In the past few days I’ve seen and responded to a number of posts about blame and infidelity and one in particular about how a spouse could have an affair if they really loved their partner ( http://ourjourneyafterhisaffair.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/that-age-old-question-after-the-discovery-of-an-affair/#comment-312 ). A subscriber to that blog argued that the betrayed spouse has responsibility in that they failed to meet the wayward spouse’s needs, and that is why the wayward spouse strayed.
I want to be clear in this: that I am not bashing that poster, or wayward spouses/partners, and I am not bashing my wife. These are my thoughts on most affairs, needs, and communications.
On why affairs happen: I believe each situation is unique. Either way, most times the affair is a selfish act. If you feel that your needs aren’t being met and you decide to satisfy them somewhere else, you are at fault. Communication here is key. Let’s take sexual attention as the example. If you feel that you need more sexual attention than you are getting, and you ask daily, or every other day, or every three days to have sex, are you really communicating that you have a need? Do you realize that your need for sexual attention may be a symptom of the true need that you failed to properly acknowledge? Asking more often to have sex is not the same thing as asking for sex more often. If on Monday I ask to have sex, and then Wednesday I ask to have sex, and then again on Friday, have I clearly, specifically, said that I need more sexual attention? No. If I said “Babe, I need more sexual attention from you. I would like to have sex once every 3 days when our schedule permits. If we find our schedules aren’t permitting, I would like to modify our schedules to make this happen” one could extrapolate that I clearly expressed my desire for more sexual attention. Even better, I expressly described how much more sexual attention I wanted. What could I have done better? Described, in better detail, the type of attention that I wanted. If you consider oral sex part of intercourse and arent getting it, say something. If you want to try other things in the bedroom, say it. Before you express your need, however, you need to identify the underlying cause of that need.
Our previous need was to try new things in the bedroom. You need to ask yourself questions. You need to figure out what you’ll gain from it, if it will solve problems, and most importantly, ASSESS HOW CRITICAL THE NEED IS. If you want to try new things in bed, is it because you want to take your sex life to the next level, or is it because sex has become a routine thing and you want to spice it up? If sex has become routine, are there other things that have become routine, and lost their special meaning between you and your spouse? After you’ve answered those questions, it is time to assess the criticality of those needs. How important is the need to you? Is anal sex so important you are willing to cheat on your partner for it? Is having sex more often really going to reignite your marriage, and if your spouse refuses, is it worth the possibility of losing them to get more sex?
So the process is:
1. Identify a shortfall in your life.
2. Determine the difference between a desire (more sex) and a need (reignite passion in a stale marriage)
3. Determine the criticality of the desire, and/or need
4. Have a plan of action to implement what you believe is a solution (more sex, for example)
5. Identify measures of performance (we did or did not have sex) and measures of effectiveness (the sex did, or did not satisfy my desire or need)
6. Communicate the desire or need, your solution, your plan for implementing your solution, and what you hope to accomplish.
7. STATE THE CRITICALITY OF YOUR DESIRE OR NEED TO YOUR SPOUSE.
8. Be prepared for your spouse to provide alternate solutions, alternate implementation, to just say no, or to require you to compensate him/her by satisfying one of their desires/needs.
One last thing on communication:
A common phrase in the Corps is “shoot, move, communicate.” If you are not shooting, you should be moving or communicating. With respect to communication, here are the key items:
1. What do I know? (Your desires and needs)
2. Who needs to know it? (Your spouse, possibly someone in the medical field)
3. How can I communicate with them? (Talking, phone, texting, email, letter)
4. When can I communicate with them? (You have no cell service, they are on a flight, you’re at the shooting range with them)
If you’ve communicated, you should be acting. If you’ve satisfied all if your desires and needs, the time has come to start thinking outside the box and trying new things within the limits you and your spouse set.