We are relational people. In his Theology of the Body, Bl. John Paul II talked about this and our dependence upon each other for companionship, encouragement, confidence, and support. Well, with relationships comes emotions, and so many of them: love, happiness, joy, Fear, worry, insecurities, lack of self-confidence, just to name a few. With a flash of a glance or a negative comment we can be whorled into an emotion of happiness or sadness. Many times it is from those whom we are closest too that can make or break us the most. Big responsibility, eh?
In a marriage, we have the need to be accepted by our spouse and it is just as important as when we were children looking for approval from a parent. Why not? we live with this person, we were chosen by this person, we share so much with this person, so the relationship depends on their approval and acceptance; but at times these needs are not met at home.
So where does the acceptance and good feelings come from then if not at home?
Everyday we go somewhere: work, school, the gym, church; where there are others that we know and have dealings with. Is this the place where the emotional support can come from? Is this the place where the feelings of acceptance and self-worth boosts can be possible? If so, this is where it starts on that slippery slope down a VERY dangerous path.
Recently, I've been reading about the sacrament of marriage and you know how one source can lead to another source and so on and so on? Well, I came across this article on Dr. James Dobson's website, Focus on the Family.com, about something I had never heard of before: emotional affairs. Actually, I found a slew of information and sources concerning this devastating assault on marriage and the spousal relationship. What seems so "innocent" can be very dangerous when dealing with someone of the opposite sex that is not a family relation. Because of the non-sexual nature of this relationship many think that they aren't cheating on their spouse, which is the FARTHEST from the truth! Being on a friendly basis with a person of the opposite sex is not the problem, it's whether or not you have the ability to know when to flee at the moment WAY BEFORE you fall emotionally into battle; before you start realizing this feels wrong, begin to hide it from your spouse, and it becomes more difficult to go backwards to safety!
But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt 5:28
Many people believe that their marriages are strong enough to weather any threat to it, but friendships don't start out to ruin relationships, but they CAN end up destroying them! How many marriages around you are ending due to infidelity? Infidelity can be physical OR emotional, if the heart is equally not chaste! It is VERY important to realize is that there must be a set of boundries that a married couple develops, that both agree on, to ensure that in the dealings with the opposite sex there is no doubt that both spouses are secure in their fidelity. Problems happen when we least expect it and ensuring that there is a way to act, talk, and carry on business with persons of the opposite sex makes it easier for everyone to know their boundries and feel secure that they are abided by. It's when you begin to defend it as, "just" a friendship, that you need to take a second and a third look and then FLEE far from this person like the wind!! The word 'JUST" is the buzz word by the way, if you or your spouse uses it to describe a friendship, the trouble is already here.
Suggestions of common boundries are:
1. No traveling in a vehicle alone with someone of the opposite sex that is not a relative.
2. Third party safety, never let yourself be alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex not related to you. For one thing, appearances can be deceiving to others, don't compromise reputations.
3. No meals together without a third person
4. No flirting, even in jest! Compliments of someone's attire is one thing, but to compliment about the person's physical appearance can be sending out a signal that can very well be misinterpreted.
5. Be careful of what you write on an email, a Facebook timeline or chat, or social media place. Always re-read the message and make sure your message is to the point on a business level and no social intonation, which again can be very misconstrued.
6. Remind yourself daily of your marriage vows to your spouse. To often we leave them at the altar and never look back. Read it, keep it in your wallet, take it out and remember why you married your spouse in the first place.
7. Children, if you have children, don't forget them. Whether they are babies or have one foot out the door, what we do as parents, as married adults MAKES a HUGE impact on them! I don't remember who said it, but it couldn't be more accurate: The Greatest gift we can give our children is the love and fidelity we have AND keep for our spouse.
These are just for starters, make some of your own that will make sense to your life....and KEEP them! For an example of this: one of my friends told me that she and her husband made a promised when they got married that they would not be caught in a room alone with a person of the opposite sex. Her husband really carries this one through; one time he came to the house to talk with my husband who was upstairs bathing the babies. We talked for a minute until he asked me if Doug was coming down soon, if not he would come back another time. You have to respect that!
Protect your marriage, don't take anything for granted, make sure your friendships are completely disclosed to your spouse, if not, if you think you need to hide this "friendship" you are WRONG! STOP now and flee from this slippery slope, IT IS NOT WORTH IT!!