I’m Afraid My Spouse Will Have A Real Affair Because Of My Emotional Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are frightened that their spouse is going to retaliate for emotional infidelity by having a physical affair in order to “get back” at them. Often, the spouse who has had the emotional affair sees the potential physical affair as much worse than what they have already done.

Common concerns in this scenario are things like: “I confessed to an emotional affair because that’s exactly what happened. I am a stay at home mom and my husband travels constantly for business. In my child’s play group, there is a stay at home dad with whom I became close. Because our kids got along so well, we got together often. I found myself confiding in this other man. And I eventually came to feel that I could tell him anything. I felt that he understood and empathized with what I was going through in a way that my husband does not. Eventually, I shared things with this man that I wasn’t sharing with my husband, who never seems to have any time for me. My husband saw a text between myself and the other man. My husband became very angry and said that this sounds like an emotional affair. Once I thought about it, I realized that my husband was right. I am emotionally invested in this other man. And I am physically attracted to him. I look forward to seeing him and I miss him when we are apart. My husband is so angry at me and he told me that he has had countless opportunities to cheat on me with his assistant but says he never did that because of his commitment to me. He says that now he is tempted to give into his feelings because it would show me how the infidelity feels.  And he asks why should he be faithful to me when I am cheating emotionally? I get what he is saying. But I wasn’t physically unfaithful to him and never would be. Now, I’m terrified that he is going to have a real affair to get back to me. What can I do?”

I really felt for this wife, but I also felt that she needed to accept the reality of her situation and then take some action in order to  prevent an eventual physical affair. I will discuss this more below.

Accept That Emotional Cheating Is Still Cheating: I would agree that physical and emotional cheating are two different things.  But they are both cheating.  And, you should never underestimate how hurtful emotional cheating can be to your spouse and how damaging it can be to your marriage. It is still infidelity from which your marriage will have to heal. In fact, I believe that you heal from emotional infidelity almost identically as you heal from physical infidelity. So, this wife had to accept that she was going to have to work to do in order to rebuild her marriage and to restore the trust.

Come To A Compromise Where You Will Both Make Concessions To Safeguard Your Marriage: I felt that the first thing that this wife should do was to make it very clear that she was willing to do whatever was necessary to rehabilitate her marriage. She was going to need to sever the relationship with the other man. I fully understand that nothing physical happened, but continuing to have a relationship was not only hurtful and disrespectful to her husband, it was also damaging to her marriage. So she needed to take very prompt and meaningful action to show her husband that she was willing to do whatever she needed to do in order to restore his trust.

Once she did this, the chances would dramatically increase that her husband would be willing to make his own concessions. In fact, there had to be real concerns about the marriage if both spouses weren’t willing to sever the relationships with other people.

A suggested script to put this on the table might be something like: “words can not express how sorry I am. I don’t intend to make excuses for myself. I can only say that this relationship offered emotional support at a time when I feel isolated and vulnerable while staying at home. But my mistake was reaching out to someone else instead of telling you that I needed more support. That was completely my fault and I take full responsibility for it. Our marriage is so important to me and I am willing to whatever I need to do in order to save it. I am going to end the relationship completely because I don’t want it to do more damage to our marriage. I am wondering if you are willing to do the same with your assistant. I am not accusing you of anything. I know that you haven’t acted inappropriately. But I don’t want for either of us to be in a situation where something could happen to damage our marriage even more. Are you willing to make this concession? I realize that my actions put this whole thing in motion but if we use this to save our marriage so that no physical infidelity needs to happen for either of us, then at least something good will come out of this. Will you work with me to make this happen?”

Your spouse may not give you the perfect answer immediately. But once he sees that you are sincere and that you actually did remove the other person from your life, he is likely to be more willing to safeguard your marriage. I truly can’t stress how important it is to take these measures when you have already been witnessed that your marriage is vulnerable.

I believe that emotional and physical infidelity are both very damaging.  I also believe that healing is necessary in each case.  The good news is that healing can make your marriage stronger so that your efforts are more than worth it.  If it helps, you can read about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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