Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

The studies are out. The statistics are alarming. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that 20% of married couples have been impacted by emotional infidelity.

Infidelity has been redefined in the 21st century.  Infidelity has been broadened to include, not only physical affairs, but also emotional affairs, which can be challenging to untangle and end.

Under the disguise of “innocent fun,” extramarital emotional affairs are often at first excused as meaningless. The social attachment, however, deepens. We become secretive or defensive. Marriage and families are ultimately harmed.

An emotional affair makes a woman feel younger or better about herself. An emotional affair makes a man feel more virile or important. These emotional swings are a fun break from mundane life at home. Moreover, clandestine communication is too easy, with facebook, myspace, texting, and flirting at work. But the end result is a stab in the back of your happiness.

Every marriage needs continued improvement in order to thrive, and to seek emotional support from someone other than your spouse is not an answer. Excited emotions come and go. Emotions pass away. If strong emotions died in a marriage they will die in an affair, so transfer your energy to improving the marriage. Granted, working on your marriage might not seem as thrilling as an emotional affair, but in the end happiness becomes sound and satisfying.

Christ Jesus left us the Beattitudes, the attitudes linked to happiness. For example, “Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5) Jesus didn’t say having a bigger house will satisfy, or turning on your co-worker, or hottie, will satisfy, but pointed out the power of thought and that we are able to direct thought toward an emotional satisfaction of strengthening marriage and family.

There is nothing wrong with having friends outside a marriage. But, we want friendships that encourage strong healthy marriages.

It’s not a mystery, we can untangle an emotional affair. We can understand how the human mind works and identify with the spiritual mindedness that brings out the best in us and our marriage. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “There is a large class of thinkers whose excessive prejudice and conceit twist every fact to suit themselves. Their creed teaches belief in a mysterious, supernatural God, and a natural, all-powerful devil. Another class, still more unfortunate, are so depraved that they appear to be innocent. They repeat empty talk while looking you placidly in the face, and they never fail to stab their benefactor in the back. A third class of thinkers build with steel beams. They are honest, generous, noble, and are therefore open to the approach and recognition of Truth.”

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