When online fun becomes infidelity

I am married for 15 years now and although I love my wife, I am struggling with my marriage, finding it mostly unexciting and boring sexually. I met a woman online and we have started texting each other as well as more recently sending each other some nude pictures. I am finding this “innocent” fun but wonder if this will impact on my marriage.

There seems to be a trend of sexting affairs that are impacting on committed relationships and marriages.

With technology at our fingertips, smartphones have made what is known as emotional infidelity as easy as one, two, three. When a spouse feels they are not getting emotional fulfilment out of a marriage, they may stray and form bonds outside the relationship.

Today’s technological tools have created a false sense of intimacy and anonymity. Texting allows flirtation among unsatisfied spouses to flourish, seemingly in secret and unbeknownst to the partner or others.

While many men and women who engage in this type of activity brush it off as “innocent flirting,” they fail to recognise that flirtation is the first step in courtship, and continuing that type of connection can (and often does) put a committed, monogamous relationship in jeopardy. This new movement of sexting has drawn a more physical connection, and begs the question: without any actual bodily contact, can sexting be considered not only emotional infidelity, but physical cheating as well?

There is no clean-cut answer to that question, and the debate continues. The way people view cheating will always raise different opinions. Some believe that infidelity begins as early as flirtation, others see a kiss as cheating, while some don’t believe infidelity occurs until there is sexual intercourse.

It can be largely agreed upon, however, that if you don’t want your spouse to see the texts that you are sending to other people, what you’re doing is probably dishonourable or at least breaking the agreed upon rules of your marriage, including commitment to each other.

When you cross the lines with another person, you simultaneously neglect your spouse, whether or not it’s intentional. This will lower your spouse’s self-esteem and break their trust, diminish your sex life and lead to further intimacy problems in the future. This may sound like a slippery slope, but any way you look at it, danger lurks down the road if you are engaging in this type of activity.

Still there may be a sense of excitement and pleasure seeking and you may feel you can’t get enough. Do it with your spouse. If you are yearning for some sort of rush and excitement in your marriage, there’s no better way to get them in the same mentality than to flirt with them like you did when you first started dating.

Send naughty text messages in the middle of the day that will make them want to come home to you. Every marriage needs some spicing up sometimes, and this is how you can use your own compulsions to do it. Thus experts in the field suggest that instead of sexting with somebody outside your relationship or marriage to rather do this with your partner, if you both agree that this would add spice to your marriage or relationship.

My children are becoming obsessed with computers. That’s all they want to do. I am a working mom and their dad is mostly not at home. They are almost teenagers.

This is a common problem of the modern technologically-driven times we live in and busy working parents are even more challenged by having to set boundaries on their children’s gadget use.

This includes parents taking charge of the content and time spent on gadgets to limit exposure to inappropriate content for children, excessive gadget time as well as monitor whether they are being cyberbullied, among other things. There are various apps which allow parents to do this including Qustodio, Net Nanny, PhoneSheriff, ESET Parental control, and KidTech.

However, this does not preclude the importance of having conversations about why these limits are set and what material is acceptable according to the family rules.

As children get older they need to feel included in the decisions that impact directly on them, including the use of gadgets. Parents also need to be an example to their children and if they are consumed by gadgets and it’s taking them away from family time, it can only add fuel to the fire.

How do I reconcile my life of work and material gains as well as all the misery of what is going on in the world with my spiritual practices. We went to church regularly as children and it felt good and now I try with my family too but it all feels so empty, like it is just a habit, and to please others. It does not fulfil me anymore or change all the misery in the world.

This can be challenging as it may be that your spiritual practices of your childhood are not meeting your spiritual needs as an adult.

It may be that you need to explore other ways of fulfilling your spiritual needs, including reading about how others have dealt with similar issues. Some people deal with these struggles by changing their perception of what their higher power means to them through contemplative practices including seeing the sacred in the ordinary experiences of life.

Others have found that although truth seeking and finding meaning in life was important to them, becoming totally absorbed in this made them depressed, feeling misunderstood and deeply dissatisfied.

An important element was to be able to face the good, bad and ugly of life, to know that although there was a lot of misery in the world that they wish was not happening, they could not stay focused on this all the time.

Finding time to just relax and enjoy life is also important. To be able to “cut off” from the news and to get out into nature or just enjoy family and friends or some me-time, may be ways you are actually bringing soulfulness into your life. Sometimes, the simple things which bring us a sense of harmony and enjoyment are in themselves deeply sacred. An added advantage of this is that it helps you to de-stress and find the calm and still place within yourself which you can always rely on and return to when feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. Write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.