Would you consider chatting with other women online cheating? My husband doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it. He chats with one of his old high school girlfriends all the time. It bothers me, but he thinks it’s no big deal. It feels wrong, and I have insisted he stop. Am I being unreasonable?
You are not being unreasonable. Seeking relationships with or chatting with members of the opposite sex online does not honor your marriage vows to “forsake all others.”
Internet infidelity is a serious and growing problem in our society. A recent story on CBS News said one third of divorce litigation this year was sparked by online affairs.http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/04/earlyshow/living/caught/main566488.shtml The Internet has made it too easy to view pornography, meet people and start relationships with members of the opposite sex from home or the office.
Chatting online can be the gateway to real infidelity. Statistics show 50 percent of people who spend time in Internet chat rooms have eventually made real contact with someone they met online. And 31 percent of chat room participants said their online chats have led to sex. http://www.infidelityman.com/why-men-commit-internet-infidelity.php
It is not a harmless pastime.
If your spouse is investing in online relationships instead of investing in your real relationship, there is a problem. But you must be accurate about the situation.
Not all social networking is a problem. If you have a good relationship with your spouse and trust each other, social networking to some extent is reasonable. Though, experts agree there should be boundaries.
Internet time should not occupy more time than you spend alone with each other. If your spouse spends hours on the computer late at night, at work or early in the morning, it could be a sign of trouble. If your spouse’s interest in intimacy (with you) has waned, that could be a sign of trouble.
If your spouse suffers from low self-esteem and you can sense an emptiness they are always trying to fill, they may be susceptible to seeking validation outside your relationship.
If they avoid dealing with problems and turn to fantasy to escape their real life, they may be susceptible to Internet infidelity. If your spouse is in this situation, I suggest you both seek some professional help to fix the underlying problems.
I also recommend the following steps:
1. Admit that Internet use is causing problems in your relationship. Agree together on steps to change the behavior.
2. Experts recommend placing your computer in an open location, not behind a closed door. Partners should agree to share passwords and email addresses. If there is nothing to hide, your spouse should be willing to agree to these terms.
3. Remove chat programs and change your email addresses if they are a problem.
4. Agree to install monitoring software like eBlaster by Spectorsoft — it keeps track of all your computer activity and sends it to your spouse.
5. Have a purpose when you go online. Limit computer use to paying bills or other specific tasks.
6. Get involved in other activities together, like sports, hobbies and art. Find a fun distraction to keep you busy that does not involve the computer. Do these activities with your spouse and children.
7. Never use the computer when you are discouraged, bored, tired or grouchy.
You must decide what kind of life you want. A good relationship takes work, commitment and time. Here are some ideas for strengthening your relationship:
“Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than fidelity. Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind.” — Marcus Cicero
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.