Emotional affairs can be a tricky area for most married couples. There is a very thin line between ‘friend’ and ‘emotional affair’. What typically happens is that the wife finds a text, email or phone call from a woman that makes the wife uncomfortable. When the wife confronts the husband, she gets ‘Geez, you are over-reacting!! Get a grip, she is only a friend, we were just joking and having a little fun’. Then as the wife you look like the crazy paranoid person.
Below are some things to keep in mind when confronted with the situation above that might give you a better indication if you are dealing with an ‘emotional affair’ or just a ‘friend’.
1. Do you know the person your husband is engaged with? If you notice a note from Pam saying ‘You are so fun to be around, can’t wait to see you again!’ and you do not know Pam, that is not a good sign. If she is comfortable enough to send a text to your husband about how fun he is, then your husband should of mentioned her name to you prior to you seeing the text. Close friends of the opposite sex should be known within the marriage.
2. Would your husband feel comfortable inviting her to dinner (it’s more of a rhetorical question)? If your husband is truly ‘friends’ with ‘Pam’, then he should absolutely be comfortable having Pam around you as the wife. If he refuses or gets angry with the request, take note.
3. Is your husband comfortable being transparent concerning communication with Pam? As the wife, if you feel uneasy around a communication from Pam, your husband should be in a position to share texts/emails ect. to put your mind at ease, after all, they are just ‘friends’. If your husband easily shares communication between him and Pam, great. If not, take note.
Emotional affairs are harder to catch because the default line is always ‘we are just friends’. And the truth is that it is very possible that your husband has friends of the opposite sex. It’s important that as a married couple that you establish rules of engagement with friends of the opposite sex. There is a thin line between ‘friends’ and ‘emotional affairs’ and ‘physical affairs’. You can go from zero (friends) to 100 (full out physical affair) very quick if you are not careful. Below are a couple of rules that can be good discussion points with your partner.
1. Texting/Calling friends after sunset. There is no reason for a friend of the opposite sex to regularly engage with a married man after hours. I understand on occasion something might come up, but consistently calling/texting a married man after work hours should be off limits.
2. Everyday interaction. If your husband is interacting with a ‘friend’ everyday, someone is trying to migrate into the ‘emotional affair’ zone. When married, the only one you should be interacting with everyday (outside of co-workers) is your wife/husband.
3. Flirting – If your husband has a ‘friend’…….that ‘friend’ should not be flirting with your husband (this includes sexting/texting). Flirting with a married man is leaning more towards emotional affair than a friend.
Discovering an emotional affair can be very painful because it is typically the first time in the marriage where the wife discovers that her husband may have feelings for someone else. Watch, listen and observe, and what needs to unfold will unfold.