Virtual cheating may not be the traditional tryst we think of when we imagine infidelity, but it appears to be making a stab at becoming the new modern tradition, if modern cheating husbands are any indication. And it’s not just men: women are doing it, too.

If you look at news headlines over the past several months – even years – there seems to be a newly evolving means to cheat.

What separates modern adultery from what was more “traditional,” and how do you protect your marriage? Read on to discover the answer…

Cheating Gets Social

The modern means of cheating includes terms such as “sexting” and the startling ease of taking a quick photo of oneself – using camera phones and computer-connected cameras – in various states of undress and sending it in emails or posting to social media sites. There are many stories about old high school sweethearts finding each other on one of the social sites and reuniting after 20-odd years.

Does this mean there are more opportunities to cheat?

Not necessarily more opportunities – just more selection on how to pursue people outside of the marriage. A cheating husband now has more variety in carrying on an affair. If someone decides to cheat, they’re going to accomplish it. Straying spouses who are so inclined did it long before social media, and will continue to do so whether social media is available or not.

There’s some debate as to whether these new options really constitute cheating. Some people narrowly define infidelity as performing a sex act with someone other than your spouse.

But really, the way to define cheating in a marriage is: how does the victim feel about your actions?

Anytime a spouse takes their attention and affection outside of the marriage bonds, they are inflicting some degree of emotional pain on their spouse. To what degree the victim feels the pain is based on their individual views, beliefs and individual circumstances. A cheating husband or wife can come up with all of the justifications they want – it’s their spouse’s pain that counts.

Most spouses don’t want to think that their spouse is engaging in explicit or even subtle sex talk with someone else, or sending them suggestive pictures. While their spouse may not be engaging in a physical affair, the victim spouse may wonder at what point that line would be crossed. Engaging in sex talk and sending come-hither photos is certainly the opening salvo for a lot of physical affairs, so the danger of all-out cheating looms large.

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Use Traditional Rules to Protect Your Marriage from Infidelity

New methods for cheating on your spouse do not mean you need to make drastic efforts to curtail access to social media or new phone gadgets, whether your spouse has cheated or you suspect they may be tempted to cheat, using these new devices.

The old, traditional marriage rules still apply, even in the face of these new methods. Look at it this way: the camera doesn’t make the decision to cheat, the phone doesn’t make the decision to cheat, and any of the social media sites don’t make the decision to cheat: cheaters make the decision to cheat. It still comes down to a person making a decision that will affect their marriage.

Let’s review three main, traditional rules to adhere to in protecting your marriage from social media and modern technology gadgets:

Rule #1: Entrench Transparency in Your Relationship

Yes, there are new avenues for people to go astray and cheat on their partners – but only if the traditional rule of not hiding things from your spouse is ignored. Are cell phone records being hidden? Are pictures being taken with a camera phone that you wouldn’t want your spouse to see? Are you secretive about your Facebook friends and their relationship to you?

Transparency means being open and honest about all of your dealings and actions. If you feel the need to hide something, then you’re probably headed down the wrong avenue. Ask your spouse to also be aware of this trap.

Rule #2: Don’t Neglect Needs, Either Your Partner’s – or Yours

 

Take time to take stock of your relationships: the one with your spouse, as well as the one with yourself. Are your needs being met? If not, make those needs known to your spouse. And, make it a point of discovering what your spouse’s needs are.

Needs change, so it’s something that needs to be addressed regularly. Both you and your spouse need to tap into your inner selves regularly, assess what’s going on – and then share the results.

Make sharing of needs a priority, as well as develop a “safe zone” in which you can introduce the topic, maybe with these words: “I have a need that is not getting addressed. Can I share it with you?”

Rule #3: Commit to Consistent Communication

 

The main rule to really keep the marriage glued together is this one: communicate. Transparency and getting needs met are virtually impossible without communication occurring.

Communication is an area where a lot of us may be guilty of thinking: “I’ve said it all before, he/she has said it all before, there’s not much left to say.” We all are constantly evolving as individuals, and so there may be new things to learn about your spouse. You won’t know unless you make it a habit of arranging time to spend together – the way you would with any of your good friends – and catch up with one another.

If communication has devolved to the point of talking about the grocery list, it’s time to rev things up again and make some plans together to get out and share time and thoughts.

My very best to you as you navigate the new technologies and work with your spouse to protect your marriage – either from harm or any additional harm.

What role has social media played in your life? Would you credit your or your spouse’s affair to its availability?

Do you think that new technology and social media sites increase temptation?

How are you managing these new avenues that may lead to temptation?

 

Please share your ideas and experiences with the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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