The Emotional Affair: What It Is, and Isn’t

(Part 3 of 3)

(Continued from Part 2)

Emotional Affairs

In my first post, I talked about the reason for this series. In my second, I touched on healthy platonic friendships between the sexes (or, what emotional affairs aren’t). Finally, I’d like to talk about what emotional affairs are. My definition of an emotional affair is as follows:

Any type of recurring non-romantic contact with a member of the opposite sex [1] that is excessive, lacks boundaries, and/or makes the faithful spouse uncomfortable or upset when s/he finds out about it

Working from that definition, let’s break down those pieces for clarity:
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Review: Financial Peace University — Mid-Class Review 1

My new budget binder. NERD.
My new budget binder. NERD.

Review: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — Mid-Class Review 1

I have now completed 7 out of 9 FPU lessons and also 3 “bonus lessons” (lessons from the discarded 13-week format). Here are some thoughts on the first third of the course:

Lesson 1 — Super Saving ~ I was kind of surprised that the first lesson was about saving. I figured the first lesson would be about getting out of debt. But no, in the first lesson, Dave encourages you to complete “baby step 1” by putting together a starter emergency fund of $1000. (He says the fund can be only $500 if you make less than 20k per year). The reason for this is so that, when you’re  throwing everything you have to spare at your debts (see Lesson 4), you aren’t going back into debt when emergencies arise. So that you can stop using your credit card as your “emergency fund” and begin the transition to “cash only.”

Thanks to this lesson, I now take a small portion of every paycheck or child support check that I get and put it towards my starter emergency fund. Between my tax refund I just received and the lawsuit settlement money that I should begin receiving this month, my starter emergency fund will be in place soon.

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Review: Financial Peace University — Some Preliminary Thoughts

Review: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — Some Preliminary Thoughts

money
As I’ve progressed through my divorce and on to single motherhood, the thought has occurred to me: money has been and continues to be a significant source of stress for me.

Here’s the thing: around the time that I got pregnant with my daughter (2005-2006), I began making a lot of mistakes with my money and my credit. Not paying my credit card bills on time, unpaid medical bills, utilities shut off, taking out student loans without a solid plan for repayment, you name it, I have done it or it has happened to me. My mother’s illness and death exacerbated my downward slide as I wallowed in depression and just ignored the bills, leading to my vehicle getting repossessed. By 2009, my credit was thrashed and apartment rental applications were the things of nightmares. Even my parents and then-in-laws wouldn’t co-sign for me.

In 2009, I said, “No more.” (more…)

The Emotional Affair: What It Is, and Isn’t

[Harry was funny. But he was WRONG!]

(Part 2 of 3)

(Continued from Part 1)

Platonic Friendships & Relationships

Let’s touch first on platonic friendships and other types of relationships between the sexes that can be intimate and even affectionate, but are not meant to be romantic or sexual. Doctor-patient, professor-student, lawyer-client, and mentor-disciple are some examples of types of potential platonic relationships between the sexes aside from good old-fashioned “just friends.” What is the difference between platonic relationships and emotional affairs (EAs), and are platonic relationships between the sexes healthy and desirable?

On some level, I am surprised when I find Christians advocating that married Christians should not engage in platonic friendships with the opposite sex. These are usually the same Christians who will readily argue that God is male and proceed from there to some kind of conclusion about male superiority because of it–yet if platonic relationships between the sexes are not possible, if they are not healthy and desirable, then how is it that Christian women are called to have an intimate relationship with this male God? Incidentally, I think the question of God and gender is a lot more complicated than “God is male,” and very much reject that notion. But I think there is little question that, in regards to his human nature, Jesus Christ is male.

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Should you tithe on child support?

money-treeYou are a single Christian parent and you have a goal of giving a fixed percentage of your income to God. [1] You are also either paying or receiving child support. When you calculate how much you intend to tithe, do you include child support payments received as part of your income? Or, if you are the one paying child support, do you deduct child support payments from your total income before calculating how much you are going to give?

Tithing and otherwise giving to God can be a touchy and personal subject. There is always going to be someone out there ready to condemn the amount you are giving or the parties you choose to give to. I want to advocate a position here, but first I want to say: if you’ve prayed about your giving, pondered it out, and are giving with a cheerful heart, I am not here to tell you that you are wrong. I firmly believe that God honors special circumstances and that there is no one right way to give or right party to give to. [2]

Got it? Good. Because, that said, my position is this:

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I Now Pronounce You Man and Spiritual Wife

This is old news to some, but around 7 years ago, emergent church leader Tony Jones had a dirty, nasty, filthy affair with the woman who would become his second wife, Courtney Perry. [1]

Only he didn’t. At least, not according to him and his friend, Doug Pagitt, the latter having called Tony’s then-wife, Julie McMahon, and said, “Julie, this is Doug. You and Tony’s marriage is just words on a piece of paper. You may be the legal wife but Tony has a spiritual wife now.”

(That’s all according to a comment left by Julie McMahon on a September 2014 blog post wherein Tony was, ironically enough, in the process of being wistful about the fall of disgraced evangelical megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll for his “toxic theology.” Given the lack of denial of the “spiritual wife” comment from either Doug or Tony, the intensity with which Julie speaks of the memory, and the fact that a similar idea provides the framework for Jones’ Two Marriages book, I am inclined to believe that some kind of “spiritual wife” justification was, in fact, trotted out to Julie.)

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The Emotional Affair: What It Is, and Isn’t

wonka_just_friends(Part 1 of 3)

I’m a Christian woman. A feminist. And a person whose marriage ended in large part because of my ex-husband’s emotional affair with another woman. When I try to explain that last part to people, I generally get a lot of confused looks. “He had a what type of affair with another woman?!”

And therein lies the problem with emotional affairs (hereon EAs). Everyone knows that the regular type of affair means that a married person has entered into a physical or openly romantic relationship with someone who is not his/her spouse, without the spouse’s consent (and usually, without the spouse’s knowledge). The boundary was clear and the fact that the boundary has been transgressed is undeniable, which is why these affairs usually start out in secret. But what exactly is an emotional affair? Do emotional affairs really exist? And if they do, how are they different from platonic friendships between the sexes? [1]

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Table Time

Constantine at our table
Constantine at our table

I’ve had it on my heart to blog about this, and this past Saturday it came up from two separate sources: once at an appointment I was at that morning, and once in the Willow Creek sermon by Steve Carter that evening. So I guess that means I need to blog about it!

As a child, I always wanted my family to sit around a table for family dinners, to spend time together for at least one meal a day. Who knows why; perhaps I’d seen a few too many 80s family sitcoms. Sadly for my child self, my family was not particularly interested in such a practice. Our table was always cluttered with mail and whatever other miscellaneous items happened to have wandered onto it so that meals were normally eaten in front of the television or taken back into our bedrooms.

Fast forward to my marriage, where I continued to fail at implementing a family meal policy. As with my parents’ table before mine, the table (or coffee table, as it was the only table we had room for during a lot of the marriage) suffered from a steady accumulation of junk that I didn’t feel like clearing off, and my then-husband typically worked evenings so that the family was rarely together.  Sitting down for a meal with just myself and my disabled daughter felt awfully rinky-dink, so I seldom did it.

As my separation and divorce got underway, I realized that if I ever wanted to have the kind of family that ate meals around the table, I needed to accept that I was the one who had the power to make it happen and stop making excuses. (more…)