Almost every man craves it.  It's the prelude to the majority of extramarital affairs. Many husbands whose wives avoid it have sorrowfully discovered their unanticipated vulnerability to women who will give it. Nearly all marriages would improve dramatically -- and become much less susceptible to failure or sin -- if the wife would overcome her reservations and learn how to satisfy her husband with it. 

And not just men crave it. Women yearn for it too.

What is "it"? Conversation. Conversation where each person feels accepted no matter what he or she says, reveals, explains, or feels. Complete openness to another human; absolute honesty that strips one of all pretension, posturing, and protection so that he can present himself naked and vulnerable to the other.

"Wait a minute!" you may be thinking. "Are you crazy? You make it sound like this is something that men want but women refuse to participate in? You've got that exactly backwards, buddy! Don't you know anything about men and women? I've heard of that Mars and Venus stuff, but what planet are you from?"

Earth, thank you.

As an observant citizen of this planet I don't buy much of what I hear about how men and women are "supposed" to be. Oh sure, there are some real differences between men and women. But human beings are often more complex than the way some experts portray them.

Working with more than 20,000 couples has revealed to us at Family Dynamics Institute that numerous men and women simply don't fit into their assigned stereotypical slots. While it is true that men and women may approach a need differently, thinking that only men need "this" or only women need "that" leads to crucial errors in marriage. Don't mistake methodology for motives. The way a person seeks something doesn't always reveal what it is that he or she really is seeking.

Just as many men crave intimate sharing with another as do women. Back in the late 1970's, I learned in a graduate level psychology class that the most common thing men want from prostitutes is a listening ear. That appears to be true even in the 2000's. I read that in many calls to phone sex lines the conversation isn't sexual at all. The caller craves someone to listen without judgment. Thousands upon thousands of men -- many of them married -- pay women to listen to them!

Think about this. At Family Dynamics Institute we've discovered that relationship affairs develop as a man and woman begin to listen, understand, and accept the facts and feelings of their lives. They usually start innocently and progress without safety checks or barriers. By the time they recognize danger, they no longer want any checks or barriers. My experience in working with couples indicates that these affairs most often find root in couples who are best friends. The wife of one couple and the husband of the other participate in innocent sharing. It leads to a deeper relationship, and then, before anyone realizes the warning signs, friendship morphs into a full blown affair. The second most common source I've observed for such affairs is the workplace.

So, life-shattering affairs start with something as basic as listening, accepting, and valuing another person? Yes. The process starts slowly and picks up speed as each realizes that the other will love and value in spite of what they hear.

If many are willing to extend such grace to a coworker or friend, why isn't such grace extended to the ones we made a lifelong pledge to - our spouse?

Most husbands or wives who disguise their true feelings or actions do so because they fear some type rejection from their spouse Their fear ranges from the relatively minor (the spouse pouting, crying, acting hurt) to the moderate (heated arguments, emotional withdrawal, lack of fulfilling sex) to the major (hitting, leaving, divorcing, exposing embarrassing or endangering facts to others). If people experience negative reactions from the "minor category" when they share, they very likely aren't going to risk opening themselves to the negative consequences found in the moderate or major categories.