The dangerous slide into an internet affair: part 2
by Dr. Dave Currie
From Part 1 (April issue)
It’s so slow and gradual – drip by drip
My experience is that an affair is so subtle. It’s like a glass of water with a small drop of food colouring. At first, you don’t even notice the water has a blue hue – it’s so slow and gradual –drip-by-drip. Then one day – you stand back and look and the water is blue and you wonder how on earth you got into this mess.
As crazy as it sounds with all that I shared, I still felt safe because this new friend lived in another location – over two thousand miles away.
But for me, the deep need to be pursued and cherished is like female porn. I obsessed over the new connection like the first crush of a dizzy teenager in high school. This self-indulgent imagination – driven by the need to be wanted – casts a positive spin on the fling and throws more doubt on the marriage ever working. I visualized the fantasy until it seemed more plausible than my reality.
It was then that I bought my plane ticket…”
“Really?” You say. “You bought tickets to fly and meet this guy? What happened”, you ask? “Did you follow through?”
“Here’s what stopped me in my tracks – literally on my way to the airport. A good friend to whom I had confided my heart through this whole thing, asked me, ‘Have you ever thought you would see yourself here in this situation five years ago?’ I thought – never! She also asked me, ‘Can you see the implications of what this decision brings you five years from now? Splitting up the kids at Christmas, leaving your husband, and likely moving away from family?’”
“I had a choice to make once I saw things for what they were. I could get on that plane and close the door to a complicated marriage all the while losing so much of what truly matters to me, or I could put on the brakes, give my head a shake and seek to rebuild all that we had lost.”
“I believe it was more than a friend’s challenging words that stopped me in my tracks. I believe God stepped in to wake me up to the realities of what this next step would bring. By the way, never wonder if the enemy of our souls is not after the destruction of every marriage and family. I know he was after mine.”
What a powerful and riveting look at the inner workings of an emotional affair! I am grateful for my friend’s courage in baring her soul on the unravelling within. Let’s see if I can guide us through to some helpful insights that might prevent you from an online relational collapse.
First off, let’s review the story of the online affair and see if we can note a few danger points that we can learn from for the sake of our own marriages..
DANGER 1 is letting the marriage slide for 20 years, putting the kids and work before your time together. It’s always better to get help sooner if you feel the disconnect growing. Keep your relationship priority. Keep the love growing.
DANGER 2 is to feed your mind with TV shows like OC, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives. You get the idea. Your morals erode through the questionable movies you watch and the negative company you keep. They all foster the same dissatisfaction in your marriage and a justification of a self-centered, self-indulgent fantasy world beyond your mate.
DANGER 3 is when you brood over the marital void and rehearse the loss and emptiness with no sense of boundary. Here you magnify the emptiness in the marriage and deny the likelihood of recovery. Stop making it worse. Put a limit to complaining. It isn’t constructive.
DANGER 4 is when you start keeping secrets about outside relationships. Withholding the truth about your activities both online and in person will destroy your marriage. People in your world need to be friends of both of you or neither of you.
DANGER 5 is to live in the fantasy that the other new person can meet all your needs with minimal consequences. That simply isn’t true. The fantasy is never reality. Further, when we nurture the fantasy in an unbridled and unrestrained passion, we magnify the enchantment and embellish the possibility. Inside it just feels right. It’s a lie.
DANGER 6 is to live without agreeing to a clear set of interaction limits with those outside the marriage. Remember: an affair doesn’t start in the door of a bedroom but rather in the window of your mind. You think it before you do it. Develop healthy relational boundaries as wise perimeters for marital protection.
Let me close reminding you how an affair happens, hopefully in an attempt to keep you from going there. A broken marriage needs addressing. The answer isn’t finding someone new. It is pressing in to rekindle love and talking openly with your spouse about the emotional and physical needs that aren’t being met.
Vacancy: If you refuse to re-engage in each other’s lives, a vacancy gradually sets in and you live day-to-day disconnected and uninvolved. You are roommates at best. Your spouse has checked out.
Void: With the loss of contact and interest, a void grows where closeness once was. This is a nagging emptiness of not feeling wanted or pursued or valued. This barrenness rots our souls as we long to be loved.
Vulnerable: The lack of time connecting with your mate and the disconnect of your hearts leave you oh so vulnerable. Any caring person can easily catch your eye.
Visualize: Remember in the story we just read, it’s the fantasizing that really draws you away. When you start to visualize being with the other person, things ramp up fast.
Verbalize: When you verbalize your interest in the other person, either to a close friend or directly to the target of curiosity, you have now actively started to welcome in someone new.
Violation: All that remains is for you to seal the deal by getting involved romantically, affectionately or sexually The marital violation is this step toward the other person.
Guard your heart. Work to stay connected with your spouse. God will anchor you through this journey – even in the rough spots. I’d love to hear from you if you find yourself in a dark place in your marriage. Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 1 (April issue)