There's a new book out there that's got
everyone talking around the water cooler at work - or not talking
to each other for reasons that will become clear.
The book is called Emotional Infidelity
- How To Avoid It And 10 Other Secrets To A Great Marriage.
Its author, M. Gary Neuman, is a licensed mental health counsellor
and an Orthodox rabbi.
Mr. Neuman says you may be cheating on
your spouse without even knowing it. According to him you are
being unfaithful if you send funny e-mails to co-workers of the
opposite sex. It is also cheating on your spouse if you go out
to lunch alone with members of the opposite sex, or see them
after work for drinks, no matter how harmless. It's even unfaithful
if, and I quote: "you ride in a car sharing pleasant, personal
conversation alone with a member of the opposite sex on the way
to meetings or other work-related events."
You see, Mr. Neuman considers it unfaithful
every time you invest time or emotional energy in people of the
opposite sex for whatever reason. If you're doing any of these
things, according to him, you're being emotionally unfaithful
to your spouse.
That's why he suggests that to keep your
marriage afloat you have to avoid friendships with members of
the opposite sex. You have to save all your emotional energy
for when you get home.
I'm not sure what kind of work environment
Mr. Neuman spends his time in. It sounds like every day at the
office for him is like an episode of Temptation Island, with
hot but emotionally needy hardbodied hussies and he-men waiting
by the photocopier to sap you of your emotional fidelity.
And of course, sending funny e-mails
to your differently-gendered co-workers is the thin edge of the
wedge. Next you'll be trading risqué knock-knock jokes
and suggestive invoice requisitions.
I suppose other ways to avoid inflaming
your co-workers would be to wear a burka, or let your personal
hygiene really slide. Instead of giving officemates birthday
cards, you could e-mail them a particularly fascinating cost-benefit
As a marriage counsellor Mr. Neuman's
job is to see couples who are already in trouble. But I'm not
sure cheating husbands and unfaithful wives are really people
the rest of us should be drawing life lessons from. Maybe instead
we should be copying the people who don't need to see a marriage
counsellor, rather than concentrating on not doing the other
things that make some shaky relationships crash and burn.
If sharing a pleasant, personal conversation
with a co-worker or any gender male, female or otherwise
is going to rock your marital boat, I have news for you.
It's time to man the lifeboats. Your marriage probably isn't
going to make it anyway.
Mr. Neuman seems to see life as a prison,
and everyone in it is serving a life sentence with only your
cellmate to keep you company. You can't be trusted to talk to
the other prisoners or the guards.
Emotional energy may not be infinite,
but it doesn't have to be rationed out either. I suspect the
most caring people at work are also the most caring at home too.
My father used to say: "Save your
best for home," and he was right. But the way to do that
isn't to cut off the rest of the world from caring or ordinary
That would make the world a pretty poor