Relationships

Infidelity Does Not Require 2 People to Have Sex

emotional affair
  1. Get Professional Help

Sometimes the break in your relationship with your spouse runs so deep that you and your spouse just can’t get past it yourselves.

Maybe your spouse won’t acknowledge there’s a problem. Or maybe s/he thinks it’s YOUR problem. Either way, going to couples counseling can help.

A good marriage counselor can often work wonders, especially if both you and your spouse are willing to put in the work to save your marriage. (It also helps if you haven’t waited until your marriage is on life support before you start counseling!)

  1. Get Support

Regardless of whether you’re going to marriage counseling or not, getting support for yourself is just as important. That’s especially true if your spouse is denying that you have a problem.

When you feel like your marriage is being compromised, and your spouse is telling you that you’re over-reacting, it doesn’t take long before you start to doubt yourself. You start to second guess what you see and feel. Unfortunately, that only makes you feel worse.

Become A Contributor

Having someone you can talk to, someone who will listen to you and let you know whether you’re crazy or not, can be invaluable. In a perfect world, that someone would be a professional therapist. But a trusted friend, or a close family member, can also help.

(NOTE: At this point, it would probably be best to limit your support group to just one or two people. This is not the time to circle the wagons and tell everyone you know that your spouse is having an emotional affair.)

  1. Set Ground Rules

If your spouse is involved in a relationship that you’re not comfortable with, and s/he is not willing to change his/her behavior, you may think that your choices are to either accept your spouse’s behavior as it is or get a divorce. But you may have other options.

To explore those other options you need to decide what you are and are not willing to tolerate. Maybe you want to have an open marriage. Maybe you are willing to let your spouse have outside “friends” if you can, too. Or maybe you’re not okay with any of this, and you just want to have a traditional marriage. Whatever you decide is fine. The point is to consciously explore your options and make a decision about what you want.

If your spouse will have this conversation with you, great! If not, have the conversation with yourself. Identify your boundaries and let your spouse know what they are. Then (and this is the hard part!) you need to respect your boundaries and make sure your spouse does the same.

  1. Don’t Make Rash Decisions

 When your marriage is crumbling, you are not in the most stable emotional place to start making big decisions. That’s especially true if you don’t know for sure whether your spouse’s relationship with his/her “friend” is actually more involved than your spouse will admit.

While it’s easy to rush to the conclusion that your spouse is cheating and your marriage is over, that might not be the right conclusion to draw.

If your spouse is willing to talk about the situation and go to counseling with you, that’s a good sign. If your spouse denies everything and tells you you’re crazy, that’s not a good sign. But, it’s also no reason to rush headlong into a divorce. Instead, get yourself into therapy, take some time to clear your head and think, THEN decide on your next steps.

An Affair By Any Other Name is Still an Affair

Can two people of the opposite sex (or similar sexual persuasion) ever have a purely platonic relationship? If you watched “When Harry Met Sally” you may think the answer is: No! But life is rarely as simple as it looks in movies.

The truth is that, when lines in relationships get crossed, people get hurt.

While some people think that a physical affair is the worst thing that could ever happen to their marriage, others disagree. They may not like the fact that their spouse is having a fling, but as long as there is no emotional connection, they’re willing to turn a blind eye.

What you’re willing to live [within] your own marriage is intensely personal. You can draw the boundaries in your marriage wherever you and your spouse choose to do so. The key is to draw those boundaries consciously and intentionally.

If your spouse is involved with someone other than you, and you’re not okay with that, it’s time to have a conversation with your spouse. If your spouse won’t listen, won’t go to counseling, and won’t work on your marriage, then you may have a decision to make.

No matter what you do, remember that it takes two people to make a marriage — but three can be a crowd.

**This article was originally published at karencovy.com. Used with permission. 

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Karen Covy
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Karen Covy is a divorce advisor, attorney, consultant and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably and efficiently as possible. She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. Karen has been featured on the Channel 7 News, WCIU You and Me This Morning, WGN Radio, MarketWatch and on numerous radio shows and podcasts. You can find more of Karen’s articles on relationships and divorce at karencovy.com.

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