When there is a disconnect and one or both partners seek the solution outside the marriage…the problem gets worse…and this can be the end of a marriage. By seeking the solution elsewhere, I am thinking about an emotional affair. This is a relationship in which a partner discloses emotional and intimate facts to someone who could also become a love interest. The emotional affair is kept secret from one’s partner, or the level and intensity of the relationship is minimized when asked about. When a spouse asks about the interaction with this other person, the partner often states “IT IS JUST A FRIEND”, or “IT IS A COLLEAGUE, and we discuss work”. Those are often defensive statements. As we should know there are different boundaries with each of the following type of relationships (see list below).
The problem arises when there is some disconnect in the relationship with their partner, and gradually a relationship is developed with someone else. The relationship violates the agreed upon boundaries. I state “agreed upon” as I firmly believe that because there seems so much confusion, people should talk about this BEFORE it is an issue! So, talk about BOUNDARIES, EXPECTATIONS AND RULES, so that each of you knows where you are standing.
LIST OF “CATEGORIES” OF RELATIONSHIPS THAT REQUIRE A DISCUSSION BETWEEN SPOUSES ON WHERE THE BOUNDARIES ARE:
- Being exclusive
- Being non-exclusive (being non-monogamous)
- Living together
- Having a break from each other
- Formal separation
Emotional affairs can develop in full-blown affairs as often sexual innuendo and jokes “sneak in”. Most often when alcohol is involved.
HR DEPARTMENTS unfortunately need to write policies on FRATERNIZATION: Most government, military and business organizations have implemented these policies after learning the hard way that people don’t get it. This means that many companies prohibit sexual relationships between members of the team, and in particular between a superior and a subordinate (Yes, this seems to be pretty common….so, please look up consensual….when there is a power differential….this becomes icky. As a superior you can easily be sued for sexual harassment….consensual means nothing in this regards…as the power difference can be used against you. We should know of course that any of these relationships are WRONG and unethical and as…time will tell….many “superiors” get into problems even years after the -so-called consensual affair.
By the way: consensual means ANY ADULT CONSENSUAL SEXUAL ACTIVITY…SO LONG AS THOSE CHOICES AND ACTIVITIES ARE BETWEEN ADULTS AND CONSENTED TO BY EVERYONE INVOLVED OR AFFECTED!
(Queen, Good Vibrations, 2016).
The definition is good as it includes those who are affected by it…those who might be hurt by it….your spouses! This means that having EDS (sex outside the marriage) is not consensual according to this definition!
I hope that those who are in a committed relationship and who experience a disconnect, read this and act upon it. Action involves getting closer to your partner, spending time together, having a date night, having a weekend away, please each other, remind yourself of why you married each other. Try to talk about the good times. Find out what is missing in your relationship. Seek help when you get stuck. In particular effective communication is crucial. Good communication means making time for each other and not allowing interruptions. It means sitting together and listening to each other about what is going on. When you are both calm, you can address everything. If the discussion gets heated, you might need a short break. Make sure you understand each other and ask for clarifications when not sure. Avoid making assumptions and give each other time to fully express their thoughts and feelings.
Rule of thumb: Good communication means listening to each other, delaying your response until you are sure you understood, using open questions and avoiding judgment until you get the full picture of what is going on in the mind of your spouse.
Monogamy a Myth?
Many bloggers write about the “myth” of monogamy which is defined as “the practice of being married to one person at the time”. For the sake of our writings, we define monogamy as “the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner”.
This is to those who do not believe (what does that actually mean) in the reality of monogamy: Please don’t get married ! It is a sad statistic to see how many marriages end up in divorce. The cost involved…the “fairy tale wedding”, the elated bride and groom saying “this is the best day of my life” and “we only do this once”! Oh and Yeah…the marriage vows include “to forsake all others” or a more current version with a similar meaning. OK, YOU get it, If you do not “believe” in this….do not pretend on your wedding day that he or she is the “love of your life forever…”.
There is something as “friends with benefits” and consensual non-monogamy….so, if you want to screw others, be transparent. The hurt is caused by BETRAYAL!
…and yet one other argument….if monogamy is a myth how do you explain that many people talk and sing and write poems about the worst pain they experience….Heart Break!
PREVENTION OF TROUBLE
- Keep your partner up-to-date on what is going on at your work. No need to go into technical or financial details, but talk about your day and what was good and what wasn’t. Talk (respectfully) about the people you work with. In particular the latter is important.
- When traveling for work, keep work dinners what they intend to be WORK-dinners, keep alcohol to a minimum and remove yourself from those who get intoxicated. Keep communication professional. Do not get yourself in a potentially compromising situation with a person who is getting flirty. Do not flirt yourself!
- Talk about your family, but not in details (it is none of their business and your family did not give consent to you to disclose intimate details), and never complain to someone “interested” in you about your spouse. This is an invitation!
- Keep dinners (with alcohol) after work to a minimum and make a point to invite spouses on a regular basis. When alcohol is involved often conversations become less professional and gossip is a common occurrence.
- When working away from home a lot, invite your spouse to the place where you work. Introduce your spouse to colleagues.
- Discuss with your spouse the time spent at and for work. This includes “work” dinners , but also the time you spent on the cell-phone and email for work. There is no need to text. Keep texting for your own family members and close friends. Texting is not professional.
- Do not involve colleagues in your social media circle.
- Make a distinction between friends and colleagues. The latter are not friends. Be aware of boundaries.
- Use Linked-in purely for professional purposes. There is NO reason to link-in with an old flame or with an intern…you get the message. Linked-in is often misused and many use it as a way to get in contact with a boss, supervisor or an old classmate. These are inappropriate requests and you should not accept these invitations.
- Be open with your spouse about your use of social media, make sure your spouse knows your email addresses and passwords (when not work-related). Make a clear distinction between WORK and SOCIAL life.
- THE GYM! Go to the gym with your spouse on a regular basis. Do not socialize with “flirty” people, who are obviously there for other reasons than a workout only.
- Be open and honest. Don’t hide encounters you know your spouse would be upset about. This makes things worse and is the beginning of a very dangerous path that might lead to an affair and as a consequence the break-up of your marriage.
- PORN! When is porn OK? It is OK when both partners have fun watching porn together and when it enhances their sex life. Porn is NOT OK, when one partner engages in this without the knowledge and approval of the other and when it negatively affects your sex life. In this case, the porn watching spouse is engaging in extra-marital activities and this is cheating! Having sex with your partner releases oxytocin which increases bonding. Some research shows that the amount of oxytocin is correlated with the intensity of orgasm. Watching frequently porn by yourself may turn you away from your partner sexually and it might also result in not being able to have an orgasm with your partner.
- If sex is not satisfying with your partner, discuss this! There are many creative options that can bring the fun back in the bedroom (or wherever you want to do it). Talk to each other about your fantasies and use some role-play, buy some sexy lingerie, try different positions or use massage. If there are problems with intimacy you might want to see a counselor trained in sex therapy.
Some spouses talk about ” a need” to feel alive, a thrill, or the fun of the “hunt” (sic) , meaning the excitement to feel noticed. This is all fine, when you are single and in your twenties….to still have this “need”, might mean that something else is missing in your life. You might not feel good about yourself, YOUR JOB or your future….To “hunt” for some excitement gets you nowhere. It actually will make you feel more alienated and alone (Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving, 1956).
But, OK the daily routine of married life, might not be that exciting. It is too bad that people need to work in order to make money in order to do fun things with the money…but of course you can create excitement in your marriage that does not necessarily cost a fortune (and is much more fun than the yearly trip to Mexico). If you want to have more fun in your relationship, TALK to your PARTNER and/or find a good therapist and explore ideas on any topic from career change, to travel to more excitement in your intimate relationship.