In my last blog, I talked about another way to think about infidelity- Infidelity is a way to regulate our emotions. Down regulating consists of managing hyperarousal, stress and anxiety. Up-regulating consists of arousing or enlivening ourselves when we feel bored or empty. I would recommend reading that article before continuing to read this one if you have not read it already. I am not saying that if you do what I write below- infidelity issues will cease; it is more complicated than that. However, taking y information and applying it will be very helpful in preventing future infidelity.
So what could we do to up and down regulate to prevent infidelity from happening again or preventing it in the first place? There are two main ways to regulate our emotions- one- within ourselves and two- with another (or others).
Down regulating within ourselves:
A necessary skill to thrive in this world we live in is to learn how to evoke a relaxation response. Too many of us go through life letting stress build up in our bodies as we react to the stressors in our environment. Developing some kind of relaxation practice for (let’s say) 10 minutes per day can change our lives significantly. We become more resilient to stress and we are less anxious. There are fewer tendencies to use a vice such as inappropriate sex to escape that stress. Some examples of a relaxation practice include:
- A simple breathing meditation
- Yoga, T’ai Chi or other types of movement meditations
- Muscle relaxation processes
- Creative Visualization
- Creative Visualization
Any of these practices along with regular exercise can go a long way towards calming down one’s nervous system and make unhealthy solutions to stress less attractive.
Down regulating with another:
Listening to one another, attuning to each other and feeling support from an intimate partner or other close person is a very powerful way to relax and calm down one’s nervous system. That is how it all started for us as infants. When we were stressed, we had a mom or dad or other caretakers to hold us, feed us and soothe us. We still have that need to connect. I have found that a large number of people who cheat have lived lives on an emotional island; not allowing themselves to express their needs and feelings to be listened to and not allowing themselves to experience that deep love and support from another. Cutting edge couples research clearly shows that successful couples regulate each other through consistent listening giving each partner the feeling that “You get me.”
Up regulating within ourselves:
We all are responsible for living a life of purpose and meaning. This here is one of the most important ways we can up regulate. The question to ask is- how can I make this day meaningful to me? Even- how can I make this hour meaningful to me? Or- how can I make the next 10 minutes meaningful to me? When we feel a compelling purpose, we are far less likely to sabotage the relationships we value.
In addition to purpose, there are tings we love to do that could uplift us. Sometimes we get in ruts or get lazy and don’t do those things. For example, if you like to play music or do archery or play hockey or whatever, do it! Doing what you love will up regulate you; in other words, will make you feel more alive. And of course, you can always just skip down the street. Even simple activities such as this can shift our entire state of mind.
Up regulating with another
I state clearly that it is MY job to uplift my wife’s energy. Of course, she is responsible for her own energy and wellbeing; yet I also play a part in her wellbeing. And vice versa. There are ways to be up regulated that only others can do for us. We cannot do it all alone! Given the state of mind she is in, I could uplift her by being playful with her, kissing her, complimenting her, planning a date for us, etc. If I come home and my wife says to me- “I am here to do anything you want sexually’”, do you think that won’t up regulate me? I know that this may not always happen and people have to put attention on other things and people. However, if a couple makes it their priority to uplift each other’s spirit on a consistent basis, that could go along ways towards preventing infidelity as well as do a whole lot of other wonderful for things for the relationship.