Since I have worked in the health care field for more than 25 years, and the health care field is dominated by females, I have worked with Women for most of my adult life.
Now that I am also a cleric, with the exception of the ordained, I also work with the majority of Women.
I have so often heard women speak negatively about their husbands to others. It begins slowly and with slight remarks, but doesn't take long to transition to frequent and forceful statements.
I am sure that they don't even realize the progression in the remarks, the remarks that assuredly speak of their thoughts.
It doesn't take long to see the progression:
from negative remarks,
to increased public expression,
to seeking attention and love,
to total disruption of the marriage,
to affairs (emotional or physical),
to total disregard to the Sacrament and Holiness of Marriage.
Many times it begins as an "Emotional Affair."
It might have started with a conversation over the Internet, or with a seemingly innocent friendship in the workplace. Maybe it began as an uncomplicated thought:
Unlike my spouse, this person really understands me..
What can it hurt? I need a little excitement in my life.
These romances may seem harmless — perhaps even "safe" alternatives to cheating on your spouse. The truth is, such relationships venture into dangerous territory; they may not initially lead to physical involvement, but they can still devastate marriages.
So how can you recognize an emotional affair?
These signs may indicate that a relationship has gone too far:
You share personal thoughts or stories with someone of the opposite sex.
You feel a greater emotional intimacy with him/her than you do with your spouse.
You start comparing him/her to your spouse, and begin listing why your spouse doesn't add up.
You long for, and look forward to, your next contact or conversation.
You start changing your normal routine or duties to spend more time with him/her.
You feel the need to keep conversations or activities involving him/her a secret from your spouse.
You fantasize about spending time with, getting to know or sharing a life with him/her.
You spend significant time alone with him/her.
Nobody wakes up one day and suddenly decides to begin an extramarital affair. Infidelity begins in the heart and mind. By the time a person physically commits adultery, he or she has been indulging for quite some time in progressively more intense mental and emotional affairs.
Likewise, marital fidelity begins long before marriage. It begins as a promise we make to ourselves — to be a person of faithful character — before marriage ever enters the picture. It is a promise we make to our future spouse when we get engaged, and it is a vow we make to our spouse when we get married. Marital fidelity is a daily commitment to seek the best for your spouse and family.
Strengthening Marital Fidelity
Marital fidelity is strengthened when you affirm your spouse, listen to your spouse, and seek to meet his or her needs.
It’s also strengthened when you set healthy boundaries for your media consumption and for your relationships outside of the home.
Weakening Marital Fidelity
Marital fidelity is weakened when you devalue your spouse, minimize the time you have with your spouse, and focus on meeting your own needs. It's also weakened when you fantasize about someone other than your spouse (and God) meeting your deepest needs and desires.
Pornography is one of the worst affairs of the mind. It can destroy years of marital fidelity within hours.
Left unchecked, workplace friendships between men and women can easily evolve into emotional affairs.
The Rewards of Marital Fidelity
Marital fidelity produces lifelong rewards.
In contrast, infidelity can cause years of untold anguish.
"Silently and imperceptibly, as we work or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak; and at last some crisis shows us what we have become" (B. F. Westcott).
This is true in every area of life, including marital fidelity.