Ann and I were fortunate to appear on Good Morning America when A-Rod and Madonna were engaged in an emotional affair. Here is my response to the piece including a link to Affairs of the Heart.
I want to share my thoughts and reflections about the piece on GMA. If you haven't seen it watch 'Affairs of the Heart' here.
First off, the folks we talked to at ABC were all great to work with. Their job is challenging to attempt to talk intelligently about many complex topics each day. So there is no slight to them, there are just limitations to a TV spot and expecting reporters like Juju Chang to be an expert on every topic she covers. We appreciate their presentation of our story in a positive light and their broaching the topic of emotional affairs.
In each story there is usually a hook to draw you in. Juju's premise was that emotional affairs are worse than physical affairs. There's an assumption there that the two are mutually exclusive and that nothing is going on emotionally for a man or a woman during sex. Both of those assumptions are false. But it seems like TV has found a way to draw viewers in by pitting two seemingly opposing ideas and debating it so 'Which is worse, emotional or physical affairs' was the hook for the piece. And Madonna and A-Rod of course. :)
I also want to share that my heart goes out to Madonna, Alex Rodriguez and Cynthia Rodriguez. Money solves certain matters in our lives but not relationships. Madonna and Alex have all the money they could ever need, but they are still seeking to close a gap in their soul. That gap can't be closed on this planet. There is a certain amount of anxiety and loneliness that we all deal with. If we can accept and sit with it our lives are a lot richer. It frees us to enjoy others for who they are not what they can do for us. On to the show.
After the intro a counselor interviewed for the show said, "An affair of the flesh is easier to get over because it's temporary, superficial and fleeting. It's about a body. But an affair of the heart stabs you in the heart because it represents a lingering commitment and an attachment to another human being."
The problem with the statements is an assumption of mutual exclusivity. By itself I can agree with the premise of the second statement that an emotional affair causes great damage to a spouse. The first sentence implies that our souls are not impacted by our bodily activity and that is ridiculous. If it were so, sexual abuse would not be so damaging and devastating. It was just sex right?! The absurdity of that statement, I hope, brings forth just how off base the premise is that sexual affairs don't have an emotional component. Our bodies and souls are closely linked.
Something important is going on at a soul level during sex. I just left a post on sexual addiction where the discussion centered on the great amount of shame both male and females have who engaged in copious amounts of so called meaningless sex. Our souls and relationships are damaged by having sex with someone other than our spouse. I've seen couples over the years who thought they would 'swing' a little since, you know, a little 'affair of the flesh' won't hurt anything in the long run. Often it is the beginning of the end of the marriage as the wife (most often) feels devalued, inconsequential and unprotected. Sometimes she doesn't have those words to put to it. She justs keep swinging with more guys long after the husband was ready to quit.
Another aspect of the story is that prayer can be more intimate than sex. A husband and wife that pray honestly together usually have a fantastic marriage. So Cynthia Rodriguez's intuition is on the mark in her feelings about Alex's relationship with Madonna Louise. Prayer is intimate because it originates in the core of our souls. When we pray with another, especially someone of the opposite sex that we're attracted to, the bond can instantly feel intense. The rub is that well meaning people seeking to honor their marriage by avoiding sex actually solidify the entanglement by vulnerably seeking God together. It's not uncommon for a man and a woman in a bible study, like kabbalah, or serving in ministry together to have an affair. It feels right because, after all, God was involved. The rationalizations tower over the Empire State Building.
It was great to be on GMA and hopefully our story will help others dealing with the immense confusion and pain following the revelation of an affair.