Your one-and-only isn’t behaving his one-and-only self lately. He’s distracted, spends more time at work, on the Internet, everywhere but with you. He’s not that interested in being intimate – oh, he joins in just fine if you make the moves, but he’s not initiating things. You hear “yes, dear” more often than “sweetheart.” And as you get the kids ready for school one morning, it hits you – he must be having an affair!
You know you’ve gained a few pounds since the honeymoon, and with kids-work-chores, who has the time (or energy) for sexy lingerie? Besides, there’s nothing you can do about the years going by and whether it’s Olay or L’Oreal, nothing will restore your prom night skin-tone. Let’s not even talk about how un-sexy credit card payments, hamburger helper and parent-teacher meetings are.
How can you compete with all those ready, willing and available fresh-faced pert-breasted short-skirted girls out there?! You throw yourself across your bed in despair, ignoring as best you can the six year old banging at your door “Mommy I’m staaarrrving” because you’re five minutes late with breakfast.
You can’t compete. You’re right. But that’s beside the point. You see, the truth of the matter, the secret closely held by happy couples everywhere, is that it isn’t your skin tone, sexy lingerie, or trim waistline that cheat-proofs your marriage, it’s the friendship you have with your spouse.
Studies show that fully 70% of men’s satisfaction in the marriage comes from the quality of the couple’s friendship – not from the sex, romance or passion in the marriage. Of course, sex, romance and passion are important, but the foundation of it all is the friendship – and that’s what we tend to overlook when we fear our men have strayed.
We quickly lose weight, get our hair permed/colored/cut, buy the latest “erotic fantasy fashion” – which is all fine, but doesn’t address the most likely underlying dilemma. What happened to your friendship? And what does that mean anyway?
Because your friendship with your spouse doesn’t mean (like it does with your girlfriends, Mom or hairdresser) pouring out your emotional guts at every turn. It means:
1. Don’t take him for granted. Pay attention to who he is and what he does, instead of taking him for granted, which is what we too often do after that first year or two of being together.
2. Remain engaged in his world. Most often that means - remain interested in and enthusiastic about his work and hobbies.
Why do you think so often a guy gets involved with someone at his work? It’s not like there aren’t lots of cuties who cross his path every day outside of work. No, it’s that the cutie at work openly expresses her appreciation for who your guy is and does, and – importantly – she’s someone he can talk about his work with who doesn’t cut him off with “That’s nice dear, could you fix the toilet please” just as he really gets going.
That’s also why she doesn’t even have to be all that cute. Just appreciative in a way that you no longer are, and interested in what he’s up to, in what he’s interested in – in a way you no longer are.
Look at your man with fresh eyes. Notice how lovable, generous, handsome, sexy or helpful he is, and tell him about it. Thank him for anything and everything he does or is that pleases you.
Be interested in and supportive of whatever is important to him. Listen to him talk about his work, remember names, situations or events that are relevant to him. Don’t diss his hobbies or friends – they matter to him, they should matter to you.
Isn’t that, after all, what you do for your best friends? You tell them how great they are, and you support whatever makes them happy. Yes, there are other components to friendship, such as being trustworthy and reliable, but you get the gist.
True, nothing can guarantee a cheat-proof marriage, but keeping the friendship aspect of your relationship front and center can go a long way towards ensuring your happily-ever-after.
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including her most recent,Your Man is Wonderful and Dangerous Relationships. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit www.yourmaniswonderful.com.