A simple rule would be that if you have to keep the relationship a secret, you know you are outside the boundaries. Picture: Pixabay

This is a delicate topic that is often not handled delicately. Firstly, we are not taught how to create healthy, happy, mutually-beneficial relationships.

Then, when we encounter problems within that relationship, we don’t have the tools to resolve our differences for the greater good of all concerned. In some cases, when conflict cannot be resolved, the relationship either ends or one or both partners may seek solace with another person.

Affairs are commonplace today and lead to pain and devastation for all concerned, whether you are the one who cheated or the one who was cheated on.

There is always shame and guilt for the betrayer and hurt and humiliation for the betrayed. Perhaps if we have the deeper conversations and create our relationships consciously, rather than by default, we can actually prevent affairs from happening.

We live in a world where most people wear two faces: one for the public and another behind closed doors. Couples become isolated.

So, even when we have serious problems in our relationships, we don’t address them because we want to show the world that we are perfect.

We post pictures on Facebook about places we’ve visited and anniversaries we’ve celebrated. The result of us not being willing to have the deeper conversations and ask for help is a divorce rate of over 50%.

What constitutes cheating? 

Some people have relationships with people over social media and form an emotional connection, but will deny that it was an affair because you never met. Some people say, “It was just sex. It didn’t mean anything.”

A simple rule would be that if you have to keep the relationship a secret, you know you are outside the boundaries. Relationships are subjective. There cannot be one magic formula that makes all relationships work.

We can have many relationships with the same partner. When you first meet, your relationship is about fun and romance and getting to know each other.

When you decide to commit to each other, you begin a new relationship with each other that now includes the responsibilities of sharing a home.

When you have children, you begin yet another relationship with the same person that now includes parental duties. When your kids leave home, you begin another relationship.

If you come together at the start of each stage and re-negotiate the relationship to see what worked in the last phase and how you can keep the love, feel appreciated and alive while moving on to the next phase, you are actively creating an epic relationship together. You choose each other over and over again.

If you’re in a relationship, I challenge you to make one small change and see the results for yourself. Take a look at all that your partner contributes to your relationship and start acknowledging them for it.

Say “thank you” more often, but say it because you really mean it and feel grateful for their presence and contribution to your life. One simple change can cause a huge shift in the right direction.

* Kas Naidoo is a relationship coach and matchmaker. For more information, visit www.nextlevelup.co.za