I’ve read many articles on emotional affairs, but the way this one is written tweaked things in my mind and got me thinking. My marriage still carries some of the conditions necessary for an emotional affair. It’s kinda scary and I intend to do something about it. I can handle some of the items by myself by just bringing the right things into our marriage. Some of the things I will have to get my husband to sit and take seriously with me. Will he? If he doesn’t, I think we’re doomed.
Here is a link to the original article by Rick Reynolds:
The first two items on Rick’s list are what concerns me most. I know my husband isn’t having another affair right now and most of the other 7 items do not affect us right now, but if the first two items are not dealt with, the others can follow at some point. This is what Rick wrote about the first two items:
1.Intimacy avoidance: To have an emotional affair it’s helpful to forgo intimacy and substitute closeness (in your marriage). Intimacy is the willingness to know your mate as well as a willingness to be known. Avoid speaking up and creating conflict in your marriage. Instead settle for closeness and avoid the risk of rejection by your mate. To have an emotional affair it’s necessary to compromise yourself in order to make your mate happy. Intimacy avoidance allows you to silence the conversations which brought your marriage together and opens up the door for new opportunities. Avoiding rejection can successfully foil your mate’s attempts to know you and create new desire for a connection from an acquaintance, or newfound friend on the Internet. Save conversations about marital dissatisfaction for your ”friend”. Dealing directly with your mate about marital issues can rob you of opportunities to connect with someone outside the marriage.
2.Approval seeking: The void created by those fearing rejection and settling for false intimacy creates a craving for the approval of others. It won’t be long until you discover someone who listens well and who’s fascinated by the words you speak. Pursuing opportunities to acquire their validation will help fuel the flame for more. It’s not really an affair, right? What’s wrong with talking with someone who tells you how good you look or who is fascinated by your success, or who appreciates your accomplishments? Allow yourself to believe this new person accepts your true self and don’t forget to blame your mate for not providing the same validation as your new friend.
I think my husband avoids real intimacy with me because he cannot handle that line – “a willingness to be known.” He cannot face what he did, and does not want me to look at it, either, and so he hides behind a veneer of anger to avoid the possibility of having to look at his guilt and his shame.
This keeps us from being truly intimate with each other, knowing and being known, by one another. It creates a wall between us that grows ever higher and thicker. This may eventually drive us far enough apart that he may again decide to seek approval from others. He thinks there is no way I can ever really approve of him anymore, no matter what I say or do to prove otherwise. He does not hear me or accept my attempts to open up to him. He is nine inches taller than me, and when I attempt intimate conversations, I can see him raise his chin in a subconscious effort to hold me away from his heart even when we are hugging each other. It is not purposeful. He’s not trying to put me out and let someone else in. Not this time anyway. I think he is trying to bury his pain and suffering. But the result is the same. He and I cannot connect intimately as a husband and wife should. This could lead to him coming upon someone who does not share his history of the hell of the aftermath of infidelity, someone who could share with him the other 7 items on Rick’s list.
I think you know I’m not talking about sex here when I say I attempt intimate conversations. I’m talking about what Rick was talking about: opening up to one another to fully know each other’s hearts and minds. That’s what I have been searching for and what is lacking in my marriage. My husband and I are close. We do many things together and enjoy each other’s company. We laugh and have fun and enjoy wonderful sex. We have formed a united front in helping our daughter through her health problems. But he holds back when it comes to sharing his deepest thoughts and feelings, which I suspect are still filled with his guilt and shame.
I have come along far enough in healing that I don’t need complete transparency anymore… just a few checks when some trigger comes up. But I am realizing that the transparency was a means of reaching out for the intimacy which had been given to his affair partner for six long years.
An open door for more trouble… it’s scary for a betrayed spouse to realize this.