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What To Do When Your Spouse Gives You The Silent Treatment

Here's some help for those times when silence is NOT golden.

When your spouse gives you the silent treatment, it can be frustrating, painful, and confusing. It happens when one spouse refuses to communicate, ignores, withdraws from, or totally avoids their partner. It may not mean there’s absolute silence. You might still talk about daily tasks like who’s picking up the kids, who’s handling laundry, or dinner. The silent treatment shows that one person is unwilling to address an issue or connect in any meaningful way.

Ouch.

If you’re getting the silent treatment, what do you do?

Process On Your Own

What triggered the silent treatment? When did it start, and what were you discussing? Did something happen that may have been viewed negatively? You may not even know, but thinking about it can help you understand your partner’s perspective. 

What’s the goal? Is my spouse trying to punish me, hoping I’ll feel the pain they feel? Are they withdrawing so they can process their own thoughts and emotions? Are they trying to protect themselves? 

Processing can help you listen to and better understand yourself and your spouse, but try not to let it cause you to look down on your spouse.

Address it Carefully

Start with Compassion. Often, we use silence when we don’t have or can’t use healthy conflict resolution skills to deal with issues. 

Is the silent treatment a healthy approach? No. Especially when it’s used to control or manipulate. It can be abusive. (More on this later.) 

Provided this situation is not an abusive use of the silent treatment, remember, this is your spouse — and something sparked the treatment. This doesn’t mean you justify or excuse the behavior. It’s purely recognizing that something caused your spouse emotional pain. And different people respond to pain in different ways.

Speak directly to the issue. You might say something like, “I know you haven’t been talking to me lately. I’d like to discuss what started this. Can we talk?” 

Never forget, your body language and tone of voice communicate 93% of your message to your spouse. Getting the words right isn’t as important as having a healthy attitude toward your spouse.

Be Willing to Listen and Understand. When your spouse is ready to talk, put your energy into understanding their thoughts and emotions first. Some people give the silent treatment because they feel unheard. Let your spouse know you want to understand their thoughts, feelings, and their desires.

Model Healthy Skills to Resolve issues. You can’t change your spouse, but you can control yourself. Demonstrating respect, openness, and transparency while working together to resolve conflict can paint a picture of the kind of communication many people crave.

Things to Think About While Talking 

Don’t play the blame game. Focus on the ultimate goal: resolving the issue in a healthy way. Using lots of “I” statements and as few “You” statements as possible can keep you from blaming each other and getting distracted.

Own your contributions. Frame it this way in your head. “I understand that I hurt you when I did or said _______.” This focuses on the pain without justifying their response to the hurt. And when appropriate, apologize for the pain you triggered.

Be self-aware of your emotions. Your spouse may express a lot of pent-up emotions. They may flood you with more than you were expecting, but try to keep your emotions from controlling you. Be aware of your feelings as they share. At an appropriate time in the conversation, share. Remember, though, one of the reasons for the silent treatment could be they don’t feel heard. 

What if the Silent Treatment Continues?

Know what you can and can’t control. You can’t control how your spouse responds to emotional hurt. But you can control how you respond. You can gently let them know you’re ready to talk when they are. And you can choose to acknowledge the issue without letting it control you.

Don’t badger or nag. You can’t force someone else to talk. Don’t try.

Seek help. If you need to talk to a trusted friend or seek a counselor for your own mental health, it’s worth the effort. If you don’t go together, going alone can be helpful.

When is the Silent Treatment Abuse?

Consistently using silence to control someone can be abuse. Healthline lists the following signs to look for: 

  1. It’s a frequent occurrence and is lasting for longer periods.
  2. It’s coming from a place of punishment, not a need to cool off or regroup.
  3. It only ends when you apologize, plead, or give in to demands.
  4. You’ve changed your behavior to avoid getting the silent treatment.

I don’t recommend the silent treatment as a strategy for solving marriage problems. But a good starting point is to talk with your spouse about how you can resolve conflict in healthy ways. Your spouse may feel like you haven’t heard other attempts to solve problems, and understanding that may help you find better solutions together. It may be something as simple as asking for a timeout and agreeing to discuss later. Or it may take some effort for them to feel you’re an emotionally safe person to talk to. Whatever the case, learning to be compassionate without excusing the behavior may be the trick to eliminating the silent treatment in your relationship.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at:1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Divide Household Chores Fairly in Marriage

Talk about tackling all the things together, as a team!

Dishes, laundry, yard work, cleaning, cooking… oh my! The chore list is long, and the questions are many.

Who does what? How do we make this fair? Am I doing too much? Why doesn’t my spouse do more?

A big part of marriage is managing and maintaining a house and all the responsibilities a home can bring. So, where do we begin?

Well, let’s rewind the clock to before you said “I Do.” We all enter marriage with expectations. What you may not realize is that those expectations were actually birthed in your childhood, for better or worse. How? To keep it simple, your expectations for managing a house and accomplishing chores are reflective of what you saw and experienced in your home as a child. 

Because of this, your view of chores is pretty emotionally-charged. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you probably have an entire belief system around how chores should be accomplished and who should be doing them. This makes marriage tricky because you and your spouse more than likely don’t share the same belief system about chores. Have you talked about how to divide household chores in your marriage?

The thing about expectations is they are often unspoken. If we don’t communicate what we expect, is it fair to get upset when those expectations aren’t met? No. No, it’s not. To avoid the drama, talk about it. Talk about it often.

So, chores aren’t the issue.

The issue is your view of chores. Now we’re getting somewhere. Peeling away those layers like an onion. It’s about mindset.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I came here to figure out how to divide up chores. I want to know who’s cooking, who’s cleaning, who’s doing the dishes. How do we make this fair?” 

Your home belongs to the two of you, your family. You are both responsible for its upkeep. You’re a team; you’re in this together.

A 50/50 split is often not a reality. It’s usually not possible. Take into account the wholeness of your marriage as you determine who does what. 

I can’t tell you who needs to do what, but here are some ideas to steer the conversation about how to divide household chores. First and foremost, the two of you have to talk about it. 

Here are some questions you can ask each other:

  • What are the chores? (Make a list of all of them.)
  • What are your expectations for _______? (Insert the chore of your choice.)
  • What housework do you enjoy doing?
  • What are you already doing?
  • How often should each chore be done?
  • What are you good at?
  • What chores are seasonal? 
  • What’s important to you?
  • Does one of you feel more responsible out of concern for how others view your home?

Addressing household chores isn’t a one-time conversation either. It needs to happen often. Different seasons of life bring different responsibilities. 

Here are some scenarios to think through as you talk about how to divide household chores fairly:

  • You both are working full-time and focused on establishing your careers.
  • You are expecting a child or have a child or children. (The seasons of childhood bring so many challenges.)
  • One of you works from home.
  • One of you is thinking about a career change.

There may be a season where one of you carries more household chores due to other circumstances. No matter what, you need to agree about what works for your family. You’ll want to discuss this often.

Once you divvy up the chore list, acknowledge what you own. To divide the chores means that you have to let go of control. Whoever is responsible owns the task. They aren’t helping out their spouse by doing it; it’s theirs. 

There is no formula for fairly dividing household chores. It all begins with a conversation… first with yourself, then with your spouse. The first step is self-awareness and reflection, followed by openness and communication with your spouse. You’re a team, and you can tackle all the chores together.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Be a More Supportive Spouse

Here are some tricks to help them feel your support.

You want to get a degree. Your spouse wants to lose some pounds.  

You want to stop smoking. Your spouse wants to start gardening. 

You want to tap into your artistic talents. Your spouse wants to tap dance. 

And you, being the committed, loving spouse that you are, want to be fully supportive. 

But, if you’ve had any experiences like mine, you know that the effort to be supportive can sometimes blow up in your face. You said that one thing you thought would be encouraging, but somehow you left limping away after a good lashing. I was only trying to help! 

And after licking your wounds, you’re left to wonder: How in the world can I be supportive? Is it even possible? 

Well, you can be a supportive spouse if you remember a few things: 

Goals are emotionally-charged.

Anything we set out to accomplish carries the risk of setbacks and failure. It’s easy to worry we aren’t going to do what we hope. In turn, our insecurities are on high alert. One small word, one slight inflection in your voice, has the potential to make your spouse feel great or horrible. Awareness of this helps you gauge the kind of support your spouse needs from you. 

Understand what your spouse wants from you.

Your idea of support may not be theirs. If your spouse asks you to support them, find out what they mean by support. Ask how they picture you being fully supportive. If they share something they want to accomplish but don’t ask for support, ask, “Is there a way I can support you that would be helpful?”

Hear the kind of support your spouse doesn’t want from you.

There’s encouragement, and then there’s accountability. Both are important. But they’re different. Accountability means your spouse wants someone to check in regularly on their progress and acknowledge with them when they’ve fallen short. Encouragement is cheering them and letting them know you are right beside them in their efforts. You’ve got this. I believe in you. You can do this. I’ve learned that encouragement is almost always a welcome way to support my spouse. Accountability… well, that could be a different story. Ultimately, it’s up to them which they need from you. 

Others can often say what a spouse can’t.

There are supportive words my wife’s best friend can say that would not be effective coming from me. She can invite my wife to join her at the gym and be okay; it would only make for an awkward rest of the day if I said it. Your spouse still needs you to support them in ways they feel safe. But it can be good to encourage your spouse to add another person to the support staff. 

Compliment the positive changes.

I can remember vividly when my wife told me, “I can tell your stomach is looking flatter.” I was ecstatic. That was years ago, and my stomach is no longer flat. But when I am trying to shorten the waistline some, I think back and remember her words. And it makes me want to try even harder. 

Words are powerful.

I can really tell your painting is improving! Your clothes are fitting looser! I noticed you haven’t had a cigarette in two weeks! You’re doing great! 

Your spouse needs you to be supportive.

But they need you to support them in a way that’s valuable to them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of showing support with the hope of receiving gratitude. (Oh, sweetie, thank you for telling me I missed leg day; you’re so supportive!) But your support is ultimately there to help your spouse be a better version of themselves as they see it. 

Now go compliment them on their development of tap-dancing skills! 

Other helpful blogs:

What is “Romance” in Marriage?

Here's what you need to know about it.

The moonlit walks, late-night talks, candlelit dinners, flowers… it all spells romance. Or does it? These gestures may be romantic, but are they “romance”? What is “romance” in marriage, anyway?

Romance: What It Is

I’d like to offer you a different way to look at romance. Now, this may be new to you, or you may be like, of course, that’s what romance is. But, I personally haven’t always thought of romance in this way…  Romance is the ongoing mission of making your spouse feel special. Does that mean you are off the hook for flowers, gifts, dinner? Not exactly. 

So, where do I start?

How do I make my spouse feel special? Well, sorry to tell you but there is no one answer. To know what makes them feel special, you have to be a student of your spouse. Now, I don’t mean being a student like in school when you learned just enough to pass a test, then forgot it all the next day. (Please don’t have nightmares of the periodic table or trigonometry.)

Romance in marriage is a lifestyle. It’s not confined to one day in February, but it’s a daily choice to be selfless and put your spouse first. It’s intentional—and it’s not expecting anything in return.

You need to be a lifelong learner of your spouse. What does this mean? Start with these questions:

  • What do they enjoy? 
  • What do they desire? 
  • Their dreams? 
  • Makes them feel loved? 

It’s the little things as well as the big ones. Part of being a lifelong learner is discovery. Now that sounds fun!

We all have a burning desire to be seen, heard, and understood. You play a huge part in fulfilling this desire for your significant other.

So that sounds great and all, but let’s get practical. 

How do I romance my spouse? 

You’ve done your research. Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned. I mean, what good is knowledge if you can’t use it?

Maybe you get up every morning and prepare your spouse’s coffee or warm up their car. Perhaps you recognize they’ve had a rough day, so you prepare dinner or take care of chores around the house, not because they asked you but because you recognize that it will make their day easier. That’s romance!

Fellas, sitting and listening to your spouse, not interrupting or trying to fix everything, is romance. It shows your wife that you value her thoughts and emotions and genuinely care about what she has to say. 

Ladies, sitting with your husband and watching the big game or race, asking genuine questions, and seeking to understand what he is passionate about is romance. (Here’s Why It’s Important to Care About Your Spouse’s Interests.)

Now, those are general examples, but you get the picture. Romance is caring about what they care about.

I love to run. It brings me joy and relieves stress… yes, I said running brings joy, don’t judge me. My wife takes the time to ask me about my run. She listens, she encourages, she pushes me. She stood out in 30-degree weather holding signs of support for my first half-marathon. Now, that’s romance! I feel understood and loved by those actions.

Romance is showing your spouse that you see them and desire to know them more deeply. Become a lifelong learner of your spouse. If you’ve been married for several years and you feel like romance is missing, own it and make it a priority. 

Commit to making romance central to your marriage! Start today.

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Is Stress Killing Your Relationship?

Find ways to manage stress before it does major relationship damage.

Are you overwhelmed with deadlines at work, kids in school, the weekly to-do list, health concerns, drama on social media? Is stress taking a toll on your relationship? Do you find yourself taking out your stress on your significant other? If so, you’re not alone. 

Stress, handled wrongly, hurts relationships. It’s a reality. Often it’s the small stressors that build up and do damage. 

We all face daily stresses. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use a magic wand and remove all the stress in our lives? The reality is we have to learn to manage stress, not let stress manage us.

Here’s how to tell if stress is impacting your relationship:

Stressed out people are more withdrawn. 

When you’re stressed, you may pull away from those you love or be less affectionate. Maybe you’re working longer hours, spending more time alone, or camping out in front of the TV as a way of escaping all you have to deal with. Isolating yourself can damage your relationship.

Stressed out people see the worst in others. 

When we’re stressed, it’s easy to allow the small things to overwhelm us. A minor thing your spouse does, like not picking up their shoes, suddenly becomes a sign of disrespect and a lack of appreciation. Maybe they just forgot their shoes. But stress is blurring your vision and you see them doing it out of spite.

Stress leads to exhaustion. 

Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Whether the tension stems from work, kids, or our calendars, it bleeds over into all aspects of our lives. Have you ever noticed that when you’re mentally exhausted, you just want to sleep? Stress takes a toll on our bodies. This can leave our spouse (and others) feeling neglected.

Stress makes us irritable. 

Who wants to be around grumpy people? The longer the stress lasts, the crankier you get. This can lead to arguments and hurtful words. 

[How Not to Blow Up On Your Kids When You’re Stressed Out: The Timeout is a great read if you’ve got kids]

Stress causes us to put other things in front of our relationship. 

Technology is a fabulous tool but can also be a source of stress. Endless work texts or emails can interrupt time with your spouse. When we are stressed due to work or other obligations, it becomes easy to prioritize those above our relationship.

So, if you find yourself resonating with these common signs of stress…

Make a plan…when you aren’t stressed out. 

If both of you are in a place of little stress, plan how you will deal with stress once it increases. Help to identify each other’s stressors and stress patterns. Look for ways to reduce stressors before they take over.

Reduce your stress. 

You can’t help your spouse if you can’t help yourself, so identify what reduces your stress. When I feel overwhelmed, I like to go for a run. It’s time to decompress, soak in the fresh air, and clear my mind. Maybe it’s exercise, music, or getting in nature. Communicate to your spouse what you need to do to reduce stress. Make sure you both have time to de-stress and refresh. (Read How Couples Can Help Each Other De-Stress and Improve Their Relationship)

Prioritize your relationship. 

You’re a team! Commit to each other and to ensuring that stress will not take over your relationship. Dr. Michael Mantell, an Advanced Behavior Coach, puts it this way: “Help each other remember you cannot control the uncontrollable, to always look for victory not defeat, to agree to set aside time to talk and be each other’s defense attorney, not prosecutor.”

Ask for help. 

Your partner can’t provide for all your needs. Putting that expectation on each other isn’t healthy. Sometimes we need help, whether that’s a trusted friend or a therapist. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Protecting your relationship must be the priority. 

Stress is a reality. You can’t make it go away, but you can manage stress so that it doesn’t kill your relationship. What will you do today to reduce stress in your life?

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Help Your Spouse When They’re Burned Out

Move forward and grow closer through this challenge, one step at a time.

You may have noticed that your once ‘Energizer bunny’ spouse has no energy to do anything. Or they share they don’t feel right but can’t give any specific reasons. It seems like all at once, it ALL became too much. They have no motivation to work or deal with personal issues. They feel exhausted after sleeping all night. And they begin to question their capability to complete tasks from work or at home. Your loved one may be experiencing burnout. 

Yes, burnout is a real thing. According to WHO, burnout is caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It affects people in all areas of their lives physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

If you believe your spouse is dealing with burnout, these strategies can help you as you help them.

Listen To Them

This may be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you think your spouse can accomplish anything they set their mind to do. Now, they’re questioning everything. You have to listen to them ask questions like:

  • Am I a good spouse? 
  • Is my child getting what they need?
  • Are my kids falling behind academically because I’m not a teacher?
  • Am I a good parent? 
  • Is this my fault?
  • Am I a good worker?
  • Can I do my job now that it’s different from what I was hired to do?
  • Am I giving time and effort to my relationship?
  • Why is this so hard for me right now?

It’s not the time to try to fix it for them or ask questions. Instead, this is the time to let them dump it all out and try your best to understand. (4 Communication Exercises for Married Couples may be useful!)

Help Out As Much As You Can

Taking things off your spouse’s plate may help relieve the stress. It could be as simple as dusting around the house or taking on homework time from virtual school. If you don’t know where to start, simply ask, “How can I make what you do easier?”

Rely On Your Friends and Family (Use Your Village) 

Remember—you don’t have to do everything on your own! Encouraging your spouse to spend some time with friends, family, or alone can lighten the load. Not only should your spouse spend time with friends and family—so should you. You don’t have to be the sole person to assist your spouse. In fact, if you aren’t careful about taking on too much, it may lead to your own sense of burnout. 

Take Care of Yourself

While being supportive and non-judgmental of your spouse, it’s vital to take care of yourself. Try to get rest, good food and exercise, too. Find things that help you recharge your own battery. 

Encourage Your Mate to Find or Rediscover Hobbies

Being creative can help their brain get out of the fight/flight cycle (more on that here). Be intentional about searching for new hobbies or finding enjoyment again in something they used to do. It could be anything from crocheting, hiking, or woodworking. You know better than anyone what they enjoy. (Read Why It’s Important to Care About Your Spouse’s Interests)

Reevaluate Your Family’s Schedule

Take some time to sit down and have a conversation about your family’s schedule. List everything for everyone, including work schedules, in-person or virtual school schedules, and other things to consider, like: 

  • When the kids need more hands-on help 
  • Mealtime
  • When the kids work independently
  • When you need to focus on your job (if working from home)
  • Family time

Looking at the schedule with clear eyes can help you see patterns. From these patterns, you can make conscious decisions together about how to spend your time and energy.

People are experiencing burnout at all-time high levels, and it’s a tough thing to deal with. Watching your spouse struggle with burnout can make you feel helpless, but you can get through this together. It’s an opportunity to grow closer and remind yourselves that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Make time for the things that fill you up. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Should I Be Upset That My Husband Watches Porn?

Processing your emotions may be easier if you know some of the facts about porn.

So your husband watches porn, and you’re wondering how you should feel about it. Perhaps you’re frustrated and wondering if you have a reason to be upset. Or maybe it doesn’t bother you, and that’s what bothers you. It’s probably hard to know just what to feel or think or do with this. 

Pornography can be a complicated issue in marriage. And the truth is, you could be dealing with a whole host of other emotions and thoughts about it. 

First of all, it’s okay to feel these things

I can’t tell you how you should feel (nor should I, nor should anyone). 

But here’s what I can do: I can share what we know about how pornography can affect a marriage. Because I imagine that’s the one concern you probably have above all else. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what some research tells us: 

  • Married couples who use porn are more likely to divorce than those who do not use it. 
  • Watching porn can create unrealistic pictures in people’s minds about how sexual relationships are supposed to function. This can affect relationships negatively. It can decrease the viewer’s perceptions of real-life intimacy because they compare marital sex with what’s on the screen (i.e., porn stars). 
  • Viewing porn can lead to sex becoming more about one’s own physical pleasure and less about the emotional aspect of sex in marriage. 
  • Pornography can create a vicious downward cycle; if something isn’t going well in the marriage, a person might turn to porn. But then, turning to porn can make marital problems even worse
  • Pornography consumption is linked to decreased intimacy, less satisfaction in marriage, and infidelity. Not to mention an increased appetite for porn that depicts abusive, illegal, or unsafe practices and a higher rate of addictive behavior. (Just to be clear, the research gives strong evidence that porn is, indeed, addictive. Keep reading for more on this.)
  • According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, over half of divorce cases involved “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” 
  • Viewing pornographic material increases the risk of developing sexually deviant tendencies, committing sexual offenses, and accepting rape myths. 
  • Evidence shows that pornography affects the brain, much like a chemical addiction. It releases endorphins that cause an increased need for more arousing and shocking material. Over time, to get the same feeling or “high,” you have to get a heavier dose. Some studies indicate the chemicals released in the brain from watching porn are two-hundred times more potent than morphine and at least as addictive as cocaine. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
  • Watching porn also causes mirror neurons to fire in the brain, causing the viewer not merely to respond to the image on the screen but to put themselves in the main character’s place. 

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the negative insights researchers found. 

The bottom line is that pornography is easy to access and can cause severe marriage rifts. Yes, you’ll find many misconceptions out there from mainstream media about how porn isn’t all that bad. Some counselors even encourage couples to use porn in their relationships for various reasons. 

I personally prefer to err on the side of good solid research, which suggests that, overall, couples should avoid porn for the sake of marital health. I encourage you and your husband to let the science and research about porn inform your feelings, reactions, and conversations about porn in your marriage. 

If you’d like to learn more about porn or want more information to help you move forward together, these blogs can help you out:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Sources

1Perry, S. L., & Schleifer, C. (2018). Till Porn Do Us Part? A Longitudinal Examination of Pornography Use and Divorce. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(3), 284–296. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1317709

2Zillmann D, Bryant J. Pornography’s impact on sexual satisfaction. J Appl Social Pyschol. 1988;18(5):438-453. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1988.tb00027.x


3Perry SL. Pornography and relationship quality: Establishing the dominant pattern by examining pornography use and 31 measures of relationship quality in 30 national surveys. Arch Sex Behav. 2020;49(4):1199-1213. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-01616-7

4Maas MK, Vasilenko SA, Willoughby BJ. A dyadic approach to pornography use and relationship satisfaction among heterosexual couples: The role of pornography acceptance and anxious attachment. J Sex Res. 2018;55(6):772-782. doi:10.1080/00224499.2018.1440281


5Laier, C., & Brand, M. (2016). Mood changes after watching pornography on the Internet are linked to tendencies towards Internet-pornography-viewing disorder. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 5(C), 9–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2016.11.003

6Schneider, J. P. (2000). A Qualitative Study of Cybersex Participants: Gender Differences, Recovery Issues, and Implications for Therapists. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 7(4), 249–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/10720160008403700

7Stack, S., Wasserman, I., & Kern, R. (2004). Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography. Social Science Quarterly, 85(1), 75–88. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0038-4941.2004.08501006.x

8Manning, J. C. (2006). The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 131–165. https://doi.org/10.1080/10720160600870711

9https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/inside-porn-addiction/201112/is-porn-really-destroying-500000-marriages-annually

10Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 183–205. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12201

11Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., & Giery, M. A. (1995). Exposure to Pornography and Acceptance of Rape Myths. Journal of Communication, 45(1), 5–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1995.tb00711.x

12Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of internet pornography addiction: A review and update. Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.utc.edu/10.3390/bs5030388


13Ponseti, J., Bosinski, H. A., Wolff, S., Peller, M., Jansen, O., Mehdorn, H. M., Büchel, C., & Siebner, H. R. (2006). A functional endophenotype for sexual orientation in humans. NeuroImage (Orlando, Fla.), 33(3), 825–833. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.08.002

​​https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-can-change-the-brain/

How can you love your spouse and be thinking about having an affair? Is that even possible? The whole thing is super confusing. 

Well, believe it or not, there may be a logical explanation.

Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, says couples need both closeness and distance to sustain a level of sexual intimacy or gratification. 

Many couples have been together 24/7 with very little time apart since the pandemic began. Time apart helps create sexual energy while you think about being with your spouse later in the day. 

COVID has taken away a lot of the opportunity for anticipation. With the lowered level of sexual energy, many couples are bored. And they may not feel much attraction toward each other at all. 

Since our brains crave novelty and excitement, the lackluster sexual energy at home may open the door to looking elsewhere for that excitement you used to experience with your spouse.

If you love your spouse, but you’re thinking about having an affair, consider these things…

“When you are feeling some emotional impulse, as in entertaining the idea of an affair, you have an opportunity to examine the impulse rationally, says Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets to Surviving Infidelity

“Stop. Consider the consequences. The very same muscle you exercise when you consider the consequences of running a red light—smashing another car, getting a ticket, dying, can be exercised in this instance,” Haltzman says. “Thankfully, we don’t just live on instinct. We can think through the risks of our potential actions.”

Haltzman suggests considering all the things that could happen, such as contracting a disease and giving it to your spouse. 

Plus, think about the hurt your spouse will feel when they find out.

“In my experience, most affairs are discovered,” Haltzman says. “Maybe not immediately, but at some point. You need to consider the impact on the person you have an affair with and the impact on your own body because you are keeping a secret from your spouse.”

There’s also the moral and practical issue, according to Haltzman. You made a promise to your spouse and to yourself to be faithful as one of the pillars of your marital relationship. And you promised that when nobody else was vying for your attention. 

You have to guard against rationalizing your thought process. 

Haltzman believes it’s possible to bring the sexual energy back into your marriage, even if you’re thinking about having an affair.

He also suggests taking the energy you were putting toward considering cheating and putting that energy back into your marriage. 

Here’s how!

  1. Do new things together. When people are exposed to novel situations, exciting things, or new challenges together, it draws them together. New experiences with your spouse will increase your sense of attraction to each other.
  2. Create space and anticipation. Agree that you’ll spend the day apart—even if it’s on opposite ends of the house. Consider only communicating during the day by cellphone, so you can look forward to seeing each other at the end of the day.
  3. Play dress up. Staying at home all the time may lead to staying in pajamas or sweats and not caring for ourselves. Do something different. Consider what would be sexy to your spouse. 
  4. Use your imagination for your marriage. Use your imagination to focus on and create sexual energy with your spouse instead of someone else.
  5. Get back to the basics. Do the things you did when you were apart and looking forward to being back together. Tease each other with text messages. Create adventure through the element of surprise. Laugh together. Write love notes and leave them in unexpected places. 😉
  6. Be willing to be playful. Go outside and stamp a message in the snow, go camping, or create art together. Make a funny video, create a themed date in your bathroom or somewhere else that’s fun.

While the idea of an affair may seem exhilarating, it’s a pretty risky business with potentially lasting and damaging consequences. Find out why you might be entertaining these thoughts. Then turn toward your spouse and be intentional about creating something different. These things could be the key to changing the sexual climate in your marriage.

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***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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