When we think of affairs, we often think of soap opera scandal, and of husbands and wives jumping into bed with each other. But many types of affairs actually occur on a purely emotional level.
Maybe you’re wondering, “What is an emotional affair?” An emotional affair is when a spouse is getting their needs met by someone of the opposite sex who is not their own partner. And it happens a lot.
What is an Emotional Affair? Here are Some Examples
So, say a husband has a real interest in music but the wife has never been at all musical. Sensing a lack of interest from his spouse, the husband may join a community music group. There, he meets an attractive woman, and they get on well. He realizes that he shares a common interest with this woman and that she appreciates his talents more than his own wife does.
He starts looking forward to spending time with the woman, as he enjoys the company and appreciates being encouraged and built up in his abilities. He starts to think about her more and more, and begins trying to figure out a way that he can spend time with her alone.
Or maybe it is a wife who is very artistic, but her husband has no interest in her work. She has a group of artsy friends who she likes hanging out with. A handsome man joins the group and his artistic ability is incredible. She is impressed by both his looks and his skills.
The pair begins to bond over their shared love of certain famous artists and begin to meet up so they can work together on different projects. The wife starts to work her schedule around the man so that they can spend more time together. She also begins to take longer to get ready for when she meets him because she wants to look good for him.
Identifying Emotional Affairs
Emotional affairs always develop outside of the spouse’s awareness. They increase gradually and become more dangerous over time, as bit by bit the two people grow closer.
It is worth thinking regularly about any people you might know who meet a need in your life that is not being met by your own spouse. If you realize you have been engaging in an emotional affair, don’t beat yourself up.
It is, however, time to deal with it by being open and honest with your spouse. Don’t rush in and accuse your spouse of neglecting your needs, but think carefully about how they are feeling, and be cautious with your words.
In a marriage, very little is ever beyond repair. Yes, you might have got a bit lost along the way, but with the right help, you can get things back on track.
How To Re-Engage With Your Spouse
Re-engaging with your spouse is an absolutely essential part of recovering from an emotional affair. This can be difficult if the affair has been going on for some time behind the spouse’s back. You must both be willing to work on engaging with each other once again.
If you are both committed to fixing your marriage, here are some key steps you can take:
Get Into Counseling
Marital disconnection is often deeply rooted in past trauma. In order to identify the triggers for the emotional affair in a safe and secure environment, it is worth getting some counseling. This will give both parties a chance to voice their frustrations and concerns with a trained therapist who can help decipher exactly what is going on.
Set Healthy Boundaries
After being married for a while, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of feeling as if you never get your own way. Both partners should be allowed to say “No” in any given situation without a massive relational fallout.
When disagreements do arise, it is important not to engage in knee-jerk reactions that only serve to heighten emotions and bring about more strife. Setting personal boundaries in terms of individual decision-making is absolutely essential, and these must be respected at all times.
Ask For Needs To Be Met, But Be Able to Hear “No”
Related to the last point, a healthy marriage is one in which either partner is allowed to ask for their needs to be met, but is also allowed to say “No.” This may be a crucial element in protecting your sex life. If you say “I think we should have sex,” and your partner responds “No, I don’t want to right now.” That should be taken as a final answer and you should not push it any further.
By allowing each other to express how you feel, you are showing honor to each other as respected adults, and are ridding your marriage of coercion and unhealthy power dynamics. You must always seek to work toward a mutually-respectful relationship where you are both fully listened to, steering clear of the parent-child relationship in your marriage.
Work On Pairing Action With Emotion
Reintroduce some emotion into your marriage. If you are leaving for work, don’t just slam the door without as much as a wave goodbye. Leave a few minutes spare to hold your spouse, to tell them how much you love them, and to kiss them properly.
Try and get off autopilot when it comes to showing affection. Be sacrificial with your time and spend it willingly to reconnect with your spouse in a physical way.
Engage in Healthy Dating Behaviors
Make a list of places you want to visit, restaurants you want to have dinner at, or walks you want to take together. Go on some dates! Reconnect in a romantic setting. Compliment your spouse when they have made an effort to look nice for you. Buy flowers, take them on surprise trips, and just make them feel special!
Find Your Spiritual Practices As A Couple
Find a way of connecting with God as a couple. Be creative and wise in this. For example, if you both struggle to stay awake after getting into bed, scrap the bedtime Bible and prayer time. Agree to get up an hour earlier and do it first thing in the morning. Go to Church together, hang out with Christian friends in the community and spur each other on in your faith.
Put Your Spouse First
Prefer your spouse over others. If your friends ask you to come and hang out with them, check with your spouse before saying yes. See if your spouse wants to do something that evening, and let them know that they take priority over anyone else. Similarly, if you sense your spouse could do with a bit of time on their own, make it clear that you are totally okay with this.
Stay Alert, Protect Yourself From An Affair
Keep your eyes open to any possible threats to your marriage. Perhaps an attractive man or woman has just joined your small group, and you find your eyes lingering on them for a moment too long.
Catch it early. Let your spouse know of any potential snares and figure out ways to combat them. If you are highly attracted to someone, be wise and don’t hang out with them on your own, no matter how plausible you deem the reason to be.
If you are worried that someone may have taken a personal liking to you at work, talk to them about your spouse in a positive light – this will kill any potential emotional affair!
Be tuned in to your emotional state when you are around people. If you feel a fluttering of the stomach when you see someone who isn’t your spouse, take note of that and be sure to avoid spending too much time with this person.
These are just a few tips and tools for reconnecting with your spouse and protecting yourself against an emotional affair. Remember why you married your spouse, keep your wedding vows close to your heart and mind and be bold in tackling the difficult things of marriage together as a couple that is united under the protection of God.
“Telephone Mobile to Call”, Courtesy of Niek Verlaan, Pixabay.com; CC0 License; “The Waiting Game”, Courtesy of Louis Blythe, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Boundaries”, Courtesy of Thomas Smith, Unsplash.com; CC0 License;”Dinner Date”, Courtesy of Jack Finnigan, Unsplash.com; CC0 Licens