Couples Learning to Have Affairs with Each Other
A morning tweet reveals a secretive website for couples in a relationship who are “looking for more” and a leading marriage education program may have more than a few things in common.
by Seth Eisenberg
Holly Madison, 32, is all over the news this week talking about her E! True Hollywood Story: Holly Madison. After six years of trying didn’t lead to nuptials with her former beau, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, 84, and her recent break-up from Jack Barakat, 23, Holly Madison is still looking for her soul mate.
“I would love to meet my soul mate,” Holly Madison said. “I’m always kind of keeping my eyes open for somebody.”
I missed Holly Madison’s E! True Hollywood Special last night, but it was another “Madison” that got my attention this morning when I saw the chief tweeter at Ashley Madison sent out a link to a FatherhoodChannel.com post about saving marriages.
Ashley Madison calls itself the “world’s largest dating service of its kind catering to men and women who are currently in a relationship and are looking for more.” The site has been widely featured in the national news and claims to have nearly nine million “anonymous” members.
Reading their elevator pitch that I imagined must have been refined over months of Toastmaster training, I realized they could easily be talking about the goals of relationship and marriage education.
About 12 years ago, a somewhat religious man from Abbotsford, British Columbia summed up what he was taking away from four days in a marriage education boot camp that he’d traveled more than 3,000 miles to attend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“I realized that instead of having relationships with multiple people, I could have multiple relationships with my wife,” he said.
Those words stuck with me.
As I thought about the second Madison this morning, the one with a business plan built around helping men and women in a relationship who are looking for more, I realized we’re in the same business, albeit with a much different strategy.
What if men and women “looking for more” could learn to have affairs with each other inside their relationships? What if they had a language and skills to plan dates and adventures with the playful, seductive, affirming parts of each other that likely drew them together in the first place?
Actually, they can.
The best marriage education programs teach couples to appreciate and affirm each other, stay connected, and regularly confide their wishes, hopes and dreams. With good will, those are powerful building blocks to creating and sustaining passion.
Together with skills for understanding emotions and working through differences, couples learn to stay a pleasure in each others’ lives. Advanced courses, such as the PAIRS Passion Playbook, offer extra tips through exercises such as “Follow the Leader,” “Sensual Pleasure Dates,” and creating “Love Maps.”
For most people, that type of evidence-based skills training leads to levels of passion they may have thought were forever gone or never possible.
Of course, it doesn’t happen by itself. It takes the willingness and courage to confide, wisdom to listen with empathy, and decision to keep your commitment to loving each other, recognizing that how we do that changes over the course of our lives.
If you’re one of the thousands of Ashley Madison followers who checked out today’s tweet about saving marriages, realizing you can “find more” within your relationship may be the beginning of discovering you already have what it takes to breathe passion, pleasure and adventure into your marriage.
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation in Weston, Florida, a leading provider of relationship and marriage education programs nationwide.