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You don't need past proof to worry about infidelity: Research suggests that more than 15 percent of marriages end in affairs. It's all too easy to worry your relationship could face the same fate. With that worry comes the temptation to control our partners and cheat-proof our marriages.
"We all want to feel safe and secure that our relationships will last and we won't be threatened by someone else coming along stealing our partner," commiserates Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. But is it really possible to cheat-proof our marriages and guarantee we'll be spared from the pain of infidelity?
Most experts would agree it's simply not possible to cheat-proof any marriage. "Despite many couples' best efforts, infidelity has still occurred," says Kat Van Kirk, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist. Even if you do everything right, you can still experience cheating and other infidelity, she says.
Why? Most often, the desire to cheat-proof a marriage comes from "a fear of what you have to lose and a desire to keep the relationship that you have," explains Greer. "If you attempt to cheat-proof your marriage by policing your partner's actions — for example, demanding he or she comes home by a certain time — it can feel like control to that person. This can actually do more harm than good." What's worse is attempting to cheat-proof a marriage that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "It can actually foster a lack of trust that some partners who cheat say pushes them toward cheating," explains Van Kirk.
But just because you can't cheat-proof your marriage doesn't mean you can't make your marriage strong, which can help prevent infidelity, says Greer. "Focus on the things that are important to your partner, which will make him or her feel understood, listened to, and related to," she says. "You want them to feel heard and that their needs are being met by you. That will keep them happy at home and not looking for attention elsewhere."