Emotional Infidelity – What does it mean?
Emotional infidelity occurs when we think intimately about and crave emotional intimacy from someone other than our spouse. “Imagine an actor preparing to perform in a play. She memorizes her lines, gets inside the character’s head, and tries to imagine how this person would feel and act. She rehearses being that person. . .The more she’s rehearsed being that character, the sharper and more “automatic” her performance.
“Something similar happens when we fantasize sexually or emotionally about inappropriate or sinful behavior. We are rehearsing what we think about the conversations we would have with a particular [person] if we were ever alone with him/her, when we entertain thoughts of an intimate rendezvous, or wish that a certain [person] would take special notice of us. . . When we don’t guard our minds in our relationships, we weaken our resistance before any encounter takes place.” 1
Emotional infidelity often starts when you share intimate details of your life with a person other than your spouse. You may be going through a rough part of your marriage and feel like you can’t talk to your spouse, so you choose to receive intimacy from another. That person makes you feel special and that makes you feel good. You begin to open up more and more and you like the feeling you have when you are with them. You crave the emotional intimacy you receive from that person.
Before you know it, you are sharing the deepest intimate details of your marriage. What’s the harm in this? The harm comes in the separation that has now occurred between you and your spouse. You have crossed a marital boundary. God has commanded us to be faithful to our spouses. Emotional infidelity is adultery (Matthew 5:28).
Emotional Infidelity – How does it happen?
There are so many seemingly harmless ways for “good” people to commit emotional infidelity. It often happens through everyday activities and the ideas that we allow to influence our minds.
Consider establishing healthy boundaries in these areas:
- Limit television viewing and avoid watching soap operas and movies that contain sexual content and extra-marital affairs.
- Be careful where you go on the Internet. Avoid all forms of pornography. When active in chat rooms, be sure your spouse is around and keeps you accountable for your activities online.
- Avoid pornographic billboards. Take a different route, if needed.
- Be careful what novels you read. Many women choose not to read romance novels because they tend to compare their husband with the hero in the story and then they see that their husband doesn’t measure up.
- Limit your intake of magazines.
- Be on guard so you don’t develop an inappropriate relationship with someone besides your spouse, no matter how innocent you believe it to be.
- If you need to have a business meeting with someone of the opposite sex, consider bringing along your spouse or another coworker. Avoid being alone together.
- Accountability partners are another way of having a check and balance system. If you find you are prone to slip, ask a good friend to hold you accountable. When you feel like you are headed for trouble -- call them to talk and pray together.
Emotional Infidelity – How can I keep my mind pure?
How can we keep my mind pure and avoid emotional infidelity? It’s not always the easiest thing to do since we live in a world where sex sells.
Inappropriate thoughts are bound to come creeping into our brains occasionally, but we can choose not to entertain them. We don’t have to rehearse them like the actor mentioned above. We can immediately dismiss impure thoughts and we can refuse to commit emotional infidelity.
We need to make a commitment to keep our mind drenched with pure thoughts. When we have thoughts that are inappropriate, we need to take them captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). God tells us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.”
We will not be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). God will always provide a way out.
1 Every Woman's Battle: Discovering God's Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment, Waterbrook Press. For more information on sexual issues for women, we highly recommend this book.
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