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Communication Tip:

Originally written by Kerry for tutorial reference material, rewritten for Communication Weekly.

Co-creating a marriage vow that precludes cheating

The following is a belated engagement gift for couples about to tie the knot.

This tip is about declaring up-front the kinds of behaviors/activities that are unacceptable, behaviors that will automatically trigger, with absolutely no second chance, the divorce/annulment clause of your unique marriage vow. It's about co-creating a marriage vow that defines the boundaries about fidelity (cheating), abuse (hitting), & specific illegal activities.

It's about consciously including a fidelity agreement in your marriage vow. I say consciously because a marriage vow that does not contain a verbal/written fidelity agreement does in fact contain an implied* non-verbal agreement; it non-verbally implies that cheating will possibly be allowed/forgiven. We know this to be true based upon the results typical marriage vows produce (approx. 41% of marriages have incidents of infideltity).

A fidelity agreement is a gift to you from millions and millions of divorced couples who, when they were exchanging marriage vows, never dreamed that cheating would take place in their marriage (read Sandra, Elen, Jenny: cheating and responsibility).

A fidelity agreement acknowledges that implied agreements have an effect. Put another way, if, after reading this tip, you don't verbally co-create a fidelity agreement with your partner then you both are unconsciously implying that cheating might be supported/forgiven. After reading this tip infidelity won't be an unconscious act, it will in fact be premeditated abuse.

A fidelity agreement is so clear that your wedding guests, both sets of parents, and any/all witnesses to the ceremony, will not support either of you suing the other for alimony, possessions, or child custody in the event you cheat on your spouse or if you manipulate or cause/intend your spouse to cheat on you. It supports open, honest, and spontaneous communication, and personal responsibility. It precludes either spouse from later blaming the other, saying. "I didn't know." "I had no idea . . ." "I thought we were happy."

When a couple are in-communication with each other (see Clearing Process for Couples) it's virtually impossible for one to withhold even the thought of committing a perpetration. Cheating/illegal activities take place when both partners become stuck doing their imitation of communication. There is no such thing as an "innocent" spouse—be they the spouse of an investment banker, a stock broker, or a Mafia Don—all unethical activities are enabled by an equally powerful supporter. In a truly expanding loving relationship neither partner dares insult/offend the other with any questionable activity, such is their respect for each other, both sets of families, and others.

A fidelity agreement further acknowledges that most of us cannot hear our own lies therefore we often cannot tell when another is lying to us. Few divorced couples were conscious enough to know they were lying when they swore to each other, before God, ". . . till death do us part . . ." Most honestly believed they were telling the truth, few were aware that that lie determined the outcome. A lie believed does not make it the truth.

For the marriage vow read: To preclude cheating and illegal activities in your relationship.

For a fidelity agreement to work all friends and wedding guests must communicate the Wedding Guest Vow to the engaged couple.

* The prevailing implied non-verbal agreement, the one that's unconsciously included in most of today's wedding vows, is, . . . if I cheat I expect you to accept my apology and forgive me and remain married to me. And, if you cheat on me I will badmouth you to others and blame you rather than acknowledge that my leadership-communication skills intended the result. We know this is the agreement because of the results.

Note: Couples contemplating marriage are advised to schedule a free three-hour consultation with a communication skills coach. A consult will bring to the surface life's accumulated unacknowledged perpetrations, incompletes that need to be acknowledged (completed) so as to restore the integrity of both partners. Most heated (carried forward) arguments between couples are about earlier and similar interactions with one's parents, interactions, the outcomes of which remain less than satisfying; un-acknowledged, these incompletes are non-verbally dramatized affecting each and every interaction. Incompletes determine the success/failure of a relationship.

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 8/7/13)

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