What the Experts Say
Our infidelity survivors learned the hard way how to work on their marriages. Here are some tips from the professionals— for before disaster strikes
MAKE FOCUSED TIME
"Most people don’t even carve out 15 minutes to talk to each other every day, but if you don’t spend focused time together as a couple, the relationship dies. And I don’t mean spend time together going to the movies or watching TV—that’s just more diversion. You have to be committed to intimacy as well as to monogamy, and that takes being involved, not just showing up."
—Dan Beaver, MFT, Walnut Creek
LEARN TO LISTEN
"You need to listen to yourself and your spouse to know what’s working and what isn’t in a marriage. And learning to listen in an open way, rather than a defensive way, is a tall order for most couples. We don’t get real training in this in the world. But if it’s difficult for you, find a place to get that training—take a class or go to therapy—rather than going underground with your issues."
—Susan Morea, MFT, Pleasanton
TAKE A WORKSHOP
"[You can learn] skills on how to deeply connect and communicate and work through issues, as opposed to just problem-solving. These are techniques that help you to create the intimacy at the very bottom of a relationship that can carry you through everything."
—Ciele Jupe,MFT, Orinda
CREATE A FRAMEWORK
"People bemoan the loss of spontaneity, but you can still have spontaneity within a structure. Schedule dates, get a sitter if you have kids, and create opportunities to be together, to create good feelings together. In today’s busy world, that means taking out your appointment book. Once you have the opportunity scheduled, you can be spontaneous within that world. You create a framework where one thing can lead to another."
—Carol Rinkleib Ellison, Ph.D., Oakland
TAKE EROTIC RISKS
"I do believe that people can have hot intimacy through very long-term marriages. But you have to be brave enough to take risks. Start by imagining some kind of sexual encounter you’d like to be having. Take one step toward it. Prepare to be disappointed, prepare to not get it on the first step—but keep trying."