After the smoke clears and the emotional and sexual damage is done it’s my job to help couples understand the days, weeks, months, and sometimes years leading up to a sexual or emotional affair. A handful of partners can own that selfishness was the only cause of their bad choice, which fully exonerates their partner from any responsibility in the matter. More often is the case that a subtle cycle was brewing beneath the surface of a relationship, much like a tropical storm picks up strength in nature. Both partners play a part in stirring up the conditions that lead to the category 10 hurricane, and in most cases there are some signs. I’d like to shed light on 5 unchecked infidelities that can create fertile breeding ground for a real affair to occur in your relationship. These behaviors can seem harmless on the surface or when looked at one by one. However, they send powerful messages to a romantic partner that lead to feelings of hopelessness, rejection, betrayal, and temptation. For over 15 years, couples on my couch have affirmed that these behaviors contributed to their decision to have an affair: 1. Being unfaithful to your faith. If following your faith was something that initially attracted you and your partner to each other then you have to exercise the muscle to maintain it. If you are married and took vows before God to cover your partner and your household spiritually, but don’t show up in your own spiritual life or your partner’s, then this could become a major weak spot in your relationship. Think back to the initial agreement. If you know that practicing your faith together is an expectation, then don’t ignore it any longer. The good news is that consistent prayer, reading devotions, or fellowshipping with other believers fosters intimacy, forgiveness, and strength to conquer challenges in your life. 2. Being unfaithful to your family. If you put work and career before your partner and family, then it’s quite possible that you could lose the latter. Many partners who have cheated cited that feeling like a lower priority than their partner’s job was a major reason for straying. No one likes to feel unimportant. The key is to make yourself available for the things that truly matter to your partner and make quality time count. It’s okay to have a demanding job as well as career goals. However, planning meaningful dates and actually putting your partner’s life events on your calendar are a ‘must do’ to successfully manage both. The rule is, “don’t let work get the best of you while your partner gets the rest of you”. 3. Being unfaithful to your feelings. If you’ve developed a style of staying silent when you’re experiencing negative emotions like hurt, pain, anger, frustration, and fear then you may be contributing to an emotional disconnection in your relationship. Partners who practice conflict avoidance rarely avoid conflicts. By not finding healthy ways to share your feelings, they can fester until resentment forms. This opens the door to temptation, revenge seeking behavior, and feeling misunderstood. So often, partners who have been cheated on confess that they had no idea that their significant other was so unhappy in the relationship. Set your partner up for success by letting them know how badly you’re hurting. You aren’t saving anyone with silence. 4. Being unfaithful to your body. If you aren’t taking care of your appearance or your physical health you may be sabotaging yourself and your relationship. If you neglect self-care because your partner has offended you with requests for keeping yourself up, think twice. Self care matters regardless of who the message is coming from. When you look and feel good, your partner feels good. Physical endurance impacts sexual endurance. It also impacts attraction. Ignoring your partner’s and your body’s need for care in this area can be a factor in your partner looking in another direction. 5. Being unfaithful to your joint finances. If you haven’t been responsible with your money in ways that have hurt your partner then this might be a sore spot in the relationship if left unaddressed. Not repaying loans, not paying bills on time, and engaging in personal spending while your partner is left to carry added responsibility can lead to your partner feeling trapped, taken advantage of, and resentful. Carrying debt also has the ability to impact our sense of self-worth. These feelings open the door to temptation if left unchecked. Check in with your partner about their feelings about your joint financial situation. If it’s you who is feeling burned out by your current situation, speak up about it versus going inward or outward with your frustration. It could save you some complication down the line. Ultimately, when a partner cheats they are responsible for their behavior. Relationships can survive affairs when partners are able to take responsibility for their choices and correct any blind spots or barriers to true intimacy. Don’t underestimate or be silent about the damage that certain behaviors can cause in your relationship. If you find yourself in over your head or headed out the door, seek the help of a trusted person or professional. Learn more about common couple problems and how to fix them at WeenaCullins.com and follow me on social media @weenacullinslcmft.