A reader has asked us to do a post reviewing the article “Fidelity in Marriage” from the September 2009 Ensign. The tag line reads: When a spouse has developed a relationship that compromises his or her spiritual fidelity, he or she should be humble and take the necessary steps to restore the marital relationship.
The article begins as follows:
“But I’m not doing anything wrong,” insisted Jane when family members voiced concern over the time she was spending with a male co-worker. “We’re just friends.”
In Jane’s mind, she had not crossed any lines because there had been nothing physical or romantic between her and her co-worker. She saw no harm in going to lunch and spending breaks with someone with whom she had so much in common. She saw no problem with sending him personal e-mails and text messages.
Jane’s husband, Aaron, was quiet and shy. He was not one to make conversation, and Jane often felt alone—even when they were together. Aaron was a good man and a faithful father to their young children. Still, when it came to being sensitive to her needs and “being there for her,” she felt Aaron had a lot to learn.
Jane’s co-worker, on the other hand, was a good listener and could easily read her moods. He was quick to laugh and fun to be around. As the two of them spent more time together, family members to whom Jane had casually mentioned the relationship began to express concern. Jane dismissed their comments.
What Jane didn’t realize was how hurt and upset Aaron felt at what she was doing. He felt betrayed and rejected and was even beginning to worry that Jane didn’t love him anymore. Jane talked as though their marriage was strong but, by her actions, she seemed to care more about her co-worker than her husband. Aaron began to wonder if she was thinking of leaving him. Any time Aaron brought up the subject of her relationship with the co-worker, she would refuse to discuss it and would change the subject. To Aaron, their communication seemed superficial. He felt as though his feelings were not important to her.
This couple’s story—representative of several true stories—illustrates a growing problem creeping into some marriages today. A marriage can be placed in a precarious situation when one spouse forms a relationship with someone outside the marriage and begins to choose the company of that person or frequently shares personal information with that person rather than with a spouse. Furthermore, the problem can occur with either husband or wife. “Jane” could just as easily be “John.”
Fidelity includes refraining from physical contact—but that is not all. Fidelity also means complete commitment, trust, and respect between husband and wife. Inappropriate interactions with another person can erode fidelity.
Some of the signs of emotional infidelity are listed in a sidebar:
• “Are you turning to your friend for comfort rather than turning to your spouse?”
• “Do you find yourself thinking about your friend even when you’re at home?”
• “Do you seek opportunities to be with your friend even when work doesn’t require you to be together?”
• “Do you e-mail and text your friend when you’re not together?”
• “Have you told your spouse about these messages?”
• “Does the relationship with your friend take more of your time and energy than your relationship with your spouse?”
• “Do you compare your spouse to your friend?”
• “Would you be uncomfortable introducing your spouse to your friend?”
The article suggests using the expression “spiritual fidelity” rather than emotional infidelity, which, frankly, struck me as a rather meaningless bit of semantic manipulation and not all that helpful.
Jane met with her bishop, which was very helpful in her case. I worry about people treating bishops as though they were trained counselors–the vast majority are not–but emotional fidelity is a subject that probably lends itself to the kind of common sense counsel that this particular bishop offered, so in this case it worked out well.
I blanched at the predictable misuse of the “abstain from all appearance of evil” scripture (1 Thess. 5:22).
The resolution basically involved Jane coming to recognize what she was doing and changing the dynamic with her male friend. You can read the details in the article.
OK, there’s my brief synopsis. The floor is now yours to discuss either this article specifically or the topic of emotional infidelity in general. (While y’all comment, I’ll return my attention to The Dollhouse.)