Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Improve Your Marriage by Having an Affair…With Your Spouse

Do you have any idea how much work goes into an affair?

When you take into account the effort, the planning, the stolen moments, the affection, the creative communications and the anticipation of connection – you have to wonder what having an affair with your spouse could do for a marriage.

The likelihood is that it will do great things.

Having an affair with your spouse is something I have recommended to couples for years. It is an antidote to what Esther Perel describes as “Mating in Captivity,” the neutralizing of connection, the tendency to take each other for granted, the need to prioritize the kids, the jobs, the house, the money…. over the romance.

Does having an affair sound irrational, unlikely, possibly erotic and without guarantees? Yes. That’s the nature of affairs…only this one has a real chance of a happy ending.

What Do You Need to Have an Affair?

Here are the ingredients for having an affair – Do you have anything to lose?


Someone has to start. One icebreaker that works is to tell your spouse at a quiet moment – not across the family dinner table or while she/he is watching football or American Idol– “ I want to have an affair.” You are likely to catch his/her attention and curiosity before you add, “with you.”

If you know that your partner is very reactive, you may soften this to, “Do you ever want to have an affair?” Regardless of the answer, you are ready to say “I would love to have an affair with you.”

Keep in mind that even in the face of the other’s verbalized or non-verbalized response of “Are you crazy?” – The idea of having an affair, of investing in self and spouse, of pursuing and being pursued is emotionally and physically transformative. Many partners will agree to try it for a week.

Mutual Seduction

Seduction is central to the heightening of desire in any affair.

In a study of what men and women desire in sexual relationships, Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues (1989) found that the top two desires for married men were for partners to initiate sex more and be more seductive. The top two desires for married women were for partners to talk lovingly more often and be more seductive.

Clearly both men and women want their partners to be seductive – but in different ways.

When men and women put their own fears of rejection, performance or imperfection aside, and reach across the gender divide to say the tender things or initiate connection…the seduction unfolds.

Take a moment to think about being seductive:

  • Think back to how you invited your partner to know you were sexually interested — hire a babysitter and wait in your car outside of his/her office; buy the DVD of the love story you saw together; put the music from back then into her/his car; leave the notes on the windshield, be affectionate when you have a moment alone, be affectionate in a public place like you used to…
  • Often the unexpected in a spouse sparks interest and neurochemistry.  Wear the clothes, perfume, get the haircut etc. that sends a message of self-affirmation and romantic interest (self-esteem is very attractive).  It’s not Hollywood – it’s a conscious and unconscious message of attraction between two people that can be as unique as the color of her lipstick or the color of his underwear.
  • Don’t forget how sexy a sense of humor and laughter can be.

Take your time. Let the seduction build. The goal is not instant sex — it is a connection with interest, and mutual desire.

Interference and Waiting

In an affair, interference and waiting fuel anticipation and passion.

If you are married with kids, jobs, pets, bills, seniors, teams etc., you have all the ingredients for interference and waiting that you need for an affair.

The challenge, the mutual secret and potential excitement is working around them: Little ones who end up in your bed; older ones who keep you waiting and worried; jobs that steal time; schoolwork that fills the time; coaches that don’t understand time… not to mention everyone and everything else.

Practicing the Night Moves

One of the reasons that affairs take off and strangers are so idealized and captivating is that they are rarely considered in the light of day.

Romantic and sexual connection happen when we suspend reality, draw upon imagination, and go emotionally and physically to another place with our partner, someone we love … in any way that works.

If you have both been secretly pursuing each other, waiting and working on finding the time to get it together, feeling the other’s desire, there is a good chance that when you finally find the time and place — you will find each other.

Perhaps it won’t be a surprise that in a survey of dozens of academic research articles, Leitenberg and Henning found that of the top ten themes of sexual fantasies for men and women, number one was having sex with your current partner and number two was having sex with a stranger or imaginary lover.

The Look of Love

Regardless of the venue, people can usually tell when something is going on between two people. The two look at each other more, physically look better, find reasons to stand closer, touch each other innocently, smile more, seem more confident, laugh together, tease more, even argue more. Clearly they are connected. Probably they are in love.

That’s a really good message to send to the world inside and outside your home. It is a really good feeling to have with your spouse. Have the affair together… Give them something to talk about!