An Emotional Affair: It Can Happen to You Too (My Story) - Vibrant Christian Living

An Emotional Affair: It Can Happen to You Too (My Story)

Having an emotional affair was something I never thought I would be tempted by. And looking back, it’s difficult for me to talk about.

But I’m sharing with you about this because having an affair is a temptation that can happen to anyone. I want you to know how to recognize the signs of an emotional affair, because no couple is immune from having an affair.

Infidelity in marriage can happen in the best of families (even to Christian couples) if we’re not careful.

I want to share my story about how I almost had an emotional affair, and give you practical advice so that you can avoid having an emotional affair (and protect your marriage and your family).

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Emotional Affairs Can Happen to Anyone

Infidelity in marriage is a slippery slope that too many couples have fallen down… and it can happen one tiny choice at a time.

It doesn’t even have to be about sex. In fact, for women, it’s usually not.

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but emotional affairs are about needing emotional connection. It’s about getting that “thing” that you are lacking. It’s about getting that “thing” that you are lacking in your marriage relationship.

And it’s about believing that someone else has to meet these needs because your spouse no longer can’t.

The temptation to engage in an emotional affair is a scary and very real place, and I want to share my real and raw story here.

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How I Was Tempted to Have an Affair 

Nearly 8 years ago, my husband and I were just entering our second year of marriage. Newlywed bliss still right? Ha, hardly.

During that season, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel: debilitating year-long depression, isolation from friends, constant marital miscommunications, a failed business adventure, and a distance from God like I’d never known before.

I was in a dark place, and ripe for the enemy’s picking, especially that of an emotional affair.

My husband had never treated me unkindly, but he wasn’t filling my emotional love tank in the ways I had expected him to.

All those things that were exciting, exotic, and new when I was dating my husband were now dull, bland, and boring to me.

In fact, I’d begun to wonder if I had made a mistake marrying this man.

And now you can understand how easy it was for the smooth words of a male coworker to ignite my dormant heart (and make me consider having an affair).

This other man’s words of affirmation spoke deep into the lacking places of my soul. My heart suddenly thirsted and longed for this affection, and I began to stumble.

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Playing with the Fire of an Emotional Affair

Unbeknownst to my husband, I allowed this seemingly harmless flirtation to exist. It was no big deal, right?

But after a few months of nurturing these seeds of temptation, one evening at a work related event things took a more serious turn.

I found myself alone on a lifeguard tower, with a man different from the one who placed the beautiful ring on my finger less than two years earlier.

A ripping at my heart and soul took place between what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do.

You see, I knew my husband was a good man. He’d been a Christian all his life. He saved his virginity for our marriage. He respected me, and ultimately, I believe he loved me.

Yet, the problem with our disconnected hearts was that he didn’t know exactly how to love me.

He didn’t know how I enjoyed being loved.

And this disconnect was ripping us apart and leading me toward a decision that I didn’t want to make. And yet, I was desperate to feel loved–so desperate so that I was ready to pursue physical intimacy with another man that wasn’t my husband.

I’d allowed my emotions to become so out of control that I was ready to have an affair. In fact, I already technically was having an emotional affair.

“How did I get here?” I wondered. “And what should I do now?”

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My Brokenness Led Me Towards an Emotional Affair

I gave my life to Jesus when I was nineteen and felt, for the first time, that the deep emptiness in my heart was finally full.

Yet, in my mind, I was a blood-stained woman when my husband began to pursue me.

I felt inadequate. There was too much junk attached to me. In the past, I couldn’t even stay single for more than a few months before I found myself with another man.  I didn’t trust my heart.

But my husband pursued me anyway.

He loved me and respected me in a way no other man had. He helped me learn tangibly about the grace and love of Jesus by his actions and obedience to love me regardless of my past.

To him, I was pure and unblemished, washed clean in the blood of Jesus.

That’s when I asked myself: Why was I now on this lifeguard tower with another man?

Did I want to go through with having an affair? Did I want to be known as “the other woman”?

What was my heart really longing for?

I was a believer in Christ, yet what was I missing and what was I running away from? My head spun with a mix of emotions. Multiple thoughts played into my mind.

I didn’t truly understand these questions until years later (which I share more about in this post).

But in this moment, I knew I had a decision to make.

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The Pivotal Moment: Should I Have an Affair?

Here’s what happened that night on the lifeguard tower:

I chose to walk away.

How and why did I do it? Honestly, I wasn’t really sure why at the time. In that moment, however, I did know that I did not want to ruin my marriage.

In my heart, I also knew that not having an affair was the right thing to do. I knew that if I gave in to temptation, I would regret having an affair for the rest of my life.

And so, with this other man in front of me, I prayed silently to God for help.

God gave me the power in that moment to walk away. And because of my faithfulness to Him, I truly believe it is why God decided to transfer this man to another office within the following week.

Call it coincidence, but I call it divine intervention. God saved my marriage from an affair.

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Having An Affair: What I Wish I’d Known Then

I am often asked by other women who are tempted to have an affair:

  • How did you make the decision to walk away?
  • What things should I know before I fall into having an affair?
  • What are the warning signs before having an affair?

I cover these topics more in Part 2 of this post, but here are a few thoughts.

First, there were so many things in my life that led up to this lustful temptation (and led me to have an emotional affair)!

Many false agreements were made. Many lies blinded me from the truth. Many small, seemingly insignificant choices were made that led to bigger and messier circumstances, widening the gap of intimacy in my marriage between my husband and I.

There are things I wish I knew before, such as understanding intimate insights about men and women.

You see, there is more to this idea we have of love and intimacy than what we learned back in our 6th grade sex-ed classes.

Now that I’ve discovered these biblical truths, I see how they’ve revolutionized my marriage (and how they can transform other marriages as well).

Here are some of my favorite resources–those that I’ve personally found helpful and those that I recommend that every couple read in order to better understand our spouses and help protect couples from having an affair.

Resources for Couples to Prevent or Heal from an Affair 

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that LastsThe 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that LastsThe Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual ThoughtsThe Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual ThoughtsHis Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof MarriageHis Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof MarriageOne More Try: What to Do When Your Marriage Is Falling ApartOne More Try: What to Do When Your Marriage Is Falling ApartEvery Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (The Every Man Series)Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (The Every Man Series)Every Woman's Battle: Discovering God's Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment (The Every Man Series)Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment (The Every Man Series)

Real Hope for Those Struggling with Having an Affair

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I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced lustful thoughts and walked the fine-line between destructive and dishonoring decisions.

Are you in this situation today? Do you see the warning signs around you? Or maybe you’re already caught in an emotional affair or a physical relationship?

Regardless of your situation, I’m here to tell you there is hope if you’re struggling with having an affair (an emotional affair or a physical affiar).

No matter how much damage has been done, or no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, I have seen the powerful effects firsthand of God’s indescribable grace in marriage.

I have seen true transformation by husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends—experiencing a love and joy they’ve never known before.

There is hope, and there is a way out. Read more about this in the next post, “5 Warning Signs of an Emotional Affair”.

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About Rachel Swanson

Rachel Swanson is Founder of Intimate Insights for Women, a ministry created to help other women experience sexual freedom in Christ. She teaches this course at her local church in Southern California and is currently in the process of expanding the ministry by providing online classes and resources in the near future. Her husband, Jeff Swanson, is Founder of Sexual Integrity for Men. Rachel is a passionate writer, blogger, and speaker for the hearts of women. She blogs regularly at Refine and Restore providing “R & R for the heart and soul.” Connect with her on Instagram , Facebook or Twitter

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