It's Not Always as it Looks in Love, Marriage -2/16/03
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Mon Feb 17 12:21:36 EST 2003
subject: It's Not Always as it Looks in Love, Marriage -2/16/03
from: Smart Marriages®
This wonderful article is full of great advice for couples from
the Shirley Glass book, NOT Just Friends. Shirley is scheduled to
present at the Reno Smart Marriages conference in a special invited session.
To order the book on amazon, click:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 16, 2003
It's not always as it looks in love, marriage
"Picture this. We were high school sweethearts, happily married for 28
years," writes Renee (not her real name). Renee and her husband, both
professionals, had children in college, a "big house on a lake" and took
Last September, Renee's life changed forever. A tip from a friend led to her
husband's secret life -- online where he'd arrange to meet women for sexual
Acting on that tip, Renee got her own screen name, developed a secret online
persona and started to "chat" with her husband. He had no idea that the babe
he was flirting with was his own wife. Sickened, but empowered, Renee
arranged a "date" with her online lover, her philandering husband. He
showed, so did she.
"My husband was living a double life," she told me on the phone last week.
"We are both in therapy now, but I've filed for divorce. He might be able to
live a lie. I will not."
Renee, like most of us, believed that infidelity only happens to bad people
who think that they are in unhappy marriages. She now knows otherwise.
People in seemingly good marriages have affairs, too.
Shirley Glass, author of "Not Just Friends: Protect Your Relationship from
Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal" (Free Press), had an early
experience that defined her professional mission: An elderly friend, who had
a loving wife and seemed to be satisfied in his marriage, had sexual flings
for decades. His wife had no idea. Until the day he died, she believed that
she had been loved exclusively.
This was in the mid-'70s and Glass, then a graduate student in psychology,
wanted to study this phenomenon. But she found that there was little
research on infidelity. Despite the raised eyebrows in her department, Glass
wrote and defended her dissertation on extramarital affairs. Since then, her
findings have been breaking new ground.
Married for more than 40 years and the mother of three adult children, she
offers far-reaching insight, much of it counter-intuitive. A few facts from
-- You can have an affair without sex. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual
intimacy that violates trust.
-- People are more likely to cheat if their friends and family members have
-- Starting over with a new love does not necessarily lead to a life of
eternal bliss. Seventy-five percent of all unfaithful individuals who marry
the affair partner end up divorced.
-- More than 90% of married individuals believe that monogamy is important,
but almost half of them admit to having had affairs.
Glass says that there are three "red flags" that separate platonic
friendships from romantic affairs. Being aware of these flags will keep your
-- When a friendship allows openness of hopes and fears, more than with a
spouse, it indicates a powerful, emotional kind of intimacy. Often people in
these relationships see themselves as each other's best friends.
-- Many times, the conversations are secret and far away from the day-to-day
pressure and routines of family life. The secrecy fuels the intensity.
-- Sexual chemistry is made stronger because it's forbidden. Conversations
peppered with innuendo and desire are much more powerful. The couple swears
they will never act on it. But as Glass writes, by suppressing feelings,
they find that the sexual tension increases.
These flags line a slippery slope into an affair -- emotional and sometimes
physical. The spouse may feel jealous, only to be rebuffed: "We're just
So what can we do to prevent the descent? In a phone interview, Glass is
clear that there is no way a couple can "affair-proof" their marriage. But
she makes this point: "You can affair-proof yourself. We are all responsible
for our own behavior."
Drawing on her in-depth research, Glass provides a "mini" guide for
-- Maintain walls and windows. Keep the windows open at home. Put up privacy
walls with others who could threaten your marriage.
-- Recognize that work can be a danger zone. Don't lunch or take private
coffee breaks with the same person all the time. When you travel with a
co-worker, meet in public places.
-- Avoid emotional intimacy with attractive alternatives to your committed
relationship. Resist the desire to rescue an unhappy soul who pours out his
or her heart.
-- Protect your relationship by discussing issues at home. If you do need to
talk with someone about your marriage, be sure that person is a friend of
the marriage (or a professional).
-- Keep old flames from re-igniting. Research shows former lovers are hard
-- Don't go over the line when you're online with Internet friends. If you
have online friends, make sure to include your partner. Don't exchange
sexual fantasies online.
-- Make sure your social network is supportive of your marriage. Surround
yourself with friends who are happily married and who don't believe in
As a married person of 20 years, I've learned that "until death do us part"
is a very fragile vow. As a marital therapist for 18 years, I am humbled by
people's strengths and their ability to admit weaknesses.
While exploring this topic, I've been reminded over and over of this simple
concept: We all have the ability to learn, change and grow. We are human.
For more resources, visit these Web sites:
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