Loyalty: Being Faithful, True and Devoted
I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want, and expect, loyalty from their partner. A solemn promise, whether before God, friends, family or a Las Vegas Elvis and showgirls, does not make the issue of loyalty a done deal. In this day and age, keeping our eyes on each other is no easy task. But being loyal – faithful, true and devoted to our partner – is worth its weight in gold. We’ve had a few couples in therapy that had explored open marriage, and … well they were in therapy. Enough said on that!
Loyalty is imperative to great relationship and lifetime love.
Loyalty is not necessarily a byproduct of love, commitment or a marriage license. Many couples begin relationships and marriages relying on their commitment to their vows as a safeguard from relationship betrayals. And so often, even those with the greatest of intentions, are caught off guard by innocent temptations and lures. Emotional affairs are devastating and they lurk in the shadows of the unsuspecting.
At a foundational level loyalty is about committing to emotional connection. We look to our partner to be the number one person to share our hearts with no matter what we are feeling.
Without a strong emotional connection with our partner we leave ourselves vulnerable in the workplace, at the gym or even at church, to potentially inappropriate and destructive relationships. Whether emotional, spiritual or physical, these outside relationships will wreak havoc on a marriage.
Remaining loyal in our primary love relationship takes more than a promise or commitment. It requires a whole-hearted love relationship.
So how do we remain loyal – faithful, true, devoted and emotionally connected – to our partner?
For Starters…Make Your Partner #1
I’m not just talking about giving lip service here. Your partner must feel more important than the kids, work, family, friends, recreation. Every decision you make must come with consideration of your partner. How will they feel about _____ ? You fill in the blank.
Create Healthy Boundaries… Everywhere
Be very very careful with your girls or guys nights out! Alcohol, fun music, great food can provide an ambiance that perhaps should be reserved for your special someone.
Think twice or thrice about how, where and with whom you exercise. Dr. Regier has had far too many couples come for help who are the victims of gym affairs. Hot sweaty muscled bodies, often inappropriately clothed, loud and fast music and lots of adrenaline prime the pump for trouble. Consider working out with your partner if possible. It takes creativity to make that happen, but don’t rule it out. Getting hot and sweaty with your partner may add a fun thrill to exercise. Encourage and admire each other as you grow in strength or skill and keep your eyes off those who belong to another.
Business dinners, conferences and sales calls can be a petri dish for the growth of emotional affairs. Schmoozing to close the deal over a glass of wine or on the golf course can lead to a bigger deal than you intentioned. Invite coworkers or a boss to be part of an evening business meeting with someone of the opposite sex. Or change the time and/or venue to keep it all business.
Spend quality time connecting
This can be so difficult in our busy lives. Make it happen, come hell or high water. Go deeper. Get closer. Be open, honest and transparent. Your partner should be your best friend, your confidant. And for those who cringe at the mention of “emotion”, think of it as science instead. Attachment science is about emotion and connection. So let’s all, men and women, trust in a deeper and safer connection. It’s absolutely vital in reducing conflict and creating a safe, secure, fun and fulfilling lifetime love.
Our book can be a safe and easy place to start to go deeper. It tells a story of a real couple who are caught off guard by an emotional affair. It tells the science of what went wrong. And it shows how therapy got them back on track. Conversation can feel a little less threatening when it’s someone else’s story.
Other good resources: Love Sense by Sue Johnson and Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin are both good reads.
Wishing you a lifetime of love and connection!
Co-author of Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love