- Having an “affair” with your spouse could help to revitalize the marriage.
- Stolen moments together, such as a walk in the park or late-night snack, can be helpful.
- To fuel interest and romance, we must dare to become “familiar strangers."
When you consider the pursuit, the expressed interest, the secrets, the stolen moments, the affection, the creative communications, the fantasy, the anticipation, and the wish to be intimately involved in an affair—you have to wonder what an affair with your spouse could do for your marriage.
Having an affair with your spouse is something I have recommended to couples for years. It is an antidote to what Esther Perel describes in her book, Mating in Captivity, as the neutralizing of connection, the tendency to take each other for granted, the need to prioritize the kids, the jobs, the house, the money … over the couple’s romantic connection.
Does having an affair sound irrational, unlikely, possibly erotic, and without guarantees? Yes. That’s the nature of affairs; but this one has a real chance of a happy ending.
Integral to an affair are seven dynamics that can rekindle and vitalize your marriage.
7 Affair Dynamics That Rekindle a Marriage
1. Pursuit. Someone has to start. One icebreaker that works is to tell your spouse at a quiet moment—not across the family dinner table or while she/he is watching football or Netflix—“I want to have an affair.” You are likely to catch his/her attention and curiosity before you add, “with you.”
If you know that your partner is very reactive, you may soften this to, “I want to tell you something—I want to have an affair with you.”
2. Persistence. Despite rolled eyes, laughter, dismissal, or sarcasm (which would not stop you if you were pursuing an affair), consider ignoring the defensiveness and anxiety. Laugh along but revisit with a note, a text the next day and the day after, a cup of coffee left on a desk. Be persistent. Be creative. Yes, it feels delusional (it’s an affair); but It often becomes real and intriguing enough for a partner to give it a try.
3. Stolen Moments Together. People having affairs cherish the “stolen moments” that provide momentum. They work to make those moments happen and feel appreciated for them. They hold fast to the planned rendezvous, be it a coffee break, a walk in the park, or a late-night snack (without phones). They turn everyday things into opportunities to be present to each other in special, often seductive ways.
4. The Unknown. Everyone knows that what is forbidden or unexpected sparks anxiety, excitement, and desire. As described by Adam Phillips in, On Flirtation and Stephen Mitchell in, Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance Over Time, forbidden excitement is often compromised by our need and wish for the stability and security of marriage. To feel known and safe is crucial for children and a bedrock for our own well-being. This very safety, however, can trap us in disinterest and predictions about our partner that cool desire and romantic passion.
Esther Perel, who addresses the married couple’s dilemma of reconciling the erotic and the domestic, reminds us that we assume that our partners are ours and it is hard to want what you already have- until it is almost lost.
To fuel interest and romance, we have to dare to become “familiar strangers." We have to move beyond our familiar perspectives to wonder what another man or woman would see and desire in our spouse. We have to consider how different we might feel if we were trying to win back our spouse.
5. Desire and Seduction. In a study of what men and women desire in sexual relationships, Elaine Hatfield (1988) found that the top two desires for married men were for their partners to initiate sex more and be more seductive. The top two desires for married women were for partners to talk lovingly more often and be more seductive.
If you were having an affair, it is likely that both you and your partner would be speaking lovingly and both would be inviting sexual connection in seductive ways.
When spouses put aside predictions of behavior, fears of rejection, performance, or imperfection and reach out to connect … the seduction unfolds and something different happens.
When the world, your kids, or your jobs sabotage your plans, consider that interference fuels anticipation and passion. The reality may not offer instant sex or a perfect tryst; but the postponement may heighten determination and desire.
6. Imagination. According to Stephen Mitchell, sexuality “... is never simply a biological, reflexive action but always partially an act of imagination...” (Mitchell, 2002, p. 79). As such, it need not be fixed or predictable. Within the safety of a trusted relationship, there is room for entertaining what is known and unknown in yourself and your partner to enhance passion.
Be affectionate when you have a moment alone; be affectionate in an unexpected way in a public place.
Wear or do something different that fuels your imagination and something you know your partner might find interesting or unexpected. Many may look, but few partners want the air-brushed lovers on the screen. They want their own partner to want them.
As you go, find reasons to laugh—even at yourself. Don’t forget how sexy a sense of humor and laughter can be.
Keep the feeling of your connection going. At another time, on another day, compliment and or comment on the prior connection, the affection, the fun. Invite interest in a future rendezvous.
7. The Look of Love. Regardless of the venue, people can usually tell when something is going on between two people. The two look at each other more, physically look better, find reasons to stand closer, touch each other innocently, smile more, seem more confident, laugh together, tease more, even argue more. Clearly, they are connected. Maybe they are having an affair.
Facebook image: Gergely Zsolnai/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Hatfield, E., 1988, Passionate and companionate love. In The Psychology of Love, edited by R.J. Sternberg and M.L.Barnes, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.