Emotional affairs are no different than physical affairs when it comes to the trauma they bring. While there are ways to work through the pain and come out stronger together, emotional adultery is devastating. The betrayal may even lead to you thinking divorce is the best way out of the mess your spouse created. But should emotional adultery be grounds for divorce?
What Is An Emotional Affair?
An emotional affair, like most forms of infidelity, can be hard to describe. Many people have their own definitions of what it means to be disloyal to a partner or spouse, and emotional infidelity is no different. That is why it’s important to discuss your line in the sand with your partner.
Emotional affairs are different from physical affairs, as they don’t require sexual relationships. However, there is a level of intimacy involved that goes beyond a platonic friendship. You can say that these relationships are emotionally charged to the point where your contact is inappropriate, even if you don’t make any physical contact whatsoever.
You can usually tell when someone is having an emotional affair when they become physically distant from you and spend more time physically and mentally with the other person. In other words, their attention shifts entirely to someone else. This is extremely hurtful, especially when your partner starts making comparisons between you and their friend.
How Does Emotional Adultery Affect A Divorce?
Although physical intimacy is rarely involved in emotional adultery, such an affair can be damaging to a relationship. Some may even feel that being emotionally cheated on is worse than a sexual one because it means that the partner having the affair is way more emotionally invested in the extramarital relationship.
Many states, like California, legally recognize this and allow for couples to file for divorce after an emotional affair. Others, like Maryland, call it constructive desertion. Then there are some places that do not allow for divorce solely over an emotional affair.
But should an emotional affair be grounds for divorce? Not always.
There are deciding factors that can help you decide whether to stay or leave a marriage. Dealing with the affair quickly is essential. The first thing you must address is that deciding on divorce isn’t easy, and you should wait for some of the immediate emotions to dissipate before deciding what to do.
When To Walk Away After An Emotional Affair
As noted above, there are a few things you really need to think about before settling on divorce. It’s easy to say that divorce is the only option after an affair, but it’s never that easy.
So to help you figure out the right path, here are crucial factors to consider:
The Strength Of Your Relationship
Your history with each other is integral to overcoming an affair. If you have been in a long-term relationship with your spouse and believe it was fulfilling up to the point of the affair, there’s a good chance you can recover. Try to look at the affair from your partner’s perspective to see if anything recently happened in your relationship that would drive them to seek validation from someone else.
Your Emotional Attachment
Love plays a tremendous role in divorce. If you still love them after they breached your trust, that says a lot about the strength of your relationship. If you’re willing to forgive with time, that’s great. Yet, if you feel apathetic towards the marriage, it’s a tougher call.
Infidelity is going to hurt terribly. You may even end up with trauma or PTSD from it. Divorce may be an option if the stress is too much to bear, but you should try to speak with a therapist first.
Your Spouse’s Dating History
Has your partner been prone to betrayal in the past? Would you call them a habitual cheater? There is little you can do in this case. On the other hand, a faithful spouse who went into an affair may be dealing with some issues. In that case, you should work together to uncover the cause and see if you can fix the problem.
Your Spouse’s Reaction To The Infidelity
Is your partner regretful about their actions? Are they appalled that they hurt you in such a way? Are they willing to repair the damage to the relationship? That’s a signal they care and you should work through this trying time. A clear signal for divorce would be indifference from your spouse. In that case, restoring your marriage will be difficult, if not impossible.
Should You Stay Or Go?
Ultimately, deciding if emotional adultery is grounds for divorce comes down to the quality of your relationship and the behaviors of your partner. Marriage shouldn’t be a gauntlet but a trusting, loving partnership. If you both consciously make an effort to fix things, the chances of your marriage ending are very low.
If any of the following is happening, divorce may be the right choice:
- Your spouse blames only you for the affair. Like it or not, an affair is a two-way street, as cheating usually happens because communication broke down between the both of you.
- They are still in touch with their lover.
- Your partner is extremely defensive about the affair and denies their responsibility.
- The lies are near constant, and they hide things from you.
- Your partner disrespects you.
- You fight often—and around your children.
- Happiness is out of the question. You are no longer satisfied, and you don’t know if you’ve ever been.
Should emotional adultery lead to divorce? It depends on numerous factors. Dealing with any kind of betrayal is difficult, and it can be truly destructive to even the happiest of marriages. That is why you truly need to analyze your relationship and whether or not you can work past the emotional affair. However, if this is a repeated offense or if your partner is no longer interested in maintaining your marriage, it may be time to walk away.
Whichever path you choose, Couples Academy is here to help. Our programs are designed to strengthen marital bonds and help couples find their way to happiness. Even after infidelity, there are paths to recovery that lead to an even better relationship with your spouse. Contact Couples Academy today for more information.