Marriage prepares you for a lot of things. Buying a home together, starting a family, and being with the one you love for the rest of your life. So when you get blindsided by the news that your wife has had an emotional affair, it’s no wonder that you’re plagued by feelings of sadness, betrayal, and guilt. You find yourself wondering, “How do I move past my wife’s emotional affair under these circumstances?”
It might feel like you can never return to what you once had, but recovering from the effects of emotional cheating is possible. As long as the two of you are willing to work through it, you can move past your partner’s emotional affair.
Why Emotional Affairs Are So Difficult
An emotional affair is not the same as a sexual affair, because there is little to no physical intimacy involved. What an emotional affair consists of is two people who are so connected over emotions that they begin to fall in love. Feelings of obsession and intimacy arise, and both members of the affair may fantasize about one another. This affair is often the result of companionship or a friendship that moves beyond the platonic state, becoming emotionally charged.
Once a relationship becomes so emotionally charged that both people are distracted from real life relationships, it has moved into the realm of infidelity.
On the outside, it might be easy to see what’s happening, that your wife is emotionally engaged with another man and much more comfortable with him than she is with you. To your wife, it’s an emotional connection that feels right—that’s the friendship she’s always dreamed about.
Emotional affairs take months or years to fully develop, which is what makes them so incredibly difficult to stop. For love and stability and trust, though, your wife should want to stop the affair and work with you through the hurt to save your marriage.
How to Move Past an Emotional Affair
If you’re worried that your relationship is never going to be the same, you’re right. But not in the way that you think. Emotional affairs exhume a lot of issues within your relationship, along with an unfathomable amount of pain. Right now, you’re understandably angry, hurt, and stressed.
Moving past an emotional affair is going to be a challenge. The biggest hurdle is ending the affair. Unfortunately, even if you uncovered the emotional affair, you can’t be the one to end it. Only your wife can sever the ties and agree to move on.
Make sure that she does four things:
- Admits to what she has done
- Stops the emotional affair
- Sets up boundaries between her and the other individual, be they an online contact, coworker, or another connection
- Promise to reinvest in the marriage
The last one is incredibly important. You can’t move on together without this promise. Once your wife has done that vital step, you are ready to move forward with the following:
1. Avoid The Self-Blame Cycle
For you who was betrayed, an emotional affair might bring about a wave of negative thoughts and feelings about yourself. You might even display PTSD-like behaviors. Remember that it wasn’t your fault. Marriages are a union between two people, meaning that, even if something you did caused distance in the relationship, your wife should also be held accountable.
No reason is good enough to justify infidelity.
So the first step is to forgive yourself for what happened. Owning up to those emotions, however, won’t be easy. It’s recommended that you enlist the help of an infidelity therapist or infidelity recovery specialist. Therapists can help you work through the pain of the emotional affair while also getting to the roots of the problem.
2. Begin The Healing With Feeling
You won’t be able to move on until you let yourself feel. You’ve avoided blaming yourself for the emotional affair, but ignoring the pain and disregarding what happened, or worse, disregarding your wife, only exacerbates the pain.
Again, this is where therapy or marriage counseling helps immensely. Understanding your emotions and how you’re coping with the pain can uncover other issues within the marriage. In order to strengthen your relationship, you need to resolve not just the matter at hand but other existing traumas.
Together with your wife, you should work to understand what a functional and loving marriage looks and feels like. You should be able to discuss your expectations, express your emotions, and heal.
3. Communicate With Your Wife
You’re going to feel anger at some point—and that’s okay. When you feel that anger, don’t bottle it up. Communicate with your spouse. Throughout infidelity therapy, you’re going to be communicating with one another in ways you didn’t think you could.
During this time, you can work to seek closure and regain trust in your partner. By now, you should at least know the identity of the emotional affair partner, how often they met, how long they knew one another, where they first met, and how they communicated.
Not only does this help you avoid future issues, it begins to establish trust. If your partner is forthcoming, it means they’re eager to work with you. They want you to trust them.
Moreover, just talk to one another. Be honest about your emotions. Infidelity often occurs because of boredom or familiarity within a relationship, as well as loneliness, anger, and unfulfilled needs. Neither of you are perfect, so use this time of healing to become better for one another.
4. Plan For The Future You Want
As stress begins to lessen and you move through therapy together, the burden of the emotional affair will start to disappear. It’s not going to be immediate, but if you give it time, you’ll see a brighter future. Use the strategies you learned in therapy, coupled with quality time spent with your wife.
Gradually, you will work back to trust, passion, and intimacy. And no, the marriage won’t be what it was before; it will be better and stronger.
Moving Past an Emotional Affair is Possible
Your wife had an emotional affair that rocked the foundations of your relationship. How do you move on from there? Picking up the pieces together is never easy, but it can be done. If you work together, attend therapy, and communicate, you can move past your wife’s emotional affair.
Recovering is challenging, but when you have the right tools, there’s less friction. Couples Academy is a unique program designed to help you and your spouse overcome marriage’s greatest challenges, including infidelity. If you’re ready to take your marriage to the next level, fill out the contact form.