The internet provides people with endless possibilities that can be helpful or harmful to a marriage depending on how it used. People often behave differently online than they do in real life and the internet provides people with the opportunity to engage in many behaviors that can be harmful to a marriage. It’s important to examine whether or not the internet may be impacting your relationship.
People can develop an addiction to the internet. An internet addiction can develop similarly to other addictions in life and can be very serious. An addiction to the internet isn’t defined by spending a certain number of hours online each week. Instead, it depends on problems that your online activity causes.
The internet becomes an addiction when it causes a problem in a person’s life and they continue with their behaviors. Problems may include social issues, such as choosing to use the internet instead of spending time with friends and family. Often, friends and family become concerned. An addiction cause a person to secretly try and use the internet whenever they can, such as slipping away at a social event to get online.
An internet addiction can also cause work or school related problems. Someone might struggle to get their work done. Or they may stay up all night on the internet, causing them to be late for work or they may miss a day altogether. They may also be using the internet inappropriately during work or class.
People can become addicted to chat rooms, pornography, online gaming, social media sites, or any aspect of the internet that consumes their time. Just like with other addictions, it will cause relationship problems. Family and friends are neglected and a person’s sexual desires can be impacted as well.
The internet often allows people an opportunity to act in ways that they normally wouldn’t. People tend to feel less inhibited when interacting with others online. This can cause a person who might not be tempted to cheat in real life to engage in inappropriate behaviors with others online.
People often use the internet to develop relationships with others. This may be in the form of chat rooms, emails, or social media. The internet provides the opportunity to re-connect with ex-partners or meet new people. In fact, many sites are geared toward married people who are looking to cheat!
Affairs don’t have to be physical. In fact, emotional affairs can be just as damaging. The internet offers opportunity for a variety of emotional affairs. When people connect emotionally with another person and it interferes with their marriage, it constitutes an emotional affair. Sometimes people say “it is just a friendship,” however, developing a bond with another person damages the marriage.
When people engage in emotional affairs, they may look forward to chatting with the same person each night. They may email secrets or complain about their marital problems. They may even talk about meeting in person. All of these things weaken the emotional connection between spouses.
Sexual affairs happen online as well. People may engage in cybersex in chat rooms, use webcams, or exchange sexualized pictures. People often feel more free to live out fantasies or behave inappropriately. This negatively impacts a couple’s sexual relationship. It can cause decreased satisfaction with sexual intimacy with one’s spouse. Sexual affairs can be just as damaging as in-person affairs and can cause a lot of heartache and grief.
The free and constant access to pornography can lead to many people becoming addicted. Pornographic images can change how a person views sex and women in general. It can impact a person’s desire to engage in sexual activity as well.
Whether you spend hours playing online games or you are chatting in chat rooms, spending too much time online is damaging to a marriage. It takes away from spending quality time together and prevents you from taking care of other responsibilities. Using the internet too much can also be a way of coping with problems. It gives people an opportunity to avoid uncomfortable feelings but doesn’t solve anything. Learning new skills and working together on your marriage is important and too much time on the internet prevents that.
Internet addictions often require professional help, just like substance abuse addictions. Internet addictions aren’t as widely discussed and there aren’t as many services available. However, a trained counselor can help a person who wants to address their addictive behaviors.
If your spouse appears to have a problem with the internet, encourage treatment. If your spouse refuses, don’t suffer in silence. Consider seeking treatment for yourself. You can gain support for yourself and learn about how your behaviors may be influencing your spouse.