Can getting busted on Ashley Madison be the beginning of true love and a happier, stronger marriage? For many, the surprising answer is “Yes!”
Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton tearfully met the press in Orlando Monday to admit using his credit card for Ashley Madison as he privately probed the world’s largest dating site for cheaters from his government office.
Thirteen hundred miles north, police are investigating if the Ashley Madison leak is responsible for two suicides and a rash of extortion attempts.
Across the globe, millions of Ashley Madison clients are likely considering the very personal consequences of one of the Internet’s largest data hacks.
Within hours of the leak, U.S. analysts began modeling socio-economic repercussions from increased divorces, home sales, rentals, mortgages, and the potential bonanza for divorce lawyers.
Experience with thousands of couples in marriage and relationship education classes has revealed many reasons men and women pursue extramarital affairs. It’s also shown that affairs are more often a symptom of issues couples can overcome on the journey to deeper experiences of love, pleasure and fulfillment with each other.
At the Ashley Madison crossroad, a chance for true love?
The decisions couples make at the crossroad they reach after an affair typically have significant multi-generational consequences, especially for those with minor children at home. For many, it’s a painful sign that trust is forever lost; the ultimate betrayal, humiliation, and final surrender of promises shared when they chose to marry.
For others, it’s a piercing reminder that successful relationships take more than just intention; they require skill and regular attention.
That means not taking each other for granted, no longer making time for play only when all the work is done. It’s never done. It means consciously nurturing our closest relationships as the foundation for lasting happiness and the potential for our biggest dreams to come true.
That doesn’t happen by accident, but certainly is far from impossible. With goodwill and a desire for their relationship to succeed, here’s a three-part prescription that’s helped many.
1.) Define Infidelity. Infidelity is doing anything away from our partner that we wouldn’t do in front of our partner. If there are conversations we wouldn’t have in front of our partner, we don’t have them in our partner’s absence. If there are actions we wouldn’t take in front of a spouse, we wouldn’t take them away from our spouse.
2.) Rebuild Trust. Step one: Say what you’re going to do. Step two: Do it. Step three: Repeat steps one and two over and over again.
3.) Prioritize the Relationship. There’s no better way to do that proactively and consistently than incorporating the five sequential steps of the Daily Temperature Reading (DTR) into your marriage. Making a commitment to 10-20 minutes daily focusing on each other without distraction, going back and forth through each step of the DTR, will open the lines of communication, improve problem-solving, and provide a foundation for greater intimacy.
- Appreciations. Tell each other, sincerely, specific things you appreciate about one another. Create the habit of looking for the good in each other and regularly expressing it.
- New Information. Keep each other up-to-date on what’s happening in your lives so you don’t find yourself living with a stranger.
- Puzzles. When there’s something you’re wondering about, ask the question; don’t ass-u-me. You may not always get an answer or necessarily the answer you want, but you’ll be less likely to find yourself reacting to assumptions.
- Concerns with Recommendations. If there’s a behavior getting in the way of your relationship being great, say what it is, how you feel about it, and ask for the behavior/action you’d like instead. Stay on the same side against the issue, not each other.
- Wishes, Hopes and Dreams. Share them with each other and embrace that love is about helping the people we cherish have their own dreams come true. Make a habit of supporting individual and shared wishes, hopes and dreams.
Plenty of research has shown there’s nothing better for reigniting love or jump-starting a marriage than a weekend or more immersed in an evidence-based marriage and relationship education class (education, not therapy). Along with others committed to happy, healthy, long-lasting marriages, you’ll be able to work together privately through practical skills training to improve communication, conflict resolution, emotional understanding, and bonding.
A year from now, couples on the brink of separation or divorce who may have long led lives of quiet desperation can be enjoying levels of love and intimacy beyond anything they imagined possible.