To 'affair proof' marriage, stay connected

For every email I receive from an inquiring, appreciative, or unhappy reader, I get 30, 40, sometimes 50 unsolicited solicitations from public relations or media marketing firms using language like “I was wondering if you were working on a story …”

Such as, “I was wondering if you’re working on a story about nutritious, safe alternatives for candy at Halloween.” As a matter of fact, I’m not working on such a story. I’m never working on the story these people hope I’m working on. Human Matters has no intelligible commentary on portable barbecues, new chic fashion lines or pet foods! And Human Matters has no idea how his address ever leaked to these folks.

But, every blue moon or so, something catches my eye. Did you know that a “new survey finds that a majority of cheaters find their partners more attractive than their lovers?” Here it is, verbatim:

“Only 30 percent of cheating men surveyed choose mistresses who are younger than their wives. Not even half — 42.8 percent — think their mistress is prettier than their partner. In fact, almost 74 percent report that their partner is more interesting to them than their mistress. Why cheat, then? For the majority of these male survey respondents, their secret lovers are more caring, better listeners, and more passionate.

“Approximately 25.8 percent of the women in the survey stated that their lover is younger than their partner, with about 65.7 percent stating that their husband or partner is actually more attractive than their lover. 89.6 percent of cheating women have chosen a lover they believe appreciates them more than their husbands.”

I’m not surprised. I’ve always thought the idea that men cheat because they simply can’t resist beautiful young women was way oversold. Nope. A man’s vulnerability to an affair often comes down to the same two things making women vulnerable: connection and passion.

As to the latter, surely toward the top of the list of things healthy people hope for from a sexual partner is a sexual partner who really, really wants to 1) have sex and 2) have it with me! That is, healthy people in possession of healthy self-respect don’t really want to be serviced (“Kids to bed, clothes folded, sex with spouse”) or patronized (“Well, he did clean the garage like I asked”) and they certainly wouldn’t tolerate being begrudged (“Well, I suppose I did marry you; so, if you simply must have sex …”).

If you want to “affair proof” your marriage, then accept the daily work of connection. Talk. Listen. Inquire. Remember. Touch. Solicit. Soothe. Nurture. Pay attention. Next, never underestimate what place passion and desire play for your mate.

Never tell yourself that sexual withdrawal, withholding or abandoning is inconsequential. And never give up on cultivating your own passion. This is the piece most often disregarded.

It’s not OK to wake up in the middle of a marriage and say unilaterally, “Oh, by the way, I’ve decided sex is no longer important to me.”

Here is the astonishing irony. Wanna know where this cutting edge survey comes from?

“(This from a) survey of 4,538 members of the infidelity site Victoria Milan, one of the world’s leading discreet social networks for men and women seeking a secret affair. The service was launched by happily married media executive Sigurd Vedal in 2010 and has today become one of the world’s fastest growing and leading social networks for discreet extramarital affairs surpassing 3 million members worldwide in more than 20 countries.”

Huh? Let’s review. There is, on the Internet, a website promoting and arranging secret extramarital affairs. They have more than 3 million members. They have a marketing firm! The website understands itself to be an alternative to divorce. I’m not kidding. Preserving the institution of marriage by melting down the very symbol of marriage and recasting it in papier-mache.

Here’s what I’m curious about: Why wouldn’t you instead go to your spouse, take a breath and say, “It’s not OK to abandon the work of connection, nor to abandon participation in sexual courtship. I won’t tolerate it. If you want to grow old with me, then you’ll need to be fixing those things right away.”

Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Las Vegas Psychiatry and the author of “Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationships, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing” (Stephens Press). His columns appear on Sundays. Contact him at 227-4165 or skalas@ reviewjournal.com.