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Online Infidelity - How to Save Your Marriage from Internet Affairs

Updated on February 3, 2016

Marriages break up due to various reasons in the real world, but more and more marriages seem to be breaking up of late due to spouses getting involved in online relationships. These seem harmless on the face of it, and one rightly wonders, how it can get so serious as to threaten a marriage? Can you really fall in love with someone online (often someone you’ve never met or know much about in real) to such an extent that you are ready to leave your spouse in the real world? Well, fact is, more and more marriages have fallen apart and continue to fall apart due to, what one can only describe as, online infidelity. It is real and something every married couple should be aware of, for you never know, you may be faced with a similar situation in your own marriage. While none of us would want to face a scenario such as this, it would only be prudent that we be aware and prepared.

To counter any problem that you may face, you would need to understand why that problem arises in the first place. In this specific case, if your spouse is getting involved with someone online, you would need to understand why this is so? There may, of course, be two broad reasons why a married person may go looking online for someone. Either, he/she is doing so for the sheer fun of it; in other words, for no specific reason at all, or he/she may be doing so because something is missing in their marriage and this seeking out is in response to that missing element in the marriage.

The circumstances around a particular marriage would only be known to the person concerned and would be unique to each person, so if anything is missing at all in a marriage, you alone would be able to pinpoint what that missing element or elements are? It could also be the case that the marriage had nothing missing, but that the married person involved has chosen to flirt online just for the fun of it. In fact, this is often the case – that people get involved in online relationships by what they think is ‘harmless’ flirting. However, in the online world, things can progress quite fast and may go way beyond being just ‘harmless.’ So, what can you do if you find that your spouse has been cheating online, behind your back, and spending more time with his/her online lover than you and the family?

What You Can Do To Reclaim Your Spouse From His/Her Online Lover


Whether your spouse is cheating on you online due to a real (or perceived) element lacking in the marriage, or just for the fun of it, he/she is doing so because they have enough free time on their hands. Therefore, your goal should be to take up as much of your spouse’s time on activities relating to you and the family, as opposed to allowing him/her unrestricted, uninterrupted, private time with their PC.

It is quite possible that the argument of them having to work on the PC on office projects may be brought up and this can be quite the excuse, if it were just an excuse, but you can easily verify it by checking on him/her every now and then (when they are at home of course). I am of course assuming here that most of their online interactions are happening from home, which is what happens in most of these cases.

If the PC your spouse uses is a desktop, try to have it positioned in such a way in your house that it does not offer much privacy and can be viewed by you while you are running around the house. If it is a laptop that your spouse uses, then of course, things can be a bit trickier. However, try to have a peek in on his/her PC every now and then, without seeming to be intrusive or annoying. You can do this by professing an interest in his/her work and to have him/her show you details about it, or any other excuse you can find. The intention is to not allow your spouse to have extended, uninterrupted ‘alone time’ with his/her PC at home. This is important because such online relationships thrive and grow on prolonged periods of deep interaction, both in terms of the frequency and the amount of time spent per session, that any interruption in either the frequency or quality of time spent can potentially diminish the chances of a deep emotional relationship forming or sustaining.

Insist on your spouse joining you when you go to sleep at night. Do not allow him/her to spend ‘alone time’ on the PC while you are sleeping. They may tell you they have important work to get done, but make it a rule to have all such work done before sleep time. With you asleep, there is nothing to prevent him/her from pursuing his/her online lover and chat for hours potentially with them.

In general, try to occupy your spouse’s time on family activities. If they give you excuses, probe deeper to ensure there is truth to those excuses. If the excuses seem fickle, win them over to your point of view by being persistent, but not by coming across as being nagging or pushy. Essentially, don’t let things drift in your relationship. Take an active interest in sustaining and nurturing your relationship by seeking to actively spend more time with each other.

What if Your Spouse is Already Deeply Involved with an Online Lover?

If you find yourself facing this situation, then things might be difficult, but not impossible. There are still some things you can do to reclaim your spouse. If you happen to find out about his/her online infidelity, but he/she still doesn’t know, then try some of the steps described above – particularly, the one about trying to take up his/her time for family activities and putting them in a situation where they cannot say, "No." Once again, the purpose of this is to break the continuity of the online chatting or talking that has perhaps become routine between your spouse and his/her lover. As stated before, this can often lead to a lack of interest or diminish the intensity of the feelings they feel for each other. This may not always work, but what are your choices really at this stage? So, try it out!!

A second thing you can do is to remind your spouse of what he/she has in the real world, whether it be you or the kids you have – anything that grounds your spouse and perhaps makes him/her realize what they have invested in and stand to lose. The best way you can remind them of these is not directly by talking to them, but subtly. Keep family photo albums lying around where it can be picked up and seen readily, watch your wedding video together. Think of activities that you as a family can take part in and bond better, and make them happen. Do things such as these and anything else you can think of that basically gets your spouse to view things in a different perspective.

Of course, you shouldn't rule out confronting your partner. You should seriously consider doing so if that is what is warranted in your specific situation. When you want to do so and how you want to go about it, however, should be your own personal decision based on which course of action would work the best for you and achieve the best results for you. While you would need to confront your partner if you catch them cheating online, you should look towards bringing up the subject of online flirting/relationships early on in your marriage or relationship, so your partner knows your views on it and does not just assume that online flirting/relationships are okay. Often, people who do indulge in online flirtations/relationships do so convincing themselves that it is not 'real' cheating since there is no physicality involved (at least initially). However, by drawing up clear boundaries during your talk (early on in the relationship), you would be leaving no scope for any confusion on the subject. If your partner then goes on to cheat online, they'd have no excuses to explain their actions.

We live in a time of instant gratification. A click of the mouse opens up a whole new world - a world full of opportunities, but also one that is littered with pitfalls. If you are married, you'd need to be acutely aware of any behavior changes in your partner, whether it be spending more time on the PC, logging in to the PC at odd times, or spending less and less time with you and the family. There are always warning signs like these, but we can only identify them if we are paying attention and are not just drifting along in our marriage. So, wake up and observe what your partner is up to. Spot the warning signs before it is too late!!


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Reno 

      4 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      The online world creates an unrealistic set of circumstances. It can be difficult to bring someone back to reality when they live a fantasy life.

      Thanks for writing.


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I am a 73 year old woman who was in a 26 year relationship with my 52 year old partner, when last New Year's Eve she came to me and asked for a divorce! We had finally been able to marry after our state passed the same sex marriage law two years ago. I was blindsided, I never saw it coming! She was talking to this woman on Facebook, by texts and finally calling her every night on her dinner break at work. My wife worked the 4 to 12 shift. I had children from a prior marriage and she became their other mother. As the children grew, got married and had children of their own we became known as "the Nanas." She loved being "the Nana" especially when we became great-grandparents!! But she threw it all away for this relationship she got involved in. Needless to say everyone was devastated, not just hurt and upset! I tried everything I could to talk to her about it and to get us in couples counseling but she didn't want anything to do with it. She visited this woman, who lived in Florida, 4 times in 6 months while still living in our home here in Maryland. There was nothing I could do, I couldn't stop her even though I talked and cried and tried to make her see that what she was doing was wrong and that she was hurting a lot of people. I researched online about people going thru mid-life crises and post-menopause, which I knew she was doing. She was also working anywhere from 10 to 14 hours, 5 days a week, sometimes 6. Again I had no clue that she was corresponding with this person and I thought her stress and exhaustion was from her job. On top of all that it happened during the month of December, an extremely detracting and stressful time. We are separated now and are going thru a divorce which I hate and don't want! She is living in another state with this woman. She was my sole support as I am disabled because I have Lupus and only get social security disability, which isn't much to live on but I am getting by with the help of my children. I liked your article and appreciate anything that can give me any explanation as to how someone can destroy a 26 year, loving relationship practically overnight! Thank you!

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi, "Strawberry Angel,"

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your experience. Am sorry to hear you've had to go through such a horrible experience, but am also happy to hear that you've been able to successfully overcome the hurt and move on to someone who understands you and who you can bring yourself to trust.

      It is such a shame when one hears of such examples - it is almost unbelievable. That - people can leave their spouses for someone they met online!! Just so happy for you though that you've been able to pick up the pieces and build yourself a durable future - despite what you've gone through.

      I wish you all the best - you are a strong and resilient woman :)

    • profile image

      Strawberry Angel 

      9 years ago

      I DESPISE online cheaters. I am now happily married to a man I met online, but I lost BOTH my ex husbands to online cheating. I was married 13 yrs. to the father of my children and had caught him a few times online but made the mistake of thinking since they were across country there was no real threat. We had an 8 yr. old daughter and a 21 day old son when he got up one morning, left for work and called me an hour later to tell me he had emptied our accounts and he was hoping a plane to Maine to be with this girl. He throwed everything away for a girl he hd never met and was only with 3 months. I met my next hubby online as well. Unfortunately after 6 yrs, I was diagnosed with Lupus and seizures. During this time his ex gf from Junior hgh contacted him on facebook. He hadn't seen this woman in 20 yrs. She had actually set out to look him up, saw he was married and DID NOT CARE. Within 4 months he had left me for her ( he choose christmas day at his parents house to tell me he was leaving me for her) and they were married last spring. SHe sent me an email saying she felt no guilt because he is her soul mate so my marriage to him wasn't real in GOds eyes anyway. TO say my new hubby' had to deal with trust issues is an understatement but he understood. I completely trust him now, but he took great pains and a lot of patience to heal the damage others had done.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Dashingscorpio, I believe I can now narrow down the points on which we disagree and why! You believe that a person does not have any control over what a spouse may do. While I would agree with this statement in general - as in you would have no control over what your spouse may do outside of the home, I do believe that you have some control over what your spouse may do in your home. And I do believe that most online affairs begin with online interactions conducted in the home setting. So, while I am not saying that you get stuck to your spouse and, as you put it previously, 'baby-sit' him or her, what I suggested was that you can affect his/her behavior by ensuring that they spend more time with you and the family. I totally believe that you can do this much at the least!!

      While if your spouse still wants to cheat, you can do nothing, I just don't feel that a policy of not doing anything is what works best. Surely, you can try to do what you can!!

      Trust is a highly subjective emotion. There is no telling that when you don't trust someone, whether that lack of trust is justified or something that is a result of your imagination or paranoia. For that reason, I wouldn't advocate not "staying with them," if you don't "trust" them. You need to know for sure that you distrust that person for the right reasons. Once again, life is too long to be lived fully playing 'private-eye,' as you put it. And as I stated, in general, for the most part, a couple won't have any problems and hence would not need to do anything like a 'private-eye,' and can just live their normal lives.

      However, if there is cause for concern, as I've stated before, I am just advocating that you be aware and look to ground your spouse, not by force, but by doing the subtle things I advocated previously. Because, not all people want to cheat - many of us stray and tend to drift in a marriage.

      For most of us, a timely wake-up call is what we need. I believe instead of giving up on a relationship, one should try to give one's spouse that wake-up call!

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      Shil1978, I believe we actually agree for the most part. As you stated people do "change". Someone with a strict moral code may not always be that way. That validates my point. (We don't have any control over what someone does.) At best all we can do is control whom (we select) to be our mates/spouses! If someone decides to cheat on you there is nothing you can do to stop them. We give our all to our relationships and if it's not enough there is nothing else we have left to offer.

      I agree there are usually signs or clues that something isn't right and we should not ignore them. If I don't trust someone I don't stay with them. Life is too short to be playing private-eye in my opinion. If something doesn't "feel right" to me then it's probably "not right" for me. Always trust your inner instincts!

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Dashingscorpio, unfortunately, you cannot really find a person who has (as you put it) a "strict moral code." You may think you have found that person, if you are really idealistic than being realistic. Even assuming that you've found this ideal person, how do you know that this "strict moral code" that you refer to - stays constant? Can you just take that for granted and assume because I have chosen a person with a "strict moral code," he/she would stay that way forever?

      Whether we like it or not, fact is that people are not robotic and don't have one set of moral codes throughout their lives. People change! They may be tempted and forget those "moral codes." Haven't we seen so many relationships end that we thought were everlasting because of the supposed morality we attributed to the individuals in question?

      I am not advocating baby-sitting or being intrusive. As I did point out earlier - all I am saying is that you need to be aware because, if you are, you can try to do something at least than be a mute spectator.

      I don't think normal couples distrust each other or are paranoid about each other's actions, to the extent of snooping around all the time. All I advocate is to be watchful to spot for signs of odd behavior that isn't routine for your spouse and then take some steps to help correct the situation.

      People don't always cheat because they "want to." They may not have a plan to cheat, but can get sucked up by an online relationship gradually to the point where they may get seriously involved and consider meeting in person and having a real physical affair in the real world.

      I believe in some of these situations what the spouse needs is a wake-up call, before things get too deep and out of hand. I think you disagree and so we may choose to disagree on this.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your views!!

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      I believe the only person you have control over is yourself. If someone wants to cheat on you they will find a way to do so. Quite a few online affairs come about through "friendships" or "social networks" where people from the past look up your spouse or significant other. Things begin innocently enough with a few email exchanges reminiscing about the old days. Eventually one person confides in the other that all is not wonderful with their relationship and the other person shares that his/her relationship is not perfect either. They start to believe maybe they were meant to be together...etc

      Whatever the scenario the only way you can avoid having a cheating spouse is by making sure you marry someone who has a strict moral code which values (honesty) above all else in relationship dealings. Cheaters lie directly or by omission. Attempting to baby-sit your spouse or control how much time they have alone on a PC is a sign that you don't trust them. There is no upside to being married to a person you don't trust.


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