If your spouse has engaged in an emotional affair, you may wonder if your feelings of distress are normal. Monika Lewis writes on Focus on the Family that emotional affairs are dangerous because they have the potential to devastate a marriage even without physical involvement. You can learn how to get past your spouse's emotional affair and restore intimacy to your marriage.
1. Request that Contact Cease
The first and most basic way to get past your spouse's emotional affair is to request that he stop all contact with the person he was involved with. eHarmony emphasizes the importance of having your spouse untangle himself from his involvement with the other person no matter how much that person tries to become involved again. Request that all contact, whether it is online, in person or over the phone, stop immediately. If your spouse works with this person, request that he switch jobs if possible. The American Psychological Association reports that women are often more threatened by emotional betrayal, whereas men are more concerned with physical encounters, so be prepared if your husband has a hard time understanding your devastation.
2. Accept the Process of Recovery
Recovering from an emotional affair is a delicate process with many steps. Psychologist Kathy Nickerson's team of certified life coaches from the Imagine Hope Counseling Group note that after an emotional affair, your old relationship no longer exists, and the dynamics of your relationship will be different from this point on. You may grieve the loss of your old relationship. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler point out that the process of grieving includes denial, which is pretending the problem never happened; anger; bargaining, which is trying to work out a bargain with God; depression; and acceptance of the situation. You will likely go through all these stages as you recover from your spouse's emotional infidelity.
3. Separate Romance from Love
As you analyze your spouse's emotional affair, it may help to separate your ideas of your spouse's romance from the true love your spouse likely has for you. In his book, "We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love," author Robert Johnson reports that romantic love is blinding and short-lived, whereas true devoted love is unglamorous and symbolizes a willingness to share everyday life with another person.
4. Set Boundaries for the Future
After you have mourned your old relationship and let your emotions come out, you must establish new boundaries for your relationship. Psychologist Joleen Watson, writing for the Imagine Hope Counseling Group website, notes that trust can be earned through the little things in life, such as being home when you say you will and following through with a simple promise. Let your spouse know what you expect from him every day so that he knows what you need in order to feel secure in your marriage.
- Focus on the Family: The Truth About Emotional Affairs
- eHarmony: Decoding the Emotional Affair
- Imagine Hope Counseling Group: Emotional Affairs
- Grief.com: The Five Stages of Grief
- We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love; Robert Johnson
- American Psychological Association: Are Internet affairs different?
- Affair Recovery: Nine Signs of an Emotional Affair
- Lifeway: Affairs of the Heart: Emotional Affairs are a Dangerous Game in a Marriage
- Dear Peggy: Emotional Affairs
- The Emotional Affair: How to Recognize Emotional Infidelity and What to Do About It; Ronald Potter-Efron
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