don't have to sleep with someone to be unfaithul.
Chrissy Redden set her sights on
an Olympic gold medal, she gave up a promising senior management
position in the food industry to train full-time. As she trained to
qualify for the 2000 Olympics, a fan questioned the Canadian mountain
biker's sacrifice. "Why do so many Olympic athletes sacrifice their
careers, education, and future livelihoods for a chance at the gold?"
he asked. "I just can't imagine giving up all that!"
a good question, isn't it? Why do
athletes sacrifice, endure pain, push their bodies beyond their limits,
and pass up other opportunities? The answer: they want to! And why do
they want to? BECAUSE IT'S WORTH IT.
fitness isn't just about
adding elements that improve your health, like exercise and more fruits
and vegetables. It's also about SUBTRACTING elements that are NOT
compatible with your goal. Could you really call yourself "healthy" if
you exercised faithfully but continued to smoke or eat at fast food
Your marriage is like physical
fitness. If you want to be successful, you have to STOP certain
activities that are unhealthy for your relationship.
your marriage is like
training for a gold medal; it takes 2 kinds of commitment. It takes
commitment to do some things AND a commitment to AVOID doing other
doing what?" you might ask.
There’s much to this, but for now your task is to pick one
thing OF YOUR CHOICE. What one thing, if you refrained from doing it,
would improve your marriage? What one thing are YOU doing
that’s unhealthy for your relationship? Pick one thing and
begin refraining from it today.
sure what to pick? Ask yourself
the following questions.
your spouse troubled by an
emotional connection you have with someone else? Is your spouse
uncomfortable with physical contact you have with your opposite-sex
friends? Does your spouse feel that you give more attention to the TV than you do them?
your intimacy with someone else
interfering with the potential intimacy you could have with your
spouse? (physically or emotionally)
your spouse uncomfortable with the
intensity of your relationship with your mother, father, brother,
sister, or aunt? Do you spend too much time and energy on work, a
hobby, or with a particular person? Does your spouse complain of emotional neglect?
you answered "no" to the questions
in the above paragraphs, think deeper. Are you sure the answers are
"no"? Do yourself a favor; ASK YOUR SPOUSE those same questions! I bet
you'll be surprised by the answers. If you couldn't think of anything
to refrain from doing that would improve your marriage, I bet your
spouse can suggest something. Ask your spouse!
the public seminars I do with
couples, I ask people to raise their hand if they know of something
they could REFRAIN from doing that would improve their marriage.
Usually, very few hands go up. I then ask people to raise their hand if
they know of something THEIR SPOUSE does that if they refrained from
doing would make a big difference in their marriage. Usually, almost
every hand goes up.
you and your spouse were in private
sessions with me, what would I discover that YOU are doing that's
inhibiting the success of your marriage?
(name changed) came to me for
private sessions because she was uncomfortable with the relationship
that her husband, Andy (name changed), had with one of his work
colleagues. She accused him emotional infidelity. She was convinced that it wasn't sexual, but the way they
giggled together and sometimes touched felt invasive to her.
asked Tami if she ever discussed
this with Andy. She said, "No, because I know what he'll say."
will he say?" I asked.
say that I'm crazy and that
there's nothing going on between them and that he's never heard of emotional infidelity," Tami responded. "But what IS
going on between them is SOMETHING even though it's not sexual."
asked Tami to have the discussion
with him anyway. And Tami was right. It went EXACTLY as she predicted.
I asked to have an appointment with
Andy. He agreed.
talked privately with Andy about his
relationship with this woman. Tami was right. It was not sexual. They
were just friends. (A classic sign of emotional infidelity.)
asked Andy what he enjoyed most
about his relationship with his work colleague. Predictably, he said,
"We have fun. When we're together, we laugh."
you like to laugh?" I asked.
I need the release occasionally.
Things at home and work are so serious." Andy replied.
you ever play and giggle with
Tami," I asked.
we're not like that together,"
it sounds like you need that in
your life," I said.
do. But I don't get it at home,"
you don't get it at home
because you don't need it by the time you get home. Your friend at work
is fulfilling you in this regard. And your wife feels violated. You're
being emotionally unfaithful!" I explained.
would you like to connect and
giggle with Tami like you connect and giggle with your X?" I asked.
would love it," Andy said. "But it
doesn't happen with Tami."
doesn't happen with Tami because
you don't need it to happen with her. Create the need and YOU will make
it happen," I suggested.
this case, I convinced Andy to tone
down his relationship at work and create the need for laughter in his
life to be fulfilled MOSTLY by his wife. It worked and this one
adjustment transformed their marriage.
the way, I heard from Andy that the
other woman’s marriage was also transformed. She also was
getting a need fulfilled from Andy that was robbing her and her husband
of an opportunity to connect. She was also being emotional unfaithful.
from any of the following
might improve your marriage:
friendship that your spouse feels
is emotionally unfaithful
computer game playing
hobby or interest
excessive work hours
excessively friendly touching,
hugging, or kissing of friends (having an emotional affair)
you still haven't selected
something you can refrain from doing that will improve your marriage,
go over the above list with your spouse.
can be challenging. As difficult
as it is to begin a new discipline, it's usually more difficult to
break old habits. REFRAINING asks you to break an old habit. Not an
easy matter. And that's why this topic gets a lot of attention in the
Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp where I help you identify the actions harming your marriage
and I give you the support you need to refrain from them or at least
curtail them. And you’ll also learn how to get your spouse to
refrain from the things they’re doing that’s
hurting your marriage, whether they’re currently cooperative
was able to REFRAIN when she
contemplated her future. The decision to give up her career was
difficult, she admitted, but said, "I imagined myself older and talking
to my grandchildren. Which would I regret more: giving up my job or
giving up a chance at a gold medal?"
What about you? Which would you regret
more: refraining from behaviors that interfere with your ability to
connect to your spouse or giving up the chance to have a lasting
After achieving her Olympic dream and
taking eighth place in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Redden says she's
never regretted her decision, even with the sacrifice involved. Neither