With the rise of social media and the Internet, we see story after story of men and women reconnecting with old high school or college friends, ending in affairs. Or what about the coworkers who “fall for each other.” These stories are becoming all the more frequent, but it all starts somewhere, right?
Adultery, affair, cheating, infidelity, or unfaithfulness, whatever you want to call it, when one spouse outright betrays the trust of another by sleeping with someone else the pain cuts deep. But, what about your backup spouse and the other affair, the one that nobody can see? You know, the one that has no touching, no kissing, and no physical intimacy. I am talking about the one that nobody except you and the Lord know you are having.
If you don’t have any clue what I am talking about, I am referring to the emotional or mental affair. This form of mental and emotional infidelity can be just as damaging to your relationship as a sexual one.
The emotional and mental affair begins innocently enough as friendship. It tips the scale of friendship to something more when you begin investing emotional and mental energy into another person that is not your spouse. This emotional and mental investment, will often over time lead to all out sexual infidelity, especially once the other person begins providing emotional and mental support to you.
After researching emotional infidelity by scouring the web, reading articles and books, and even helping to lead a marriage retreat with a Chaplain from Ft. Hood, I have compiled these common attributes and warning signs that you may be having an emotional affair.
- You often fantasize or daydream about spending time with the other person.
- You change your schedule so that you can spend extra time with them.
- Your friendship is secret from your spouse
- They “understand you better” than your spouse.
- You are withdrawn from your spouse emotionally, mentally, sexually, and in spending regular time together.
- You think about your next communication with them, and contact them outside of “friendship hours.”
- You begin sharing intimate problems about your marriage and family.
- You share intimate emotions with them concerning your joys, fears, aspirations, stresses, etc
- You buy gifts for each other
- You start comparing them to your spouse
- You spend (significant) time alone with this person.
While I am sure this is by no means an exhaustive list, it provides a great starting point to test the waters to see if you are having an emotional affair. Each person must willingly and honestly admit to himself or herself when they are crossing that line. When you are daily living by Christ, He will help illuminate these to you if you will listen and heed the directing.
5 WAYS TO PREVENT AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23
Now that we have the warning signs, let’s discuss a few major ways to prevent the emotional affair from even happening.
- Have at least 60 minutes of daily intimate conversation. This strengthens the mental and emotional bond with each by renewing it daily.
- Never be alone with a member of the opposite sex. This prevents the opportunity of emotional or even sexual infidelity from arising.
- Schedule a regular date night with your spouse. Plan to have an evening alone together at least once a week. Even a cheap or free date strengthens the marriage bond.
- Never speak negatively about your spouse to others. Nobody else needs to know about your marital arguments and disagreements. Complaining about your spouse only paints them in a bad light to others. Always build your spouse up when around others.
- Have lots of sex. Let’s be honest here. Sex is vital to a marriage relationship. If your not having sex with your spouse, chances are they will find it somewhere else, even if they aren’t looking for it. We live in a highly sexually charged culture in America, and temptation is everywhere. Keep your spouse satisfied, and meet each other’s needs (1 Cor. 7:1-5). Husbands: your wife needs to feel loved before sex. Wives: your husband feels loved because of sex.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
Take care of your spouse, grow together, protect your relationship, and most of all let Christ be the head of your marriage. Watch for the warning signs to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of the other affair.