Archive for February, 2016

Divorce “Internet Style:” The Loss of Intimacy That Leads To Divorce

There is a story to every marriage. It generally starts with hopes and dreams for something in the future. Then, along the way, life happens. Disappointments occur. Tragedy may strike in many forms. Bad choices are made with painful outcomes. There is the stress and possible division which can occur in raising a family when children are part of the plan. One morning you wake up asking yourself, “Is this it?” “Am I really happy in this relationship?” “Can this be any better?”

So why to do some stay together through this and others separate? Choice and understanding are two of the keys.

In the book, The Normal Bar, the authors looked at thousands of relationships (over 70,000 as of the book’s publication date) across the globe to find out what is “normal” for a relationship. In the research they found that these sentiments about relationships are common. People get stuck in routines and patterns develop – we are creatures of habit (we seek after that which is “comfortable” to us). That can include house tasks, the way people part company in the morning, the way a couple flirts (or doesn’t) with each other. The life of joy slips into mundane and detached behavior.

As life moves on a new partner can enter the relationship … the internet. There is so much information, stimulation, diversion with chats, games, Facebook “friends” and even pornography. A person can get lost in a cyber-digital relationship that feels more gratifying than the relationship in the “real” world. This is the “internet divorce” with loyalties divided between the real world and the digital. When a person finds him or herself more interested in a tablet than the person next to them, detachment is occurring and indifference is settling in.

The internet is not the only place this happens. Work and children are also interactions where devotions can be positioned in a way to exclude the marital relationship. Things that look new and different, give us a sense of self. This may start to take the place of the marital partner because it feels better. Feeling “better” may be a result of the diversions being different from the current “normal.”

So what does choice and understanding have to do with this? First, understanding is a key. John and Julie Gottman, in their extensive research with couples, have found that part of “normal” is that relationships ebb and flow over time. People are naturally in and out of love over the course of long relationships. When children come into the picture there is a “precipitous” drop in marital satisfaction in most couples (about 67% according to their studies).

By understanding the dynamics of a relationship and the fact that they do ebb and flow means that you do not have to be passive. You can make a choice to engage with each other in a renewal of the relationship.

How? We strongly recommend a look at John Gottman’s book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This book leads you through ideas and activities that are designed and scientifically tested for building relationships.

John and Julie start with couples asking questions of each other – intimate questions that lead to insight and interest. It is that interest and desire to know each other again that leads to so much more. While physical pleasure is a part of intimacy, how much better is intimacy when you are with a partner that is deeply concerned and engaged with your life as you are with theirs?

Marriage is not a noun in our world – it is a verb. It requires action and engagement. It is not perfect and life is not a series of uninterrupted bliss in each other’s arms. Yet, how comforting it is to know that you have a deep, concerned and engaged partner where you can find shelter when the storms do hit.

 

By: Armand & Robbin D’Alo