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Important Emotional Needs:
Affection
Sexual Fulfillment
Conversation
Recreational Companionship
Honesty and Openness
Physical Attractiveness
Financial Support
Domestic Support
Family Commitment
Admiration
 
Four Rules to Marital Recovery:
1) PROTECTION: Avoid being the cause of your spouse's unhappiness.

2) TIME: Take time to give your spouse undivided attention.

3) HONESTY: Be totally open and honest with your spouse.

4) CARE: Meet your spouse's most important emotional needs.
 
STRENGTHEN FIDELITY

Affair-Proof Your Marriage

The 700 Club

CBN.com - He offered much needed insight into marriage with his popular best seller His Needs, Her Needs. Now psychologist and marriage counselor Dr. Willard Harley Jr. gives wise advice on how to recover from marital infidelity and how to prevent an affair before it starts.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Well, infidelity is one of life's most painful experiences. Can a marriage be restored after such a betrayal? It's a question that I'm sure people ask all over this country every day because it's been such an issue in marriages. Well, joining me now is psychologist and marriage counselor, Dr. Willard Harley, who's also the co-author of "Surviving an Affair." Welcome to The 700 Club. Great to have you with us.

Dr. WILLARD HARLEY Jr. : Thank you. I'm glad to be with you.

MEEUWSEN: We all go to the altar thinking we're going to make it without ever experiencing something like this, and yet statistics show that a majority of marriages go through an affair. Why?

Dr. HARLEY: That's part of the problem. I think that people start out assuming it's not going to happen to them. And so they don't take the precautions. You know, we get inoculated for various diseases that we're likely to get, but we don't bother to get inoculated for an affair.

MEEUWSEN: Why do affairs happen?

Dr. HARLEY: Well, I think we're born with the instinct to have an affair, quite frankly. I think that we're all wired to have it. People that are given the opportunity and have not taken precautions to avoid it generally succumb to the temptation.

MEEUWSEN: Are there different kinds of affairs?

Dr. HARLEY: Yeah. There are affairs that are one-night stands that don't mean anything, that are just a tryst. But the affairs that I work with the most are what I call affairs that have a deep emotional connection and people feel that they're soul mates. I call them soul mate types of affairs because that's the way everybody talks about them when they're having it.

MEEUWSEN: I was surprised in the book that so many people come to you.

When someone makes a connection like that with a soul mate, usually they don't want to even hear about restoring a marriage. They want out and they want a new life and they see this other person as their avenue to that, and yet there seems to be something in people when they've made a commitment to a partner for life, particularly where children are involved, that they want to find out what they ought to do from here. How does someone survive an affair when trust has been broken?

Dr. HARLEY: The person that I'm essentially writing to in this book is the spouse who has been betrayed. Because the question that we get so much is: 'I just discovered that my spouse was having an affair. I had no idea it could ever happen to us, and I have no idea what to do next.' I do try to reach out to the person having the affair and, to some extent, I try to reach out to the lover as well. But I've often made the point that when you're having an affair, you lose half of your IQ, you know. And so it's very difficult to reason with a person who is having an affair because they're on such an emotional high and you're dealing with a person that's addicted. It's very similar to dealing with somebody that has got a cocaine addiction or other forms of addiction.

MEEUWSEN: If something's been missing from a relationship that has caused someone to even consider, much less get involved in an affair, I'm sure there's the fear on the part of the person who's made that decision that if I go back into this relationship, my needs are never going to be met.

Dr. HARLEY: That's always kind of a leading point, that there is something to that. There are reasons why people have affairs, but I often argue that there are no excuses. There are things that motivate people to have an affair and my argument has always been that you should settle those issues. An affair is no way to solve the problem.

MEEUWSEN: Right.

Dr. HARLEY: All it does is get you in deeper and you end up having a miserable experience, to say nothing about the miserable experiences of all the people you love.

MEEUWSEN: Speaking of people that you love, so often by the time someone gets into an affair situation, they've been married long enough that they have children. How are children affected in situations like this? Do they usually know about the relationship?

Dr. HARLEY: Yeah. It's devastating. There are two things that children learn from an affair. One is that it's all right to lie, because they see their parent not only lying about the affair, but also encouraging them to lie for them. And so they develop an ethic that says under certain conditions, it's OK not to tell the truth. And it's OK not to tell the truth to the people you love the most. The other thing they learn is that it's OK to be thoughtless. It's OK to do something that's good for you and bad for the people that you love the most. It sets them up for a lifetime of failure because they don't learn two of life's most important principles: honesty and thoughtfulness. They learn that the opposite is OK.

Willard HarleyMEEUWSEN: It seems to me, Doctor, too, like there are often so many abandonment issues that get thrown into a child's life when one parent or the other just ups and leaves because it's the thing for the moment. You mentioned early on that one of the reasons that people find themselves in this situation is that they come into marriage thinking that it can never happen to them. So what are some preventive measures that people can take to sort of affair-proof their marriages, if you will?

Dr. HARLEY: I think it's important to begin with the understanding that it can happen to you. It can happen to anyone. As soon as you understand that you are vulnerable for an affair, then the precautions that I recommend make sense. I started out my own marriage with precautions. There is some infidelity in my own family and I wanted to make sure it would never happen to me and my wife, Joyce. And so we made a compact with each other to be radically honest with each other about everything, that we would never lie to

each other. It's an incredibly important precaution to take. The second thing is that she would always be my best friend. I would spend my leisure time with her. She would end up being the person I would go with on trips. If either of us were going to be gone for any period of time, the other would be there as well. I would not have lunch with another woman. I would not go in a car pool with another woman. I would not allow myself to be tempted to have an affair with somebody else. And if I ever found somebody else attractive, the first person to know about it would be my wife.

MEEUWSEN: If someone is in a situation--I imagine there are people who are watching right now who are in situations where this attraction has already happened, but they realize that the price tag is incredibly high. How does someone rebuild a marriage?

Dr. HARLEY: Well, the first thing they have to do is get away from the attractive person, and that's the first step.

MEEUWSEN: Are most people willing to do that?

Dr. HARLEY: No, but that's the first step. I have to talk people into doing things that just are totally irrational to them. They don't understand that leaving this person that they're attracted to is the first step toward marital recovery. If they're having an affair, they can never see or talk to the lover again the rest of their lives. And that's the first step in recovery, is never seeing or talking to another lover. It may mean you have to quit your job. Many of the people I've counseled, many pastors I've counseled, have had to leave the state to get away from lovers that they have. And you have to totally separate. Again, think of it as an addiction. How do you get over being addicted to alcohol? You get away from the substance that you're addicted to. And the same thing is true in marriage.

The second thing is you have to go through withdrawal because once you leave the addictive situation, you will go through a period of deep depression, and one of the things that people have told me--the betrayed spouse says, one of the hardest parts of all of this is to get through the withdrawal, because here they have their husband or wife back but the husband or wife is miserable. And they blame it all on them, see? And then once you're through withdrawal, it ends. If they don't see or talk to the spouse, it ends. They're through withdrawal; then the recovery can actually begin. But there's a sense in which people try to recover with the lover still there. That never works, just like you can't get over being an alcoholic if you're drinking all the time.

MEEUWSEN: Well, I would imagine the other partner in a marriage would have to be very quiet and patient during those times to let the person walk through these processes to get to the point...

Dr. HARLEY: They usually need a lot of support and they need to understand what the end of this process is going to look like, a lot of encouragement.

MEEUWSEN: Really? Talk about the most important needs that men and women have in relationships.

Dr. HARLEY: Well, the needs that people have, quite frankly, can be broken down into 10 of them. I've written the book, "His Needs, Her Needs," that you've probably seen. And it describes the 10 most important needs of men and women. I usually tell people, don't pay attention to whether it's a male need or a female need; think about your own needs and try to figure out what it is you need the most in your marriage. Which of these 10 that we talk about are extremely important to you that you expect your spouse to do for you? Because...

MEEUWSEN: Every need isn't going to belong to each person. I mean everybody has different...

Dr. HARLEY: Usually I feel that if you meet your spouse's top two emotional needs, chances are, you will avoid an affair. But to make it guaranteed, I suggest five.

MEEUWSEN: Of the 10 that you list, are there some that are consistently the top two or three of men and the top two or three of women? What would they be?

Dr. HARLEY: Generally for men, sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship and attractive spouse are the top three. For women generally affection, conversation, honesty and openness are the top three for them. But there are many women that will pick one of the male needs as one of their top needs. So my argument is you have to understand your need well enough to communicate it to your spouse and then give your spouse information so he knows how to meet it for you. But a very important reason why people have affairs is that their emotional needs are not being met. But as I mentioned before, it's not an excuse.

MEEUWSEN: When somebody has broken trust or been the victim of broken trust, how do you trust again? I mean, because it seems to me you've got a double whammy here. You've had the wind knocked out of you that your partner would violate the commitment you've made to each other by being with someone else sexually, and then that they hid it, usually, for a season of time. So how do you get to the place where you can ever believe and wholly allow yourself to fall back into the relationship?

Dr. HARLEY: It's one of life's great mysteries. When I first started working with people that were suffering with infidelity, my own instinct was I could never forgive my own wife if she was unfaithful. And I think she'd kill me if I was. And so I had no idea that this sort of thing could be saved, you know. And then not only did I discover that it could be saved, but the trust would return. The point is that if you follow the advice that I give and I have four rules for recovery: you've got to meet each other's needs; you've got to protect each other from our own self-centeredness; you've got to give each other time for undivided attention; and you've got to be radically honest with each other. What this does is it overlays all of the destructive things that you've done. And people wake up one day feeling trust for their spouse because what they're doing is thoughtful and honest. They're doing something that proves that they can. After an experience like this, you can actually trust the other person much better than you could have ever trusted them before the experience because you're taking precautions to be trustworthy.

MEEUWSEN: People can get a hold of you through your website. Would you give that to folks?

Surviving an AffairDr. HARLEY: Marriagebuilders.com. All you need to do is remember the name marriage builders--Marriagebuilders.com. It's one of the most popular marriage sites on the Internet. It helps couples figure out how to solve their problems. And it's all free.

MEEUWSEN: Wonderful. Marriagebuilders.com. Well, this book is called "Surviving an Affair." And if this is something you've been through in your household, your family, it's a book that you'll be blessed by. Written by our guest, Dr. Willard Harley and Dr. Jennifer Harley Chalmers. Thank you so much for being with us.

Dr. HARLEY: Thank you.

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