Is texting with someone else, in secret... cheating on my spouse? I have been married for 10 years and my husband and I do a lot of arguing. We can't seem to agree on anything. We are rarely intimate. We have children and I love him deep down, so it feels like divorcing would be a terrible option. I've been texting with this guy from work for about a month. When we text, I feel an adrenaline rush and so excited. We haven't done anything physically. He completely understands me, I vent to him about my husband and he makes me feel better. He makes me feel appreciated and beautiful, something my husband seriously takes for granted. I don't necessarily want to leave my husband, but I enjoy the conversations with this other person. I am stuck and don't know what to do. Am I "cheating?"
We asked an expert, a professional counselor.
With the world we live in of texting and technology, it can be easier than ever to engage in this type of behavior. I had the pleasure of asking this question to Deborah Day, M.A., a licensed mental health counselor, a national certified counselor and a certified practitioner of psychodrama and group psychotherapy.
Deborah Day, M.A., says:
Dear Lonely One:
I appreciate how alone you have been feeling. I imagine it has been very frustrating and discouraging. It seems your emotional love tank has been on empty for sometime now. How nice it must feel to be heard, validated, seen and understood. I can imagine the immense joy and relief it gives you to once again have a man appreciate talking to you and relating to you. Most of us don’t enjoy feeling discomfort. Is seems to go against instinct to feel the discomfort long enough to discover its origins and directly address the issues. It may seem justifiable to try and ease the uncomfortable feelings. However, you are playing with fire for sure.
Your heart is hurting and you are vulnerable. Turning to another man (even as innocent as it seems) when your love tank is so empty is a prescription for trouble. When you begin to let another person fill that love tank, a connection occurs. The positive feelings you are feeling can begin to deepen and before you know it you will feel shut down towards your husband and may not ever be able to return. It is dangerous territory for sure.
Is this cheating you ask. Reverse roles with your husband. Imagine he has been having this kind of relationships with a woman at his work. How would you feel? Would it feel like a violation? Yes, off course it would because it is a violation! It is stepping away from your partner and turning towards another. I am guessing that your vows to one another didn’t include “if I feel distant from you, I may turn to another to meet my needs.”
You are not alone. Emotional affairs are rampant. The temptation is present and opportunities are readily available. It’s no longer just happening in the work place or with someone we physically know. Cyper affairs are flourishing. Many are turning towards this cyber other via a multitude of avenues; from Facebook to on-line gaming.
I strongly recommend you stop this relationship you are having now! It won’t be easy but it is necessary. That channel must be closed for your marriage to have a chance to improve. You will miss this person initially. You will feel a void. I recommend no contact or only minimal work-related contact. I want you to let your self feel the void and be uncomfortable. Don’t turn to anyone else. Feel what your feeling. I want you to turn back to yourself first and then turn back towards your husband.
Turning back towards yourself entails being honest with yourself. Begin to identify what you are unhappy about in your marriage. Be specific. Get clarity. Journal about it. Talk to someone you trust. Seek individual counseling if needed to get clear. Be sure you can describe what your unhappy with and what you want from your relationship. I also encourage you to look at your part in the distance in your marriage. How have you contributed? How do you tend to communicate? Do you withdraw? Are you passive-aggressive? Do you criticize? Are you defensive? Take a little time to gain more clarity.
Once you are more truthful and clearer with yourself then do a more thorough inventory of your communication patterns with your husband. You say the two of you argue. How can you change your part in the scenario? Can you learn to listen more to his frustration and not debate it or prove your point. Try and understand what he’s saying from his perspective. This is what really listening is all about. You don’t have to agree with him you just need to understand his perspective. It’s about being less reactive. As you slow down your reactivity and focus on listening to understand it can significantly defuse the situation.
Also, very imperative is learning how to talk to him in a way that is likely to produce less defensiveness from him. Most importantly is to use “I” statements versus “you” statements. And be clear; “I feel very distant from you and it makes me feel sad and lonely.” Or, “I feel sad that we seem to disagree so often and I would like to work on being able to communicate better. Have courage and take the risk of communicating more honestly with your partner.
Try not to get to discouraged if the first couple times you approach your partner he doesn’t respond as you hoped. You are trying to break a pattern that has been going on for some time. If will take some consistent effort. It is okay to put the energy into bettering your marriage. If you no longer are willing to participate in the negative dance you two had developed then the dance will inevitably change. At the least you will feel better about yourself and your efforts. At best it will improve your relationship and possible rekindle that loving feeling you once had.
Make no mistake, long term relationships aren’t for the faint of heart. Most of us are not prepared for the realities that life with children, work, family, health issues, losses etc. bring to the relationship. It is easy for distance to occur. Many have an unrealistic expectation of how a marriage should be. It is a challenge. Those couples more prepared for the challenge fair better. Be proactive. Go to a couple’s workshop once a year. Read a book on communication together. Do some coaching on conflict and communication before there is a problem.
This concept of equipping yourself in advance with the skills needed for the journey called “marriage” appears to be undervalued. Yet we seem willing to do it in many other areas of our lives. Do you have a trade? What did you do to learn that trade? Do you have a sport you love? How much time, energy and money have you put into learning that sport, buying the right equipment or the correct uniform? Did you pay for lessons? Personal training is popular right now and people are willing to pay a trainer three times a week to get more fit! Yet, there is still a resistance to seek and take time for marital counseling or coaching.
In summary, dear Lonely One, its easy to understand how difficult it is to be in a marriage where you don’t feel loved and cared for; where the is little or no affection. You wouldn’t be the first nor the last to look outside of your marriage for that feeling of being understood and heard and that wonderful adrenaline rush! The pull toward the other is real. However, since you still think you love him deep down, I encourage you to step back from your new found friend and take time to get clarity within yourself. Learn how you can communicate your feelings and needs to your husband in a non-defensive and clear manner. And, begin to turn towards him. Make the first move. What’s the worst that can happen?
Deborah Day, M.A.; Author,
Licensed Mental Health Counselor National Certified Counselor
Certified Practitioner of Psychodrama http://www.facebook.com/debdayma
*Deborah is also offering virtual sessions for clients who reside in Florida.
About Deborah Day, MA
Deborah Day received her bachelors of arts degree in communication in 1985 from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In 1989, she graduated with her masters in counseling psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Ill., and has been working as a clinician in the mental health field ever since. She is a licensed mental health counselor, a national certified counselor and a certified practitioner of psychodrama and group psychotherapy.
Deborah takes a unique and personal approach to clients. She chooses the methods and interventions based on the individual’s needs at the time they seek counseling. She views counseling as a proactive choice and an opportunity to expand, grow and heal. She believes all would benefit from self-exploration and personal growth. She strives to provide creative counseling services aimed at helping her clients rise above self-defeating thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Her hope is that clients learn to be the “Active Director” of their lives. While there is so much about life that you can not control, Deborah helps her clients focus on what they can control — their self!
Deborah’s approach is warm and compassionate, yet creative and direct. She uses many methodologies to help her clients grow and learn. Her spectrum of interventions ranges from experiential therapies to cognitive therapy. Her approach is intended to focus on the whole person — mind, body, soul and spirit. Her intention is to provide a counseling environment that feels both safe and productive.
While Deborah enjoys working with individuals, she has a great love for her group therapy. She especially enjoys providing workshops and training sessions. Her energetic, sincere and motivating style is transparent in her presentations. She has published her second book, Be Happy Now! Become the Active Director of Your Life: A Self-Improvement Handbook.
Deborah currently resides in Clearwater, Fla. She has been married for more than 20 years and has three sons.
Check out Deborah's book: Be Happy Now!
Thank you Deborah, we are so grateful for your help!
-Blissful Blue Jays
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