Couple looking at laptop

One of the fallouts of social media and the ability to reconnect with people from the past is the temptation for a married person to communicate with someone who is unmarried in a manner that easily slips into the classification of an emotional affair. Like online dating, the filter of distance and the ease of texting makes it a very appealing escape from the reality of daily life and the challenges it presents. Christian couples are not impervious to this temptation. Even if your husband is open about who is communicating with him from his past, you will not fully know the extent of the bond that is forming between your husband and this other person. Under the best of circumstances where your husband may be very sincere about the reasons for his involvement with this person, but you can be assured that the exclusivity of that bond with you on the outside is not good for the stability of your marriage. What starts out as an innocent helping hand on your husband’s part can easily get off course into a mutual dependency on one another. This ultimately leads to deeper levels of intimacy and the sharing of feelings that should be reserved within the boundaries of marriage. And that is the real danger because the intimacy within a marriage is sacred and should be a treasured environment of love and trust between the two individuals in the union. 

Another problem with these outside influences is the ability for those connections to become the source of emotional fulfillment for that particular spouse instead of relying on the marriage relationship for that type of intimacy and shared feelings. These texting friendships do create a divided heart, which grows at notoriously subtle rate. Within a marriage, each person internally knows the warning signals that want to halt the level of intimacy that is beginning to develop with someone outside the marriage. It is the repetitive ignoring of the conscious that leads to a hardening of the heart and rationalization for the continuance of the so-called friendship. 

Some of the repercussions of these types of emotional affairs are obvious such as divided loyalties and sharing detailed, intimate information that should be reserved for your spouse. This begins a snowball effect: because loyalties are divided, true openness and vulnerability will be at risk within the marriage. If given a choice, the natural inclination is to be influenced by the feelings and that generally leads to gravitation toward the person that allows an escape from life responsibilities. The marriage then starts losing ground as a source of mutual emotional validation. Instead of the marriage being nurtured exclusively, your spouse will be working two relationships at the same time, leaving less time and energy for the primary relationship. After all, the tendency is to put more energy into a new relationship to build trust and connection than maintaining one that is already established. 

One of the frustrating aspects of emotional affairs that are primarily texting in nature is the argument of the spouse who claims no physical attraction to this person. Many times this is used as an admonishment toward your confrontation of the developing interest in that person. The lack of attraction and labels of being a smothering and jealous spouse serve as an argument of justification that nothing inappropriate is happening. He rationalizes that all he is doing is being a good friend. The truth is that the longer a high level of time and energy is placed in these texting relationships, the result will be a development of closeness, complete with its own type of exclusivity, inside secrets and virtual memories. 

If you find yourself and your marriage in this situation, it is imperative to maintain your peace and godliness despite the circumstances. This type of temptation is appealing to many men in marriages that can be classified as good, generally satisfying and fulfilling. The initial appeal many times can be a call for help that your spouse knows he can provide to that person. Men are generally result oriented and when they see a need or problem they are confident they can resolve, some will readily offer their assistance. The selectiveness of what one shares through texting also provides its own type of appeal because it is censored of the daily struggles of actually living with a person and the balance of getting along in person on an everyday basis. Essentially, each person can create whatever type of virtual relationship that want, ascribing character traits that may or may not be true of the other person. 

Ideally, you both catch this temptation in its initial stages and the threat is over. Most of the time however, it is after the texting relationship has become a consumption for your husband that you really notice the threat. At this stage, talking to your spouse in a calm manner, as difficult as that will be is imperative. While the conversation may not lead to the immediate end of the texting, you will have made your spouse aware that you know what he is doing is not appropriate nor is it beneficial for the sanctity of your marriage. It is important to be proactive and at the same time, remember the plans and purposes of life’s trials are to grow one in the love and reliance on the Lord. It is that balance of honoring your husband in his role as spouse, reminding him of his responsibilities as a godly married man and trusting that the Lord does have this situation under His divine control that are the key elements in confronting this challenge. 

Continue to nurture your marriage with the exclusivity it deserves. The hurt may bring thoughts of retaliation by seeking your own outside relationship or even to harden your heart toward your husband to try and ease the pain. The best course of action is always to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and scripture to give you the emotional strength you need to go through the trial. No matter how long you have been married, it may take your breath away at how easily and quickly something minor can escalate into an all out interference that purposes to steer your marriage away from its exclusivity. Protecting the specialness of the bond you share with your spouse must be a priority, knowing outer circle acquaintances should not have inner circle access to your shared life together. 
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