“Hi, Cyndi. I pray all is well with you.” This Facebook message from a married man I went to church with years ago sounded innocent enough and might have come from a good place. But it’s also how emotional affairs start. Let me explain. He had been sending these kinds of messages every few months. I knew I had to be careful about how I responded and how much of my emotional self I should invest. I responded with, “I am doing well. Tell (wife’s name) I said hello.”
An emotional affair can begin innocently in a shared environment, in-person or online. When two people start sharing their thoughts and feelings, emotional intimacy is created. Without stop gaps that limit that potential, you may find yourself in deeper than you ever thought possible with another man. Are you participating in any of these 7 behaviors that could lead to an emotional affair?
Talking About Emotional Issues with Another Man
It feels good to be cared about and to have an interested listener. This is especially true when your husband is emotionally closed-off. It can also feel nice to share things with someone on the outside, who isn’t directly involved in the issues. Allowing a man who isn’t your husband into the burdens of your heart creates a pathway for risky emotional intimacy. Instead, find ways to reconnect with your husband, confide in a close female friend, or talk to a professional counselor.
Allowing a man who isn’t your husband into the burdens of your heart creates a pathway for risky emotional intimacy.
Being Alone with Another Man
Spending time alone with someone of the opposite sex creates an opportunity for emotional and physical barriers to become blurred. It is easier to let your guard down when you don’t have other people’s eyes and ears as accountability. This is how emotional affairs start at work, where there are reasons for coworkers of the opposite sex to meet. If you must have a private meeting with a man, do it in a public place like a coffee shop and take separate cars to get there.
Finding Self-Worth in Another Man’s Attention
Having a man do a double-take toward you might feel good. But if another man’s attention is the only way to feel good about yourself, you are at risk of having an affair. Your sense of self-worth needs to be met from God, from within yourself, and from your husband. Be cautious around men who flatter you or whose compliments make you feel alive inside. If that’s the case, you may need to ask why you have a deficit in your sense of worth. Find some self-help books, visit with a counselor, or take some time with scriptures that affirm you.
Focusing on your husband’s negative qualities will open you up to comparing him to other men. It won’t take long before you become angry, disappointed, and disillusioned by him. His negative qualities will become enlarged in your mind until you no longer can remember what’s great about him. Soon, you will find your mind gravitating toward men who have the strengths your husband doesn’t. Instead, get intentional about focusing on your husband’s positive qualities more than his negative ones.
Secrets create walls that prevent intimacy. You can’t have true intimacy with your husband if you’re keeping things from him. Hiding spending habits or other behaviors from a spouse makes it feel more normal to have a private relationship with someone else. Keep things open and honest with your husband. If you have some secrets you’ve been keeping, find a way to confess them to him. If necessary, consult with a counselor for guidance in this process.
Not Working on Your Connection
There’s nothing sexy about the daily grind of chores, appointments, and child care. Sometimes we can get so caught up in taking care of the immediate demands that we forget to emotionally connect to our spouse. It’s important to schedule regular time together to focus on each other. Keeping this as a faithful practice will prevent you from finding yourself connecting to another man.
Allowing Unresolved Conflict
Unresolved conflict creates bitterness. Resentment builds and builds until emotional intimacy is lost. Risk working through conflict until unity is restored. Forgive past offenses that you’ve been holding in your heart toward your husband. And if you can’t resolve them yourself, enlist the help of a counselor or pastor.
These are just a few examples of how emotional affairs start. How are you protecting yourself and your marriage from an emotional affair?