Before we move on with our story I want to share a couple practical tools with you to help take stock of your marriage.
In NOT "Just Friends" Shirley Glass makes the point that more and more affairs are happening in relatively happy marriages. She deals with the myth that 'A Happy Marriage is Insurance Against Infidelity.' There is simply more opportunity to develop emotional attachments which may lead to sex outside marriage.
For frequent business travelers there is time alone which provides opportunities for sexual liasons when one may or may not be actively seeking such an encounter. No matter the degree of real or perceived problems in the marriage the turmoil following an affair is a time to examine and hopefully strengthen a marriage. Exploring the problems is not intended as a means to excuse an affair. Glass says,
"A roof needs to be repaired regardless of whether it collapsed because of a slowly decaying frame or was in great shape before it was struck by lightening."
If there has been an affair in your marriage use the following questions to help point you to possible factors that may have been contributors to your or your spouses vulnerability to an affair. If there hasn't (good for you) use it to point to possible weak links to strengthen in your relationship. Know that even with strengthening your relationship you are still responsible for making choices for your fidelity each and every day.
Relationship Vulnerability Map from NOT "Just Friends" Scoring
1=Disagree completely 2=Agree somewhat 3=Agree completely 4=Not applicable
1. We had problems trusting each other before we got married.
2. Our marriage revolves around our children or (for childless couples) we disagree on whether or not to have children.
3. My partner spends too much time away from home.
4. My partner rarely takes my side in anything.
5. We've grown apart.
6. I have felt alone and unsupported at times of loss or crisis.
7. We don't have equal input for important decisions.
8. We argue about the frequency of sex.
9. Our interactions feel more like a parent-child relationship than one between equals.
10. We are uncomfortable about exposing our inner selves to each other.
11. We sweep things under the rug, so we hardly ever fight.
12. There's a disparity in how invested we are in the relationship.
13. I feel I can't influence my partner to do what I request.
14. I don't know if I really love my partner.
15. We don't know how to repair after a conflict.
16. We don't have much in common.
Scoring Key Add up your total number of points to interpret your relationship vulnerability score.
Your marriage is in:
16-20 = A safe harbor
21-29 = Choppy Waters
30-39 = Rough Seas
40-48 = Watch Out! You're headed for the rocks.
Remember, this is not a predictor of infidelity. It is one tool to assess your marriage. A high score doesn't mean you will have an affair and a low score doesn't mean you won't. It does guide you to some important areas of your relationship to discuss with your spouse and possibly change .
I spend a fair amount of time on Facebook as do many of you. It's great to reconnect with old classmates and friends. While it is fun, we also need to be aware of the dangers to our marriages as we interact on-line. On-line affairs can happen quickly and without premeditation. Perhaps, you find yourself sharing more often and more intimately with an on-line friend. Is this harmless or harmful to your marriage?
Read the word email as covering any on-line or text messaging interaction.
1. Do you find yourself coming to bed later at night because you are chatting on-line?
2. Do you ever exit a screen because you do not want a family member to see what you are reading or writing to a chatroom member?
3. Have you ever lied to your spouse about your personal internet activities?
4. Would you feel uncomfortable sharing your internet correspondence with your spouse?
5. Have you ever set up a separate email account or credit card to carry on a personal correspondence with an individual on-line?
6. Has your internet correspondence had a negative effect on your work or household tasks?
7. Have you ever lied in response to a question from your spouse about your email correspondence?
8. Have you ever exchanged photos of yourself with a secret email correspondent?
9. Since beginning a secret email correspondence, have you experienced either a loss or an unusual increase in sexual desire with your spouse?
10. Have you made arrangements to talk secretly on the phone with your email correspondent?
11. Have you made arrangements to meet with your secret email correspondent?
Two or more yes answers to questions 1,2,3,4 indicate a potential Internet romance is developing. It is time to either share your on-line correspondence with your mate or break off the correspondence and begin to examine how to improve your marriage.
A yes answer to any of questions 5,6,7 indicates you are crossing the boundary from an Internet friendship to an Internet romance. Acknowledge this relationship for what it is about to become and take action to preserve and enhance your marriage.
A yes answer to question 8 or 9 indicates you have begun a fantasy romantic relationship with your on-line correspondent. Even if it never moves to a physical stage, this relationship has great potential to damage or destroy your marriage.
A yes answer to question 10 or 11 indicates you have taken positive action toward initiating an extramarital affair. Consider the impact this will have on your marriage and your children and take steps to sort this out with a professional.
For this quiz and others to help you understand your vulnerability to having an affair go to http://shirleyglass.com/quizzes.htm