How emotional affairs can threaten marriage

Salt Lake Tribune

Imagine a husband and wife communicating primarily over the Internet. They send intimate e-mail details of their deepest thoughts, childhood disappointments, life’s victories and mysteries, and explicit sexual fantasies all before signing off with a commitment to their undying love and devotion.

Regardless of their lack of physical intimacy, the emotional connection is intense. There’s only one problem: The e-mails are addressed to other people.

Emotional infidelity. No one is immune from it. Emotional affairs can threaten any marriage, not just those that are struggling. The anonymity of online encounters provides a ripe atmosphere for emotional disclosure and secret, sexually-charged relationships. The depth of the “connection” is in the imagination, built entirely on fantasy. When one examines the damage of emotional trysts, whether they’re online or in-person, perhaps a full-blown sexual affair without the emotion isn’t quite so bad. It depends on who you ask.

I compliment Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko and his wife Masha Lopatova for at least bringing up the topic of infidelity in an interview with ESPN Magazine. Masha, one of Russia’s pop divas, openly gave her beloved permission off the court for a slam dunk of a different kind: Once a year he can have sex with another woman. “Male athletes . . . are extremely attractive. They get chased by women. It’s hard to resist. It’s the way men are by nature.”

Masha further stated, “When this article comes out, girls will be lining up outside his hotel door.

When I’m aware and I let him do it, it’s not cheating.”

Time out! It’s cheating and it’s dangerous! Couples need to get unflinchingly honest with themselves and take action. Guard your marriage and block out the forces that cause vulnerabilities. Discuss your team rules. When one of you leaves town for business, how will you avoid a traveling violation? There’s more than one STD: Significant Trust Damage. Determine your offense and defense. Stick to business. Bow out on conversations that become too personal. Be kind and helpful, yet share little of your personal feelings.

Keep score inside the marriage. Maintain a 1-to-5 ratio. For every missed shot, or negative behavior, there needs to be 5 good shots of humor, good feeling, and loving behavior.

Practice fidelity and falling in love again and again. It’s not a one-shot deal. Avoid the penalties; be loyal to the team and the payoff will be great.

Call a foul a foul. No spouse is the best in every aspect of life. That person doesn’t exist! Measuring your spouse against an online lover or colleague will always be an incomplete comparison.

What do you think? How do you protect your marriage from emotional and physical infidelities?