In his book, Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning quotes an old AA saying, “The more extraordinary the story the more ordinary the drunk.” That applies here as I tell about my emotional affair. I turned from God, didn’t honor my wife and I refused to suffer and sorrow. I rationalized, justified, minimized, and denied. Such are the ingredients in an emotional affair. Plus electricity.
There were times in my relationship with Rita that I just ‘knew’ I was supposed to be with her. I rationalized that I was made for her but messed it up by already being married.
I remember her leaning back in her chair and looking straight up at me with her long blonde hair hanging down. My chest felt light and my knees quivered. Another time we walked by each other and slowly slid our hands across each others. My entire being was charged. Little touches here and there are often sparks in an emotional affair.
Looking back I was aware of the infidelity. On my 30th birthday, Ann bought an over the hill cake and brought it to work to celebrate me. I remember telling Rita that I couldn’t go to lunch because Ann was bringing the cake in later. She said she understood. She understood that I felt in love with her and that I felt like I was cheating on my wife. We just never said those particular words. We avoided saying a lot.
Often times in emotional affairs for Christian people they won’t put words to the attraction. So what do they do to make it better? To deal with the guilt and fear they are feeling? They pray together. Rita and I didn’t pray together but I would often put her and her marriage on our prayer list on Wednesday night at church. A guilt offering? Many do pray together. But prayer goes to the core of our souls and often strikes a connection as deep or deeper than sex. It is easy to rationalize the spiritual activity as being the right way to handle the attraction when it merely fans the flame.
After a few more months the electricity lessened for us. One day Rita told me she wasn’t going to lunch with me, she was going with Joe. Dumped. I hurt. Could I really say anything since I was married? No. I was tied in knots.
Rita and I didn’t spend much time together for a while. We still talked and my feelings still lingered just like they do in the most stressful situations for some alcohol to numb my anxiety. For the most part we were coworkers that liked each other. I should remember an impact on my marriage but I don’t. I feel sad over that. I was lost and confused.
Later on that year I went for my two week annual training with my reserve unit. The evening I returned home the phone rang. Ann answered it and said it was Rita. I was very confused. We hadn’t talked much lately and why in the world would she call me at home? She’d been fired.