Can lack of thoughtfulness and romance lead to affairs?

I was impressed with the romantic nature of a soon-to-be groom who worked with the Washington Post crossword puzzle editor to have a proposal for his girlfriend worked into the weekend puzzle. Knowing his girlfriend enjoyed the crossword puzzles each Sunday, he carefully planned a proposal that was perfect for her. Truly a romantic gesture. (See story on CBS.)

Most of us are already married, but if we took a bit of that ingenuity and used it in our gift giving or surprises, that could really spice up our lives. Maybe your sweetheart always goes to the same coffee shop in the morning, and you could arrange to have the server give her flowers with her morning cup of Joe. Or maybe your marathon-running hubby could be greeted at the finish line with a large group of friends and family to celebrate.  For a special anniversary, you could run an ad in the paper or post a tribute on their favorite blog.

I admit I’m not so creative in my own life. Even brainstorming these ideas is making me tired. The last nice thing I did for my husband was buying him a special griddle pan he wanted for cooking steaks indoors. And letting him sleep in, which is a big one for someone who often works nights.

The gift of sleep isn’t such a bad idea, even if it’s not so creative. So many of us are regularly exhausted that it’s bound to detract from the energy we give each other. So, perhaps thoughtful efforts are a close second to those ultra creative ones—picking up dinner on a busy night, offering to help with the kids’ or bedtime routine, or offering to run some errands.

In a recent article that uncovered why women cheat, a male writer went undercover (with his wife’s permission) and joined an online site for married cheaters and pretended to seek out women for an affair. I won’t share the link simply because it shares way too much information that would be helpful to would-be cheaters, and that’s not what this blog is about. However, I’ll share a few insights about what cheating women said were lacking in their marriages that led to their cheating. (To be clear, research shows more men than women cheat in their marriages, and far more men join online cheating web sites. It just so happens that this male writer did an expose on female cheaters.)

One interesting aspect of the article was that the writer found himself feeling more than a little tempted when he actually met with attractive, successful women who were willing to cheat. His own wife became jealous that he even “fake” wined and dined several women (individually) over lunch. After all, when had he shown her such attention lately? The project caused a major marital fight, because even pretend cheating feels an awful lot like cheating, doesn’t it?

This brings us to the more important conclusion of the piece, which is that many women are seeking attention from others because they believe they are not getting it from their husband. Even when they have no intention of leaving their marriage, they feel they “need” to get that attention from someone. Some women were willing to flirt online and didn’t take it further than that. Others were willing to meet in person and pursue real relationships. Most often, women told him that they had lost the passion in their marriages, that their husbands no longer pursued them and showed interest in them. Granted, these are women who are capable of lying and cheating, so their husbands may actually be doing all they can on their end. However, the writer felt it was an important enough conclusion to pass along to men to remember their wives are women first, spouses and mothers second.

My take is that no wife or husband can justify an affair because they feel as if they are not getting enough attention. Infidelity is one of the most difficult issues a couple can face, although it can be overcome. Trust is a precious commodity in a marriage. Neither should men or women simply just accept a loveless relationship in which they feel ignored. Many more useful solutions exist, beginning with honest communication about the seriousness of one’s feelings. Loneliness inside a marriage is a major burden.

How did a post about fun tips on how to be thoughtful and exciting turn into one about cheating? I didn’t plan it that way, but it does underscore the importance of putting a little excitement, passion and thoughtfulness into your relationship.

Right now, put three things on your calendar to do for your spouse within the next month that are romantic, thoughtful or exciting. Try to keep your spouse’s specific desires and interests in mind. If you need simple ideas, read 6 Tips to Make Romance Easy & Automatic. Have a happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!

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