Autor: Steve Jordahl Fuente: Family News In Focus

Infidelity has been around since marriage. Now a new twist on an old theme — Internet affairs — is taking its toll on marriage.

Online infidelity is growing, and it's taking a devastating toll on marriage. Ironically, a new study out of the University of Florida reveals most people involved don't even think it's wrong — until they get caught.

For all its wonder and convenience, the Internet can be a dangerous place. Kathi Hunter knows all about those dangers. Her world came crashing down around her after her husband started an online affair. Even though he never met the woman, it ruined their marriage.

"We are going to be filing for divorce, and now we need to talk about custody arrangements, and it's just been devastating — not just for me and my husband, but for my kids," Hunter said.

According to the study's author, Beatriz Avila Mileham, one-third of all divorces in America can be traced to online infidelity. Sadly, most do not see it coming.

"Most people that are married that are in chat rooms do not believe that what they're doing is a form of cheating, is a form of infidelity, at all," Mileham said.

Glenn Stanton, senior marriage analyst at Focus on the Family, said many that have Internet affairs are surprised when their marriage starts falling apart.

"It's not just wrong when it leads to the physical; it's wrong when you have given your heart away to somebody else, even if just emotionally," Stanton said. "They don't see it coming because of all the little individual steps."

Kathi's husband found out the hard way.

"He said, 'I never really thought that that phone call would have led to the destruction of my marriage.' But it did," Hunter said.

The study found that almost a third of those who start an affair online end up meeting in person.

Mileham said Internet philandering is on the way to becoming the most common form of infidelity. Its appeal stems from the fact that it is anonymous.

Many affairs start in chat rooms specifically set up to match married people. For instance, Yahoo has a chat room called "Married and Flirting," and Microsoft has one titled "Married but Flirting."

Stanton said accountability is the best safeguard.

Focus on the Family offers the following resource to help women whose husbands are struggling with affairs and other forms of unfaithfulness: "Living With Your Husband's Secret Wars," by Marsha Means

We also offer the following resource to help men who are struggling to escape the trap of sexual immorality: "Every Man's Battle," by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey.
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