When “Just Friends” Crosses The Line

December 11th, 2009

In light of everything that’s been dominating the news lately, we thought it would be a good idea to give some thoughts on infidelity.

We all know that infidelity – sex outside of marriage – is one of the gravest blows to a marriage. But sexual infidelity is not the only road to unfaithfulness. Emotional infidelity is just as – and at times even more – destructive to marriage. Platonic friendships and workplace relationships often slide into the status of “emotional affairs” at alarming rates, even for the happiest of marriages.

Brace yourself on the numbers…but first may I say that it’s difficult to get reliable statistics on infidelity for a variety of reasons. Much of our current data is based on the famous Kinsey reports from the 40’s and 50’s as well as a consensus among professionals and experts in the field of infidelity. It is believed that about 60% of men (and now women) have an affair at SOME point in SOME marriage. Since mot all men and women having affairs are married to each other, according to author and infidelity expert, Peggy Vaughn, infidelity may affect an estimated 80% of marriages in the U.S. Eighty percent! As you think of your own marriage, as well as nine other couples you know, this means that eight of you as couples have either dealt with or are facing a partner’s affair.

Emotional affairs either end or they escalate. Regardless if someone believes an emotional relationship is dangerous to marriage, it is! Most emotional affairs are just affairs that have not YET become sexual.

The good news is there are things you can do to protect your marriage against infidelity’ but a simple promise to stay faithful is not enough.

Most people who cross the line of infidelity had no premeditation, no intention whatsoever, of having an affair, either emotional or sexual. I have yet to meet anyone who woke up one morning saying, “Today is the day I start my affair!” Usually what I hear in the aftermath is, “I never thought this would happen to me. I always looked down on other people who cheated. How did I ever get myself into this?” We are all vulnerable. I worry most about those couples or individuals who say, “that will never happen to us!”

Stay tuned next week as we delve a little deeper into this issue.

Love, Dr. Liz