How to Get Over an Emotional Affair – An Emergency Guide for Loyal Husbands
SHE TEXTS HIM AFTER work every day. She tags him in funny memes every second day. She talks to him more than she talks to you.
And then you discover she has him on speed dial. WTF??
So you ask her – are you cheating on me?
But she just laughs and says she hasn’t laid a hand on him, so how can it be cheating?
The thing is, as you probably already feel deep down, cheating comes in different shapes and sizes – and it can destroy your relationship even if there’s no sex or physical intimacy. Your wife may not necessarily be giving her body to another man, but she’s giving him a lot of her time, energy and headspace, leaving her with very little to give to you.
This is an emotional affair. And if you’re reading this post, you’re probably very familiar with the above scenario. You’ve gone on to explain to your wife that plenty of damage can be done well before things get physical, she eventually realizes what she’s done, and apologizes to you. But now what?
Your mind goes in circles and always ends up stuck in the same place: you can’t move past what she did. You can’t get over the fact that she was flirting with another man, talking to him day and night, and probably fantasizing about him. If your marriage has any chance of survival, you need to move past this. Even if you’re not sure that you want to stay in the relationship, you still need to work through the pain – it will destroy you otherwise.
But how do you get over an emotional affair? Here are three things to think about.
1.Deal with Your Anger
Your anger is an appropriate way to respond in this scenario. After all, your wife has betrayed you. But yelling at her, or being deliberately mean to her for what she did punishes you, more than her. This is because you’re mad at her unethical behaviour, but the way you’re behaving when you’re angry isn’t exactly ‘good’ either – so when you act in anger you’re going against your own value system. This will leave you feeling worse than before.
Let’s get one thing straight though: anger is a good thing. It means you are feeling your pain, not bottling it up. But when you’re experiencing this emotion, your judgment is impaired and it’s really hard to take any constructive steps towards repairing your relationship, or, healing and moving on.
So deal with it. Gather it all up – think about the injustice of what your wife did – and take it to the gym. Put on a pair of boxing gloves and smash that boxing bag to pieces. Or put on a pair of sneakers and sprint. Cycle 20km. You get the gist. Do something physical.
This is a way of bringing your anger down to a level that allows you to start thinking more clearly. With less anger in your system, you can make decisions about next steps.
2.Show Her Empathy
OK, this one might seem ridiculous given she hurt you. But, if she’s working hard to get on your good side, then chances are, she feels pretty rotten about the whole thing. So there’s that.
More importantly, though, practising empathy isn’t about accepting what happened, it’s about understanding WHY it happened. And only when you put yourself in your wife’s shoes, experience her feelings and thoughts, come to know where they came from, and feel compassion for her, can you start to understand where things went wrong.
During this process, ask yourself, “Did I contribute to this too? If so, how?” This is NOT about blaming yourself, this is about taking responsibility for your part. It’s not right that you were hurt by her emotional affair. But if you look at your actions through your wife’s eyes and realise that actually, you didn’t pay her much attention, or spend much time with her, then you can probably agree that that’s not fair on her either, right?
Basically, practising empathy will allow you to step back from the whole mess and create space between you and wife. When you can do that, you can see HER – not just her mistakes. This opens the door to a different perspective on the situation – a much more compassionate outlook on the whole thing. And THIS provides the foundation for resolving conflicts and finding the best solution – whatever that solution may be.
The other aspect to this is once you know the reasons at the root of your wife’s emotional affair, this can cut through the pain – and stop it from having power over you.
3.Choose to be a Survivor, not a Victim
It is so easy to play the victim: you were cheated on, after all. But that’s the frustrating thing about love and life – bad things happen and you can’t always control what happens to you. The good news is you can control how you respond.
My advice is to actively choose your role in this situation. Whether you want to keep your marriage going or end it, do not be tempted to play the victim. You’ll get a lot of sympathies, but you’ll also probably end up feeling powerless and lost.
Victims often fall into a pattern of feeling that they are ‘in the right’ and everyone else is wrong, and therefore avoid taking responsibility or accountability for their actions. They lay blame at other people’s feet and never look at what they need to resolve within themselves. But as well as laying blame at other people’s feet, they can also put their happiness in the hands of others’. As a result, victims lose the power to make themselves happy and fulfilled. They lose the power to bring the best version of themselves to a romantic relationship. So how can any relationship ever work if you’re playing the victim and not giving your partner your best?
If you want to work on your marriage, then you absolutely need to own your part in the downfall of your relationship. If you don’t, the same thing will happen again. And if you want to move on from your marriage, you STILL need to own your part in the downfall of your relationship because even if you start seeing a new woman, there’s a chance you’ll repeat the same mistakes and possibly end up in the same messy situation all over again. Basically, whether you want your marriage to work or not, you CAN’T PLAY THE VICTIM.
Instead, understand that you were cheated on, but you survived. You were treated unfairly, but you survived. You went through a very tough time, but you survived. You can survive things not going your way. You are powerful and you will get through this. Be a survivor. It will give you the mentality you need to work through the rough bits and come out the other end with a stronger, happier marriage, OR, help you on the way to finding a new, healthier relationship.
Should I stay or should I go?
Your wife might be genuinely and sincerely sorry for the pain she caused you and the mistakes she made. Once your anger subsides a little, you may even be able to look at her emotional affair more objectively and pick out some things you could have done differently. If you can both look within and acknowledge where you each went wrong, your marriage has HUGE potential to end up stronger than it ever was before.
But if your gut is telling you that she’s not really sorry, she’s only sorry because she got caught, well, the steps in this article can still help you – but you may decide that the new and improved you is too good for her.
It can be hard to figure out whether you should stay and fight, or leave – but it’s important to accept that there is no right or wrong here – emotional affairs are never black and white. There are many shades of grey in between.
Best of luck finding the right path for you. Thanks for reading this article on how to get over an emotional affair. If you need some help then you can read through some of the other articles on this site, as well as join the mailing list.