Marriage Missions International

Getting “Unhooked” From An Emotional Affair

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“How can I get unhooked from an emotional affair?” There is not easy way, and it will involve a process of time. In that process, several practices are important. First of all, separation is important. The emphasis here is on abstinence and sobriety. You don’t indulge yourself with the other person’s presence. You must stop exposing yourself to this shared life experience. The contact is what keeps these feelings alive; you need to stop feeding the compulsion.

I hasten to add that you just can’t bury these feelings. Therefore, the next step is identification. What is the “something” this person touches inside you? What unmet need does he tap into? Sometimes the infidel can process this with a spouse or a same-sex friend, but other times that will need to be done with an experienced counselor who is committed to restoring the marriage.

My experience is that the longings that underlie infidelity go back to childhood; the infidel brings them with him or her into the marriage. They often were touched upon or satisfied in the initial phases of the relationship with the spouse, but over time have been buried by the crush of life’s responsibilities.

The next process is exposure. Don’t allow these longings and feelings to remain a secret. The longer an infidel allows these feelings to continue as a secret, the more he or she will idealize the person the feelings are attached to. Idealization means this partner becomes perfect, and as a result, no one else (e.g., the spouse) can measure up. The partner is beginning to be seen as “all good,” and therefore the infidel will have to see the marriage as “all bad.”

As mentioned earlier, if you encapsulate these feelings at this point, they will only lie dormant to be triggered again later. I usually encourage the infidel to share his feelings with his spouse, after seeking counsel. After all, the spouse has been involved in this story already (in that all affairs are a triangle, even if the spouse is unaware) and might as well know the secrets that are occurring in his/her marriage.

The next concept here is to journal. Write down the feelings you are experiencing in this rather involved and tortuous journey. Feelings don’t have to control an individual, but their influence is strongest when they are held in secret. The longings that have led to this emotional affair are a part of the childhood magic; journaling them gets them out into the open, into the adult realm.

The next step is displacement. Use this process in tandem with some of the other processes. Here you do something else in lieu of focusing on the partner. You can exercise, get involved in spiritual development, or take on different projects or hobbies. This is the “doing” part of healing.

The final idea is to grieve. Though this is extremely difficult for the spouse to observe, it is important and necessary. Many times this needs to start with a “good-bye” letter (written to the adulterous partner). Most infidels find this very painful to do. It seems so unnecessary initially, because (seemingly “nothing evil has happened,” since they didn’t have sex. Only after thorough processing, and the passage of time, will the infidel be able to look back and see how befuddled his/her thinking really was.

This is also a good time for the infidel to review his/her “loss history,” and this leads naturally to grieving. What other significant caregivers, friends, loved ones, or pets has the infidel lost that parallel the lost feelings in giving up the affair? The infidel will probably want to do this in private and only later will be able to share the depth of the experience with his spouse.

(A caution here: The depression is not about what you feel for the partner, but just what you are feeling, period. Keep the partner out of the equation-it will make it easier for your souse to listen to your feelings, and easier for you to connect with the feelings in your heart that need processing.)

The Healing Process: Neither your partner nor your spouse can release you from the emotional hook you’ve experienced. Many spouses caught in this kind of emotional affair have found portions of The Serenity Prayer helpful:

“Lord, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Be careful of changing the components around. Don’t try to change the things you cannot change-that will only lead to frustration and anger. On the other hand, don’t accept the things you should be changing —that will only lead to feelings of victimization, a sense of “What’s the use? I can’t lick this, so I might as well give in.”

Time, the healing process, always requires a backward look. Encouragement is not usually the result if you look to where you need to be, feel like you ought to be, or even want to be. You will see the feelings diminish as you look backward to where you were three, six or nine months ago.

Rebuild and concentrate on the lost relationships that contributed to the vacuum that the emotional affair filled. That could require quite a search on your part, some intense conversations (even confrontations) with people in your life, a lot of focused reading, and even some trips/visits to significant places in your childhood.

Enjoy the process and reschedule the experiences that made your marriage good in the first place. Here I encourage couples to each identify the “eight greats” of their marital experience. Independently, each spouse should identify the eight great experiences, or highlights, of their marital history, then decide together on five that they’d like to repeat. You see, shared history is a critical component of intimacy. Rare is the spouse who won’t join “the almost infidel” in this endeavor and experience recovery from close call. Why, most of us had close calls ourselves.

Some Cautions for the Infidel: Temptations do not an identity make. Some people struggle with the same temptation for years. For instance, just because someone wants to smoke again because he’s tempted doesn’t mean he’s a smoker. Don’t let the temptation to return to the partner shame you into feeling “What’s the use? I might as well give in. I’ll never be free of these feelings.”

Second, remember that in periods of high stress, difficult emotions, transition, and marital dullness, you will feel an increased desire to return to the partner or to renew thoughts of him/her. At times, infidels report that they have yearnings to think about this person just to see if the feelings are still “available” as in the days gone by. This “testing” is common to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and the intent is to prove to oneself how far one has come in the recovery process.

Be careful —this process can begin to mimic the destabilization process of a Class 2 affair described in chapter 6. As mentioned there, such practices only intensify, rather than lessen, the attraction —and the hook goes much deeper.

Some Encouragement for the Spouse: First, remember that these longings were present in your spouse before you entered his or her life. You didn’t create them, and you probably can’t fully satisfy them.

Second, you did tap into those longings early in your relationship in some fashion. The longings were present in the initial feelings of what love is all about. For whatever reason, the infidel settled for the initial feelings of what love is all about and superficial satisfaction of those longings, versus deepening and maturing them. This is not your fault. Many times it is the result of a combination of circumstances: work, school, family, and so on. But the exciting thing is now you both can go deeper in your love for each other.

Last, both of you will eventually forget the partner. The memories of this experience will fade in the same way that a widow or widower forgets about the loss of a good first marriage if the second marriage is a pleasant experience.

It is possible to rebuild after an emotional affair has been discovered. Work through these steps and you will make progress. This is the kind of stuff emotional intimacy is built on, and that is the key to any good marriage.

The above article comes from the excellent book, TORN ASSUNDER: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair written by Dave Carder, published by Moody Publishers. This book is very comprehensive and is a great practical guide for dealing with extramarital affairs. It’s very comprehensive because it carefully sorts out the different kinds of affairs and deals with each kind —giving very practical and insightful information. It doesn’t lump all infidelity together “giving over-simplistic spiritual answers.” It’s practical because “it deals with daily, gut-level issues both partners face.” We highly recommend getting this book!

There are a couple of parts that especially stand out and set it apart from other resources. One in particular which is EXCELLENT is titled: “When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want You Back: The 90-Day Experiment.” We wish we could have put this portion of the book on our web site but it’s too long to be able to honor the author’s copyright privilege and it really can’t be shortened to do it justice. You really need to get the book to have this as well as the other helpful information. (If you’re dealing with this problem and you can’t get this book in your country then please contact the publisher at the above web site and see if there’s something that can be arranged.)

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Comments

1,394 Responses to “Getting “Unhooked” From An Emotional Affair”
  1. Lisa from United States says:

    Ruth and Trying, It is of great comfort to me to read your posts and know that you’re praying for me. I’m struggling with tremendous guilt of knowing I’m the cause of all of this. My heart hurts when I see the raw pain in my husband’s eyes every time I look at him. I know he wants to ask me more questions about the details of the affair. Quite honestly, I just don’t think I want to answer, as I feel and know it’s going to give him images just like Sad had posted… that she can’t erase. I’m scheduled to talk with a counselor on Monday. I’m praying that she will help me (and my husband) get on the path of recovery.

    As many have posted before, this is so much an addiction or obsession. My thoughts drift to the OM many times throughout the day. I’ve realized my obsessive thoughts of him have and do distract me from my relationship with God. This whole experience has been very much a test of my faith. I do find Running Man’s posts to be very healing and uplifting and do reread them often. I do pray for God to give us wisdom and show us the way we need to go. Lisa~

    • Ally from United States says:

      Lisa- I can so relate to struggling with what and how much to tell your husband now that he knows. In a way, it’s freeing to know they know, but at the same time knowing that it may and can cause such hurt is devastating. It’s good that you are going to a counselor both together and alone. Hopefully this will help you get this through this and know what you should share.

      My personal thought is, you should tell him a lot. Maybe how it started and why you feel you began developing feelings for him. Because maybe getting to the bottom of this can help you determine what it is that you need to work on in your marriage and in your life personally so that you don’t feel pulled into a temptation like this again.

      It may be hard and even difficult for you to both share and your husband to hear, but in the end, it may draw him closer to you because of your honesty. He’ll see you’re being sincere and desperately want to repair the damage that has been done to the marriage. But of course, the repair can take time and it may take time for trust to be rebuilt. I’m guessing we all know that’s obvious. ;) But I do hope this at least helps and my thoughts and prayers for you.

    • Ruth from United States says:

      Lisa, I don’t know about you, but in a way I think the guilt is good, at least initially. It shows you care about your husband and that you acknowledge what you did was wrong. But I’m realizing the need to forgive myself, especially since I know God forgave me the second I repented, and my husband has even forgiven me at this point. Continually beating yourself up only depresses you more. If you can forgive yourself, you will have more strength to work through this.

      I’ve been struggling with thinking about OM on and off too. Some days it’s just a glimmer, others I find myself obsessing again. I’ve been trying to convince myself I don’t care about him at all, but then realized that doesn’t help because it’s just not true. Is it possible to continue to care about and miss a person we aren’t supposed to be with? I’m not sure, but lying to myself that I don’t care isn’t working, and probably not that healthy either. It seems like just accepting the position we are in and dealing with it as best as we can (therapy, being open & honest with spouses, praying) and TIME is the best plan. It’s so hard to be patient when we just want this to all be over!

      I’m finding this site to be a form of therapy too, just being able to be honest and get feedback is so valuable in the healing process. It’s helpful to get the thoughts out of my head, kind of like journaling I guess. My best wishes for you, Lisa!

    • Sad from South Africa says:

      Dear Lisa, I have so much empathy for you and especially for your husband. I read somewhere on this website that asking your husband if he is sure he wants to know (when he asks questions) before you respond (because once you told him you can’t “untell” it) is probably a good idea. Just withholding information from him at this stage will just further damage the trust relationship between you. Perhaps your therapist can help you find ways of being honest with him without leaving him with images that can’t be erased.

      And Ruth is right – you cannot undo what you did, so beating yourself up is not going to help. The best thing you can do right now is actively work at saving your marriage, at showing your husband that you want him to trust you again. The feelings and thoughts regarding the OM will probably stay with you for a long time, but you don’t need to dwell on them. Try and find ways to dismiss the thoughts or to distract yourself. I’m praying for you and your husband.

  2. Trying from United States says:

    Ruth and Lisa, My dear kindred spirits, I’m so thankful to see you post again and to read your hearts. All I can say is “I’ve been there. I understand. I have felt almost every emotion you have re: OM.” Please know that you’re not walking through this crisis alone.

    Ruth, You’re so right! God’s will is the preservation and restoration of BOTH of your marriages. Satan wants to destroy BOTH families. That is fact –and at a time like this, we must grip tight to the Truth of God, and deny emotions and self. I can so identify with your discovery of ‘part of you that is ugly’ –not the woman you used to be. I remember that day so well –when I finally quit denying and accepted responsibility for my own actions. Step by step! Keep doing the right thing! I’ll pray that you can do God’s will in telling your husband about the recent contact. I’m guessing he may find out, especially if you have been very transparent up until this time, but God’s timing is perfect –seek His will first, and what will be the best choice for your marriage
    .
    Lisa, your pain is so real; yet it can be used as a tool in God’s hand to help us face reality. I would highly recommend that if you reveal more details to your husband that you do it with a third party (pastor or counselor) present. This is truly a Major test of faith, but we have an ADVOCATE with Jesus. Continue to turn to God for your strength and wisdom. His Word promises He will never leave or forsake us! Many of the concepts of faith that I had learned and known for years, have been put to the test these past few years as I’ve walked this journey. But one thing is for sure –God is faithful to His children! His promises ARE true.

    And yes, I believe Runnning Man has gleaned great wisdom from his trial, and I praise God that he’s willing to be used as a mouthpiece and as a servant to the rest of us, giving us courage and hope at a time when we need it the most.

    Continued prayers (especially for Monday’s appointment, Lisa) –Even though there is much pain in your hearts right now –please believe: You’re doing the RIGHT thing –honoring your marriage by ending the relationship, and desiring restoration with your husbands! God will bless and honor you for that!

  3. Ally from United States says:

    Oh, you guys! I’m glad we can be here for each other and understand what each other is going through, even if we’re in different cycles of the healing process. While I feel like things were going so well, I also had a recent set back. It’s so frustrating! But I do feel, as I mentioned to Ruth a moment ago, that I do think it’s an ongoing “recovery” cycle and as we get stronger we can “rebound” quicker from the setbacks.

    Recently, the OM began contacting me. It started because of my birthday a couple weeks ago. He called and I talked with him briefly- pretty platonic and quick. But then he began e-mailing me. Initially, I responded back to his e-mails, caught him up on a new job I had and other things. He asked if he could meet me for lunch and I told him “no”. I then told him that I needed to stop the communication again. That I’m afraid of where it will go and that I’m not strong enough for that temptation. He tried e-mailing and even calling after that, but I have since ignored those efforts. And it’s so hard! I don’t know why I feel badly about it, but I do. I want to talk to him, but I know it’s not right and that it will only make it harder to stop again.

    So now because of that, he’s been on my mind more. I have journaled about those feelings and I really do know deep in my heart he’s not right for me. The person I’m with now is a great man. He’s aware of my past and that he’s reached out to me as of recent. I just can’t let a relationship that is past impact a relationship that is my present and possibly my future.

    As Ruth mentioned, it’s hard to stop even talking to them. It’s mourning and end of something, someone I once cared about. But I also know I’ve done it with previous relationships and friendships. I’ve mourned them and moved on. So I’m not sure why this one is more difficult. I’m strong in that I’m not contacting him, but I do get pulled in when he reaches out. Probably because he knows I won’t. So I guess, I just wish he’d finally let it go, so I don’t have to feel so torn every time he may contact me…and I’ve told him this. Since I’ve ignored the last several efforts, I’m hoping it will stop (even though it’s sad at the same time).

    Please pray that this will be the stopping of this and that I can go back to what I was able to do before- continue to move forward and get past this. However, the good thing is, it doesn’t occupy my thoughts as much as it would have in the past. So I do feel there is progress. Last year, it would have been so difficult. Maybe the goal is that we do need to train our minds to “bounce back” and find ways to train ourselves to occupy our thoughts elsewhere so it can be easier each time we have a chance encounter.

    Anyhow, thought I’d share this update. Hope this helps others see that you’re not alone in your struggle…although, it’s frustrating that it can pull us back into the web so easily.

    • Ruth from United States says:

      Ally, I’m sorry you’re dealing with contact again from the EA. But it sounds like you’re staying very strong as difficult as it is. I’ve been praying for you to continue being strong and for him to cease contact.

      It’s good to hear how after time the “rebound” becomes easier. It can be so frustrating and spirit-breaking when we feel like we’re doing well and there is a set back. But I will keep it in mind that it will get better and easier, as long as I am committed to moving on. Hope you are doing well!

  4. Laura from United States says:

    I just wanted to pop on and send everyone my love and prayers today. I’ve been on every day, reading and absorbing and appreciate the raw honesty in which we all share and encourage each other. Have a blessed day.
    Laura

  5. Trying from United States says:

    Ruth and Lisa ( and all who read here), I have been thinking about you daily, and want you to know that you are in my prayers. I want to encourage you to rest in the promise that “God’s timing is perfect.”

    Whether it’s a ‘chance’ meeting, or confessing contact to your husband, I believe that God, the Creator of the universe is in control of all things, and He will not give us more than we can handle with His grace.

    I am reminded of the days when I compared my wounded broken heart to the physical process of a wound. The size of the injury/incision depends on the rate of healing. If all the proper care and parameters are in place, a one-inch incision would heal within a few weeks. To the other extreme, a gunshot wound to the abdomen that requires surgery and then is left open to drain and heal from the inside out takes MUCH MUCH longer to heal. Our bodies and our hearts/psyche are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ –and the Great Physician wants us whole and healed again. Healing is possible, but the treatment and healing rates are very different for each of us.

    I’m feeling blessed by the principle of No Contact, as it has been much less the past week. Reaching the place of social acquaintances again in our small community, finding myself able to respond with kind detachment to a brief public ‘hello’ –reminding myself how thankful I am for God’s intervention and mercy in removing me from a path of destruction are all blessings of healing, and I am thankful.

    Hold fast to the Truth, and know you are not alone in this journey…

  6. Ruth from United States says:

    Okay, I have to admit that the No Contact rule (or as I like to call it, focusing on my family) is really starting to work. It’s been less than 2 weeks since I talked to OM, but since I know there is not any possibility of intentional contact from either of us, I’ve been dwelling on him and our EA much less. I know I’ll eventually run into him accidentally in our town, and that may be difficult, but I know now nothing will come of it so it seems easier.

    I’m still dealing with the desire for validation and occasionally imagine scenarios where I can be tough and strong if I run into him, but those are lessening too and I know in my heart that these thoughts are completely unnecessary for healing. Sometimes memories of our time together creep in, but I don’t feel the strong need to still have a relationship with OM (even platonic) like I did initially, and I pray that need never returns.

    I think I’m finally letting go the guilt, and forgiving myself. Also some anti-anxiety medication I’ve started has been helping me tremendously. I’m not a medical professional of any sorts and wouldn’t recommend any medication without therapist & doctor consent, but it’s really been helping me in combination with therapy. I’m feeling calmer, less anxious, and more focused.

    It’s been a good week overall, and I’m praying my healing continues to progress as well as praying of all of you on this site.

    • Ally from United States says:

      Ruth, That’s great news! It does sound like you’re focusing on the right things. And I like how you call it focusing on your family, as opposed to No Contact. That’s probably exactly what will help you in moving forward and getting your thoughts off of him.

      I, too, have remained strong and not responded to my AP and I’m so glad I didn’t respond! Each passing day has caused me to think about his recent communication less. I’m hoping that he won’t resurface again to cause me to go through this all over again! It seems just when I’m at really good place, he does. So just prepare yourself for that and just keep resolving yourself to move forward, like you are now. You’re doing great, keep it up!

      • Ruth from United States says:

        Ally, Glad to hear you haven’t responded to AP. I imagine each time you resist you gather more strength. Good for you!

  7. Laura from United States says:

    Since our personal contact a couple of months ago, I’ve re-resolved to actively avoid. We’ve only seen each other from across a crowd a couple of times, and it’s been really nice having the break from the raw emotions I had felt again. It hasn’t been easy to follow-through, but the more relaxed I felt, the more motivated I’ve been to continue avoiding.

    But then recently I was approached by someone about helping with a charity project. The OM is also involved, and I knew that up front. Long story short, I decided to do the project.

    Why I chose to do it: First and foremost, I separated out the OM, and really wanted to help. I’m inspired by the work this charity does and it coincides with other work I already do. It’s a good fit for me. If he wasn’t involved, I honestly wouldn’t have thought twice. My part will help a lot of people, and to say no just didn’t seem right. It seemed like the unselfish act is to put my own issues aside for the benefit of others. In addition, there is no valid reason why I would say no.

    Where I failed in my decision-making: I should have waited at least 24-hours to respond. To really give myself time to weigh it all. I’m a quick thinker and make decisions in my life quickly. I think that sometimes it’s more important to slow down and give things more consideration. I’ll have to learn from this. Outcome: This will mean a few meetings or so with both of us in attendance. Contact should be minimal. But it does link us in yet another way for a significant length of time.

    Reflection: There have been pivotal moments over this journey where I TRULY have separated and worked on NC. I can name about four. And it’s been in those times that he and I have been either pushed together due to circumstances, or in this case opportunity. It really makes me wonder, as I have before, if it’s Satan at work time and again, or if God is teaching and guiding me (or him or both) through it all. NOT to be together! I don’t mean that!! But leading us to learn and grow in Christ as we face our temptations, fears, vulnerabilities and such. As I was praying on my decision last week, knowing I’d be seeing the OM in a meeting coming up soon, I heard God say ‘Trust Me.’ He has spoken these words to me before out of the blue during specific times in this journey and they have brought such peace. I’m trying to let go, trust, and move forward.

    So, I’m clearly not a role model of how to get unhooked. I know it’s my salvation that is most at stake here in this life. I’ll continue to act in faith and do the best I can on this journey. But I also help recognize that my decision is hugely disappointing to some of my friends here who have supported me, and others who read. That saddens me.

    Ruth and Ally, your recent posts make me smile. I’m so happy you’re honoring your commitments for NC and are feeling the peace and grace God has to give. Stay strong and remain faithful. Many blessings to all, Laura

    • Ally from United States says:

      Laura- Don’t beat yourself up too much. At least you took the time to reflect and see what you could have done differently. I’m guessing that’s a HUGE step compared to where you were at other times. I understand, though, why you may feel you took a step back by doing this project. I had a similar situation happen in the fall.

      I went to an event that I knew the OM may be at because we are both involved in that community, but felt that I was moving on in my life and I shouldn’t refrain from doing something/getting involved in something that I would regardless if he was there or not. And of course, because of it he did begin contacting me again and I responded. We started talking through phone and e-mail for almost a month before I finally had to end it again!

      So I guess my caution is if you are to be involved in a project that he’s also going to be involved in, is to create a plan of action so you’re prepared and don’t get sucked back in. For example, try to make sure you’re around others and limit contact with him (if you can’t avoid it) to only when others are around. I had wished I had prepared myself more, but I didn’t fully prepare myself and I fell into an old pattern.

      I’ve had similar thoughts that you have had- about the temptations. That we can be doing so good, not really thinking of them, and then BAM- there they are again. Ugh! I don’t feel God brings us temptations, but he does allow them and I feel they are from the devil. I also have read that he knows where to tempt us where we are most vulnerable, or even where we may feel we don’t have an issue (pride). I guess that’s why they talk about being prepared with the full armor of Christ in Ephesians 6.

      Ephesians 6:10-18: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, and against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In additional to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for believers everywhere.”

      I guess what I usually need help with is holding up the shield of faith when dealing with this situation. Knowing that I need to repel the advances and/or reject the thoughts by thinking of truth, but also by knowing that God will get me through this and one day it won’t be as much of a struggle. That one day we’ll come out the others side and realize what it was all for and what our being steadfast in our resolve for NC has brought us to. I’m not sure what that is now, but I do feel God is teaching us something as he allows us to be tempted.

      Stay strong Laura! Be prepared and not discouraged, you’ll get through this. And don’t feel like you’re letting anyone else down. I think the fact that you’re being honest with yourself and others is something that will make you more admirable. Praying for you and pray for me (all of us), too! :)

    • Ruth from United States says:

      Laura, It may sound cliche, but I truly believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Sometimes we may not want to handle things, or they may be incredibly difficult, but I’m sure if you dig deep, you can deal with this situation with grace. I don’t think you should have to give up everything that is important to you, especially when you are helping with charitable causes, but pray hard and be prepared before every meeting where you know you’ll see him.

      I’m not experienced with this myself as I only saw the OM once and proceeded to connect with him the next day, but since then I’ve been slowly building myself up so if/when I do see him in person again, I will have the strength to do the right thing. Build yourself up with God’s strength, and you will be able to handle this! Many best wishes and prayers for your own personal peace and strength.

  8. Laura from United States says:

    Thank you, Ruth and Ally, for replying so compassionately and honestly. I was expecting (and deserved in many ways) to be criticized, but both of you reached out in support and offered concrete advice for the future. Thank you so much.

    Ally, thanks for sharing your similar experience and letting me know about possible pitfalls. Where and how to be on guard and using scripture as my guide. I’ve been doing a lot, a lot, A LOT of reading and praying about tests, trials and temptations and the differences among them. It opened my eyes and my heart to new knowledge and that brings me strength in my faith and path. My plan is to always cc others on any necessary email correspondence and only go to meetings with others present.

    Here are a few meaningful links I found: http://www.acts17-11.com/tests.html, http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/1524-spirit/devotionals/by-love-transformed/8578-the-difference-between-trials-and-temptations and http://hungryforgodsword.blogspot.com/2009/09/difference-between-testing-and.html

    The first one has an interesting and helpful chart towards the end that helps clarify the origin of each. I know temptations don’t come from God –but He does allow them. I know I have lessons to learn about all of this.

    My marriage, in general, is going really well. We hit a small speed bump this week; just a difference of expectations about how to spend our free time. But instead of reacting quickly, I held my tongue and waited. I wanted to make sure I knew my role as a wife in this particular matter and figure out what actions I can change rather than pointing the finger and laying it on my husband. I took days and read Christian books about being a Godly wife, prayed a ton for the right words to say, and my husband and I talked yesterday. It was great! He usually shuts down, but he hung in there. I really believe God helped me find the right time and the right words to help us come together and resolve the issues. It’s been a good two days. Thank you again for the continued support. Prayers for all, Laura

  9. Ruth from United States says:

    Feeling a little wistful today. 3 weeks since last contact (phone call), and I’ve been doing really well. Then this weekend we had a big event at work that OM had worked on with me earlier this year. I knew he wasn’t going to attend (good thing) and the event went wonderfully. I had a great time with my husband, but I found myself missing OM and wishing he could have been there and experiencing it as well. I’m also having difficulties with one of my employees at work and OM used to be a confidant for me with this situation, and I find myself wishing I could talk with him. I’M 100% CERTAIN I’M NOT GOING TO CONTACT HIM – these instincts are much more manageable now. But I’m disturbed that I’m finding myself desiring to talk to him at all.

    I’ve been making a point of talking through work issues, etc. with my husband more, and he has been great with supporting me and has been opening up much more to me too (this is hard for him). I know I was using my relationship with OM as a source for this type of comfort, and I’m glad I’m starting to give & receive it with my husband. This has been helpful in trying to unhook from the emotional connection I had with OM. But I’m disappointed that I’m experiencing these feelings for the last couple of days.

    Praying for strength to continue to not initiate any contact. Here’s another “but” – if I were to randomly run into him today, I’m not sure I’d be able to resist the temptation to talk with him. Other days I was sure I’d be okay, but today not so much. I don’t know if I’m fighting Satan or simply my own weaknesses, but for now I’m glad these are just thoughts and no actions, at least I’m making headway there! Wondering how everyone else is doing and praying for you all!

    • Laura from United States says:

      Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing your emotions and thoughts on this day. First of all, the wistfulness is normal. There will be moments or days like this for sure. Especially since your memories of him were triggered by this event you worked on. I understand your disappointment and feeling like perhaps it was a setback, but emotions and thoughts are human and not sinful by themselves. It’s when we dwell or act on them (fantasizing, replaying moments shared, contacting them) that opens the door to Satan and sin. Congratulations on not contacting him! That is such a positive step. Don’t beat yourself up over knowing your had a moment of missing him.

      It’s heartening to know you are turning more to your husband, and even better, that he is showing up in support and friendship! I also really started doing this about 8 months ago and mine has come through so often in ways that I hadn’t seen before. This was one way I decided I needed to start working on my marriage more. Instead of turning first to friends for the emotional support I needed, I started with my husband. It gave him the opportunity to know me more, to be present and aware of what was happening in my life, and gave him the chance to more fully be my husband and partner. In turn, he shares more with me and it’s helped build our bond. I feel like I’ve shortchanged him for years in not relying on him more.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t miss the OM and struggle with memories and wishful thinking, especially since we’re still in contact. But without these marriage strengthening experiences, our marriage would be heading toward failure. Some of us wives have to learn to trust our men more. Especially those of us who are independent in nature.

      Just remember to keep your boundaries up around your heart and you marriage. Protect both at all costs. No contact + building bonds with hubby = stronger and faithful marriage

      Also beware of other, different men who might catch your attention during this transition out of your affair. In wanting to replace the ‘high’ of the affair, you are that much more vulnerable to enter into another relationship. Even more vulnerable, I think, then the first time. This would be Satan at work trying to weaken your resolve to return fully to Christ and a faithful marriage.

      I’ll be praying for you, Ruth. For all of us. Laura

      • Ruth from United States says:

        Thanks Laura – it’s hard to not be frustrated, but I’m trying to give myself some time to move past this. Your point about independent women trusting our husbands more is so true. My husband does have a very hard time opening up, but I realize I started closing myself off too which made our communication worse. This “polite” way of communicating with no real depth between us for the past couple years definitely led the way to satisfying this need elsewhere. What a dangerous place to be – I didn’t even realize what was happening until it was too late.

        Your advice about the potential for another man to “catch my attention” startled me. I hadn’t even considered this, especially since my husband & I are addressing our communication issues and have been closer than we’ve been in a long time. But clearly if it happened once, it could happen again, so it is helpful to keep this in the back of my mind just in case.

        I’ve still been missing the OM, and some days think WAY to much about him, but I’m trying to celebrate the days when I feel victory over this temptation and take it one day at a time. 4 weeks without any contact and counting!

        • Claire from United States says:

          Happy for you Ruth. Four weeks is a long time. Along the lines of the topics in your email, I too have failed to give my husband the attention he neeeded and was seeking. I tend to get lost in my own world of work, mom duties and various functions. I have a lot of daily demands and can easily stay busy from morning until night. But in recent weeks my husband helped me refocus by expressing that he doesn’t feel like he is part of my life or important. This was hard to hear because he rarely expresses deep feelings and I thought that I was doing a good job juggling it all, hiding my sadness that the OM isn’t in my life and giving my husband a little of my time. This realization helped me to refocus and block thoughts when tempted to think about the OM. It’s of no value and benefits no one. Keep counting the weeks and then months. Its gets better. I promise.

          • Ruth from United States says:

            Claire, Thank you for your note. I’m happy to say I’m now at 6 weeks of no contact; the fact that we haven’t accidentally bumped into each other in town is helpful, still not sure how I’d do if I saw him. But little blessings add up! Your life sounds exactly like mine (and many others, I’m sure) in that we’re so busy juggling everything that we don’t realize when something is missing. What happened to me is after several years of struggle after having kids, we agreed to work on communication but were merely being polite with each other, not arguing as much, but also not really communicating. I know now that this need I had for real communication, being trusted with personal feelings, feeling open to discuss whatever was in my head, etc. is why I got inappropriately involved with this other person to begin with. It wasn’t about attraction, sex or passion, simply enjoying a closeness in a relationship that I was craving from my husband.

            Although my husband doesn’t have the same need for open communication, he was craving my time and attention and I wasn’t giving him that. I have been realizing recently that any time I spend thinking about OM, wondering what I would do if I saw him, wondering how he’s doing, etc. does take away precious minutes from my husband. The other day we were traveling in our car and my mind started to wander. But then a voice in my head told me to focus my attention on my husband, and we ended up having a really nice conversation while the kids slept. Nothing mind blowing, but these simple conversations were also a part of what was missing, and we would have missed out on this had I kept obsessing about the OM.

            I guess we are all a “work in progress” and still have a lot to learn about relationship building. I keep praying that God helps me to stay on the right path, and when I do, the results have been wonderful. Best to you, Claire, in your journey too!

  10. Milah from United States says:

    Hello ladies, wow it’s so nice to see I’m not the only women out there who has this problem. I can’t find a support group anywhere for this type of addiction. So thank you Marriage Missions and thank you ladies for being open and honest and sharing your experiences.

    I met my husband when I was 15 and he was 10 years older then I. He gave me attention and affection and I fell for him. We got married when I was 21. For the next 2 years I was madly in love with him. But soon found out he may have cheated on me. To this day he denies it. But I think in that time I lost a lot of my feelings for him. We stayed together but lived almost separate lives. I was in church ministry and content he was out fishing and content.

    I met a man at church and over a 6 month period we became too close of friends. I didn’t know how to set boundaries. I told my husband about my feelings and stopped going to church. Satan planted in my head God was mad at me and wanted nothing to do with me; I feel into deep depression. I was miserable everyday of my life. Three months passed and I see him, and can’t help but socialize. We talked here and there. In the next 4mos we ended not able to fight the temptation to take our relationship to the next level. It was Christmas and lasted one week. I felt so guilty I told on myself.

    My husband stayed (Praise God) but then down into depression again due to breaking it off with the friend. 6 mos later another we run in to each other and another round of the same thing. This time I convinced my husband we must move 1000 miles away, so we did. A whole year goes by nothing; not a peep from the friend so he was finally not on my mind everyday anymore and we are doing ok.

    6 mos ago I get an FBI message from him. He said I just need to talk to you just this once. Because I never truly dealt with the underlying problems of why the emotional affair started in the first place, lodged deep down I still had a lot of feelings for him so I gave in and we talked for a few hours laughing crying sharing deep secrets. I am zapped back into his trauma. I once again said this is it – no more! But after that my heart mind and soul was Hooked again.

    Now last week he fb me again same thing but this time because I’m under so much stress with work, school, and being very lonely due to having no family or friends here I gave right into him. So we spent 2 days getting caught up. But he is moving to another state was getting everything shut off so I told him it was a good time to move on and forget about me. He respected me and said ok.

    But this has been going on for 4 years and it gets harder to say goodbye every time. I can’t do this anymore it’s so painful to keep doing this; I need and want him to be gone forever from my life. I wake up thinking of him go to bed thinking of him. I dream of him. It makes me so mad at myself that I do this. I need some self-control. I want God to put a new heart in me one that doesn’t even acknowledge him as a part of me. This has made me into a sad, lonely, lost little girl. My character has really made a turn for the worst. I can’t be effective for The Lord like this; that was always my highest level of joy is when The Lord was doing his work through me, so please give me some advice, encouragement – anything. I am desperate for a touch of Jesus in my life!!!!!!!

  11. Britnem from United States says:

    I am happy I found this article. I’ve been dealing with some extreme depression this past week (thanks to my ocd) that I’m having a hard time to overcome. Seeing people with similar experiences really helps me feel less alone. I really let my emotional affair get out of hand, and it went from one person to another the length of a summer. I was obsessively in contact with this said person, without the significant others knowing.

    While he truly believed I was happy with him, which I was, and I’ve still yet to figure out why exactly I felt I needed to confide in another man. It doesn’t help, that this was a year ago, yet the guilt has just now surfaced. I do not long for the men I was talking to, it never really was a deep relationship; I simply thought it was.

    I can’t remember a lot about it; including how long it went on, but then I remember small things randomly throughout the day that sicken me. Little things I said, or he said, or times that I found it necessary to interact (like during vacations) times where I took attention away from my love for some selfish affair. I’m unsure I’ll be able to let this go without therapy. My love has forgiven me, but I just can’t forgive myself to allow myself to grow with my significant other.

    It’s unfair to drag him through this depression when he has done no wrong. I feel selfish telling him every detail because it will only hurt him. So I’ve tried to leave out the small stuff just so he could see the main picture. I’ve never really had to deal with guilt in my life, so this feeling has definitely taken a damper on my self-worth. Again, thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  12. Ruth from United States says:

    Help! Had a horrible day at work, and wanted nothing more than to talk to the OM. I had to restrain myself from contacting him several times, with success I am happy to say, but it is so hard. Just craving his friendship and camaraderie, could use a few prayers for strength to keep from contacting him or connecting with him if I randomly see him anytime soon. Thanks!

    • Laura from United States says:

      I’m sorry you struggled so much yesterday, Ruth. However, you made a great choice not to reach out to him. Turning to him to share with and as a means of support will only hold you to him. He became your ‘soft place to fall’ and in these vulnerable times, it’s imperative that you learn to turn towards your husband and family rather than away from. Strengthen those bonds while releasing the other.

      We KNOW how difficult this is. I fully understand it. I’ve been in the same boat lately having lost some loved ones, and it’s taking everything in my power not to email or text just to let him know and get his support. And in my situation, he’s available to do this since we’ve remained in contact. I know he’d respond and I’d get the ‘fix’ I need. So it’s doubly hard. I’m really trying to limit things to the bare minimum necessary.

      I was reminded yesterday of a woman who was influential in my life a while ago. Reminded of her strength of character, her ability to love and serve others without complaint. Reminded of how much I wanted to emulate her. That has brought me some relief from the desire to contact him. To act as she would; to act in faith to my vows; to become the woman I’ve wanted to be.

      I pray, Ruth, that this issue at work resolves itself and that you can find the strength to continue making the healthiest and holiest of choices. I’m so happy you posted here instead of emailing him. Rest in the peace of that. – Laura

    • Ally from United States says:

      Ruth, I can so relate! Why are we having such difficulties with this lately? I’m curious if others that have been struggling with this for some time also have intense desires to reach out or talk to the other person. It’s funny because sometimes I feel I’m doing so good and being so strong and then all of a sudden when I least expect it, it’s a huge struggle!

      • Laura from United States says:

        Ally, I am one who has been on this path for a long time. However, we never went NC, so that didn’t set me on a path for healing from the start. That’s where my perspective is coming from.

        I’ve done an enormous amount of reading about affairs and recovery and you know how they say that once the ‘fog’ has lifted, you’ll see the other person for the man or woman they really are; not the fantasy? Well, for me, that never happened. Perhaps the consequence of staying in the same circles, but I think not. Since our affair, the OM has taken on new directions in his life that are so admirable. Yes, I know his failures in life, but he has turned that part around and really is doing amazing work for others. Yes, he’s ‘just a man,’ but in reality (not my fantasy), he stands out among many. So as far as my desire to still reach out. I fight it every single day. I miss him daily. Laura

        • Ally from United States says:

          Laura- That’s my concern! That it will continue to be an ongoing battle regardless of time. I have gone NC, numerous times and this has been going on for 2 years now! I just want it to stop. And there are things that I have told myself on why it wouldn’t work, but then if I see him at an event it all comes back. Or even if I don’t, I still catch myself thinking about him or wanting to talk to him, etc. And I know he feels the same because he will reach out and try to restart contact. Even recently.

          How do you fight it and has your relationship with your husband increased? I guess I ask, because sometimes I wonder if it’s still there, does that meant that these were true feelings and maybe we would truly be happier with these people. Awful, because I feel the answer is no. But sometimes I wonder.

          I guess I’m thinking aloud, but really appreciate any help! As I mentioned, some days I’m doing so great and some days, not so much. Today I’m okay, but earlier this week …not so much! Thanks, Laura and to anyone else who has insight or wants to share! :)

          • Ruth from United States says:

            Laura & Ally, Somewhere in these posts, someone mentioned that any attention we give to our EA partners, even if just thoughts, is Satan directly trying to tempt us. Forgive me for not quoting this wise person correctly, but that is the gist of it. I read back through my “Help!” post at the beginning of this thread and realized that the pain I was going through, the longing for contact with OM was Satan whittling away at my resolve and hard work. I wish I realized this at the time, but I’m trying to make the effort to remind myself of this when I’m having a hard day, or putting too much time into thinking about OM. It’s hard to tear myself away from my own thoughts and “needs”, but easier to resist if I see it as Satan’s work.

            [Interesting, as I'm typing this message, a certain song that OM & I shared -and both listened to too many times thinking about each other - just popped up on my music station. Really Satan? That is just too obvious of an effort. Skipping the song now, and feeling a little bit of victory.] Prayers to us all to stay on the right path, and put our husbands, partners, families, selves first over this unhealthy obsession.

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