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Is It Emotional Infidelity?: #58 Save Your Marriage Podcast
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Emotional Infidelity in marriage.When is it emotional infidelity?  What are the signs of emotional affairs?

These are common questions I hear when I speak with people.

Why is it so hard to define this?

One simple reason:  it is a gray area of connection.  A physical affair is much more clearly defined.  A physical boundary has been violated.  So, while there may be some difference of opinion on what constitutes an affair, it is clear when it becomes physical.

Not so with emotional infidelity.  In almost every case, it starts innocently enough. . . so innocently that the involved parties continue to proclaim that nothing is wrong, no boundary has been violated, and there is no problem with the relationship.

Yet emotional affairs DO threaten marriages.  Emotional infidelity sucks the limited emotional resources a person has, leaving the marriage floundering without connection.  The emotional pain for the spouse who is losing the connection to someone else can be as extreme as if there was a physical affair.

Unfortunately, this often falls outside of the understanding of the spouse involved in the emotional relationship.  He or she will often continue to justify, argue, and refuse to acknowledge anything is wrong. . . until everything falls apart and the truth is overwhelmingly evident.

In this podcast, I take a look at emotional infidelity and give some guidelines to help distinguish “just a friend” from a relationship that has crossed the line.

Listen below and let me know what you think in the comments area further down.

And if you are ready to save your marriage, CLICK HERE.

HERE IS THE LINK to my book, Recovering From Infidelity


Why Am I Optimistic About Marriages Surviving?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Every day, there is another news story of a marriage under assault. Public figures seem to manage to royally screw up their marriages, and for what? Well, answer that and you will be wealthy! The cost of actions seems high for the payoff, yet they keep happening.

So, people sometimes wonder, why am I so optimistic that a marriage can survive? First, I am confident that marriage, as an institution, will survive because it is the best way we have of making sure the next generation continues. And it continues to honor the fact that people keep falling in love!

Why might a particular marriage survive? As I see it, we finally stand at a point where marriages really have the tools and capacity of not just surviving but thriving.

Until the last 3 or 4 decades, the majority of people stayed together, not out of happiness but out of lack of choice. Some were happy, but many stayed together because 1) their survival necessitated it, and 2) because the social norms necessitated it. Not the recipe for a content life together!

Then, those norms and opportunities changed. Pursuit of personal happiness surpassed the need to stay together. People shifted to personal pursuit at the expense of the marriage. Divorce rates skyrocketed. The choice became “stay married and miserable” or “divorce and try to be personally happy.” Small problem: people pursued happiness, but happiness was not found. In fact, many found themselves more miserable post-divorce.

Today, I believe the lesson has mostly been learned. People don’t blindly believe that divorce equals happiness. But many see no other option.

Enter the final fact: We now have the technology and knowledge to have a happy, fulfilling marriage. People don’t have to make the choice, but can discover how to be happy within the marriage. Imagine: individual happiness, marital happiness, and no need to divorce.

That is why I am optimistic. On a daily basis, I see people take advantage of the knowledge we have to create a wonderful marriage. I believe society and culture will continue to turn away from divorce and toward embracing fulfillment within marriage.

More marriage saving information can be found in my system, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.

“How Dare You Tell Me To Save My Marriage!”
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

. . . that was the opening line from an email I just received. The writer was clearly angry, feeling that I was pressuring her into saving her marriage.

So let me be clear, I DO NOT pressure people into trying to save their marriages. Obviously, I do think that marriages should be saved, but I leave the decision to do that with the couple. I am not on some crusade to save every marriage. I am, however, available to help people who want to save their marriages.

There are some who simply believe marriage is a bygone relic of past days. Those folks tend to be people justifying their behavior. Marriage has withstood the test of time as a way of 1) raising a family, 2) finding intimacy, 3) growing and developing, and 4) finding happiness and meaning. Not every marriage makes it that far, but the potential is there.

Should every marriage be saved? No, I am quite clear that I do not think people in abusive relationships should save their marriage. That said, the choice to discard a marriage seems to be taken very lightly these days. It is as if there are no consequences.

Yet study after study shows that children are negatively impacted by divorce. Earlier studies showing differently have been disproven.

The emotional toll on the couple is huge. In time, people do recover, but not without time and effort. That same time and effort would likely have yielded a happy marriage. Funny how that works out!

Financially, a divorce can be devastating. The average cost of divorce in the United States? $20,000. That is the average. Saving a marriage? Almost free!

Oh, and that doesn’t factor in the loss of equity in real estate, worth of retirement funds, loss of savings, child support, maintenance, and lots of other costs that people seem to lose sight of on the way out the door.

Do I force people to save their marriages? Absolutely not! Do I think MANY marriages that end could be saved? Absolutely!

Again, it is a couple’s choice on whether to work to save a marriage. I just know that when people are in pain, we become short-sighted and take what we think is the most direct approach to getting rid of the pain. Unfortunately, it often gets us to chase the wrong target.

If you want to know how to save your marriage, count me in. If you’d rather not, I wish you well.

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.

Top Ten Reasons To Go Ahead And Divorce (NOT!)
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Divorce. A big word and a big decision. One that many take too lightly. After 2 decades working to stop divorces, I have heard all the reasons people give — really the justifications. So here is my Top 10 List!

10) This just isn’t fun anymore!

Reality Check: “Fun” isn’t really what it is about, is it? There is no promise that times will be fun. In fact, I think the real question is “what can you learn from these tough times?”

Did you ever think about quitting that “parenting gig” because it wasn’t fun? OK, maybe in a fantasy, but not seriously. Or how about school? Did you stick with it to get where you wanted to?

Marriage can be tough. But for couples that actually work on making their marriage better, the tough times fall away. There will always be tough spots, but couples learn to better manage them — if they focus on improving the relationship.

9) He/She changed!

Reality Check: Thank goodness! We all change. Sometimes, the changes are more popular with those around us. Sometimes, we forget that we changed, too. In fact, what we really missed is that we change each other. The fact that change happened, that is part of the deal. Talking about the changes, good and bad, that is the sign of health and growth.

8) That toothpast, toilet seat, (fill in the blank) drives me crazy!

Reality Check: We all do things that drive others crazy. Marriage puts us into close proximity to those idiosyncracies — and therefore much more into the “crazy zone.” But really, is there no way around that? How about 2 tubes of toothpaste? How about figuring out a way around those issues? Are they really that big?

Oh, and isn’t it nice to be accepted for ourselves, crazy habits and all? It amazes me how often people want to be accepted, but forget that the other person really wants to be accepted, too! Work to accept, rather than judge.

7) We don’t have anything in common.

Reality Check: First, this can be changed. Any two people should be able to find SOMETHING in common. We are really all more alike than different. So look for the commonalities, not the differences.

Then, seek out some places of connection: vacation destinations (perhaps not your first choice, but still fun), hobbies, food styles. . . maybe the kids??? Really, I am just suggesting a shift in outlook, not necessarily a shift in anything else. I can either look for how my wife is different than me, or how we have commonalities. The choice is mine. . . if I choose it.

6) Our finances are driving me crazy!

Reality Check: The most commonly reported reason for marital discord is money. That is the symptom. The real issue is power: who controls the money, what priorities get funded, etc. Money is merely a tool. Use it to further life together.

Whenever power is an issue, the true connection of marriage hasn’t happened. So, time to shift the focus back to connection and away from money.

BIG Reality Check: Think you are fighting about money now? You haven’t seen anything, yet! Divorces attorneys ask for a retainer, usually $3 to $5K. That, my friend, is a downpayment! Double that, since there are two attorneys involved. Then double or triple it. The average divorce in America costs $20,000. Think you can do it for less? So have MANY others. Few succeed.

Oh, then you need to factor in the drop in your retirement to 1/2 of what it is. Then factor in the cost of maintaining 2 households. There is only one financial winner in a divorce: the attorneys.

5) The kids shouldn’t see us fighting!

Reality Check: Agreed! It is very unhealthy for children to grow up in conflicted homes. The constant stress creates a much higher diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety. Quite a price to pay!

But there is that other option of working on your marriage and making it a happy one! You may be teaching your child an important lesson: you don’t have to quit. Sometimes, you can work through tough times and come out better.

4) It won’t harm the kids!

Reality Check: This one fails the research, big time! At one point, some research indicated that children are not affected by divorce. That research has been shown to be flawed. No serious research shows children unaffected.

Think about it, you are tearing away everything a child knows as safety. Even if it has been conflicted, the family is still where a child finds security. Their entire world is turned upside down by divorce. How could that NOT affect them?

Would they recover? Sure, they will move forward. But the scars are permanent and lifelong. Don’t be fooled by those who quote bad research to justify the whole divorce industry.

3) We don’t love each other!

Reality Check: This usually means that the feelings of passion and attraction are missing. No surprise, since the majority of marriages do not nurture the relationship. If I quit exercising, become sedentary for a few years, then look down and am surprised to see little muscle and lots of fat, it would be wrong to use that as proof to not exercise! It is just a reality I have created by not taking care of myself.

The real answer is to get with a program of exercise. In marriage, it becomes about becoming intentional about nurturing the relationship. Will it be easy? No. Ever started an exercise program after being sedentary? Did you get sore? Did that mean you should stop?

The obvious answer is the soreness comes from the muscles not being used to the exercise, and the real solution is to keep exercising. Now, I can’t just jump in and run 20 miles after doing nothing. I have to build up. Same in a relationship. You start slowly and build up. . . and the feelings will return!

2) I didn’t sign up for this!

Reality Check: Likely, you did! Remember this?:
“For richer or poorer”
“In good times and bad”
“In sickness and health”

Not much left there, is it? Broke? Covered. Chronic or even terminal illness? Covered. Lots of tough days, no fun, no talking, lots of tension? Covered.

So are the up times — days of plenty, health and fun. We get too caught up in the negative times and lose our focus. A marriage vow is for life, and works when the relationship is nurtured (notice a common theme here?).

1) (Fill in with your reason)!

Reality Check: (Fill in with your own thoughts)

This is the most important to think about and evaluate, because it is your’s, the reason you are here. Challenge yourself. Think about your reasons, and see if you have built it up into fiction.

Final Word:

There are so many reasons people list for “having to divorce.” Most are fictional, just plain inaccurate. They are reasons we use to justify our decisions. But there are two reasons I find justifiable.

First, I do not think abusive relationships should be addressed by the abused. Abusive relationships are always about imbalances in power. But more than that, abuse usually escalates and sometimes becomes life-threatening. Safety outweighs working on the marriage.

Second, I believe that people who are involved in several affairs have a deeper issue that must be addressed before the marriage is addressed. In other words, if someone has had multiple affairs, he or she is unwilling to live within the marria
ge and the spouse must accept this reality, often by enforcing her or his boundaries — leaving the relationship.

Finally, if there is an addiction involved, this must first be addressed before anything can be addressed within the marriage. Otherwise, it will be a practice in a) futility and b) blame-shifting — the issue centers on the marriage, not on the addiction.

Other than those issues, I believe that marriages can be saved, divorce can be avoided. Healing is possible and connection is the result.

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.

Excuse #2: “I Can’t Afford This”
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Here’s another excuse I hear over and over from people. “I can’t afford your information. It sounds great, but I’m broke!”

Often, they follow this up with “I can find free advice” or “X is cheaper than you.” Both statements are correct. You CAN find advice that is free. And you can find cheaper advice. But as they say, You Get What You Pay For!

Why is that advice free? Because it has little value. There is a joke: “What do you call someone who graduates at the bottom of their medical school class? Doctor.” But is that who you want to entrust your health to? The person who was at the bottom of the heap? Not me! I want someone who is tops in their field. I want someone who knows what they are doing. I want someone with the right knowledge. I WANT THE RIGHT ANSWER! I don’t want just any answer. I want one that gets me better.

Or an attorney. You can go get legal advice from an attorney who deals with anything that comes through his door, and maybe you will pay less than $100 per hour. Or you can find the person who can deal with your situation, a specialized attorney, and pay a little (or a lot) more. But you will at least get the RIGHT answer.

Anyone can give you an answer. And some of those answers will make things worse. Or you can get the answer that will help you.

I always find this excuse baffling. Do you know the average cost (not just legal bills, but lost resources, investments, equity, etc.) of a divorce in America? $30,000. That doesn’t even begin to calculate the loss over the years (2 homes, extra clothes for the kids, competing gifts, etc., etc., etc.) or the emotional and physical toll. The cost of a divorce is astronomical! The attorney’s fees for a decent divorce attorney start at $150 per hour, and go upwards of $500 per hour!

Or call a plumber to run his snake through the clogged pipe. 15 minutes, and you will pay upwards of $200, and you will gladly do it to take care of a crisis.

Trust me when I tell you: if you have found your way here, you have a crisis. You can deal with it now, or you can deal with it later, but the cost will keep going up.

If you are ready to save your marriage, I would tell you: you can’t afford not to!

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, available by CLICKING HERE.

Hint: Starting Divorce Proceedings Is NOT A Marriage-Saving Action!
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

I finally decided to say this in my blog. . . because I keep saying the same thing in emails! It started this morning. Another email telling me that she wanted to save her marriage, but that she had filed for divorce. Her question was how to start the conversation with her spouse.

My answer is “stop the legal process!” There is nothing in that process that will help get people back together. There is nothing that will help to solve the problem by filing for divorce. There is nothing in the action that will get the attention someone might be looking for.

Yet every week, I receive a couple of letters that say the same thing: “I don’t want to get divorced, but I don’t know what to do, so I filed.” Somewhere, I still fail to see the logic here, even though I know what they are thinking.

At some point, the desperation gets to the point that it feels like there is nothing else that can be done (there is. See my ebook.) But when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to be done, we start making panicky, foolish decisions. Filing for divorce is one of them.

Many people have told me that the only reason they filed was to get their spouse’s attention. Instead, the majority got a divorce!

An attorney may tell you that you can stop the process as any time. That is true, in the theoretical sense. But once someone files, something changes psychologically. When the case is listed in court with the “versus” between the names, they are not kidding! The process is adversarial by its nature. A relationship is being taken apart. And the effect on each person’s psychology is devastating.

What saddens me is how many OK marriages, marriages that could and should be saved, are tossed away because someone decided to file — didn’t want to file, but didn’t know what else to do. If you are in that situation, please let me remove that option from your vocabulary!

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, available by CLICKING HERE.