The modern world is a very different place. With e-mails, cell phones, texting, face book, and twitter it is easier than ever for people to stay connected to friends and family across town, or around the world. Families no longer rely so much on each other to have their emotional needs for love and personal connection met. If a spouse feels the need to share themselves with another adult, and their partner is not available to fill the role, then they can easily contact a friend by dialing the phone or typing up a short message.
However, the people they are contacting can easily become more than just friends.
As communication technology becomes more powerful and easier to use, emotional affairs are becoming more prevalent, and more difficult to detect. It may start with a friend of the opposite sex who is easy to talk to. This person seems to understand you in a way that your spouse does not. You get in the habit of texting each other throughout the day. You develop a connection that just feels more comfortable than what you have with your spouse.
After a while, the messages start to take on a flirtatious tone. It feels harmless enough. Everyone likes the feeling of being flirted with. It's a nice boost to one's ego. You tell yourself that it is not going to go anywhere and what your spouse doesn't know won't hurt them.
As more time passes, the messages start to get steamier. Sexual innuendo starts popping up on a regular basis. When a new message from your "friend" comes in, you quickly look around to make sure that your spouse is not looking, and then sneak into the bathroom to read it. You are now fully caught up in an emotional affair that could quickly work its way up to something more physical.
We might expect this behavior from teenagers, but it's becoming a widespread epidemic with married couples as well. Marriage is not all fun and games. As they move through life together, growing a family and trying to make ends meet, a couple will encounter problems and friction with each other. Some days it may feel like being romantic with your spouse requires more effort than it is worth. You miss the heady days of romance and excitement, but you are not sure how to recapture it. Without the knowledge of how to keep their marriage fresh and new, many can be drawn to outside sources for that feeling of excitement.
It is easy to see why an emotional affair is attractive to many people. That person on the other end of the e-mail does not demand as much from you as your spouse does. You do not have to live with them day-to-day, or negotiate any of life's challenges with them. They are easy entertainment. No hassles, no commitments, just a nice ego boost every few hours. Perhaps you have convinced yourself that this is all harmless. You can have this little thing on the side and still be happily married.
The truth is that emotional affairs are VERY harmful to a marriage, regardless of how far they actually progress.
The issue is one of investment. For a marriage to work, it requires that both partners invest themselves fully. They must be invested physically, mentally and emotionally.
When a person has even an emotional affair they take a large amount of personal energy that could be used to improve their marriage, and purposely invest it somewhere else. In a traditional "affair" they are investing their sexual energy outside of the marriage. In an emotional affair, they are investing their emotional energy outside of the marriage. Each time that you send an e-mail or a text to your admirer, you are depriving your spouse of that love and attention.
No matter how well you hide it, your spouse will detect that you are not fully participating in the marriage. They will feel it in your emotional distance. They will sense it when you pull away from their touch. Your sub conscious mind will give you away. It knows that you are not fully committed and will act accordingly. The marriage will begin to falter.
If your spouse finds out about your infidelity the slow deterioration will rapidly pick up speed. Telling your spouse that it's all in fun, not to take it so seriously, or that we are just friends, just isn't going to cut it. They will be hurt and betrayed. The trust that it is integral to a successful marriage will be blown apart. All of a sudden that convenient little side deal is not so convenient any more.
All marriages will struggle at times. There will always be problems to over come. Going outside of the marriage to get your needs met will not help with the process. Your lover is not interested in helping your marriage. They are acting from their own selfish interests. They are benefiting from your marital discord, and it is in their best interests to keep it going. They will deliberately undermine your marriage in little ways to keep you dependent on them. They can only do this if you allow them to.
It is so much easier to have affairs in the modern world. That means that it is more important than ever to keep the sanctity and values of marriage intact. We must practice honesty, integrity and faithfulness. We must work with our spouses to resolve issues and ensure that the marriage is a happy one in which the needs of both partners are met. Running into the electronic arms of an e-mail admirer does not solve anything. It just prolongs the problems and makes them worse.