Curt over at the Happy Husband put out a post called Falling In Love. He didn't address it directly but he put some words to how emotional affairs begin. He shares the story of an attraction in high school and of his courtship and marriage with his wife.
Some words from a blog friend, Irene prompted his post. In her post on falling in love she had these wise words.
I've seen it happen to other people. You spend lots of time with each other, exchange stories, share deep thoughts, create memories, and if you're unwary, an emotional attachment begins to form. Before you know it, you're in love.
That's it right there. If you want to have an emotional affair do the following,
1) Spend plenty of time with a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse
2) Tell your life story to one another
3) Share from deep in your heart, especially where your spouse misses your heart
4) Share seemingly meaningful experiences together-achievement at work or ministry offers this
5) Let yourself relax and enjoy the others presence
6) And for good Christian measure, pray with the other person to deny your sexual attraction-heartfelt prayer is more intimate than sex
in many ways and in this situation gives the illusion you are doing the 'right' thing.
Boom! There you are not in love as Irene says but emotionally entangled. Pseudo-intimacy. Addicted. You have a human drug to ease your anxiety and discomfort in a fallen world. You don't need to do conflict with your spouse--that's too hard to do--go talk to your human drug who listens and understands and makes you feel better.
Why is it easier? Because there is nothing at stake. There is no real risk with this other person. With your spouse there is tremendous risk.
This is your MARRIAGE.
A marriage is valuable. Sometimes that pressure makes it tougher to share and talk about life.
My friend, Brendan said, "Sometimes noble men do strange things." He said this in the context of what do we do as men when we feel that attraction beginning. Take a step back and distance yourself. Just talk business. She won't know what is going on you say. That's ok, better for her to be puzzled and/or hurt than for you to continue developing the attachment and begin offering part of your heart reserved for your spouse.
If you tell her you need to step back because you are attracted you have just shared with her from a deep part of your soul and developed more closeness which will make it that much more difficult to stop the momentum of this thing. These apply for women dealing with men too.
So, the moral of the story is...better to have others think you are a jerk than to deal with the pain and chaos of an emotional affair.
I really believe that because I have lived it. In some ways the attachments of an emotional affair are tougher to break than when a physical one happens because one still has the rationalization, "At least we haven't had sex." Don't go have sex :)
Find a way to burst the illusion. Own all of the time and energy that you placed in this relationship with one who is not your spouse and own the damage done to the bride (or husband) of your youth and to your own soul.
Damage to your own soul? But I feel so alive you say. Sometimes helping one get removed from an emotional affair is more difficult than helping a cocaine addict get clean.