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Is cheating the answer to making a marriage last?

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It may sound like a naughty book penned in Edwardian times, but the Secret Lives of Wives – the latest offering from journalist Iris Krasnow – reads more like a dating book for married gals.

"To expect one person, man or woman, to make you happy for the rest of your life is a ticket to divorce," Ms. Krasnow, a professor at American University, told the Daily Beast. "The happiest women I interviewed have a sense of purpose and passion outside of marriage."

And that doesn't necessarily mean skydiving or pottery class.

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"If you avoid getting caught, a little affair can perk up a marriage," Lucy, a 50-something Californian, explained in the book.

"My husband is only capable of doing so much, and it's not enough," said Shauna, who frolicked with a gardener on the side.

Affairs aren't the only answer to a frisson-filled marriage, however. The New York Post outlines the steps found in Ms. Krasnow's book:

Secret #1: Make out with old boyfriends

"I'm not condoning adultery in this book," Ms. Krasnow told a reporter. "But in some marriages, it's mutually acceptable." Take Cynthia, a 68-year-old who started canoodling with her old college boyfriend in the back of his car. "Seeing Thomas makes me get along better with my husband," Cynthia said in the book. "I am a happier wife."

Secret #2: Go on separate vacations

Ms. Krasnow routinely spends a good deal of her summers away from her husband. "I come home and I'm always hot to see him," Ms. Krasnow explained.

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Secret #3: Find a platonic boyfriend

Ms. Krasnow, who describes herself as pro-marriage and monogamous for 23 years, wrote that "boyfriends with boundaries" can be a "sexy pick-me-up" for a union. She is friends with her exes and enjoys confiding in her handsome neighbour Derrin about her day. Her husband, Chuck, loves it, Ms. Krasnow told the Daily Beast. "Derrin is a relief for Chuck, because when he doesn't want to talk to me, he says, 'Isn't Derrin home?'"

Secret #4: Lower your expectations

At one point when her four children were young, Ms. Krasnow said, she contemplated leaving her marriage. Then a friend stepped in and said, "Oh, Iris, just lower your expectations." These simple words saved the marriage, Ms. Krasnow said.

Secret #5: Choose a "steady Eddy"

Ms. Krasnow eases into the book's frisker sections with some timeworn advice: "Pick the right husband in the first place".

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"Reliability is the sexiest quality that you could hope for," Ms. Krasnow said. "Don't look for sex that sends you over the moon – although that does help – but look for somebody who says, 'I do' and 'I will,' and does it."

Secret #6: Keep secrets from your man

"A secret is different than a lie," noted Ms. Krasnow. Some things, such as crushes on other men, resentments and certain fantasies about the future, are best left unsaid, she added. "You spew this poison and it poisons the relationship."

But judging by more than 200 interviews included in her book, the most noxious poison in a marriage is boredom. Research shows that novelty – simply doing new things together as a couple – can restore the chemical surges of new love, the New York Times reported.

Suddenly reinventing date night seems a lot easier than constantly being on the make.

What do you think of keeping secrets from a spouse? Is there such a thing as "boyfriends with boundaries"? Are there better ways to keep passions burning in a marriage?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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