Along with sexual fidelity, “emotional fidelity” and “financial fidelity” constitute the mortar of trust that cements together the bricks of love in a marriage.
Emotional fidelity simply means that one remains emotionally faithful by not being too flirtatious or provocative with another person. Thus, instead of spending emotional capital by even innocently flirting with someone other than your spouse, that “currency” should be spent in the emotional economy of your marriage. To be sure, the slope of flirtation is very slippery indeed and people can easily find themselves having an emotional affair before they know what has happened. So, basically, do not say anything to another man or woman privately that you would be reluctant to say to him or her in front of your spouse. Of course, this goes equally for any form of communication like texting and emailing, too.
Similarly, be careful not to offer too much emotional support to other people, no matter how near and dear to you they are, at the expense of satisfying your partner’s emotional needs. This gets complicated when the other people you’re emotionally nourishing are your children, but, in general, a balance needs to be struck so that your spouse is not neglected because you’re drained by satisfying the emotional needs of your kids.
Now, financial fidelity is simply being completely open and transparent about spending money and never making unilateral decisions that involve big purchases. So, if you have a secret bank account, a hidden stash of cash, or make big purchases you keep concealed from your partner, you are being financially unfaithful (yes, even if you’re the primary or sole earner).
Just like with emotional fidelity, the key here is to never do anything secretly with money that you would be reluctant to do in front of or with your spouse.
While a bit of an over-simplification, it really is just that easy. Simply treat emotional support, flirtation, and money the same way you relate to sex in your marriage (openly, honestly, and faithfully, I hope!) and then you will enjoy total, marital fidelity.
In concluding, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about “total honesty is the best policy” by advocating that spouses should be completely open and uncensored with each other all the time. In fact, as I’ll probably blog about in a future post, total honesty is not always the best policy and people are well advised not to reveal some of their deeply private, most honest, thoughts and feelings to their spouses. Hence, honesty balanced with tact and rational restraint is the best policy.
Remember: Think well, act well, feel well, be well!
Copyright by Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D