More Than Friends?

Windows and Walls“I am telling you, we are just friends! I don’t get why you are so uptight about this?”

Your gut is telling you one thing but your partner is telling you another.  The explanations of all the incoming texts, the heavily guarded phone and late night social media sessions just don’t quite add up. Your partner is adamant there is nothing going on and you shouldn’t be worried, but should you believe it?

Sound familiar? How do you know if your spouse is in a relationship that is too “friendly”? Where are the boundaries? Dr. Shirley Glass, one of the world’s leading experts on infidelity, spells it out in her book, Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity.

One very helpful concept is that of windows and walls. To decipher whether a particular friendship is threatening, first determine where the windows and walls of the relationship reside. Couples in healthy relationships build walls to protect themselves from outside influences that could potentially split them apart. Together, they look at the world through a shared window of openness and honesty. The couple is a team, a unified front when dealing with outside stresses.

Trouble arises however when one partner opens a window to an outside person and builds an interior wall of secrecy with their partner. When a friend knows more about your marriage than you – the spouse – knows about the friend, the windows and walls are reversed! The friend is on the inside, the spouse is on the outside and an emotional affair is dangerously close!

If your partner is getting close to someone else they are also distancing themselves from you. What can you do about it?  If it’s early enough, you may be able to set boundaries your spouse will respect.  Even so, it’s more than likely the relationship will continue and your spouse will simply get better at hiding it from you.  If you are currently facing this situation, call us!  We can show you how to draw your spouse back into the marriage and make him/her more interested in YOU and less interested in the relationship with the other person.  But it is important to act quickly!  Waiting only allows the bond with the friend to strengthen which can lead to a physical affair.  If your partner gets angry and defensive every time you ask about this “friendship”, it’s a sign things may have already progressed too far and the threat to your marriage is real. Contact us here or call us at 972-441-4432.  At Engage With Love we know how to help!

But what if it is YOU who is the one developing a friendship outside of the marriage?  Take this quiz to see if your friendship has crossed the line.

Has Your Friendship Become An Emotional Affair?*

Y/N     1.  Do you confide more to your friend than to your partner about how your day went?

Y/N     2.  Do you discuss negative feelings or intimate details about your marriage with your friend but not with your partner?

Y/N     3.  Are you open with your partner about the extent of your involvement with your friend?

Y/N     4.  Would you feel comfortable if your partner heard your conversation with your friend?

Y/N     5.  Would you feel comfortable if your partner saw a videotape of your meeting?

Y/N     6.  Are you aware of sexual tension in this friendship?

Y/N     7.  Do you and your friend touch differently when you are alone than in front of others?

Y/N     8.  Are you in love with your friend?

Scoring Key:

You get one point for each yes to questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and one point each for no to 3, 4, 5.

If you scored near 0, this is just friendship.

If you scored 3 or more, you may not be “just friends.”

If you scored 7-8, you are definitely involved in an emotional affair.

*This quiz by Shirley Glass was first printed in USA Today (June 20, 1988) in an article by Karen Peterson, “When platonic relationships get too close for comfort,” p. 6D.

If your relationship is threatened by a “friend”, don’t wait. Come see us! We can help you rekindle your romance and reorganize your walls and windows so you can rediscover the bonds that brought you together in the first place!


Divorcing Your Marriage

Rings on TwineIf you aren’t happy in your marriage what have you done to make it better?  If you are like most people, you have complained to your spouse.  Good! Complaining is the appropriate first step.  But what else have you tried? Have you asked your spouse to go to counseling?  I hope so.  By doing  these two things, you have done what most people do when they are unhappy in their marriage.  Unfortunately however, this is where most people stop.  These are two positive steps that can move you forward but they aren’t enough.  Why you ask?

First, change is hard.  Let me say it again.  Change is HARD.  If it were easy, every diet would work and we would all be skinny!  But research shows that changing even little behaviors take monumental effort and motivation.  When you complain to your spouse and tell them you need to see changes, you are giving them an alert but not the motivation to actually make the effort to do something about it.  Your unhappiness is usually not enough to spur them into action.  Your spouse has to feel a serious threat to his/her own happiness before they are motivated to make changes.

There are lots of ways to motivate a spouse to want to change, but most people don’t get creative here.  They just give up, assuming nothing is going to help.  What usually happens is the unhappy spouse gets discouraged.  After months and sometimes years of complaining, your spouse doesn’t seem to care or even understand you are unhappy. This makes you feel angry so you withdraw in the relationship.  You stop putting forth the effort to connect.  You stop initiating sex.  This doesn’t seem to motivate him/her either so you start to feel hopeless.  You begin to question if this relationship is worth staying in and you become apathetic about your spouse and the relationship.   You feel he/she doesn’t really love you because surely they would change if they did, right?   Soon you start to believe they simply can’t change.

This is a dangerous place to be.  Once you believe change is impossible, what’s really left?  Staying in a miserable situation?  Trying to learn how to endure and find happiness where you can?    Here is where one of two things usually happens.  You either have an affair (emotional or physical) or you divorce your spouse.  And here’s the kicker.  Once your spouse finds out that you have had an affair or are filing for divorce, he/she becomes very motivated to make changes.  Why?  Because now they are losing something they want.  But oftentimes it is too late.  You have been suffering for so long and you are done!  You waited until you were worn out and emotionally disconnected before raising the alarm to DEFCON 4.   In fact, when you see your spouse making changes now it makes you angry!  I hear “Why now?” from my clients every single week.  You finally get the courage to end your marriage and NOW your spouse is changing.   You are upset it took extreme measures to get their attention and you tell yourself the changes aren’t real and they surely won’t last. Your spouse is upset because they feel ambushed.  They didn’t see this coming because you didn’t let them know how bad things were until it was really too late. Now your spouse is feeling desperate and alone.  They are promising to change any and everything if you will just give it one more shot.

Too often these marriages end and it shouldn’t be that way!  If you aren’t happy in your marriage, raise the level of alarm before you shut down emotionally.  Don’t just complain, give your spouse some motivation.  Let them know if things don’t improve by a certain date, you are moving out.  If your spouse won’t go to counseling, go by yourself!  Just be sure you see a marriage counselor who is PRO marriage.  Keep doing something!  Raise the alarm to DEFCON status and make sure your spouse knows it!  But don’t quit trying.  Complaining and withdrawing isn’t enough.  Get their attention!

By the time most people get to the point of wanting to divorce, they are exhausted and tell me they just don’t have the energy to keep fighting.  But here’s the thing.  Divorce requires exorbitant amounts of energy.  It is not a restful or peaceful journey.  Use the energy you would spend to divorce your spouse and divorce your marriage instead! Leave your old marriage behind and begin a new one with your spouse!  Build something better than you had before.

At Engage With Love we fight for marriages and we are good at what we do!  Let us help you build a better marriage.  We can show you how to get your spouse’s attention in a way that will let him/her know you mean business. Our counselors and coaches can work with you no matter where you live.   Give us a call at 972-441-4432.