In my belief, everyone is vulnerable to having an affair in marriage. Affairs usually start by "just being friends". And just to clarify everyone, I mean even the Bible preaching, saved, sanctified holy man/woman included. No one is safe... I've seen so many marriages that were just irreparable after an affair. Families torn apart, the kids without their father in the household and the woman without the man to be the protector of the house for her and/or the children. This happens everyday and it becomes a normalcy in our culture and we learn to "deal" with it.
I have this idea that many people don't get married and have the intention of cheating after getting married. It usually falls into a situation where one basic need is not being met. If there are 5 basic needs for a man and one is unmet, this is extreme danger to your marriage because this leaves him with the urge to fulfill this basic need.
Let me share a little bit about my story...
Kern and I began taking pre-marital classes at our church. At this point, we had been together since 2002 (7 years together). We were together so long we thought we could teach the class ourselves. The pastor recommended a book called "His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard Harley. We were excited to be in the class and ordered the book immediately. But we looked at it as more of a requirement for the class than to actually absorb the information. Remember, we were already "experts" at relationships so we didn't really read the book.
5 months later, we got married and the book was on the shelf collecting dust. The book went to city to city as we moved, Indianapolis, Chicago, Columbus, OH, immediately back on the book shelf without even cracking it open. That book could have had better use as a door stopper than sitting on the shelf.
We found ourselves spending less and less time talking to each other and communicating with people of the opposite sex that each of us didn't know very well. We called it "friends" but the fact that my husband didn't know my male friends and vice versa was not a good recipe for a healthy marriage. Our distance between each other began to build and we would argue about little things. He would invite me to work out and I was so engulfed with my new business I didn't have time or at least didn't make the time. We didn't do activities together, the only thing that really tied us together was our son. I'm sure we thought that was enough. I grew up talking and joking around and playing the dozens and often Kern left little time for just conversation to go workout or play ball in his league. The basic need he lacked was recreational companionship (his wife being active in activities with him that he enjoyed and before marriage we did so many fun activities together). I was without my basic need of conversation (time to just shoot the breeze, joke and talk about any and everything). I remember talking to male friends thinking " my husband doesn't joke around like this. This is so much fun talking and joking around with him" and later revealed my husband had things in common with female friends of sports activites and working out. Other people were fulfilling our basic need....just 1 little need. What's wrong with that?
This whole lack of fulfilling our basic need even just being 1 basic need was a recipe for disaster. We were heading down a dark path that could have done irrevocable damage to our marriage. We collided and was even thinking of the possibility of calling it quits. We hadn't even hit our 2nd year anniversary. We were together over 7 years and then couldn't make it 2 years in a marriage?! This didn't make sense. I remember my spiritual high school teacher and mentor, Mr. Hayes, always saying the enemy will come after you early. He will come after your kids early, he will come after your marriage early because it isn't strong yet so he comes when you are weak. And it was all making sense. The enemy wanted to come after my marriage before it could really build a solid foundation and cleave together as one (cleaving takes time, it doesn't happen instantly when you say "I do")
So, instead of rushing to the courts to get a divorce, we decided to reach out to people who had been through marriage to support and encourage us. I remember looking at our book shelf and for the first time reached up to get the book our pastor said to read and implement before getting married "His Needs, Her Needs". It's about fulfilling each others needs so someone else doesn't come in and fulfill a need and leave a marriage destroyed. Kern and I read this book several times since then individually and together. It has some very powerful points. I encourage anyone in a marriage or thinking about marriage to read it but I'll go through the basic needs of a man and woman and how it can affair proof marriage.
5 BASIC NEEDS FOR A MAN
The first thing a man can not do without...
1) SEXUAL FULFILLMENT
As a woman, usually, it is hard to truly understand men's deep need for sex. If a man goes into a marriage and he feels he has been limited or put on a "diet" for when he gets sex, he feels cheated in the marriage. If a man puts his trust in a woman and has vowed to only choose her to be his sexual partner, who becomes unwilling to give him this important need can be looked at as one of the biggest mistakes of his life. If this need isn't met for a man, it's really hard to be faithful and they find it elsewhere. It sounds harsh but usually the truth.
2) RECREATIONAL COMPANIONSHIP
Most times when a woman is single she has time to go to the football games and play in a softball league with her boyfriend but after marriage, we as women, can leave that up to them. The man ends up watching football by himself or going to a sport event without the wife. And she is fine with it. This can be dangerous to a marriage as it is very important for the man to have that recreational companionship. When we lived in Puerto Rico, Kern wanted to always go to the beach, I preferred to just lay on the beach and chill and he wanted to go in the water and ride the waves and do water sports. I made it a point to get in the water with him and just enjoy riding the waves and jetskiing and I end up enjoying myself with him in the process. It's imperative to keep up that bond of doing things together because that's what brought you two closer in the first place.
3) ATTRACTIVE SPOUSE
This may sting some people so be prepared to be stung. When I say attractive, I mean what he finds attractive and that varies from one man to the next. Usually a good indicator is what you looked like when he married you is what he is attracted to. I'm not saying that you can't change...Lord knows us women go through changes, getting older, pregnancy, body after kids etc. But it is good to work to look just as nice as the day you got married. It may sound immature or selfish but most men can not appreciate a woman for what she has on the inside ALONE. Plus, it is good for us to keep up our physical appearances. It is a gift to our husband. Anytime, you take the time to present yourself in a beautiful way, it is a gift to the other person. It shows you care.
4) DOMESTIC SUPPORT
Men's need for domestic support is so real that they often fantasize about how his wife will greet him lovingly at the door, well-behaved children glad to see him with a delicious dinner waiting for him in the kitchen and nice flow conversation without controversy. This is a fantasy world compared to real life but it usually a great fantasy for most husbands. When I deep clean the house and have dinner ready on time when he gets home, he is just so excited and he is in a much better mood. He can't keep his hands off me when he sees the house spotless. Obviously, there needs to be responsibilities divided in the household but helping with the household is definitely a great need for a man in marriage.
Beside every man should be an admiring wife. Admiration not only motivates, it also rewards the husband's existing achievements. When she tells him that she appreciates him, it gives him more satisfaction than a paycheck. One time I decided to throw Kern a "Just Because We Love You" surprise party when he came home from work. It was a completely spontaneaous gesture to show we admire and appreciate all that he does for the household. We bought some ballons and favors from the Dollar Tree, the kids made a banner that said "Love You Daddy" and a cake and I cooked his favorite dish. He just loved it. The smile on his face lit up the sky.
"JUST BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU" PARTY FOR HUSBAND
5 BASIC NEEDS FOR A WOMAN
1) This is pretty open. Affection is different for every woman too. It's good to ask her what is her definition of affection. Affection can be in the form of physical affection (hugs, kisses, massages, fore play) and emotional affection (calling in the middle of the day to say I love you, a hand written letter, etc). For me it's surprises whether little or big. Surprise me for dinner away from kids or leaving little notes around the house that you appreciate me.
2) I can't speak for all women but the need for conversation is so strong. We want to get out our feelings or events throughout the day and talk about how your (husband's day) went. It is imperative that we talk things out and share our feelings. We can do this with girlfriends and family but also want that conversation with the hubby. When I had a frustrating day and Kern just comes and talks to me while the kids are playing, it releases stress in my body. I instantly feel better after talking to him.
HONESTY & OPENNESS
3) A woman wants her to trust and feel secure in marriage. It's important to share how you are really feeling and be upfront. Otherwise, a barrier can be put up and look for others to share their honesty and openness and it feels like a breathe of fresh air.
4) We don't need Bill Gates or Jay-Z or Warren Buffett or...sorry I got carried away. We don't need you to be crazy rich but we do need to know you can and will financially provide for the household even if we as women are contributing. We need to know that we are safe. Our home and bills will be taken care of and won't end up the street because the rent/mortgage can't be paid.
5) There's nothing sexier than a man taking care and spending time with his kids. You will see women
ohh and ahh on the street when she sees a man caring and spending time with his kids. It's important to us women that you are a major role in the kids lives (enjoying a picnic with them, taking them to sporting events, playing sports with them, reading to the kids). We just love that and not just love it but need it.
Are there other needs that can be met...sure! But these are 5 basic needs the author talks about to affair proof your marriage. I have found this book to be extremely helpful in my marriage. It's not enough for 4 out of 5 needs to be met. All 5 basic needs should be met and if I'm struggling with fulfilling one need, I go to my husband for guidance to see what he's lacking and search for how to fulfill my husband's needs. We both check in with each other periodically. It breeds a healthy relationship.
To anyone interested in building an affair proof marriage and just a better marriage all around, I encourage you to check out the book "His Needs, Her Needs" by Williard Harley. It's been a blessing to my marriage.
Click on book if you have interest in getting "His Needs, Her Needs: Build An Affair Proof Marriage" for your household.