, I encourage you to listen and look him up after our conversation.

Anthony had me at hello when he said, “I got to meet someone for the first time that I’d known for 16 years.“

I know you’ll enjoy this interview. Thank you for listening and feel free to pass it along— Lisa Speers

You will be hearing more from contributors to I Do Part Two in the future because, “What will the world miss if you don’t share your story?” (A quote from Donald Miller)

“We should all find a quiet place, a peaceful space, to bury the chaos and rest for a while” – Christy Ann Martine

I’ve never seen Hot Tub Time Machine but I do believe in the magical transportation of a good soak. My favorite time to tub is early in the morning. A summer sunrise, the first bird’s song, children sleeping, and a cup of fresh coffee all point to perfection–now add warm bubbles–bliss.

While the hot tub plays a large part in my self-care routine, it has also rescued my marriage. 

Our hot tub was an Amazon Prime impulse buy. Two days later, a semi-truck dropped it off in our gravel driveway and took off. At least 100 feet away, over rough terrain, was the deck where it was going. What did we do? Rolled it. Yep, we decided to “roll” a square, 500-pound hot tub over rock, gravel, and seemingly endless grass. We were sweating, laughing, and swearing, but in hindsight, the tub was already bringing us together in fresh ways.

Thankfully, the roll didn’t ruin anything and my husband’s brute strength combined with a makeshift pulley got it on the deck where it will stay forever–or until it’s time to sand and stain the deck again. 

Our first time sitting in the tub was a summer evening. The grass was freshly cut, our beverages were strong and sparkly, and I could feel his sense of accomplishment. My husband is a very humble man but there was a rare glimpse of pride. I realized the steam and jets were creating a physical space for relaxed transparency. We seek that intimate space daily. 

By transparent and intimate, I don’t mean the hot tub makes everything easy and we have it all figured out. Far from it.

What I do mean is very basic and practical: it is hard to get real pissy about tight finances, your in-laws, a leaky skylight, when to schedule an oil change, work, college savings, or what to make for dinner when a water jet is literally easing your tension.

Our hardest and most honest conversations are reserved for “the tub.” But, it’s not because of the 104-degree water massage. It’s the intentionality of the space. How many times have you asked your spouse a question that morphed into a heated conversation and then exploded into a fight– because the timing and space the original question required wasn’t available? I do this. He does this.

We are trying to be better because we realize it is easy to get huffy when asked about a late notice while the kids are pulling on your nightgown and patience, the eggs are burning and Paw Patrol is on volume 1,000 in the background. It’s not so easy to be defensive when asked, “Do you need any information from me to look into that bill?” by bare wet shoulders glistening in the twilight. Good space–good timing–good heat. 

I show my first-rate “processor” husband respect and care when I wait to ask the hard questions or start a tricky conversation until we can both be fully present and relaxed. When he is thoughtful, engaged, and encouraging—he shows me, an impulsive Amazon-primer, respect, and care as well. 

The result, for us, is many hours in the hot tub and a more gracious, authentic, and supportive marriage. 

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I don’t know about you, but this pandemic we’re all going through—has been REALLY hard! It’s been a string of disappointments for my kids, sad not being able to visit my parents as my dad battles pneumonia, and at times, very stressful as small business owners. Continually trying to find healthy ways to cope has been the key.

For a while there, I felt like my husband and I were dangling on yo-yos—each hanging on to our own for dear life. When my husband was feeling down, I’d try to gently tug on his yo-yo’s string just enough to propel his spirits back up. Then, he’d have to do the same for me, and the cycle would continue­­—leaving me a little dizzy as life spun out of control.

As the days have slowly past, our emotional highs and lows have leveled off, never again descending to the lowest of lows. Just like the yo-yo, the earth’s gravitational pull eventually won out, grounding us to face the next challenge.

I think we were both grieving our “old lives,” of only a few weeks ago, which seemed to have vanished in an instant. At times, I’ve felt paralyzed to move forward and accomplish even the smallest task.

Once we got over the shock of something so microscopic, from so far away, having such a devastating effect on the whole world—I got mad. I wasn’t just angry, my heart ached for my kids as news of school closures, and eventually all their activities were stripped away like a Band-Aid ripped off too soon.

I wasn’t sure who or what to be mad at, but I quickly realized I couldn’t stay angry forever—it’s too exhausting! Like many of you, somewhere along the way I settled in, accepting our lives are going to look a little different going forward.

Then, there’s the matter of our kids being at home. All three are older now, and should be at work, in college, or attending high school. Not to mention hanging out with their friends, but they’re not—they’re home.

At first, I grieved for them: all our son with autism’s daily outings and activities, our 20-year-old’s Spring term in college, and our daughter’s high school track season—all canceled. But selfishly, all three being home together is what I’ll miss the most when our communities start opening back up again.

One evening early on, we arranged the chairs in the family room in a quasi-circle and started serving dinner on trays. The relaxed atmosphere has lent itself to a plethora of interesting conversations.

We’ve debated the world’s response to the Coronavirus, how different (or as I argue…similar) the antics on college campuses are today compared to thirty years ago, and critiqued the latest TikTok going viral—laughing so hard, if we could bottle it, we’d make millions.

How does the saying go? Sometimes the little things ARE the big things in life.

So when I listened to Dave and Ashley Willis’ Naked Podcast #81, Rekindling Romance, I realized what has helped me cope the mostit’s all the little things

  • The smell of coffee in the morning
  • Waking up to funny memes and inspiring quotes from friends
  • Listening—really listening to each other
  • Prayer and more prayer, for so many near and far
  • Dusting off my Daily Devotional and actually meditating on its message each morning
  • Patience, and lots of it when one of us is frustrated with challenges out of our control
  • My husband hugging me when I have my little pity parties, while not trying to “fix things for me” in the process
  • Laughing until our sides ache
  • Of course, my husband suggested ‘quickies’ always help
  • Picking up take-out, so no one has to cook
  • Talking with friends on actual voice calls, and joining more on-line gatherings than I ever thought possible
  • Keeping up our exercise routines or at least walking around the neighborhood. In fact, my whole neighborhood seems to be out walking in endless circles

And…

  • If I’m being completely transparent­—yoga pants, mindlessly scrolling TikTok, and a quarantini…or two—have also helped immensely.

So I encourage you to listen to Dave and Ashley Willis’ Naked Podcast #81 (linked here) as they have some great suggestions to not only “rekindle your romance,” but helpful coping strategies as well.

As I write this, some states are slowly relaxing their Shelter-at-Home orders and although the kids aren’t leaving the nest anytime soon, I will be sad to see them (hopefully) go back to school in the fall.

Spending so much time with our kids at this stage in their lives has been one of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, I may have let the shock of life shutting down around me affect my mood a little too much, but quickly, both my husband and I realized we needed to pivot and adapt if we were going to come out of this stronger.

My husband and I have survived loved ones lost too soon, serious health scares with family and friends, the dot-com’s bubble bursting, 9/11, challenges in our marriage, the 2008 recession, and we will survive this.

            “The virus can invade our bodies, but we get to decide whether we let it invade our minds.”

Thank you for taking the time to read and I’d love it if you’d comment below, or on Facebook, and share your ideas with readers on how you’ve coped with the threat of the virus and having to stay at home longer than anyone thought possible. —Lisa

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Craig and his wife, Nikki, enjoy the great outdoors surrounding Bend, Oregon

More Happiness in the COVID-19 Era?

In any relationship (Personal or Business), if we can’t be happy together at home in the “shelter in place COVID-19 era”, maybe we need to look in the mirror and be the change. That doesn’t mean you leave your partner, spouse or family and make a new life, it means we find greater happiness in ourselves and it may mean we take this COVID-19 era opportunity to create new better habits together.

The quote about how long it takes to form a new habit goes like this – “It takes 21 days to form a new habit.” Since so many self-help authors have written about making new habits and how long it takes to do so, I decided to find the genesis of that quote and it appears to be here in Psycho-Cybernetics (audiobook) by Maxwell Maltz. I’ve now purchased the book.

Interestingly to me, as I searched a little more I found this study that suggests it takes over 2 months to form a new habit. With that amount of time to be invested, it makes sense to be very intentional about it and that we work to form “good habits” in our personal, family and professional lives.

While personal life and family life are intertwined, I separated them for that same reason to make sure that I’m a better me for me, making me better for my family and my customers, partners, and peers.

Part of making me better is a focus on physical and mental health. The book Younger Next Year has been my go-to for years now, though please don’t buy this book for yourself and then force on your partner or spouse. In 2014, I started on a more intentional fitness path that prepares me for an annual backcountry mountain bike ride on the Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. The preparation and ride make me better for me, my family and my customers, partners, and peers. You see the theme here.

Now back to the “shelter in place COVID-19 era” and a few observations:

First, my wife Nikki and I are having a blast together. Never perfect, though almost. Same as it was in the pre-COVID-19 era, but slightly better.

Second, we are watching a ton of shows and movies and I really liked the Dolly Parton themed movie Dumplin’ (Netflix). I really enjoyed the Dolly quote “Find out who you are. And do it on purpose”. Too many people (I’ve done it before too) felt others needed to change when we just needed to be a little happier with ourselves.

Third, what’s made Nikki’s and my time together in this COVID-19 era very special are the following, some old and some new:
– WE each have stopped sweating the small stuff

– WE laugh a lot

– WE are not pouting when the other doesn’t want to go to the grocery store, go for a walk, clean the house or do anything when we feel it needs to happen. If you do this pouty thing now, please STOP. Instead, one of us goes to the grocery store, goes for a walk, cleans the house or does anything when we feel it needs to happen and NOT guilt the other.

– WE have always functioned as a team to each do our share of the above OR other critical matters not listed above, like earning a living. It’s a balance, we talk about it and make sure we each give mutually so that one person doesn’t need to do everything.

– WE have added new work, fun, activities, chores, and hobbies that will hopefully become a HABIT alongside those in our pre-COVID lives that will continue to make us better together.

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“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis

What if, during this time of forced Sheltering-in-Place… for those of us beyond the stage of homeschooling our children—we homeschool ourselves in a study of our spouses?

Undoubtedly, our family unit will begin to get on each other’s nerves (it’s bound to happen with social confinement). For me, this will most likely occur with my husband.

When I first met my husband John, I was drawn like a moth-to-flame by his effervescent joy. He attracted people with his overflowing love for others. His nickname was Smiley Riley for a reason. And twenty-five years ago, before we’d even started dating—after I’d experienced a very painful breakup—I found myself praying just to be friends with John; I wanted his “brightness” in my life too. Fortunately, our friendship eventually shifted, and a little more than a year later we were married.

As a couple, we demonstrated that wonderful dichotomy Christians refer to as “Complementary Personalities.” We were so eager to see how God would use John’s and my strengths to make this perfect overlap happen in our marriage. How naive we were to think it would just happen as soon as we said, “I Do” – and without its own uncomfortable transformational journey.

What I initially admired in John, that extroverted “life of the party” personality, soon became an anchor tied to my own mental health. Especially, as I compared his strength to my perceived weakness—my own introverted nature…and found mine lacking in comparison.

Following his lead, either led to me participating in activities that depleted my social reserves within minutes, or I found myself getting internally defensive and attacking all the shortcomings of extroverts everywhere.

For John, the oh-so organized, always had a plan, deep thinking Stephanie that he was so initially attracted to (as his perfect complement), turned into someone that sought control far too much and was a stick-in-the-mud when it came to Friday nights out…or any other night for that matter.

At least we weren’t alone. Everywhere we turned, our fellow “couples friends” were also discovering similar differences in their relationships during those first few years of marriage.

For some, what drew them initially “in the hunt of dating” wasn’t even an accurate representation of who they truly were after they married. For others, the portrayals were realistic, but the differences created chasms that grew insidiously—until the divide became so wide, it could no longer be bridged.

And then there were others of us who initially gutted it out, but over time have invested in better understanding who we are as a couple, and as individuals.

I have spent a lot of time over the years inspired by the insight of those who study personalities. From “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, to the study of the “Five Love Languages”—and snippets of understanding began to unfold for John and me.

In more recent years, studies of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment highlighted the unique ways we are both hard-wired, while a study into the Enneagram, pointed to what motivates our personality traits.

According to the MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Index) John is the “Entertainer”, while I am the “Defender”. In our cases, his Type 7 (Adventurer) and my Type 2 (Helper) Enneagrams closely match in descriptions. His “life of the party/make everyone smile persona” is at its best in large groups or with every stranger he comes into contact with–from the cashier at the drive through, to our waiter, or whoever is behind the counter in a store.

But, confine the guy to being alone at home and his physical and emotional health withers before my eyes. Right now, during this quarantine, he craves connection and attention, and giving attention to others.

For me, as a social introvert—I have been training all my life “for such a time as this”.  I have my close family members, folks I can deeply connect with easily through social media (a common misnomer – social introverts crave connection just as much, but we prefer small group interactions). The aspect of my “planning personality” is taking a huge hit right now, as the upcoming months in my Day-Timer have been completely erased. My not being able to plan into the future, due to the unpredictability of the pandemic, draws me even more inward.

Can you see the potential clash here, ready to blow, in our small shelter of confinement?

My propensity to draw inward makes John want to play tug-o-war and pull me out of my shelter even more. In contrast, his need for attention just makes me want to ignore him to stop the behavior. It doesn’t necessarily help that our “third roommate,” our 18-year-old daughter, has a very similar personality type to mine. So, I’ll often feel vindicated because I’m not alone in my irritable responses.

However, I’m painfully aware, just because we are in the majority—it does not mean we are right.

So, while in forced confinement with my spouse—I’ve decided that rather than spend the time irritated by behaviors that happen because of how uniquely and perfectly God created him—I’ve decided to spend some time studying him and better understanding “why he is who he is.”

I’m opting to spend some time exploring his values instead of just mine, and trying to understand what makes him feel the most content? And while I’m at it, perhaps spend a little bit of time recognizing my own shortcomings—the ones that are a result of my own unhealthy coping mechanisms through life…and start working on healing.

It seems like everyone is “having to homeschool” these days, so I might as well join in. You’d think after twenty-five years of studying a subject, I’d have a Ph.D. or at least have graduated—but, as I’ve discovered time and time again, my marriage is always going to be a subject requiring continuing education.

If you’d like to try the free assessments of the personality tests mentioned in this article, the links are provided below:

Enneagram:
https://assessment.yourenneagramcoach.com/

Meyers-Briggs Personality Test:
https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

*I Do Part Two does not have a affiliate marketing relationship with Enneagram or Meyers-Briggs Personality Test

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By Stacey Chenevert
*Note to Reader: This article is Part 2 of 2- Click, The Truth: How Do Affairs Begin to read Part 1

After working with many women and men who’ve had affairs, I have found a common thread that runs throughout their stories…they all had a need that was not being met by their spouse, typically over a long period of time, and it felt good to finally feel fulfilled. 

In my experience, maintaining intimacy, both physical or emotional, has been one of the primary needs lacking with couples, and ultimately leaves one or both partners vulnerable to an affair.

Most experts agree, intimacy is not only important, it is essential. Intimacy plays a major role in a person’s emotional connection with their partner.

So, identifying both your partner’s primary needs and your needs will help you both develop a habit of meeting each other’s needs, and that is where my 5 steps come in. They are designed to give you the opportunity to discover each other’s needs and communicate how to fulfill them.

I also recommend reading the book His needs Her needs by Dr. Willard J. Harley and The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. When either spouse’s needs go unmet, over time, it can leave that spouse venerable to the deception of infidelity.

Here is a list of suggestions you can implement to protect your marriage. They will act as a barrier between your marriage and infidelity.

5 Ways to affair-proof your marriage

  1. Communication– Open and honest communication with your partner is an important step in establishing an intimate connection. I recommend setting a goal of spending at least 30 minutes every day, in uninterrupted conversation, with your spouse. Share your struggles and your victories. This will set the atmosphere for intimacy and create a sense of “I’m valued” and you matter to each other.

2. Keep the intimate details of your marriage personal- Don’t confide in the opposite sex about personal struggles in the marriage or even your life in general. This part of your heart should be shared with only your spouse. This will foster friendship, intimacy, and trust. 

3. Recognize when you’re starting to have negative thoughts- Don’t let negative self talk about your spouse ruin how you feel about them. Realize he or she isn’t perfect, and mistakes will be made. Allow room for error, and offer mercy and grace when your feelings get hurt. Don’t hold unforgiveness against them—have tools and resources in place to move forward quickly.

4. Date night– It’s important to have time for just the two of you. Try to plan a date night at least twice a month and use this time to reconnect with each other.

5. Keep watch– Keep watch over your heart. If at any time you feel like you are drawn to someone, then ask yourself what you are missing at home? If you’re feeling you have needs that are no longer being met by your spouse, please talk to your spouse about what’s missing in your relationship. Sometimes couples need a marriage therapist to facilitate this. Do not hesitate to find a licensed marriage therapist in your area.

Infidelity is an enemy of marriage, and its only goal is to destroy. It not only harms the marriage but the individuals as well. The good news is that it does not have to wreak havoc in a couple’s life forever—my husband and I are living proof that couples can heal from infidelity.

There is a process of healing, and for committed couples, it works and brings them freedom from the consequences of infidelity.

To find more about healing from infidelity, go to https://womenwithscarsaffairrecovery.com and connect with Stacey Chenevert

*Note to Facebook Users: PLEASE return to FB and click “Like,” which lets the author know how much you appreciated their story. **If you’re NOT connected to Facebook and you would like to comment, please do so below the Author’s Bio section.

*Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment or consultation with a mental health professional. Please note, I Do Part Two and Women with Scars Affair Recover do not have an affiliate marketing relationship.

No one wakes up one day and thinks, “I’m going to have an affair today.”- Stacey Chenevert

An affair doesn’t just happen…

Have you ever wondered how an affair starts? In my opinion, there’s such a misconception as to how affairs begin. Most people I’ve talked to believe its when two people meet, flirt, and then bam they’re having sex. However, by the time an affair is usually discovered, the couple has been involved for quite a while. 

In reality, an affair starts long before the affair partners ever meet—the affair actually starts taking hold in the husband or wife’s thoughts as soon as emptiness and hopelessness set in, and the vulnerable spouse begins to believe their marriage will not change. In case you are wondering how I know how an affair starts, well the truth is…I’ve had an affair. 

I was young when I married my first husband, my high school sweetheart. Our relationship was definitely not the fairy-tale I had imagined. We were married seven years, and during those years my husband had multiple one-night stands and became emotionally abusive. Ultimately, I became very angry and vindictive towards him.

Even so, I never thought I could be the one to have an affair…

My first husband and I had a particular couple we often socialized with, and the husband happened to be my husband’s best friend. One day, my husband’s friend expressed an interest in me and we began “discreetly and innocently” flirting back and forth over a number of years. 

Regrettably, as my marriage began to deteriorate, I started confiding in my husband’s friend about what was going wrong in my marriage. One day, when we were alone, things crossed the line. Two years later, we divorced our spouses and married each other.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but at the time I was angry and hurt by my first husband’s unfaithfulness. I thought he deserved what he got for how he treated me all of those years. I didn’t realize at the time—no one deserves to be cheated on—even if they’re unfaithful themselves and not treating their spouse with respect. It was my response to my husband’s behavior that caused me to have an affair. I know now, I had a choice!

In the beginning, my new marriage was fun and exciting. We spent lots of time together, just talking and enjoying each other’s company. But as the years went by, and we added a couple of kids to the mix, and the stresses of everyday life intervened—our marriage began to take a back seat.

Then, about eight years ago, when my second husband and I had been married for nearly 10 years, we hit a rough patch in our relationship. I was busy raising kids and my husband worked hard to provide for us, but in the process, he became a workaholic and filled his free-time with hobbies on his own. 

Over time, I felt lonely and became angry with my husband for distancing himself from me. The closeness and friendship we once shared appeared over as we began living like roommates. By the time my affair partner entered my life, I was a shell of the person I was when we married, and desperate for attention.

Infidelity is not something you go looking for…its something you allow your thoughts to lead, and your actions to follow.

My affair partner was in the medical profession and had been caring for my children for several years before the affair started. It wasn’t until I began seeing him for my own dental needs that things between us became flirtatious. Never once did I think we would end up having an affair. I was just having fun, and it felt good to be noticed. He was also going through a similar situation, so as our discussions became more intimate, we bonded over our failed marriages.

The Lie: “We‘re just friends…”

Our friendship flourished, and it didn’t take long for us to seek a relationship beyond the phone. The more time we spent together, the closer we became. The affair became like a drug. I needed to feel wanted, and he needed to feel appreciated.

Both our needs were being met for the first time in a long time. 

My affair partner spent a lot of time talking to me and listening to my heart—he was very interested in ‘who I was.’ He made me feel very honored and accepted. I needed this quality time and validation from my husband, and he wasn’t aware I even needed this to feel fulfilled.

In contrast, I grew farther away from my husband and gave up on ever being able to have with my husband again, what I had with my affair partner. I convinced myself that I never really loved my husband, and we shouldn’t have married. 

I would tell myself it was “fine”; our marriage was dead, and we didn’t have anything in common anymore. I reduced our love to a feeling, and since I no longer ‘felt in love’ with my husband, it validated my belief that “it was time to move on.” 

Affairs start in your head—long before you end up in bed…

I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt my affair started in my thoughts long before my affair partner showed up. I felt neglected by my husband, and I began withdrawing from him about a year before the affair started. Looking back now, I see how hard my heart had become toward him.

Did I mention my husband and I are Christians? Well, we are, and when the affair started, we had just finished hosting a bible study in our home. To say the guilt and shame were beyond measure would be an understatement. I was so in love with my affair partner—I didn’t care anymore about right from wrong, I just never wanted to feel empty again.

I learned first-hand having the title of ‘Christian’ will not give you the power to not have an affair. I looked like I was doing all the ‘right things’ on the outside, but my heart was still leading me down a dark path. 

Eventually, change for me would only come from my relationship with the Lord. I know, I digress, but I wanted to bring up this point in case there are some Christians who find themselves where I was—feeling overwhelmed with guilt and shame. You are not alone, and there is hope for healing and recovery.

It’s important to note—an affair can happen at any time or anywhere—it is never the physical location you are in that causes the affair to start. What makes you vulnerable is where your heart is, how empty you are feeling, or how unhappy you are in your marriage. Affairs begin within ourselves.

We believe the lies we tell ourselves…

So over time, I began to have a negative narrative about my husband. Especially when he would hurt my feelings, make me angry, or wouldn’t listen to how I was feeling. 

The narrative running through my mind would go something like this:

  • You don’t understand me.
  • You don’t spend time with me.
  • Why don’t you like me?
  • I don’t like you right now.
  • I’m tired of arguing with you about this.
  • You never listen to me.
  • We don’t have anything in common anymore.
  • I really hate you right now.
  • You are such a mean person.

I believe you get the picture. But all of this negative narrative did was cause me to look at my husband negatively—I didn’t even want to be around him. Every time he hurt me or neglected me, I would put another brick on the wall-of-anger around my heart. 

It’s hard to love someone with all your heart, only to have your needs go unmet day-after-day. I was protecting myself from further pain, but I wasn’t actively seeking healthy strategies to repair my marriage.

How to recognize when your marriage is vulnerable to an affair… 

  1. When intimacy decreases significantly or is eliminated in your marriage. We crave a deep connection with our spouse and intimacy fosters closeness. Intimacy enables us to bond with our partners on many levels. If intimacy takes a back seat and we begin to neglect the quality time our relationship needs to survive, we can become vulnerable to someone else’s attention. 
  • We begin a negative narrative about our spouse– this changes our perspective of who they are and causes us to magnify their negative qualities more than their positive attributes. So much so, we can no longer see what we loved about them.
  • Resentment sets in– even if they apologize, we can’t receive anything positive from them because we’ve allowed our hearts to be hardened. This leaves our hearts open to someone else.
  • We meet the ‘perfect-other-person’ who flirts with us and makes us feel wanted and special.
  • Communication breaks down in our marriage, and we start thinking about how good this ‘perfect-person’ made us feel. We even begin to avoid small talk with our spouse.
  • Fantasizing begins- as the flirting continues, the fantasies about what it would be like with the other person intensify. We start imagining, “what if this happened or I wonder how this would feel and what it would be like to spend time with this person?”  So by fantasizing about these different scenarios, we tell our hearts (which is where our emotions sit) that we are enjoying this attention. “It’s okay” to prepare for an encounter.
  • An agreement is made—once the line has been crossed, what’s done, can’t be undone. We begin to search for fulfillment from this person who is meeting our needs, and a chemical called Dopamine starts to kick in. 

Dopamine is the reward chemical in our brains. It releases feel-good chemicals when we are excited about someone or something. A study was done on a brain in love, and someone addicted to a drug affects found that the chemical reaction effects the same area of our brains. You literally become addicted to your affair partner. This makes ending the affair incredibly difficult but not impossible.

Once you choose hope, anything is possible…

I believe that most people go into marriage with the core value of believing they’ll have a monogamous marriage and that they won’t cheat on each other. I had the same intention with both my marriages, so I had to question myself, “what made me cross the line of my core values?” 

Was it my response to life difficulties, or neglect in my marriage? I believe it was my response to the hard times my marriage was facing, and this is the area I needed to focus on healing.

If you’re feeling discouraged by betrayal or your own thoughts, there is hope for healing your marriage. It is hard work, but when two people want to fight for their marriage and are willing to do the work required to rebuild something beautiful, then the outcome is a stronger and healthier marriage. 

My husband and I worked really hard to get through the recovery process, and I can tell you it was worth every struggle and setback to be where we are today. 

To Read Part 2: 5 Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage by Stacey Chenevert Go to — https://idoparttwo.com/5-ways-to-affair-proof-your-marriage/

To find more about healing from infidelity, go to https://womenwithscarsaffairrecovery.com and connect with Stacey Chenevert

*Note to Facebook Users: PLEASE return to FB and click “Like,” which lets the author know how much you appreciated their story. **If you’re NOT connected to Facebook and you would like to comment, please do so below the Author’s Bio section.

*Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment or consultation with a mental health professional. Please note, I Do Part Two and Women with Scars Affair Recover do not have an affiliate marketing relationship.

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