Tag Archives: causes of divorce

Protect Your Marriage from an Emotional Affair

While you may be confident that your marriage isn’t at risk for a sexual affair, you may be blind to the very real and harmful risks of an emotional affair. A recent article posted by CNN.com and Oprah.com describes emotional affairs, which lack physical intimacy but do involve some secrecy, deception and betrayal.

Often an emotional affair can begin very innocently with a friendship from work, church or the neighborhood. A flirtatious online relationship can also develop into an emotional affair. Couples who are not emotionally connecting are at greatest risk of falling into an emotional affair with another person. This new connection brings about a fresh excitement, a spark, especially when someone you find attractive shows a sincere interest in you as a person and “gets” you even more than you feel your spouse does.

Emotional affairs may be on the rise. In the CNN article, psychiatrist Gail Saltz says, “Though emotional affairs have always been around, I’m seeing more of them among my clients than ever before. We’ve all grown so used to watching, reading, and hearing sexually suggestive material that there’s no longer an obvious verbal or physical line we think we’re crossing.”

She says a man and woman can be friends, but once they stop telling their partners how much time they’re spending together (including texting, phone calls or other communication), it becomes deceptive. Other signs of an emotional affair include making sure you look your best when you’re together and confiding more in this person than you do your spouse, or sharing that you are unhappy in your marriage or with your spouse.

Saltz says this kind of affair can be as harmful and difficult to overcome as a sexual affair. She advises that all contact with the “friend” needs to end, and the difficult marriage rebuilding needs to occur, ideally with professional help. The betrayal can be extremely difficult on the spouse, and cause a huge fracture in the marriage. The reasons for the affair (disconnect in the marriage) need to be addressed.

Preventing these inappropriate relationships is the best course, starting with maintaining open, honest communication with your spouse. “When a couple can’t express their feelings, concerns, and dreams, they’re both at risk for betrayal,” says Saltz. Secondly, avoid sharing too much personal information, especially with a member of the opposite sex. If you find someone attractive, keep some distance or engage with them only when your spouse is present.

“Any good marriage takes time, effort and emotional energy,” says Saltz, who says any marriage can fall into this trap. Would you risk your marriage with an emotional affair? Is there a relationship in your life that causes your heart to beat a little faster? Beware.

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Preventing Marital Affairs in Today’s World

The slumping economy is apparently causing infidelity and divorce rates to drop. A private investigator reported on CNN that infidelity cases have dropped 75% since the economy took a dive. Economic woes have also put a damper on divorce. Thirty-seven percent of lawyers surveyed by CNN reported fewer divorces in their caseload, but only because the couples couldn’t afford to split at the present time.

Perhaps it’s a good time to build up the good relationships in your life. Not because it’s economically feasible, but because you realize how fleeting much of your life and lifestyle can be.

Marriage counselor and author Gary Newman suggests the following to strengthen your marriage and to “affair-proof” your marriage: 1) Give your spouse admiration and appreciation. 2) Have more sex, and embrace the idea of giving and receiving intimacy and pleasure.  “It’s about bringing out the best (in each other),” he says.

Many marriage experts also advise spouses to guard their hearts and their marriages from the temptation of straying. The vast majority of married individuals will likely admit to either flirting or being attracted to someone of the opposite sex during their marriage. Most of the time, it seems very harmless. But all too often, a friendly relationship turns into one of sharing deeper feelings, hopes and fears, developing an emotional connection, and perhaps leading to an affair. (It turns out emotional connection is the #1 reason for an affair.) If you even feel an attraction, be on guard, and talk to your spouse.

In “Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome,” author Nancy Anderson shares her experience of infidelity with a coworker early in her marriage. The affair began with complaining about her husband at work and having private lunches together with the coworker. It nearly ended her marriage. She and her husband now educate others on growing “affair-proof hedges” around their marriage. For example, all emails and correspondence must remain professional, never flirtatious. Talk about your spouse in positive terms letting others know you are happily married. In the book, she suggests group meetings rather than one-on-one meals with the opposite gender. While she was able to rebuild her marriage, many are not so fortunate. The warning: Don’t place yourself in vulnerable situations.

I believe the best prevention against affairs is maintaining the deep love that brought you together in the first place. Don’t let your job, your busy life, your children—or even the tough economy—divide you. Keep the dreams alive that brought you together.

Show Me the Money!

This seems to be the mantra of many married couples. Couples report that what they argue most about is money, followed by children. You will find “financial problems” among the top five reasons marriages fail (along with lack of commitment to the marriage, poor communication, a dramatic change in priorities and infidelity).

It seems everyone is talking about financial concerns and struggles due to the economic downturn. Money is causing even more stress in many marriages, with less coming in and more going out. How did we get here and how can we turn things around?

I recently interviewed a couple who have been married more than 30 years and who have been through some incredibly challenging times. Among their many challenges, a financial crisis was one of the easiest things they overcame together. The key was being on the same team, working together to solve the problem. Early in their marriage, arguments about money were really about who had the power to decide how money was spent. Later in their marriage, money was a tool to help them live the life they wanted. When a financial crisis came, they put all hands on deck to solve it. It took many years to get out of debt, but it actually strengthened, rather than weakened, their marriage.

Another couple I talked to has been married more than 60 years. They say money was never a cause of arguments in their long marriage. You see, they were raised during the Great Depression. They know about hard times, and they know how important it is to save. So they worked hard, saved well and lived a very simple lifestyle. We’re a long way from that ideal in today’s America.

How did we get here?

One of the reason so many couples are in financial difficulty is because the rate of savings has declined tremendously in recent decades, from about 11% in 1982 to less than zero today, meaning on average people are spending more than they are making. Of course, debt causes stress in all areas of our lives. Add to the lack of savings weaker job prospects, lower earnings and a steep decline in our retirement accounts. (Reportedly, half of boomers don’t have retirement accounts to worry about.) For more insight about why we can’t seem to save and how our culture has contributed to this trend, read:

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Savemoney/P145775.asp

What now?

Ask yourself what is really important to you. If money is a constant source of conflict, be aware that it can whittle away at your marriage. I once had a friend who said she couldn’t afford marriage counseling. Less than two years later, she was divorced, losing her house and filing for bankruptcy with two children to care for. Can you afford not to resolve the issue?

The silver lining to the economic downturn is that more people are deciding (by choice or necessity) to adjust their lifestyle and find ways to enjoy family life without spending money. There are tons of resources available to help you do that. Hopefully in a few years, instead of “Show me the money!” more Americans will be saying, “Show me the love!”

Sources:

 Making Marriage Last,” published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

www.divorcereform.org