A Cyberspace Affair

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Wife's uneasiness about her conservative attitude towards sex was discussed and misconceptions that she held were clarified. She felt more comfortable engaging in certain sexual practices that she was unsure of earlier, resulting in greater sexual satisfaction for the couple.

After the conjoint sessions had been terminated, the wife was seen individually for four sessions to help her constructively pursue the goal of completing her post graduation. This helped to enhance her self-esteem and also ensured that she spent less time brooding about the past.

At termination, the wife's depressive symptoms had reduced.

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She was euthymic and reported adequate sleep and appetite. The couple reported that therapy had a positive impact on their relationship. The husband had accepted responsibility for his actions and was willing to work on rebuilding trust in the relationship. A follow-up two months later revealed that therapeutic gains were maintained. The wife had stopped anti-depressants as her symptoms reduced and also because the couple had planned for a second child. They engaged in several joint activities and reported greater intimacy and improvement in their sexual relationship.

The husband had reduced time spent on the Internet while at home, and the wife had started actively pursuing her academic goals and was regularly setting time aside for her studies and looking forward to completing her post graduation. This couple responded well to therapy over a short period of time.

Factors identified in contributing to the success of therapy included, the husband's willingness to engage in therapy and his accepting responsibility for his actions and the associated negative consequences on their relationship. The couple's relationship over the years had grown increasingly distant. There was no overt conflict however. This, together with the high level of motivation in both partners to rebuild their relationship were other contributory factors to the successful outcome. Underlying problems were present in this couple's marriage prior to the infidelity.

Understanding the Different Types of Infidelity

Research carried out in this area has found that a cybersexual encounter appears to be a typical symptom of an underlying problem that has existed in the marriage before the Internet ever entered the couple's lives. Pre-existing marital problems include poor communication, sexual dissatisfaction, or boredom with the relationship. As therapists, it is important to highlight that although virtual — it is first and foremost a form of sexual interaction involving a live partner, which damages the exclusivity of the relationship, and is hence undesirable within the context of marriage.

The therapist had to maintain a neutral, non-judgmental stance while pointing out that sex-chatting with the cyber partner was unacceptable. Online infidelity has been identified by researchers in this field as potentially devastating to the primary relationship[ 5 , 7 ] and caution that it may become a major factor in deteriorating marital relations. In this case, it had precipitated an episode of moderate depression in the client, which indicates the negative consequence of online infidelity on the mental health of the injured spouse.

The case illustration also demonstrates that marital therapy is an effective and valid approach in dealing with online infidelity and should be considered while planning treatment strategies. There are no published Indian studies on this issue till date; although evidence from clinical practice shows that this is an emerging problem of concern for mental health professionals, particularly marital and family therapists.

More work is needed in this area so that clinicians are better informed about the phenomenon and the appropriate methods of handling it. Widespread use of the Internet has gradually led to a rise in online infidelity. In couples who present with this issue, an exploration into the quality of their marital relationship and sexual satisfaction is necessary. Marital therapy is implicated in dealing with the underlying issues contributing to online infidelity and in restoring marital trust.

More research is needed in the area of online infidelity because of the deleterious impact it has on marriage and the consequent impact on the mental health of the partners. Source of Support: Nil. Conflict of Interest: None declared. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Indian J Psychiatry v. Indian J Psychiatry. Angelina Mao and Ahalya Raguram. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Address for correspondence: Dr. E-mail: ni. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Increased usage of the Internet has given rise to a new challenge to marriages: That of online infidelity, which is perceived to be as traumatic as actual infidelity. Keywords: Depression, marriage, marital therapy, online infidelity. CASE REPORT Presenting problem A year-old married woman and home maker, diagnosed with moderate depression, presented for therapy following the discovery of her husband's chats of a sexual nature with his cyber chat partner via Internet, since the last six months.

Case formulation Detailed exploration of the couples overall satisfaction with the quality of their marital relationship revealed that both were dissatisfied with it since the last few years. Course of treatment Marital therapy was planned in the light of the fact that the current issue was clearly embedded in the ongoing relationship difficulties. Outcome and prognosis At termination, the wife's depressive symptoms had reduced. Young KS. The evaluation and treatment of internet addiction.

Online infidelity: The new challenge to marriages

Innovations in clinical practice: A source book. Mileham BL. Online infidelity in Internet chat rooms: An ethnographic exploration. Comput Human Behav. Infidelity on the internet: Virtual relationships and real betrayals. Naperville, IL: Source Books; Schneider J. The new Elephant in the living room: Effects of compulsive cybersex behaviors on the spouse. In: Cooper A, editor. Sex and the Internet: A guidebook for clinicians. New York: Brunner-Routledge; Cybersex and infidelity online: Implications for evaluation and treatment. Harris, Shane. Shalal-Esa, Andrea.

Somashekhar, Sandhya. Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community. Rosenbach, Eric and Aki Peritz.

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A Cyberspace Affair A Cyberspace Affair
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