By Virginia Sole-Smith
Nothing makes me feel more overtly "married" than when I open up my wallet to pay at Home Depot and pull out the shiny blue debit card labeled, in big block type, SHARED. My husband, Dan, broke out the label maker two months after we got married to distinguish the cards linked to our joint account from the identical blue debit cards we use for our separate personal checking accounts. (And in the rush of newlywed excitement, it didn't occur to him to use a more discreet...
Statistics from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy suggest that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have had sex outside of their marriage. When emotional affairs or sexual intimacies without intercourse are included, the number jumps by 20%.
But straying is not inevitable, no matter how many soap operas you watch, says Frances Cohen Praver, PhD, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in Locust Valley, N.Y., and the author of Daring Wives: Insight into Women's Desires for Extramarital Affairs.
"For the most part, people don't just go out and cheat. There are warnings," she tells WebMD. The good news is that knowing the common signs and addressing them head-on can save your relationship from infidelity.
Red Flag No. 1: Crying Out for Help
"The most common warning is when a partner tells you something is amiss and you don't believe it," Praver says. "He or she may say, 'This marriage isn't working,' or 'I am not happy.'"
Marriage Saving Solution: Taking the Bait
"This is akin to being hit over the head with a 2 X 4," Praver says. "If your partner is reaching out, take the bait," she says. "First open up a dialogue, and if you can't get anywhere, consider couples therapy."
Red Flag No. 2: Sudden Change -- or Interest -- in Appearance.
Is your husband talking about getting botox to eliminate his frown lines? Did your wife recently start coloring her hair and scrapping her jeans for a low-cut black dress? If so, this may indicate he or she is on the prowl, experts say.
Marriage Saving Solution: If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
"This can make you bitter or better," says John Van Epp, PhD, a therapist in Medina, Ohio and author of the forthcoming How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk: the foolproof way to follow your heart without losing your mind.
"If they are going through changes and you are fairly certain no one else is involved, this is an opportunity," he says. "Join in and spice up your relationship."