High school chemistry taught me a very valuable lesson: When certain substances come into close contact, they can form a chemical reaction. I proved that one day during my senior year of high school when I dropped a jar full of pure sodium off a bridge into a river and nearly blew up the bridge! What I’ve learned since then is that many people don’t respect the laws of chemistry any more than I did as a teenager. They mix volatile ingredients without giving much thought to the consequences. I’ve discovered that many married people don’t understand that a chemical reaction can occur with someone other than their spouse. Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not just talking about sexual attraction. I’m referring to a reaction of two hearts, the chemistry of two souls. This is emotional adultery—an intimacy with the opposite sex outside of marriage. Emotional adultery is unfaithfulness of the heart. When two people begin talking of intimate struggles, doubts, or feelings, they may be sharing their souls in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship. Emotional adultery is friendship with the opposite sex that has progressed too far. I’ve talked with many men and women who have fallen into full-fledged adultery, and I’ve discovered that, in most cases, the adulterous relationships started as a casual relationship at work, school, or even church.
You may be converging on a chemical reaction with another person when:
• You’ve got a need you feel your mate isn’t meeting—a need for attention, approval, or affection.
• You find it easier to unwind with someone other than your spouse by dissecting the day’s difficulties over lunch, coffee, a ride home, or through email or social media.
• You begin to talk about problems you’re having with your spouse.
• You rationalize the “rightness” of this relationship by saying that surely it must be God’s will to talk openly and honestly with a fellow Christian.
• You look forward to being with this person.
• You wonder what you’d do if you didn’t have this friend to talk with.
• You hide the relationship from your spouse.
From an article at http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/troubled-marriage/infidelity/emotional-adultery-unfaithfulness-of-the-heart#.U-ORZ010yM8
The new infidelity is between people
who unwittingly form deep,
passionate connections before realizing
that they’ve crossed the line
from platonic friendship into romantic love.
Infidelity is any emotional
or sexual intimacy that violates trust.
Another necessary ingredient for rebuilding a marriage involves the willingness of unfaithful spouses to demonstrate sincere regret and remorse. You can’t apologize often enough. You need to tell your spouse that you will never commit adultery again. Although, since you are working diligently to repair your relationship, you might think your intentions to be monogamous are obvious, they aren’t. Tell your spouse of your plans to take your commitment to your marriage to heart. This will be particularly important during the early stages of recovery when mistrust is rampant. Conversely, talking about the affair can’t be the only thing you do. Couples who successfully rebuild their marriages recognize the importance of both talking about their difficulties and spending time together without discussing painful topics. They intentionally create opportunities to reconnect and nurture their friendship. They take walks, go out to eat or to a movie, develop new mutual interests and so on. Betrayed spouses will be more interested in spending discussion-free time after the initial shock of the affair has dissipated. Ultimately, the key to healing from infidelity involves forgiveness, which is frequently the last step in the healing process. The unfaithful spouse can do everything right; be forthcoming, express remorse, listen lovingly and act trustworthy, and still, the marriage won’t mend unless the betrayed person forgives his or her spouse and the unfaithful spouse forgives him or herself. Forgiveness opens the door to real intimacy and connection. But forgiveness doesn’t just happen. It is a conscious decision to stop blaming, make peace, and start tomorrow with a clean slate. If the past has had you in its clutches, why not take the next step to having more love in your life? Decide to forgive today. By Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W. http://www.divorcebusting.com/a_healing_from_infidelity.htm
The saddest thing about betrayal
is that it never comes from your enemies…
It comes from friends and loved ones.
To resist the temptations of a sexual involvement with someone other than your beloved, beware of letting yourself enjoy the early titillation phase of getting to know someone new. A minor sexual flirtation outside of your marriage or other monogamous relationship can feel good. The problem is that sexuality is a slippery slope phenomenon. Initially the activity seems neither too slippery nor sloped… until one more step, and the swoosh… you’re hooked. The remedy? Plan ahead with your spouse your will do’s and won’t do’s by agreeing on prevention policies. Take early exits from potentially sexual situations. Sexual arousal is addictive. Extrication from temptation becomes increasingly difficulty the longer you stay in a sexually energized interaction. Plan ahead how you will keep your distance from situations in which the magnetism could prove to be stronger even than your potent desire to protect your marriage. That plan, plus an agreement that you and your loved ones will talk openly about any temptations that do arise so you can confront them as a unified team, is your vaccination. Susan Heitler, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201110/resisting-the-3-main-temptations-destroy-marriages
The most formidable attribute of temptation is its increasing power,
its accelerating ratio of velocity. Every act of repetition increases power,
diminishes resistance. It is like the letting out of waters
where a drop can go, a river can go. Whoever yields to temptation,
subjects himself to the law of falling bodies.
My wife and I were emotionally disconnected. Over the years I had become more and more reticent to tell my wife the truth about my heart. In part that was due to my own lack of awareness, and in part I didn’t want to deal with any upset it may cause. So, I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. This started out with small and gradually led to bigger things. I expected my wife to make me happy. I had believed that marriage was supposed to make me happy. I was very confused because I was not happy. And in fact, the more I tried to make my wife happy – the worse things got in our relationship and the more miserable we both were. I was like a blood-sucking leach trying to experience life through sucking it out of my wife. I thought (at the time) I was being virtuous – trying to make her happy. In reality I was very selfish as my motive was about me and not her. And she knew it. I had no boundaries. I grew up with three sisters and have always felt comfortable with women. I enjoyed connecting with women. I used to say that I was just being playful. … a mentor of mine told me that I was not being playful, but seductive. I was looking for affirmation and attention and had developed a skill to get it from women. I was bored. I was under-challenged in my job, my kids were not around, my wife was traveling for her job, and I was alone a lot. I had lots of “down” time with nothing to fill the void. I was (unconsciously) looking for something to fill the void. I believed that I would never cheat. I was the last person I thought would ever commit adultery. I knew what was right and wrong. I was strong and I could handle any and all temptation. I was Superman. NOT! My pride led me to believe that I could get close to kryptonite and not be destroyed. That was foolish. I was a fool. I was 100% responsible for my infidelity. It was my fault. These things did not “make me” do it. However, these were things that made me vulnerable to cheating on my wife. I am still weak – but now I know I am. And in light of that, I can make different choices and therefore guard against being vulnerable. http://affairrecovery.com/survivors/Jack/why-people-cheat
When would he realize
that it wasn’t his infidelity
I couldn’t bear,
but his cowardice?
From “Sarah’s Key”
by Tatiano de Rosnay
Fidelity is an absolute must. In fact, men want a woman who does not have a “roaming eye” and who can wholeheartedly commit to the relationship. Many may define commitment as fidelity plus the willingness to work on the relationship — even when the going gets tough. Women think that all men want is sex, and that men will leave a relationship for the next prettier face. Women think men cannot be trusted to be faithful. Women believe men do not want to work on a relationship; that when the going gets tough, they run. Many women treat men in ways that diminish their egos, making them feel inadequate. Men would rather have more praise, more acknowledgment of what they do right, more acknowledgment that they are great guys who are loved and appreciated. Women think men do not need them, do not value their opinion, their support, their praise. Women also think men do not care about many things important to women, which is why they criticize. Criticism is a way to verbalize resentment. From “What Men Want in a Relationship” by Rinatta Paries http://powertochange.com/sex-love/menwant/
Maybe that’s what it all comes down to.
Love, not as a surge of passion,
but as a choice to commit to something,
someone, no matter what obstacles
or temptations stand in the way.
And maybe making that choice, again and again,
day in and day out, year after year,
says more about love
never having a choice to make at all.
From “Love the One You’re With” by Emily Giffin
Withdrawal is the emotional reaction to the loss of something that gives great pleasure. It’s similar to the feelings an alcoholic has when he makes a commitment never to drink again. It’s also similar to the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one. A lover is like alcohol and like a loved one. Not only do unfaithful spouses miss what it was their lovers did, meeting important emotional needs, but they also miss the person they had come to love. Our most common emotions are anger, anxiety and depression. Symptoms of withdrawal usually include all of these in a very intense form. I usually suggest that anti-depressant medication be used to help alleviate these symptoms. While the most intense symptoms of withdrawal usually last only about three weeks, in some cases they can linger for six months or longer before they start to fade. It is extremely likely that a commitment to remain separated from a lover will be broken unless extreme measures are taken to avoid it. That’s because the emotional reaction of withdrawal is so painful. Honesty is an extremely important element in reconciliation, and it should be understood that if the unfaithful spouse ever sees or communicates with the lover, he or she should immediately tell the spouse that it happened. They should then agree on a plan that would prevent a recurrence of contact in the future. But as soon as any contact is made, it throws the unfaithful spouse back to the beginning of withdrawal, and the time it takes to overcome the feelings of grief begins all over again. It’s the stage of recovery after withdrawal that gives spouses the best opportunity to learn to meet each others most important emotional needs… By Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
If a relationship
is to evolve,
it must go through
a series of endings.
It’s not only patronizing, but it’s also false to assume that your spouse cannot bear to hear the truth. Illusions do not make us happy, they cause us to wander through life, bumping into barriers that are invisible to us because of the illusion that is created. Truth, on the other hand, reveals those barriers, and sheds light on them so that we can see well enough to overcome them. The unsuspecting spouse of an unfaithful husband or wife wonders why their marriage is not more fulfilling and more intimate. Knowledge of an affair would make it clear why all efforts have failed. After revealing an affair, your spouse will no longer trust you. But lack of trust does not ruin a marriage, it’s the lack of care and protection that ruins marriages. Your spouse should not trust you, and the sooner your spouse realizes it, the better. If you knew that your affair would be discovered — that right after having sex with your co-worker, your spouse were to find out about it — you would probably not go through with it. And if you were honest enough with your spouse so that YOU would be the one to tell him or her what you did, your honesty would be a huge reason to avoid any affair. How the victimized spouse should respond to the revelation of an affair is a subject of a later column. I do not have the space to treat it here. But a spouse is twice victimized when he or she is lied to about an affair. Truth is far easier to handle than lies. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
The first and worst
of all frauds
is to cheat one’s self.
All sin is easy after that.
Guilt sometimes sets in right after the first sexual encounter, and it continues to build as one lie is added to another. Depression follows guilt and it’s not unusual for a wayward spouse to even consider suicide as a way to escape the nightmare he or she has created. As an act of desperation, honesty is sometimes seized as a last resort, often in an effort to relieve the feelings of guilt. The revelation of an affair is very hard on an unsuspecting spouse, of course, but at the same time, it’s the first step toward marital reconciliation. Most unfaithful spouses know that their affair is one of the most heartless acts they could ever inflict on their spouse. So one of their reasons to be dishonest is to protect their spouse from emotional pain. “Why add insult to injury,” they reason. “What I did was wrong, but why put my spouse through needless pain by revealing this thoughtless act?” As is the case with bank robbers and murderers, unfaithful spouses don’t think they will ever be discovered, and so they don’t expect their unfaithfulness to hurt their spouse. But I am one of the very few that advocate the revelation of affairs at all costs, even when the wayward spouse has no feelings of guilt or depression to overcome. I believe that honesty is so essential to the success of marriage, that hiding past infidelity makes a marriage dishonest, preventing emotional closeness and intimacy. It isn’t honesty that causes the pain, it’s the affair. Honesty is simply revealing truth to the victim. Those who advocate dishonesty regarding infidelity assume that the truth will cause such irreparable harm, that it’s in the best interest of a victimized spouse to go through life with the illusion of fidelity. It’s patronizing to think that a spouse cannot bear to hear the truth. Anyone who assumes that their spouse cannot handle truth is being incredibly disrespectful, manipulative and in the final analysis, dangerous. How little you must think of your spouse when you try to protect him or her from the truth. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
To cheat oneself out of love
is the most terrible deception;
it is an eternal loss
for which there is no reparation,
either in time or in eternity.
Most affairs depend on repeated contacts and evidence of those contacts can usually be found. That’s how M.S. discovered her husband’s affair. When his lover was living in the same city, he was able to hide his affair, but after he moved, it became almost impossible for him to keep his communication a secret. He was addicted to daily contact, and M.S. saw evidence of it almost immediately after the move. But how many people move away from a lover? It’s very rare, and if M.S.’s family had not moved, she may never have discovered the affair because she trusted her husband. When a couple spend their leisure-time away from each other, it is not only a breeding ground for an affair, but it can also be another clue to an affair. That’s especially true when a spouse doesn’t want the other to be present at their favorite activity. Anything that takes one spouse away from the other overnight is an invitation for an affair. Any evidence that this relationship is anything more than pure business is, from my perspective, a gigantic clue that an affair might be in progress. That’s also the case if a spouse and opposite-sex co-worker spend a great deal of time working together. We are all wired to have an affair. We can all fall in love with someone of the opposite sex if that person meets one of our emotional needs. If you don’t think it can happen to you because of your conviction or will-power, you are particularly vulnerable to an affair. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
Almost everyone denies an affair at first, even when confronted with overpowering evidence. When a woman I counseled broke in on her husband having sex with a neighbor, he tried to convince her that she was having a hallucination. While seeing your spouse in bed with a lover is sure-fire evidence of an affair, that kind of evidence is usually close to impossible to find. But there are many other less intrusive ways to detect ongoing affairs. For an unfaithful spouse to engage in an affair without detection, two separate lives must be created, one for the lover and one for the spouse. A certain amount of dishonesty is required in both of them, but the major deception is with the spouse. So one of the most common clues of an affair is an unwillingness to let a spouse investigate all aspects of life. If two lives are necessary for an affair, and if a spouse is curious enough, the secret second life is relatively easy to discover. Difficulty in getting a spouse to talk about events of the day can be a sign of trying to hide the second life. One of the most common smoke-screens used by unfaithful spouses is to express shock that their spouse would be so distrusting as to ask questions about their secret second life. They try to make it seem as if such questions are an affront to their dignity, and a sign of incredible disrespect. They figure that the best defense is a good offense, and so they try to make their spouses feel guilty about asking too many questions. I am a firm believer in letting each spouse do as much snooping around as they want. Nothing should be kept secret in marriage, and no questions should be left unanswered. If a spouse objects to such scrutiny, what might he or she be hiding? From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
The cruelest lies are
often told in silence.
Robert Louis Stevenson