High Price of Emotional Infidelity – MM #84

workplace romance - AdobeStock_91473945 copy“Flirting is fun and usually begins in innocence. It’s a hard habit to break, even after marriage. Yet it causes jealousy. Worse, it puts us into situations we never intended to fall into, and it creates misunderstandings that can lead to infidelity.” (Jerry Jenkins)

Whether it’s intentional or not, flirting with someone other than your spouse is a form of emotional infidelity.

It’s a serious relationship matter, especially to the offended spouse. That’s why we’re approaching this subject by sharing a portion of a TV program titled, You’re Not the Person I Married, aired December 5, 2002 on the Dr Phil Show (which you can find more information about concerning this particular program and additional information, by following the provided “Show Archives” link to DrPhil.com).

In this show one of the couples, Joe and Karmen, were battling over his flirting with other women and the emotional affairs he later developed with several of them. To Joe, it was all innocent fun, because as he said, “there was no sex involved.” But Karmen felt hurt and betrayed.

They set up that segment of the program, showing a tape of both Joe and Karmen explaining their “sides” on the issue.

Karmen said:

“I was in love with Joe, and he swore that he’d be faithful to me when we got married. Joe’s been involved with several women over the years, and he says they’re just emotional affairs. But they bother me just the same. I’m suspicious of everything that Joe says to me. And I’m constantly checking up on him.”

To that Joe responds:

“I never thought I would really be able to give up the attention I want from other women. The flirtations with women I have, they’re just romantic. There’s no sex involved.” And “when I tell the truth” (to Karmen when questioned by her) she”gets hurt, so I sometimes have to lie to save her feelings. To be honest, I never thought we’d be married as long as we are now. I think the kids right now have a lot to do with us still being together.”

They then, show a segment where Karmen’s sitting with her son who was crying telling his mom “it’s all my fault” for the problems they’re having. After the video, Dr Phil asks, “Joe, you just saw the toll this has taken on your son. So how much fun is that flirting now?” to which Joe replied, “It’s not fun at all.”

Karmen said,

“He didn’t know that was going to be on there, but I wanted him to see how bad he’s hurting our son without him even realizing it. My son came to me and said, ‘It’s my fault Dad’s unhappy with life because Dad told me he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for us and he’s unhappy being here.’ I said, ‘Joel, he was trying to let you know how much he loves you; that even though he’s not happy with himself, he’s here for you, that he loves you.’ But, of course, my son didn’t take it that way.”

Dr Phil addressing Joe, said,

“You say, ‘I got married, knowing I wouldn’t want to give up the affection of other women. I’m having emotional affairs, but nothing physical.’ You know, just color me cynical, but I don’t believe that. I’m not saying you are or you aren’t —I have no evidence. I can’t prove one way or the other —all I know is what you say, and just one guy to another, I don’t believe that for a split second. But —that’s your position. And then you go say this to your children? Do you feel any responsibility to the health and welfare of this family as it relates to your choices?”

Joe replied, “I never knew my choices would really affect the family the way they have. I have, in the past, thought sometimes, it’s better we should just split up, however.” Dr Phil said, “Well, that’s one option, that’s true, to just say, ‘You know, I’ll just go —and y’all make your own way.’ Joe then admitted, “You know, I like what I have. You know, I love Karmen; I love the kids. I don’t want to give that up either.”

When Dr Phil asked Karmen if she felt betrayed by these emotional affairs, she said, “They hurt just the same as if he was out having a physical affair.” Dr. McGraw said, “Well, you are betrayed.” Then turned to Joe and asked him if it truly was a betrayal to which Joe affirmed that they were.


Phil then said to him, “Let me tell you, anytime you turn away from instead of towards your partner to meet emotional needs, physical needs, needs that are appropriate to a committed, intimate relationship, that’s a betrayal. So you have these needs, and you’re turning away from your wife to meet those needs. What do you expect her to do about that?”

Joe replied, “Well, I know I lost her trust. And I know it will be hard to regain it. But all I can do is say I’m sorry. The feeling I was looking for was that new relationship feeling. We’ve been married 14 years, and, you know, I miss that feeling.

Dr Phil then said, “So you thought, ‘I’ll just go get it somewhere else. And I’ll let my children pick up the tab for that immaturity. I’ll let my wife pick up the tab for that immaturity. Plus, I’ll let our family go down in flames, so I can get a rush every 30 days?'”

Joe said, “I never really looked at it that way. Honestly, I didn’t think it affected them a lot of times. I guess really it was, ‘What they don’t know don’t hurt’.”

Giving Up Wants

Dr Phil then replied, “You said, ‘When I got married, I knew I wasn’t going to give up my want for these other women. I didn’t think we would stay married very long.’ So I guess you just thought you’d just bring some kids in the world. Then you’d just leave them in your wake as you went to the next conquest. ‘What they don’t know doesn’t hurt them.’ Are you rethinking that as you sit here now?”

Joe said, “Oh, definitely, yes.” Dr Phil then said, “That’s a good thing because this is about wake-up calls. I’m not trying to beat you up. I’m trying to wake you up and get you to realize what you’re doing here.”

Joe acknowledged that he now saw his behavior in a different light and that he had been wrong but he wasn’t able to make a firm promise to stop for fear that if he failed he’d hurt his wife again with another “broken promise.” He did say he “wanted to” stop flirting and seeing other women.

At that point, Dr Phil said:

“Listen, I understand. Isn’t it all fun when you’re falling in love and everything is new and fresh and all that? That’s all fun just like riding a roller-coaster is great fun for some people. But the truth is, as we mature, we realize that love doesn’t get old; it just transforms.

You know, at first, you’re up all night talking and you’re doing all of this stuff and everybody gets all excited and everything. And I always hear them say, ‘Oh, we’re like soul mates. She knows me so well, she can finish my sentences.’ Then two years later, it’s, like, ‘Hey quit interrupting.’ OK? You know we get that evolution, but we label it as negative when really it’s just a change.”

“I don’t stay up all night talking to my wife because I want to go to sleep. But you know what? It may not be exactly the same; it’s better, but different. If you mature enough to allow that to happen, what you find out is —in exchange for some of the exhilaration in the unknown, you have comfort, you have security —you have a soft place to fall. And when you put effort and energy into it, you can create that exhilaration at the right time along the way.

But in the meantime, you mature into nurturing what’s there, learning to label that the same way you label the others. There’s a big difference between falling in love and being in love.”

Wake Up Call

We appreciate how Dr Phil tried to bring a wake up call to Karmen and Joe. Plus, he gives it to all married couples who will listen who feel flirtations aren’t harmful. What may seem to be “innocent” flirting in the eyes of one spouse, can spiral into all sorts of problems with a lot of innocent people to getting hurt. That’s not what marriage partnership is supposed to involve.

It comes down to the fact that marriage is designed to be entered into by grown-ups —those who are willing to act as mature adults, who vow to join together in exclusive partnership with each other and with God as a “chord of three strands.” It’s a relationship that is to be honored as sacred and protected by both partners so no one outside the marriage has the opportunity to divide what God has joined together.” (See Mark 10:7-9)

You might find it helpful to follow something that author Jerry Jenkins discovered and shared in his book, Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It (which we highly recommend).

He wrote,

“I enjoy having fun and being funny, and my mind tends to find humor in words and unusual combinations of ideas. For this reason I could easily flirt with anyone I thought was receptive. Much flirting is funny. If someone says something flirtatious with me, my first impulse is to expand on it. I want to play with it, and see how quick and funny I can be. But I resist that. It isn’t fair. It’s mental and emotional unfaithfulness. I would be exercising a portion of my brain and soul reserved for my exclusive lover —my spouse.”

Jerry knows, and so should we, that this isn’t what we should be doing. It’s not God’s way and it shouldn’t be our way either. Think about it, isn’t that what marriage is supposed to be? Exclusive? If not, why marry?

We need to consider what God’s word says about our actions:

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4)

The flirtatious spouse might not think that he or she is being “sexually immoral” because he/she isn’t actually going through a physical, sexual act with another person. However, the Word of God says,

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person —such a man is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.(Ephesians 5:3-5)

Also, it is written:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.(Matthew 5:27-29)

We beg you to save your flirting for your spouse. Invest your energies in your marriage instead of with someone else. You could find your relationship so much better, feeling newer and revived. And as a result you, your spouse, your children, and your God will be blessed.

Jerry Jenkins has a suggestion in his book that is a good one:

“If you want to flirt, flirt with your wife. She may not look, feel, or sound the way she did when you first flirted with her years ago, but she still wants you to flirt with her. Try it. Wink at her across the room. Blow her a kiss no one else sees. Play footsie with her under the table. Give her a squeeze, a pinch, a tickle no one else notices.”

He continues this thought by saying,

“Wouldn’t you like to be flirted with by someone who loves you, someone who can tease you about what she might do with you later and then deliver?”

You may think someone else might enjoy your flirtations more than your spouse. But when you took your marriage vows, you promised exclusivity with your marriage partner. So instead, try flirting with your spouse —you may like it! And it may just help to keep your romance alive. It sure has for us as we’ve flirted with each other throughout our 45+ year marriage.

Cindy and Steve Wright

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Filed under: Emotional & Physical Affair Marriage Messages

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97 responses to “High Price of Emotional Infidelity – MM #84

  1. (USA)  Why I proposed a fraternity for husbands. We make sure the act gets done. You see, your wife will ensure that you play the fool. Wait, you have no power over a situation and that’s supposed to be “YOUR” wife, not his. Wait, you lost your turn? Thats ILL-ogic. In the good days, men would be beaten badly or killed for these offenses. The fraternity of husbands makes sure that there is a cost of retribution paid, doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical pounding, but something should happen.

    As it stands today, that a wife is a “port of exposure” for any male, and the entire country will take them up on it. That this wife is able to allow other people to damage you and damage you herself, and you can’t say or do anyhting about it.

    So what, to be married means you are “gay”? Does it mean you are “weak”? Does it mean you can’t make love?

    IS that what where saying? What’s happened is single mothers and single women who are not in any real relationships are polluting the minds of our wives. The wives think the grass is greaner, and the entire picture is actually of a whore. One who will open her legs or mouth to the highest bidder, doesn’t matter if she doesn’t get to keep the money, or the guy extracts it from the husband who is unaware.

    You really have to think about it, and you should be enfuriated, and if your wife is going to play you like she doesn’t care, you need to make her care. I never was a “tit-for-tatter.” But the cost of screwing with or around on “Samhain” should not be free. I think you can agree.

    The other thing, I’d confront that fellow. If he is an officer you can take it up with his superiors or find a way to get internal affairs involved or the FBI, another dept that does not like him. There are ways to do it.

    Be a man, for society has already shed your blood. The only one who cares about you is you, and perhaps a fraternity of husbands who are tired of bending over and taking it, and when ask why are you doing that? “What did I do, I did nothing”.

    I’d prepare myself to kick the living shit out of him.

    You are going to have to be calm to collect all the evidence first. Also while you are gathering evidence you should not show her. Also you need to start talking with a lawyer and/or people who understand “revenge”.

  2. (USA)  It’s hard to respect yourself or your spouse when emotional infidelity happens. I’ve been married almost 20 years and 10 years into our marriage I realized that my husband was becoming increasingly infatuated with a much younger woman at work. At first, it was harmless, or what I thought was a harmless friendship. It went from tuturing in math, watching her weekly games of soccer, to playing pool with her at a pool hall, taking pictures of each other for posterity and showing them to me with shocking innocence, going shopping with each other for my parents’ Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve while I was at home waiting to go shopping myself with my husband, snuggling up to each other at office parties that even spouses were invited to, etc, etc.

    I discovered that my husband needed to be emotionally connected to people, as we all do, but he always took it to the extreme without ever breaking the rules… sexually. However, he rationalized that it was perfectly ok to write to his newest victim of infatuation; ok to advise her in all subject matters, especially boyfriend troubles (because “trust” builds that way); to mentor her, write poems about her, fantasize about her by even writing chapters of a book with her as the main character.

    For almost 6 months, I endured the heart-breaking relationship he had with this young woman by reading their countless emails to each other and knowing of their plans on a daily basis. And finally, after crying and pleading with him about the hurt and betrayal he was causing (even though he staunchly denied any infatuation and made me feel crazy), I called her on the phone in desperation. I asked her to please keep her distance as my marriage was at stake and although I knew she thought of their relationship strictly as a friendship, she needed to distance herself from him by not communicating with him any longer in order for our marriage to survive.

    Of course, she immediately emailed him the following morning and told him that I had called her and wanted to know what was up with that. When confronted by my husband I told him that, yes, I had called her and then threatened to call other people in his office and tell them of his deception, lies, and infatuation with this young woman so they could learn the truth about the man with the impecable reputation and good will he had toward others. Of course, I never DID call and eventually the relationship faded away when she became seriously involved with a young man who asked her to marry him. But the damage was done. And, I honestly have never trusted him completely again. But I loved him and thought we were on the road to recovery, or so I thought, which leads me to the second chapter of our 20 year marriage:

    To recap, we have been married for almost 20 years. 10 years have gone by since the last major infatuation, and once again, on our 19th anniversary, I’m seeing the tell-tale signs of emotional infidelity… the hiding of emails, the hiding of meetings where my husband confides about the “hardships” he’s experienced in his marriage to me and she with her spouse; the endless listening to music that “she” loves; the writing of painfully childish 3 page diatribes about his drive in the country past a beautiful field with a full moon up above and the feelings it evokes, (which I found in his emails); the losing of weight and constant primping (even at HIS age!)… the blushing when she comes into our place of business in our small town… the flirtatious behavior, and on and on and on. I have already let my husband and this woman know that their relationship is inappropriate and frankly, that her acceptance of his “romancing” is just as inapproptiate on her part because she’s allowing it to happen and is married herself.

    She doesn’t understand that I’ve seen these signs from him before (or maybe she does?). Perhaps she doesn’t care because she’s basking in the attention and the “feel good” part that comes when someone holds a torch for you. And lastly, I want to say that yes, even I was on the receiving end of this “romancing” and fell utterly in love with this man when I first met him. And why not? He was wooing ME in the most careful and discriminating way, away from MY FIRST husband, as he is now with this lady. And so the cycle continues… I have seriously considered divorce because the betrayal I feel makes me feel so sick. It has really taken its toll on me as it has on everyone whose written above.

    I betrayed my first husband by accepting innocent flirtations from my current husband. He betrayed his first wife in order to marry me. And to complete the circle, I am now being betrayed by my husband and the “other” woman. I was the “victim” but also the “perpetrator” in this story. And I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

  3. (SOUTH AFRICA)  I used to think that jealousy and possessiveness were wrong. Now I realise that God has put them there for a reason – to protect our marriages. I just want to say that wives – put everything into your marriage and say those words to your husbands that you respect him and look up to him now, not when it’s too late. Don’t let another woman say those words and woo him in. Make time for him and put him above the children, the home, your career and everything else.

    Thankfully, I have a husband who chose the right path and broke off an emotional affair very quickly. I didn’t suspect it because I thought we had a good marriage. Now I realise I wasn’t giving him my all. My heart goes out to you who have been wounded.

  4. (SINGAPORE)  I am married for 15 with two kids. My husband has been involved with many cases of emotional betrayal towards me for the past 15 years. Every time I find out, he denies and defends his act as “friendship” with all these girls. These girls are from his work places, old friends and also a sister to a receptionist he met at a hotel during a business trip. This gal is a widow. They are still in touch.

    My husband refuses to give up their friendship despite me requesting it many times. The latest, I found an email he wrote to a gal (also married). It was a laced with romantic words like honey and love you. When asked, he still uses the word “friendship” to justify the email. Now I’m seriously thinking if I can save my marriage or should I just give up on him.

  5. (CANADA)  I’m happy to find this thread. I’ve unintentionally entered into something that I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few days. I’ve always had male friends growing up and just reconnected with one of my old friends through myspace. We’re both married.

    This all started out very innocent “catching-up” but it’s now rekindled an old connection. Before realizing there was an issue or connection, we had been together for lunch a few times to catch up with each other’s lives. My husband knew that he’s talking about his unhappiness in his marriage. I have felt a bit separate from my husband sexually and emotionally since he likes to drink. He’s never violent.

    Now I feel like I can’t get enough of this man who listens and wants to spend time with me. I’m always looking forward to hearing from him. I realised there was something more to it and wrong when I had to start clearing my messages. I want this friendship but I want my marriage more. It sounds like I have to break all ties.

  6. (S. AFRICA)  Yes, there is a common thread to all these posts. Satan surely knows what he is doing and must be delighted at the weakness of the human race. It always starts off as “just friends”, “it was innocent chatting”, “just catching up on old times” etc but the end result is the same. Satan’s deception is so subtle we do not even realise it until it’s too late. Beware.

  7. (MALAYSIA)  Dear Sir / Mdm, I had a quarrel with my wife and she left me. She is a very emotional and sensitive person and she bottles up everything and doesnt talk about it but shows anger in every little thing. We have been married for 16yrs now and we have children. Please help me know how to make her come back and live happily. Thank you. happily

  8. (UNITED STATES)  I am having an emotional affair with someone behind my husband’s back. No, actually, he saw some text messages this morning. I do it because I am not getting what I need from my husband. Women are less likely to pursue emotional affairs if their needs (nonsexual) are being met. My husband doesn’t get this and I think that one day I will leave him. I feel awful for my kids.

  9. (PLACER)  I have only been married 2 years. My husband has been lying to me from the time we were dating. He has been communicating with and ex-girlfriend. I don’t know the extent of their contact, he says she calls and texts him everytime she and a new guy break-up appx every 6 weeks. But she says it’s mutual and that she has a folder full of texts from him and that he stopped by her work the day he was Christmas shopping for me and stayed and had 5 beers with her.

    Last week I met her for the first time when I went to court to get a restraining order for stalking against her. She would call the house and tell me she would be seeing him later, and sent unaddressed cards to him at our house. The judge gave us a 3 year restraining order based on a threat of physical violence. My husband didn’t really want us to take her to court. He said why should we waste any more of our time on her? Was that really it or did he know he was as guilty of participating as her? Doesn’t really matter.

    What a contrast our relationship is in my eyes from the year we dated, sitting and talking on the front porch full of love and hope, and thinking this is my love, the man I was always mean’t to be with. It’s funny in the front porch days, he would say I’m not going to do anything to screw this up. I thought that was a funny thing to say, but now it makes so much sense. I bet you can feel the distress that this has cost us. Our marriage is hanging on by a thread. I have absolutly no trust in him, and he even looks different to me. At one time he stood tall and handsome to me, now I think he looks like shrek. 5’5, bald and chubby.

    I went and saw a couselor last week. He said after witnessing my leaking tears that I am not ready to leave yet and that it sounds like D. has a sexual addiction. And at 50 years old it is very hard to be fixed. He thought it would take about 2 years of counseling. You see Ds father was very abusive to him and his mother, phyically, emotionaly, and he had multiple affairs. And as much as he hates his father, he is repeating his behavior. D is walking around defensive almost like I’ve done something. Even though he denies everything, he said he will go to couseling but he doesn’t want me in the session. I’m ok with that. Even though he won’t name it and claim it, maybe his choices will get healthier in the future, but today I’m not holding my breath. It feels more like our relationship days are numbered.

  10. (USA)  I found out by undeleted messages in our sent e-mailbox that my husband was communicating more than he’d let on with a former girlfriend who had dumped him and cheated on him. Of course I was angry, but considering that I had seen an email from her to him about 7 years ago professing her undying love to him and regret for what could have been… and had THOUGHT she would back off after we were married, I take some of the blame for having swept his unresolved obsession under the carpet and not brought it out into the open previously. She’d even sent us a joint Christmas card right before our wedding, despite never being introduced to me. (Yes, she is married, and just trying to cause trouble, she’d lied before to my husband about being beaten by her husband, left without money, and this last time was that he was having an affair. Can we say lying manipulative borderline personality disorder? She even had her family in on several deceptions and was making me out to be overanxious and jealous.) I called her out on the ‘high school’ friendship theory (we are all in our 40’s – 2003 was not anywhere near high school) and sent her unsuspecting naive husband a copy of the 2003 email.

    I do understand unresolved obsessions, it’s just that I got mine taken care of prior to dating my husband and getting married (I’d declined a serious relationship in 1994 due to it) whereas my husband for whatever reason, thought he had it squirreled away and contained. He did not realize the type of personality that was being used to manipulate him, and unfortunately he wanted to think that she loved him to resolve past hurts, and by the time I discovered it, had already felt guilty and put a stop to it.

    It still sucked that he had lied to me when I questioned him about the emails this last time around. I knew something was up and gave him lots of opportunities to be truthful but he was afraid of hurting me, thought that because there was no sex involved that it was not that serious, but also felt guilty and afraid of losing me and embarrassed.

    To any spouse reading this, it is not a crime to have an obsession. But if you are married and can’t communicate with your spouse about this joint issue, and get help from your spouse and therapy if necessary as well, things are going to go South. My husband is lucky I understand the nature of a past love obsession with a narcissistic borderline. They are really difficult to shake off. I would imagine most people who get involved in emotional affairs are narcissistic feeder personality types…

    In the past they have been locked into an unfulfilling relationship with a narcissist or borderline and just can’t bring it to resolution. With these types, calling them out on their behavior, exposing their lies most definitively and factually, and then sticking to your guns is the only course of action. It does not mean not getting angry and communicating your hurts (I smashed my wedding and engagement rings with a hammer on the concrete basement floor of our new house, and ripped the guts out of a teddy bear my husband had given my older son back when we first dated so long ago… a bear I’d held onto the 14 years. I wasn’t in touch with him because every time I went to get rid of it, I just couldn’t… and I am not a pack rat.)

    But the trick is to turn that anger into action, or in the case of narcissist person in emotional affair, non-action. If you put up enough of a fuss and bare your fangs and draw some blood prior to withdrawing, they will think twice and find a different outlet for their manipulative attention-getting love-sick tactics. i.e. Some Other Sucker. I don’t see my husband as a victim per se, he sent the emails, but I also don’t think just because a person is a guy, that they are immune to emotional naiveté. They are just as human as the next guy (or gal). What woman hasn’t been taken in, in younger years by a predator of the heart? Well, hello, men are prone to the same types of predators!!!! And, they are human. If you expected perfect, try a dildo.

  11. (AUSTRALIA)  Never, ever put up with flirting from your partner no matter how they try and “dress it up” as innocent. I am in the process of separating from my husband of 25 years who has flirted all our married life and always passed it off as “his outgoing personality”. For example, he thought nothing of inviting our sons friends mothers to lunch and then was bewildered when I explained how uncomfortable I was with it.

    Now I am in the devastating situation of discovering his affair with my neighbour and best friend of 15 years standing as well as at least one affair with a work associate all of which I uncovered via pornographic emails. Some people (and I’m not just talking about men) just don’t get it. There is a chip missing in their brain whereby they simply have no empathy or consideration for anybody’s feelings except their own, especially when they are getting their “fix” of adoration from others.

    No amount of admiration, sex with their spouse or loving words can ever be enough for them. They are simply narcissistic and the ones that love them end up having to pick up the tab for them. What a price to pay.

  12. (USA)  My husband had a female coworker who he helps a lot since she was new to their unit as a nurse. Then they developed a friendship and I wasn’t even aware of how close they were (he told me “Heidi’s just a good friend”). I didn’t even know he had a good friend! Then I noticed he’s been calling her often, much to my discomfort, and whether they are or are not on duty they call often to talk about work…so he says it’s work.

    When I brought this up to him, he called me insecure, crazy, malicious. He started to back down on the calls, but then started calling her again when I am not around (I can trace our cellphone and landline calls). We fought again about this thing because he says he doesn’t have friends and these are his friends. So, I blocked his cell from calling her, so he uses our landline instead. I told him I can still trace it.

    I have also noticed that the girl is following his schedule. They want to work together. Whenever my husband would work she changes her schedule to join him. I do his schedule online and when I changed his just to see if she does, she did. Then one time, we were coming off work my husband said he has to go back to the hospital at 10 AM because they have a meeting. He didn’t want me to wait as he attends a 1 hour meeting, so he ate breakfast at home but hurried out.

    I have a bad feeling so I connected a gaps with a trip log to the back seat of the car and sure enough, he didn’t step in the hospital but went over to the girls’ house! When I confronted him he denied it so much, he said he was out to buy me a gift, yes, he went to the meeting, then because he couldn’t substantiate how he ended up in her house address, he said they talked about eating out as a favor from her because he helped her get overtime hours. But the dinner didn’t go through because he felt awkward so he went home. (What I think though, is it didn’t go through because he cannot call her from his cell, since it’s blocked. So she can’t meet him outside, and it’s awkward to go knocking on her door because the husband might be there, and he felt awkward taking the wife to breakfast.)

    I threatened to leave the marriage because I cannot trust him. He apologized and begged for one more chance. He even brought the girl to explain to me that nothing happened. I was mad at her and she offered to bring her husband to explain that she and my husband are just friends. So what’s your take on this? What’s the wisest thing to do? I asked him to resign from that unit and transfer to another unit but he says it’s impossible because they have staffing issues.

    1. Sky, It’s difficult to tell you what the “wisest” thing to do is, because no one but God can really see all that is behind the scenes. But from my limited perspective on this, I can tell you what I THINK I would do, and you can decide from there. I would give my husband another chance. Do I think he was putting his toe into places he shouldn’t have? Yes. I’m not sure if he physically cheated… but I’m pretty sure he was tempted.

      But because of the grace God gives us when we ask for a “chance” I would give it to him, as well. I’d find out a time when you both can sit down together and figure out some boundaries that are reasonable. (We have articles on our web site that can help with this and suggested resources.) You can’t make it if you continue on the same road you’ve been traveling — that’s a relationship and marriage killer. These boundaries aren’t ones to “police” your husband, but rather ones that he willingly puts down himself (as well as you put ones down for yourself) to guard your marriage from your own temptations. No one is without vulnerability. We can all fall, given the right circumstances, so this isn’t about finger-pointing. It’s about valuing your marriage enough to protect it from all that attacks our faithfulness. This is NOT a marriage-friendly world.

      And then your husband needs to find a way to find some male friends — ones that value marriage. He might not find some right away, but he should be intentional in this because no man is an island. We need good friends… to be in community with others that we can have good, clean fun with, and friends can help us stay the course (as well as us helping our friends). You can find some good friends through church, if no where else. Be intentional. Opposite sex friendships are not a good idea… there are too many potential problems.

      Lastly, it’s important that you and your husband build your relationship with each other. You don’t want to be his “behavior police” or his mother — after him all the time. You can HELP him, if he wants it, and he can help you… but this is a partnership thing, not a policing thing. You want to be his partner in marriage, you want to be his love and his lover. That’s all part of being married — one that we often forget about and abandon as the natural flow of making life work together overshadows that which we should do with and for each other to keep our relationship healthy and good.

      John Gottman, who is a marriage expert, talks about the importance of “stockpiling good feelings about each other to weather difficulties and keep your basic attitude toward your partner positive.” We think if we don’t argue a lot, we’re doing good, but he said “the issue isn’t whether you fight, it’s HOW you fight” and also stockpile good feelings together.

      So, you need to start dating each other. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy if you don’t think you have the time… although MAKING the time could be important. We have a lot of articles to give you ideas in the “Romantic Ideas” section. We also have great conversation starters and such in the “Communication Tools” section. PLEASE take advantage of all of this. Don’t just adjust your husband’s “behavior” without putting something in place that is even better — a better relationship with each other. And work on building a vision together to work together, play together, and head together in an agreed upon direction. The Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish” and sadly, so do marriages. Again, we have articles on this together as well.

      I hope you will. I encourage you to do so… please invest in your marriage with intentionality. Even if you just make small adjustments at first, it will help. Here’s a good article to possibly show you that concept at work: “Course Correction.” I hope this helps.

    2. (USA)  Sky, I’m sorry hon, but your husband’s reaction to your concerns are classic wayward talk. You should check out the forums at survivinginfidelity.com for some great advice on proven strategies to confront this situation before it’s too late.

  13. (USA)  I have been married 12 years, been together for 15 years. I recently discovered my husband chatting online with women. One women gave her number to him and they were contacting each other. He said nothing happened but he was about to mess around on me. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong because he didn’t have sex with her. It was an emotional affair because he started displaying signs of cheating man, withdrawing from me, constantly angry, hiding computer and phones from me.

    Well, I threatened to get a divorce so he now says he sorry and he is trying to change. We have even started counseling. All trust is lost. How can I recover from my husband emotional affair.

  14. (KENYA)  Hi All, Reading through all the comments has indeed brought to the forefront how this seemingly innocent activity can cause hurt and eventually lead to marriages breaking up as some have shared. My situation is a bit unique but nevertheless alarming.

    I was the one who betrayed the marriage first by having multiple emotional and physical affairs, but we have been working on rebuilding our marriage for the last 13 months. Though we are still a long way off, we are still working on the marriage and we hope to have a testimony one day of how we have overcome.

    The issue I am writing about today is what to do with some emails and phone texts that I have come across addressed to my wife from a colleague of hers who is also a counsellor. One of the things that we were told when attending counselling is to be completely accessible and open to one another, this meant that one could access the others email or phone records anytime. Now I have come across some conversations of the friend addressing my wife with pet names – Sweets, telling her he loves her, etc. As much I know I might not have the moral authority, I dont think this is right. Am I over-reacting ? How do I address this without it becoming a fight?