Have you ever asked yourself what is happening when your spouse is online and you can't seem to get their attention no matter what you say or do? Maybe they are spending large amounts of time looking at the news, playing video games, facebooking, responding to twitter friend posts, viewing pornography or chatting in adult chat rooms. Has your spouse reconnected with an old high school girlfriend? Do you wonder if you are too trusting or too jealous? Have you ever wondered what is appropriate and what crosses the line to inappropriate behavior in your relationship? These are all valid questions that more and more people are asking in their couple-ship.
Let’s look at what is happening in the relationship and how to engage your spouse.
1. First, ask yourself, what am I feeling when my spouse is online? This is incredibly important to starting a conversation with your partner.
2. If you complain about their behavior, most likely they will put up an emotional wall and won’t hear anything you say.
3. It is much better to share how you feel when they engage in the online activities. You are the expert on your feelings. No one can successfully argue with you about what you feel. Others simply do not have access to your inner world. Once you share your feelings with your spouse that is all you can do. Any attempt at controlling your spouses behavior will be met with resistance.
4. Once you share your feelings, it is up to your spouse to decide to change their behavior or not.
5. If your spouse decides to get off-line and spend time with you, great! If they continue staying online, or dismiss your feelings, you have some good information to work with.
6. There can be several reasons why a spouse is spending time online.
a. Your spouse is working and needs to finish a project
b. Your spouse is feeling stressed and uses time online to self calm.
c. Your spouse senses conflict in your relationship and unconsciously wants to escape.
d. Your spouse wants emotional intimacy but does not know how to get that need met with you and seeks it with strangers. The marriage relationship is much more risky to share emotional depth.
e. The excitement of a new relationship or rekindling of an old relationship can be much easier than dealing with building true emotional intimacy with a spouse.
f. Your spouse may lack the skills to tolerate true emotional intimacy, due to an abusive or neglectful family of origin.
7. Many times a spouse will defend the time they spend online, and may even blame you for it. If this is happening you may need to get professional help to address this issue in your relationship. Look for a counselor who is trained and certified to work with couples with attachment and intimacy issues.
8. If you feel you are questioning your sanity, you’ve been told by your spouse that you are crazy to question their online behavior, then get help for yourself. You have a right to request time from your spouse. It is healthy and supportive for spouses to spend time with one another.