Q: My husband had an affair with another woman. It's over now, I genuinely believe he's truly sorry, and we're working toward reconciliation. But as a somewhat embarrassing practical consideration -- should he be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI)and diseases?
Jim: I'm sorry to hear about the affair but encouraged by the progress you're making. And to answer your question -- you should both get tested as soon as possible, for many reasons.
The first and most obvious concern is that an STI could have huge implications for your health as well as the sexual dimension of your relationship. This is especially important for you, since some of these diseases can lie dormant in a woman's body for a long time before showing any symptoms. It's critical to bring the facts to light as soon as possible to avoid potential further damage.
Also, in situations of marital unfaithfulness, a vital element of the reconciliation process is a complete willingness on the part of the offending spouse to take responsibility for -- and accept the consequences of -- their actions. These consequences can be physical and medical as well as emotional and psychological. You can't expect to put your marriage wholly back together unless your husband is prepared to deal with everything.
That said, the emotional and psychological aspects of these situations are often of far greater consequence -- and can be more difficult to resolve. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend that you and your husband initiate a detailed course of therapy with a trained and qualified counselor. Our own staff counselors would be happy to provide a free consultation, then put you in touch with a local marriage therapist who can uncover any unresolved issues in your relationship and guide you through the reconciliation and healing process. You can call 855-771-HELP (4357). I wish you the best.
Q: I've been hearing about something called "the metaverse." What is it, and how might it affect my kids?
Adam Holz, Director, Plugged In: It seems like everyone's talking about the metaverse these days. That's because existing technology continues to advance, and because Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sees the still-forming metaverse as the next significant step in the internet's evolution.
But what is the metaverse, exactly?
Put simply, the metaverse is an immersive virtual reality connection to a specific online community. A user enters this digital realm via a VR (virtual reality) headset, combined with gloves and other clothing that enables real physical engagement in a simulated reality. Once you're embedded in a given metaverse environment, you can roam that world and do many of the things you'd do in the real world. To do so, you'll design a customized avatar -- a digital representation of yourself similar to what you'll find in many online role-player games already.
If that sounds familiar, it is. This is exactly the kind of world that numerous movies have imagined ("Ready Player One" and "Avatar," among others).
Many people will naturally recognize that increasing immersion in a digital environment can never replace our incarnational, face-to-face need for relationship that God has hard-wired into us. Still, as metaverse technology advances, and as that simulated virtual reality becomes more realistically immersive, many users will definitely be tempted to spend more and more time there -- which is exactly what Zuckerberg is banking on.
We already know that excessive screen time comes freighted with adverse mental health correlations. The metaverse potentially acts as an exponential accelerant for those escaping this reality and looking for a more satisfying substitution online.
As this technology advances, parents' challenge will be to understand its significant appeal and to help their children navigate the traps set by an enticing virtual alternative to life in the real world.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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