You may be cheating on your spouse, and not even know it.
What? You would know if you were having an affair, right? Yes, of course, but there are several ways we can be unknowingly disloyal to our spouse. Each of these undermines our relationship and can lead towards the temptation of having an actual affair.
1. Gossip or complain about your spouse
You and your girlfriends get together for lunch. Eventually, the husband-bashing begins. It's almost a contest to see whose husband is the biggest idiot or the worst boor.
Maybe you and the guys have gotten together for poker night. One of your friends is late, and he blames it on his wife. That leads to a lot of commiserating and complaining about the ol' ball and chain.
It's normal. Everyone does it. However, that doesn't make it right. Think about how your husband would feel if he overheard what you were saying. Would he laugh it off, or would it sting? Would you say such things to his face and purposely hurt him? If not, then you should not say it behind his back.
If you have a real problem in your marriage, do not discuss it with family or friends. They are not qualified marriage counselors. Their advice may or may not be helpful in the short run. Undoubtedly it will hurt their relationship with your husband. Instead, work it out with your husband or speak with your pastor or marriage counselor.
2. Have lunch alone with a co-worker
It seems innocuous. You have your lunch break your co-worker has her lunch break, why not spend it together talking about customers and reports? Eating alone with a co-worker of the opposite sex is fine, if it's a rare occurrence. The problem arises when conversation turns more personal, which it is bound to happen over time.
Office romances are common. The Kellogg Forum reports that between one-third and one-half of all American workers have had an office affair or known someone who has. Avoid the temptation and invite others to join you for lunch.
My husband works in retail. Once, many years ago, he had been working with an attractive female customer. As he finished the sale, she mentioned she was going to lunch and invited my husband to join her. He didn't think anything of it until he returned with her and found his brother waiting for him. He felt very uncomfortable as his brother began to rib him about it. At that moment, he made a decision that he would always invite another person along if such an occasion happened again.
I am, and always will be, a curious girl. When I started using Facebook, I had to know — what do they look like now? I looked up a few of my old boyfriends. Fortunately, it made me realize I had made the right choice when I married my husband.
Reconnecting with an old boyfriend through social media can be perfectly harmless, if you keep your conversation to sharing funny pictures and stories about your families. You can run into trouble if you start to reminisce about the good old times. Young love is an idyllic time. It is easy to idealize a past relationship. Be careful if you find yourself thinking a lot about those days or comparing your old flame to your husband. Especially, if you are going through difficulties in your marriage. If you find that you spend a lot of time chatting with an old boyfriend, or that you keep your communication with him a secret, you may be entering dangerous waters.
4. Indulge in fantasies about someone else
It is perfectly normal to notice an attractive person, develop a crush on a celebrity or have dreams about someone other than your wife. Dr. Joyce Brothers says that many happily married individuals who have no intention of cheating on their spouses have fantasies about someone other than their spouse.
Fantasizing about someone else can become a problem if you become obsessed with your fantasies, if you are trying to escape from unpleasant realities in your marriage, if you are in close contact with the person you fantasize regularly about, or if you fantasize about things that are missing in your marriage.
In one store where my husband worked, the guys would make comments whenever an attractive woman came into the store. Once she left, they would discuss different things that they would do with her if given the opportunity. My husband always excused himself from these conversations.
5. Do your own thing while he does his
It is important to cultivate your own interests and hobbies after marriage. Laura Willard says that couples who don't have any individual interests don't have anything new or interesting to share with one another.
Problems can arise when you become two people living together, but leading separate lives. If you allow yourself to drift away from your husband, you could start feeling like you're single, again. You could be missing out on the best parts of marriage. Try to find activities you can do together to rekindle fun and rebuild the connection in your marriage.
So often, people who have had an affair say, “It just happened.” Affairs don't just happen. They start with conscious choices to be disloyal to one's spouse in little ways that eventually become big ways. Be aware of these traps and avoid them.