Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Anatomy of a Virtual Love Affair


It might have been an interesting column. Certainly, the topic is compelling.

A husband is caught having an affair. He and his wife work to put their marriage back together. They live happily ever after… or so it seems.

Unfortunately, columnist Elizabeth Bernstein turned it into a train wreck.  Normally, Bernstein writes brilliantly about relationship problems and difficulties.

But not this time. On this matter, one would do well to ignore her advice.

Bernstein tells the story of a couple from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Rothrocks.

Mr. Rothrock has an affair, except that it is not exactly an affair. It is a cyber-affair, a virtual affair, one that takes place entirely online. Apparently, the affair was so good that the cheating husband had made plans to meet his cyber-paramour for a more real encounter.

Is a cyber-affair the same thing as a real affair? The question has been kicking around for some time now. It should not be a surprise that men and women see it differently.

Here, Bernstein takes the wife’s side: a significant emotional connection coupled with extreme flirtation, culminating in “virtual sex” … counts as an affair.

For the record, as I understand it, true cybersex would involve a sexual act performed by two avatars in cyberspace.

The cheating husband and his alluring siren had something that was more like phone sex: real self-pleasuring in the presence of the image and/or voice of one’s beloved. For my part I would not call it virtual sex.

One commenter sagely asked whether the virtual affair produced any virtual children or even whether it transmitted any virtual viruses.

Since the affair was never really consummated—the happy couple never met in person— the risks and consequences were quite different from what they would have been if there had been real sex.

It was also convenient that the man’s lover lives very far away. If she had been his real lover and if she lived in town, it would have been far more difficult to sever ties with her.

On the other hand, despite the optimism that Bernstein seems to feel, whatever makes you think that these virtual lovers will never find each other again?

Unfortunately for Mr. Rothrock, Mrs. Rothrock is a mental health crisis counselor. I will call her Mrs. Rothrock, out of respect for their marital status, and not Ms. Rothrock, as Bernstein does, for reasons that escape me.

In Bernstein’s account the wronged wife deploys all of her professional skill to manage the crisis and to restore good feeling to their marriage.

She threatens her husband. She browbeats him. She forces herself to read through the entirety of the amorous correspondence, in his presence. She forces him to tell her in agonizing detail everything that went on. She forces both of them to go to therapy. She forces her husband to tell all of their friends and family of his indiscretion. For good measure she humiliates him in front of the  public at large, including his business colleagues and associates, by telling their story to the Wall Street Journal.

If you accept the premise that the man had an emotional affair online, you need also ask about his wife’s emotional support and affection? What was the nature of her emotional attachment to her husband?

Was she loving and caring or was she a nasty scold?

Bernstein describes the scene at home prior to the affair:

When he was home, he found the din of family life hard to take. He started to think of his wife as a mother. When she became irritated with him, he felt scolded like a child. He withdrew emotionally and began to snap at her. When Ms. Rothrock asked him what was wrong, he replied: "I don't know what you mean."

As one expects, this account is skewed against the husband. Bernstein makes it sound like it’s all his fault, as though he is seeing things that are not there, and as though he is failing to communicate with his loving and caring wife. .

Obviously, this exercise in male-bashing is designed to cover up his wife’s complicity.

The story makes the wife out to be a suffering mother and housewife, a woman who gave up her career to stay at home and raise her children. It does not suggest that she is in any way responsible. It places the fault entirely in the lap of the cheating husband.

Of course, if you were Mr. Rothrock and you were being blamed for everything that was going wrong at home, wouldn’t you seek emotional solace elsewhere?

If you have doubts about what provoked the affair, simply think through the measures that Mrs. Rothrock employs to punish her husband after she finds out.

Now that Mr. Rothrock has received a severe public and private beat down and has suffered an excruciating humiliation, don’t you think that at some point he is going to start thinking of payback? How soon will it be before a comely woman sidles up to him at a bar and commiserates with him over the pain that his wife has inflicted on him?

Or, he might be thinking that for all the pain he has received, he might as well have consummated the affair. Or else, he might be saying to himself that he will have to do a better job of hiding the evidence next time.

Besides, doesn’t the wife’s approach bear an eerie resemblance to the technique that was tried on Tiger Woods? How well did public humiliation work for his marriage?

Neither the wife nor Bernstein has anything to offer to those who want to repair their marriage after an affair. They are colluding in destroying a man who made a mistake, but who was certainly not the only one at fault.

Bernstein and her experts err most seriously when they countenance washing the dirty linen in public and in private.

Amazingly, Bernstein writes this:

While re-establishing trust and communication, each spouse has a difficult task, says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and Rutgers University research professor. The betrayer has to be willing to answer questions honestly. The betrayed has to stop asking questions eventually and never mention the affair again.

Ms. Rothrock spent hours reading her husband's correspondence with the other woman, at times crying, while he sat by her side, she says. "I was completely devastated."

If she was going to be devastated, why did she read it? And why did she read it in her husband’s presence? Did she think she was reading the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey?

I am even more surprised to find Helen Fisher, an esteemed expert in this field, offering incoherent advice.

After recommending complete disclosure, Fisher says that the betrayed wife has to stop asking questions and never mention the affair again.

To me this feels like too little, too late. Do you think it will be that easy for the wife to erase her husband’s affair from her mind after wallowing in every sordid and non-sordid detail for hours on end? How do you go about never mentioning it again when you have announced it to the world?

When Tiger Woods went to be treated for his supposed sex addiction, one aspect of the treatment was that he confess in detail what he was doing with his erstwhile lovers.

At the time I wrote that this was a bad idea. It is still a bad idea. How did it work out for Tiger and Elin?

The more you think about the affair and the more you know about it in vivid detail the more it will be imprinted in your memory.

Where did anyone get the idea that, after an orgy of full disclosure, you can wave a wand and make it all go away?

Heaven knows why  this woman thinks she will establish trust by exposing the extent of the husband’s affections for another woman and the depth of his attraction to her.

According to the Journal, the last time the errant husband went to a convention his trusting wife accompanied him… to keep an eye on him.


37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heaven knows why this woman thinks she will establish trust by exposing the extent of the husband’s affections for another woman and the depth of his attraction to her.

And I would add "and going to such lengths to publicly humiliate him (and herself btw)."

This is NOT the behavior of a woman who wants to understand why it happened and who wishes to salvage her marriage. An epilogue that features a divorce is most likely and it will not be amicable.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Worse yet, a respected columnist at the WSJ presents this as the formula for reconciliation after an affair!

Anonymous said...

This post could be about me.

This blog is a lifeline for me.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm happy to hear that it's helpful for you...

Meantime, I just recalled a relevant experience. Many years ago a woman of my acquaintance was telling me that, after living with a man for twelve years, she discovered one day that he was cheating on her. She confronted him with the evidence and demanded full disclosure. She said that the one thing she could not tolerate was lying.

Then she asked him whether there had been any other women during the years that they had lived together.

He replied, truthfully, that there had been 26.

The relationship did not recover.

Anonymous said...

"She threatens her husband. She browbeats him. She forces herself to read through the entirety of the amorous correspondence, in his presence. She forces him to tell her in agonizing detail everything that went on. She forces both of them to go to therapy. She forces her husband to tell all of their friends and family of his indiscretion. For good measure she humiliates him in front of the public at large, including his business colleagues and associates, by telling their story to the Wall Street Journal."

She FORCES him to do all these things??? He couldn't have said no to her???

Anonymous said...

"If you accept the premise that the man had an emotional affair online, you need also ask about his wife’s emotional support and affection? What was the nature of her emotional attachment to her husband?

Was she loving and caring or was she a nasty scold?"

She was 50% responsible for the condition of their marriage prior to the emotional affair. And he was responsible for the other 50%. He was 100% responsible for the affair!

"Of course, if you were Mr. Rothrock and you were being blamed for everything that was going wrong at home, wouldn’t you seek emotional solace elsewhere?"

Where did you read that he was being blamed for EVERYTHING that was going on in the home?

And even if that was true, doesn't he have a responsibility to speak up and tell his wife about it? Tell her he is unhappy and they need to figure out how to make things better? It is extremely difficult to please a conflict avoider unless you can read their minds.

Anonymous said...

"If you have doubts about what provoked the affair, simply think through the measures that Mrs. Rothrock employs to punish her husband after she finds out."

Why do you view what they did as a punishment? It is entirely possible that he views it as a consequence of his behavior and his willingness to not only save his marriage, but recreate a new one. A marriage where they can be open w/ one another. A marriage where they can address conflicts head on rather than ignore them until the grow into bitterness and resentments.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Considering that her approach to the affair was to find him 100% responsible, I inferred that she had been manifesting a similar attitude before the affair.

I was trying to say that if he went outside his marriage for emotional support, then it makes some sense to say that he was not receiving very much from his wife.

Remember that the article is about how best to reconcile a couple after one has had an affair. In the case, as reported, the wife's approach was to blame the husband entirely. Also as the other commenter notes, the husband could have said No to her demands.

One might say that he felt so guilty that he was willing to do any kind of penance. One might say that he was being manipulated because he had been persuaded that his wife's professional training had shown her how best to deal with the situation.

Either way, I am not very optimistic about their future and I believe that her approach is not something that anyone should try at home.

Holding him to be 100% at fault seems to me to be a step away from reconciliation. You cannot reconcile when you are all right and he is all wrong.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

As for why it is a punishment, confessing it all in public and being humiliated in the pages of the WSJ certainly feels like punishment to me.

I would guess that it is more likely to provoke delayed resentment and a desire for payback than anything else.

Anonymous said...

"Now that Mr. Rothrock has received a severe public and private beat down and has suffered an excruciating humiliation, don’t you think that at some point he is going to start thinking of payback? How soon will it be before a comely woman sidles up to him at a bar and commiserates with him over the pain that his wife has inflicted on him?"

If he is thinking like you, I'm sure that he will. However, if he agreed to tell people what he did...the mistake he made, perhaps one reason he did it was so he could rid himself of any shame he had. Hiding things tends to make shame grow. Being able to talk openly also affords him the gift of hearing from others who have also done similar things, but didn't have the courage to admit it to anyone else.

Anonymous said...

"Besides, doesn’t the wife’s approach bear an eerie resemblance to the technique that was tried on Tiger Woods? How well did public humiliation work for his marriage?"

Tiger was a serial cheater. And a sex addict. I'd argue that the reason their marriage failed had MUCH more to do w/ those two things, than the public disclosure did.

Anonymous said...

"If she was going to be devastated, why did she read it? And why did she read it in her husband’s presence? Did she think she was reading the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey?"

Some betrayed spouses insist on knowing EVERYTHING. Some don't want to know anything. Perhaps she wanted him there to help support her. To offer her some kind of comfort or reassurance...or more information to questions that come up.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think it will be that easy for the wife to erase her husband’s affair from her mind after wallowing in every sordid and non-sordid detail for hours on end?"

NOPE. It most definitely won't be easy. But, as I said, some betrayed spouses are willing to suffer in order to have answers.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I do not believe that the impulse toward payback is idiosyncratic; it seems to me like normal human behavior, a rough justice, I would say, but not out of the realm of what we can expect.

Let's be clear about shaming, because I do not agree with your understanding of it. Once a person loses face in public, the problem becomes how other people see him. And now they will be seeing him as diminished, as being paraded around in the pages of a newspaper as a penitent sinner whose life is now being run by his wife.

The more people see him in this light, the greater will his humiliation be. Once people start seeing in a certain diminished way, it is not very easy to change their perception.

I used the example of Tiger Woods because the press was full of reports about how he and his wife were trying to reconcile their marriage.

You are quite right to say that he was a serial cheater-- I think that the diagnosis of sex addict is a bit much-- but the article in the WSJ does not draw any real distinction between an emotional and an actual affair.

True enough some wives want to know everything. I think it's a bad idea; I think that it is very difficult to reconcile with a spouse after you have filled your head with images of him with another woman and with the kind and caring and loving words that he has been saying to her and not to you.

Just because they want to hear it does not mean that it will advance their reconciliation. I think that it will make reconciliation more difficult.

See my second comment in the comments section, which is a real story told to me by a woman who was a friend and who had definitely wanted to hear everything from her cheating boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

"Meantime, I just recalled a relevant experience. Many years ago a woman of my acquaintance was telling me that, after living with a man for twelve years, she discovered one day that he was cheating on her. She confronted him with the evidence and demanded full disclosure. She said that the one thing she could not tolerate was lying.
Then she asked him whether there had been any other women during the years that they had lived together.
He replied, truthfully, that there had been 26.The relationship did not recover."

This couple was not married. They were not in a committed relationship. Moreover, he "cheated" on her 26 times, she needed to know this so she could have the truth about her life. It was the right thing for him to tell her this. And she did the smart thing to end the relationship.

Hopefully he didn't give her a life threatening STD.

Anonymous said...

"Considering that her approach to the affair was to find him 100% responsible, I inferred that she had been manifesting a similar attitude before the affair.

"

He was 100% responsible for his choice to step outside his marriage to have his emotional needs met by another woman. Did his wife tell him this was OK w/ him, when he told her he was unhappy? Oh that's right, he never mentioned his unhappiness to her. Did she show him the social site and suggest he find someone on there that could meet his needs since she didn't want to?

They share equal responsibility for the condition of their marriage prior to the EA. He is 100% responsible for the EA.

"I was trying to say that if he went outside his marriage for emotional support, then it makes some sense to say that he was not receiving very much from his wife."

Not necessarily. Many people who have affairs say they were happily married. But, it was b/c they had sloppy boundaries... and allowed another person to meet their emotional needs.

Anonymous said...

"Holding him to be 100% at fault seems to me to be a step away from reconciliation. You cannot reconcile when you are all right and he is all wrong."

A betrayed spouse can admit that she/he failed to meet the cheater's needs. had not been a perfect spouse. And they can work on how to become a better partner while the cheater can work on shoring up their boundaries, becoming transparent by giving over passwords to on-line accounts, and learning to speak out when they are unhappy.

Anonymous said...

"As for why it is a punishment, confessing it all in public and being humiliated in the pages of the WSJ certainly feels like punishment to me."

I don't think that confessing publicly on WSJ was necessary. And it may be harmful, especially if he is STILL conflict avoiding, and didn't tell his wife no, if he didn't want to do it.

And it is his responsibility to speak up.

Anonymous said...

"Once a person loses face in public, the problem becomes how other people see him. And now they will be seeing him as diminished, as being paraded around in the pages of a newspaper as a penitent sinner whose life is now being run by his wife."

That is one way people may see him. Another way may be that people will admire the courage it took to come clean and admit publicly that he screwed up and is willing to tell their story in the hopes that it may help others.

Anonymous said...

"
True enough some wives want to know everything. I think it's a bad idea; I think that it is very difficult to reconcile with a spouse after you have filled your head with images of him with another woman and with the kind and caring and loving words that he has been saying to her and not to you."

It's not just wives who want to know everything. Some betrayed husbands do too.

It's definitely not easy to get rid of the images or words, but sometimes what betrayed spouses IMAGINE happened is even worse than what actually did happen.

Affairs are built on lies and fantasy...not reality. And once a betrayed spouse understands that, it is easier to put away the images and the words spoken.

Anonymous said...

"Just because they want to hear it does not mean that it will advance their reconciliation. I think that it will make reconciliation more difficult."

Most marriages survive affairs. I think I read somewhere that 80% survive affairs. But, only 1% RECOVER from one.

I think most people would rather have a recovered THRIVING marriage than one that just survives. I don't see how a marriage can recover from an affair if the cheater won't give the betrayed spouse any and all information they ask for.

It might be that after they get all the information, they may choose to leave the marriage. But, shouldn't they have the right to do that? Shouldn't they have all the information in order to make a decision to stay or leave?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that what you took away from that acquaintance of yours was to hide truth from spouses/partners about affairs.

Why should your acquaintance have wasted one more day in a relationship w/ a man, who was clearly not committed to her?

Why should she have risked getting an STD by remaining in the dark?

How would that have benefited her?

You are only thinking what is best for the cheater. Why is that?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I very much appreciate the dialogue, Anon, so I'll try to reply to some of your points.

In no particular order, the fact that he has been publicly humiliated means that people, especially men, will not look at him as having done them all a favor by allowing it all to happen.

I've been of the masculine gender for quite some time now and I know men pretty well. I promise you that they will not see him as having acted courageously. I will not use the terms that they would use--this is a family blog-- but they would not be flattering.

Every time someone alludes to his shame it will all come back. It was a genuinely bad idea.

As it happened Dr. Fisher suggested that the couple discuss what happened and then never mention it again. She also mention that they should forget it, and put it behind them.

The problem is, the more they know about what happened and the more the world knows about it the more impossible it will be to forget about it or put it behind them. It is becoming the event that defines both of them in the public eye-- and that is not going to put them on the path to anything resembling reconciliation.

As for my friend whose boyfriend was a chronic cheater, they had lived together for 12 years. She certainly saw herself in a highly committed relationship.

I accept your point that she needed to know, but, of course, that degree of knowledge precludes reconciliation. btw, as I recall it was 26 women, not 26 times.

I was thinking of what would bring people back together, not what would separate them forever.

Men have affairs for lots of reasons, many of them being availability. Many of those affairs are one-off events... and do not really reflect on what was happening in the marriage. I will not speculate about what that says about men, but such is life.

This man was involved in a love affair that was intimate, erotic, and emotional. When I said that he was missing something at home I was thinking of a famous ex-president who was not only a notorious skirt-chaser but also got himself involved in a number of relationships with women who were not his wife. The last time he got caught, he told his confidant, Dick Morris, that he had been completely shut down sexually-- and I would assume, emotionally-- since he had entered the White House.

In one sense you can say that it was all his fault, but his marital arrangement certainly played a part.

When you say that it was all the man's fault, you seem to be suggesting that it can all be solved by punishing the man.

I would also mention that it is not even clear that the wife in the WSJ article really wanted to hear all the details. It may be the case that she had been taught in a counseling course that this was the right way to go about these things, thus that she was applying what she had learned.

In my opinion such transgressions are best dealt with by a sincere apology, a vow never to do it again, and efforts to forget it. Once it becomes a prominent and publicly defining feature in someone's marriage, the chance of reconciliation is extremely slim.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The following was posted by Anonymous, but strangely was erased by Blogger. It is Anon's last statement in the dialogue we had been conducting.

I repost it here for your interest:


"I very much appreciate the dialogue, Anon, so I'll try to reply to some of your points."

As do I.

"In no particular order, the fact that he has been publicly humiliated means that people, especially men, will not look at him as having done them all a favor by allowing it all to happen."

Please explain this. He has harmed other men?

"The problem is, the more they know about what happened and the more the world knows about it the more impossible it will be to forget about it or put it behind them. It is becoming the event that defines both of them in the public eye-- and that is not going to put them on the path to anything resembling reconciliation."

Like I said earlier, I'm not crazy about them putting this out publicly. It would have made me more comfortable if there were years between the EA and public disclosure.

My disagreement w/ you is that a spouse should not tell their betrayed spouse anything they want to know after infidelity.

I'm not coming from a place of saving the marriage at ANY price. I'm coming from a place of giving the betrayed spouse the truth of their life.

What they do w/ that truth is up to them.

The unfaithful spouse should not be allowed to keep life changing secrets (having an affair)from their spouse just b/c they think they know what is best for themselves and their betrayed spouse. They don't get to decide that. Their spouse is not their pet. It is another human being and deserving of respect.

I also believe that if a betrayed spouse wants to try to forgive their spouse and recover their marriage, the unfaithful spouse must be willing to give any and all information their betrayed spouse asks for. THAT is demonstrating respect. THAT is demonstrating openness and honesty, something that I guarantee every betrayed spouse will need to see in order to move forward in their recovery.

"As for my friend whose boyfriend was a chronic cheater, they had lived together for 12 years. She certainly saw herself in a highly committed relationship."

And she was mistaken, wasn't she? She was the only one in the relationship that was highly committed. Once she had the info about the 26 women she realized her error. And then was able to choose based upon reality.

"The last time he got caught, he told his confidant, Dick Morris, that he had been completely shut down sexually-- and I would assume, emotionally-- since he had entered the White House."

And you believe this? How do you explain his affair w/ Gennifer Flowers and the numerous other women he had prior to entering the WH?

I'm not saying that conditions in a marraige cannot make a spouse more vulnerable to an affair. However, that does not mean they are to blame for the unfaithfulness of their spouse.

That cheater could have divorced their spouse if they were unhappy. Then they would have been free to seek out a more suitable partner.

"When you say that it was all the man's fault, you seem to be suggesting that it can all be solved by punishing the man."

I don't think a betrayed spouse (a man OR a woman) should be punished. What I think is that IF they want to save their marriage they need to do everything they can to help their spouse get through it. Having all the details is extremely important to SOME people. Others don't need them... details shouldn't be forced upon them, any more than details should be kept from those who do.

Also, I believe that BOTH people need to work on being honest and learn how to meet each other's needs in a more satisfying way.

.............................

I am definitely of the opinion that everyone deserves to know if their spouse is being unfaithful.

The old cliche, "What they don't know can't hurt them", is a lie.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The following was posted by Anna, but was removed by Blogger.

I am reposting it for your interest:

Women often do not understand that for men making an emotional commitment isn't the same as having real sex. So the wife may have jumped the gun a bit, but since they'd made plans to meet up, the therapist and the wife were most likely right to act quickly. Once the 'other woman' had gotten him in bed, he'd probably be lost and I doubt he'd be happy about it.

Even guys who feel highly committed to their wives will get second thoughts after they have great passionate and uncomplaining sex with a new babe who admires them and thinks they've been misunderstood. It's one of the few places we find even obsessinals acting out, chasing a skirt he must elevate to defend himself, and when they're caught in the wrong (after the fact) they fight mean, and they may then feel hate for their wife.

The poor fellow doesn't know what he was saved from, financially, emotionally, his relations with his children, all for being a little stupid and not thinking his on-line woman wouldn't want to wreck his marriage. This wife probably knows how vulnerable is her husband, she's been married to him, and anyway really no marriage can compete with an affair. Do you supposed John Edwards still thinks his paramour was worth it now that all that hot sex is just a distant memory and he doesn't like her anymore?

No one has to be at fault for a guy to look at other women and think he can get away with a little on the side. Remember, for men it's the one plus one?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Sorry I have been a little show to respond to the last two comments.

Thanks again to Anon for her comments. I would point out however, that I mentioned what happened to Bill Clinton once he entered the White House. Gennifer Flowers and the others were pre-White House.

I did not explain very well what I meant about men looking askance at what Mr. Rothrock had allowed himself to be submitted to.

At the least, he will have been setting a bad example for other marriages. For that other men will not look kindly at him.

Also, the world of men is a very competitive place; it is a status hierarchy. When a man is seen to have been diminished and demeaned by his wife, other men will see him as having lost status and standing. They will look down on him, ridicule him, and so on. He will have lost their respect.

On my other point I understand Anon's point, to the effect that if a man is cheating she is putting his wife at risk of STDs, for example.

But, does the same apply if he is flirting with someone at work, if he is fantasizing about a woman he sees on the bus or in a movie. Should he tell her that he is fantasizing about someone else while he is having sex with her.

Some of these revelations are deal killers, so I would not advise complete and open disclosure.

The point I was really trying to make was that when a men confess to extramarital dalliances women often believe that the fact that he is telling them means that the affair is important, thus, is a threat to the marriage.

If he keeps it to himself, women seem contented not to ask, even when they have suspicions, because they understand that his discretion is a sign that he intends to stay in his marriage. They fear that a confrontation or a revelation will damage their marriages.

Because it often happens that wives know, but do not want to press the issue.

As for wives who want to know everything that happened, I noted that Mrs. Rothrock received professional training that must have told her that this was the path to curing her marriage.

I have my doubts about whether women who have not had such professional training would feel the same way.

JP said...

"I was trying to say that if he went outside his marriage for emotional support, then it makes some sense to say that he was not receiving very much from his wife."

This is only true for affairs that do not involve the so-called "lost love" syndrome.

Basically, if you have an unresolved (read improperly or unwillingly terminated) prior relationship, the current state of your marriage has precisely zero relevance to the new affair.

This is because the prior relationship was "frozen" in it's prior state. Reconnect with that person, and you will immediately start off precisely where you left off X number of years ago.

Good luck explaining or dealing with that one because you are going from zero to obsessed with *no current contact with the other person*.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Interesting idea, JP. This would lend some credence to the idea that this man's virtual affair is not over, but in limbo until the next time that the two somehow or other get in touch.

For my part I would agree... it suggests that the claim that the marriage has been magically saved seems seriously distorted... in the interest of promoting a certain therapeutic process.

JP said...

Stuart Says:

"Interesting idea, JP. This would lend some credence to the idea that this man's virtual affair is not over, but in limbo until the next time that the two somehow or other get in touch."

The only plus in this guy's situation is that the marriage was in place first. Of course, that's probably negated by the mess that she created with this truly bizarre approach. Also, I'm not sure as to the nature of virtual connections where the initial connection was not made in person.

The real problem occurs when you overlay the marriage on top of an unresolved relationship and then reconnect with the initial/primary relationship, to which the marriage relationship is secondary/inferior.

This effectively makes the marriage partner the "other woman", so to speak, which is precisely the reverse of a normal affair.

There the problem is that the affair isn't an illusion or projection at all. It's a real relationship that was placed in limbo rather than resolved like a normal relationship breakup.

There, the problem is that it isn't a fantasy, rather there are two actual concurrent relationships.

Murgesh N said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting article whose points I completely agree with. The WSJ piece left me shuddering. I think there's something particularly Puritan and American about this approach - shaming through (communal) sharing. I would not predict a happy outcome for this couple's marriage, unless they are religious fanatics...
(I'm a European woman, guilty of conducting an online affair for 3 years - an affair which I found emotionally and even sexually stimulating and even fulfilling, knowing however it would not have worked in real life. I love my husband but the combination of marital routine (15 years), his long working hours, my boredom and need for emotional stimulation and his extreme dislike of emotionalism have all been factors. He has found out about the affair and is deeply hurt, however I am not going to increase his pain by sharing details of just how much "the other" man meant to me, how happy he made me at times through his adoration of me - my body and mind, how attractive I found him, and how passionate our affair was. I would rather die than have him read our online conversations, which I have deleted with some regret. I think the best I can do is address the causes that led me to this adventure, try to be compassionate and understanding to my husband, and show through actions not words how much he means to me and how much I love him and am serious about our marriage. I don't plan to play the part of the sinner and wallow in my self-blame, and increase the humiliation he must feel. Just thought I'd share this perspective.

Sherry Francis said...
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George Ewumbua said...
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Monika Cully said...
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Anonymous said...

Well here I'll clear your doubts for you. I've not had professional training and I would want a full disclosure. Yes even the knowledge of fantasizing. If he is doing so that is breaking every vow he made to me and is a deal breaker. There is no marriage or relationship at that point. Do not lie or deceive me. If I'm not enough and your only then do us both a favor and leave.

JessicaRuiz said...
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Tracy Jude said...
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