It all starts off very innocently. Your guy meets someone in the office or even online and as time goes by, he become more invested in this other person….this other woman.
Emotional affairs often take on that form. It can come out of nowhere and over time, slowly wrap up your husband into a cocoon of attraction. One week he seems normal, then slowly, but most definitely, you start picking up on some tell tale signs.
You notice that your husband has been somewhat distracted. Perhaps he is spending more time online. Or maybe you he is working longer hours, getting home later, more often than not.
Possibly, the husband spends time staring off into the distance or gives you the impression that he is not “all there”. Yet another sign of an emotional affair that is gaining traction is when you notice he is pulling away from. You notice that your husband or lover seems less will to share in intimate and joyful moments with you.
Opportunities for the two of you to be sexually intimate come and go. Those comfortable roles you each established about how and when you talk to each each other or who initiates sex first or dives in for a hug first, become jumbled up.
Something is off and it is your sixth sense that keeps pinging you with those fleeting thoughts that your husband is acting different.
Trust is probably eroding. Speaking of trust in marriage, if you are looking for some ideas on how to rebuild the broken bond, I cover off on that topic in this post:
Emotional Affairs Can be Paralyzing to a Marriage
When a wife suspects that her husband might be having an emotional affair, it can be paralyzing. On one hand, you don’t want to just immediately pounce on your hubby, because what if you are wrong? What if your sixth sense is really just over anxiousness?
You have ask yourself, has your husband had a record of engaging in any types of affairs? Has he acted distant before.
When you first notice things seem awry, you need to give it a little time to see just what might be causing the relationship to be off kilter. Often, if communications between the two of you have been strong, he may be amenable to talking about it.
You can ask open ended questions to explore his readiness to discuss what might be on his mind.
So you don’t want to wait weeks or months to explore what might be contributing to his changed behavior. But, nor does one want to rush to judgement.
All of these behaviors I described which your husband may be exhibiting could be due to any number of things, completely unrelated to an emotional affair.
Your husband could be having difficulty at work. Perhaps he is up for promotion and things are not going well. Maybe their is a long overdue project and he is late.
Maybe he heard from an old flame and is confused and hesitant about how he should proceed.
One should not assume that their spouse has fallen in love with another just because of some distracted or odd behavior that is occurring.
Though one should not delude themselves and pretend nothing is wrong. Clearly, if you are picking up on some strange vibes from your husband, you will eventually want to get to the bottom of it.
Usually it is best to make gentle and supportive inquiries. If that does not work, if your husband is not forthcoming, then try again later.
Gentle probing can sometimes lead to further discussions.
Now, if the secret that your husband is holding on to is indeed that they are having an emotional affair….then we have a lot to talk about.
But how would you really know?
Before we get into the details of an emotional affair, let’s make sure we are on the same page as to what one can do to save their marriage if a spouse is engaged in a traditional affair.
What is an Emotional Affair?
If your spouse admits to an emotional affair or you uncover undeniable evidence that he has betrayed your trust in the most intimate way, it can be devastating.
But before we go on, let’s make sure we are on the same page!
I mean, we hear about these words, “emotional affair”, but what does it really mean?
And what can you do about if you suspect or learn that your partner in life has fallen prey to an emotional, private tryst with another women?
For starters, let’s explain what an emotional affair is NOT.
It is not a physical relationship your husband has with another woman (or man). Sure, one can have a sexual relationship with another and it can lead to a strong emotional connection. But in my definition of an “emotional affair”, I am drawing the line at sex.
So with an emotional affair, while the degree of intimacy can be high, it does not involve physical sexual relations.
I would also further expand the definition of what an emotional affair is NOT by excluding things like kissing or caressing. I would characterize extramarital relationships as those involving two willing partners who kiss, caress, and tenderly touch each other in an intimate way.
A subtle, but meaningful difference.
With an emotional affair, we have a situation that I would describe as an intimate affair of the heart and possibly an affair of the mind (one’s intellect).
Now, there is nothing wrong with loving another person’s mind. I have great admiration for many people’s intellect. But if I am fantasizing about another woman’s mind and her body…..and doing it frequently….along with going out of my way to communicate with her in intimate ways…..I have crossed the line.
This is what sometimes happens when a husband wanders into a strong emotional connection with another woman. It can start quite innocently, but over time, something more intimate between the two can evolve.
Now, I don’t want you reading this thinking that every time your husband goes out the door and meets a woman, that he is incapable of having a normal and healthy relationship.
Men and women working and interact together everyday in many different environments and can enjoy each other’s company without developing an affair of the heart.
So a strong bond with another due to an admiration for their intellect is not the kind of relationship that typically becomes troublesome for a marriage, even if it involves another woman.
But what if your husband does develop a strong emotionally intimate attachment with another woman. Even if it does not involve overt sexual chemistry and attraction. Even if such is the case, should your husband be allowed to keep that relationship private, without you knowing?
I don’t think so. If your husband has a serious bond or intense infatuation with another woman without your knowledge, I don’t believe that is a marriage healthy behavior.
Also with an emotional affair, the other person involved does not necessarily have to be physically present. Meaning that the person can be remote.
They could be on the other side of the country or even in another country. Your husband could have become hooked on a dating site and is living out his fantasies in the privacy of his home study.
He may have met someone at a conference or a gathering of some kind and has kept up the communications either through reaching out online, texting, or phone calls.
Such an affair of the heart is usually not consummated in a sexual sense, but often there can be a very strong bond or connection, particularly if this kind of relationships has been going on for a while.
There are certain guys (husbands) that can become obsessive with their focus on the opposite sex and this can lead to either online behaviors which result in emotional affairs or the need to compulsively text the individual.
Sometimes, the other woman is attracted to the attention they are getting and reciprocates and as time goes by the intensity of communications increases, thereby creating an emotional bond.
Arguably, this type of emotional affair is somewhat easier to break off because the genesis of the affair started with compulsive or obsession behavior and not with a healthy and natural development of loving feelings.
Though, if an individual has an obsessive personality or struggles with a disorder, it can be difficult to cease the behavior. Counseling is usually needed.
While office romances usually involve physical sex or intimacy, they can also stop short of a sexual relationship and take on the form of an emotional affair.
An emotional affair usually starts off innocently and grows over time, often eventually developing into a physical affair.
This is one of the reasons why wives fear the “emotional affair. The concern is that the affair of the mind will lead to romance and physical sex.
No woman wants to think about their husband in the arms of another woman.
But what is more damaging to the existing relationship is the thought that the husband is growing to love another woman. Even without sex or other forms of affectionate intimacy, which is essentially the characteristic of an emotional affair, this type of relationship threatens the bond of marriage on a level that can grow to create dysfunction within the marital union.
That is why this form of cheating is thought to be worst in the mind of most wives.
What If You Suspect Your Husband of Having an Emotional Affair
So if you find yourself in a situation where you think your husband is engaging in an emotional affair or you strongly suspect such a thing is happening, what should you do?
As with most things, you have choices. If communications within the marriage have been a strong suit, then create opportunities for your husband to open up. Point out that you sense that something seems wrong and create a dialogue around that topic. Gently probe, without accusing.
Share with your husband your “concern”. Tell him you just want to encourage keeping things “open book”.
While this approach may not necessarily net any resolution, it creates an avenue for future discussions.
Then there is the slippery slope of trying to immediately confront your husband. The idea is to surprise attack your husband with your accusation, hoping to catch him off guard.
The notion is that the truth will come pouring out. But usually, this approach backfires. Most husbands will immediately go into denial. And what if your husband is not engaged in an affair of any kind. The possibility of this approach going south is high.
You also end up back at square one. You will probably know even less about what is really going on or be more confused. His denials will ring in your ears as hollow, then again, they could be true.
So in adopting the “surprise attack” you will usually not be much further along in getting to the truth.
How To Get To the Truth of What is Really Happening
What you want to do is accomplish two things.
One is to get to truth. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Secondly, you want your husband to understand that his behavior is making you feel anxious and that you sense something is wrong. But chose your words and tone carefully. You don’t want to lay any guilt trip on him by expressing that his behavior is creating friction and you fear for the marriage. That would be too much for him to process.
Part of getting to the truth (assuming he is engaged in an emotional affair) is understanding why your husband entered into this behavior in the first place.
Was he wooed by this other woman? Does he have certain obsessive tendencies? Is there some inadequacy in your relationship that caused him to stray emotionally?
But it all starts with getting the truth on the table, otherwise you can never get to the causes of his behavior. Understand causes helps with arriving at solutions.
So What If You are Sure He Is Involved in an Emotional Tryst?
Your husband probably does not realize how much pain and dysfunction he is causing to the marriage by pursuing his emotional affair.
Men (and women) often have a way of compartmentalizing and rationalizing things. He probably figures since he and this other woman are not having sex or engaging in other inappropriate intimate, sexual behavior, then he is not doing anything wrong.
This kind of thinking is probably strongly and deeply embedded in his mind. It is as if his psyche has given him permission to do this “thing” and while no one is the wiser, no one is really getting hurt.
At least that is how your husband probably sees it.
The husband is probably not even aware of the damage he is doing to the relationship and marriage by engaging in this emotional affair.
He most likely concluded long ago that what he is doing is making him feel good and has probably fooled himself into thinking that his emotional affair with this other woman is making him a better husband.
Crazy as it that may sound, the human brain can construct all kinds of rationalized nonsense.
So I would argue not to try and confront your husband. That usually ends up being very counterproductive. If you have not been successful in getting him to take your bait and open up about what is bothering him, it might be better to create an environment where he comes to you.
How do you accomplish that.?
Now, there is no one particular method that will guarantee success. So let me get that out of the way.
The situation you may be dealing with may not be crystal clear. Maybe your husband is having an emotional affair. Maybe he is having a sexual affair. Maybe neither of these things are happening.
So what you do to address the situation is predicated on how strongly you are convinced that your husband is hooking up with another woman on an emotional level.
If you feel certain based on evidence you have accumulated, then I would suggest you adopt a mini No Contact tactic to bring him to you. Perhaps it is best described as adopting the “Silent Treatment”.
You are not being mean or cruel or disrespectful. You are simply coming out of your normal character and shutting down the initiation of communications with your husband. In most cases, he will notice in a few hours. Usually not more than a day.
Invariably, at some point in time, he will seek you out to discuss what is wrong. Only then should you tell him what is on your mind and how it is effecting you. At this stage, just lay it out there as a possible explanation for his behavior.
Now, most husbands will be conditioned to go right into the denials about being unfaithful emotionally or sexually.
So unless the conversation is handled correctly, you might end up with a stalemate. Even if you handle the discussion perfectly, it could still end up with no clear resolution.
He is likely to stick to his guns and you probably will not believe him. The better approach is to keep things unemotional. Keep the blaming tones or veiled threats out of the picture. I know that will be hard to do. But I believe it is the best tactic to get your husband to finally admit to his behavior. Share with him your reasoning as to why you think he might be having an emotional affair. Do so calmly, leaving open the possibility open that you could be wrong.
If that gets you nowhere, then you can consider trying a more aggressive approach.
You could simply tell your husband you are certain that he is engaged in an emotional or intimate affair. Perhaps it could open up the discussion with your husband. Explain to him, as rationally as you possibly can, that you only wish to get to the truth and then work on a solution. Keep the emotions out.
Your husband is more likely to broach the subject if he believes you are not going to become overly emotional about the situation.
Tell him it will not make thing worst if he tells you the truth of what is going on. That is important. Tell your husband that you just want the facts on the table…that he owes you the respect of telling you the truth. Explain that with the truth coming out, while it will be hurtful for the short term, will serve to empower the relationship.
Clearly, these kind of discussions are never easy to have and they don’t always end up with a successful conclusion. Your husband may not immediately admit to his emotional affair in the beginning. But unless he can give you a rationale explanation for his recent behavior, it makes it impossible for your to understand what is really going on.
So think of it this way. If you are not successful in the first act of this truth telling conversation, just know that you have placed the marriage front and center in his mind.
The fact that you have not threatened him or showed extreme anger actually should work to your advantage.
It gives your husband time to deal with the fear of telling your the truth and eventually, there is a reasonable chance your husband will fess up.
Then the two of your can begin working on addressing trust issues and strengthening your marriage.
2 responses to “I Think My Husband Is Having An Emotional Affair”
This is a horribly sad post with questionable advice.
The sad part is you are suggesting that a husband can’t have loving and close relationships other than his wife. Why would any spouse want to limit the love the other spouse receives? The union of marriage is sacred and special, but it is not all encompassing. It is sad to think how many people are short changing themselves out of fulfilling relationships out of fear.
Yes, I said questionable advice. Have you read any of the Gottman’s work? Using a tactic like mini no contact is very dysfunctional in a marriage. Actually, much of your advice and tactics sound like teenage game playing or out of a “dating rules” type book.
Perhaps some better advice would include open conversation. Why is there jealousy? Is there a way it can be resolved? Is it history/baggage or based on actions? If you believe an emotional affair has occurred, it has to be more than just strong feelings. There has to be some sort of sexual chemistry. If you are afraid of where that sexual chemistry might lead, perhaps spice up your sex life and get some counseling. AND start developing trusting habits. Start showing your spouse some respect rather than putting the marriage on trial. Respect is quite the aphrodisiac! If there is no sexual chemistry, but you just feel left out, start paying attention to strengthening your marriage by communicating openly and honestly about your own emotions.
Whatever you do, DONT shut down communication with your spouse in an effort to get him to fess up. That’s just plain bad advice. An affair (of whatever kind) isn’t the betrayed spouses fault – cheating is a character and communication issue – but betrayed spouse does play a role. Stop blaming, let go of anger, and rebuild your marriage by communicating. Its worth it.
Thank you for your observations. I regret if you feel I am suggesting a husband or wife cannot have other close relationships in their lives. The tapestry of life should be full of relationships of all kinds and love is always a central component. I agree with much of what you say about improving the sexual chemistry between couples and working toward growing trust. I think we will just have to disagree about whether a temporary from of no contact will garner effective results. Sometimes to get someone’s attention, it is better to pull back. People desire to communicate in various forms. If that is taken away briefly, a form of psychological reactance fills the void and causes an individual to seek out and desire that which is taken away. My hope is that to get to the crux of the problem…..the couple will need to to talk openly about the emotional affair. Triggering that discussion is usually not very easy. Sometimes it takes a transformative event to open the door to open communication. One event, “the silent treatment” if you will, can sometimes lead to more effective and open communications which is what you are alluding to.