M. Gary Neuman, the author of “Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship” believes that it is very important to keep members of the opposite sex “out of your intimate way” for you to maintain a happy marriage. His ideas subscribe to the theory that the best way to protect your marriage from emotional or sexual infidelity is to create limitations for yourself and your spouse with respect to outside relationships with members of the opposite sex. He is not suggesting that you become a speechless hermit, but suggests that we all have to be honest with ourselves to realize when an interaction or conversation makes us feel closer to a person of the opposite sex than what we should allow.
Consider his ten rules for avoiding potentially dangerous and damaging relationships with the opposite sex:
1. Keep it All Business at the Office. Be sensitive to one’s feelings, but avoid becoming the main person from whom a co-worker seeks emotional support.
2. Avoid Meetings With Members of the Opposite Sex Away From Work. If you have to work together through lunch or dinner, Neuman suggests simply order food into the office instead of going out. You are much more likely to discuss issues outside of work if you are in a restaurant. If you absolutely must meet outside the office, make sure to meet in a public place that isn’t conducive to intimacy.
3. Meet in Groups. Try not to meet with members of the opposite sex alone. The addition of just one extra person minimizes the chances of intimacy. Besides, people are less likely to share intimate issues while in a group setting.
4. Find Polite Ways Of Ending Personal Conversations. Learn to gracefully walk away from uncomfortable intimate conversations. Again, be sensitive, but suggest that they speak to someone else who could be of more help. Don’t become the shoulder to lean on.
5. Avoid Consistency in the Relationship. Avoid “regular, ongoing personal conversations in which you’re developing themes, favorite topics, or a continuing dialogue.”
6. Don’t Share Your Personal Feelings. By not sharing personal feelings or experiences it curtails their ability to relate to you. Again, it’s OK to have conversations with folks, but just don’t share your feelings. Granted, this can be a hard habit to break since it is so natural to do so.
7. Be Unflinchingly Honest with Yourself. Be aware if you are feeling even slightly attracted to someone else. Honestly consider why you are looking forward to the next time you see that person. It’s about how much you want to have a happy marriage versus how much you enjoy sharing your feelings and having conversations with members of the opposite sex. Consider what it is that has caused the attraction with this person in the first place. Perhaps you might be feeling that this person offers something that you are missing. Identify it and work at finding it with your spouse.
8. Avoid Cordial Kisses and Hugs, or Dancing with Members of the Opposite Sex. This may seem a bit extreme, but even a simple hug can change the relationship and can “confuse the perception of both parties.”
9. Don’t Drink Around the Opposite Sex. Drinking makes us lose our inhibitions. Enough said.
10. Show Your Commitment to Your Spouse Daily. Doing something special for your spouse reminds you of what they mean to you. Leave a note, call them or plan a date night or getaway. Focus on the great things that your spouse has done for you and remember that relationships take time and effort to grow.
After reading this section of Neuman’s book (thanks to Linda’s suggestion), it became quite apparent to me that I violated several of these rules leading up to my emotional infidelity with Tanya. Call it naivety, not being honest with myself or whatever, but if I would have been more familiar with these rules, and followed them from the onset, I would have been able to walk away from a situation(s) that eventually caused a lot of pain and hurt within our marriage.