On Monday I wrote a post about why affairs happen–we let seasons of distance become seasons of carelessness, and we find ourselves emotionally bonding with someone else, which can lead to more. I really should have saved the post for a Wifey Wednesday, but it came to me and so I just wrote it!
Since then I’ve received a number of emails from women who didn’t want to leave a comment saying basically, I’m in that very situation. There’s a guy I’m attracted to. What do I do?
I want to address this today in two steps. First, we’ll look at how to keep distance in your marriage to a minimum; and second, we’ll look at how to handle this guy that you’re attracted to.
1. Stop an Emotional Affair by Keeping Distance in Marriage to a Minimum
You cannot eliminate distance in a marriage, so don’t feel guilty when it happens. There are months, for instance, which are rather dry for us in the bedroom because I travel a lot, and instead of cooperating and doing-that-thing-that-prevents-sex-once-a-month while I’m gone, which would be very convenient, it seems to hit right when I get home. And then by the time I leave again for the weekend, it’s over.
Or perhaps we’re just busy with the kids, going away a lot on weekends for tournaments. This doesn’t happen all year; the way our household is set up, life is absolutely nuts every October/November and March/April, but the rest of the year is doable. So it’s kind of seasonal, and we know it.
You can’t prevent it. You can also have distance because your parents are sick, and you have to spend weekends traveling to help them. Or your husband has extra work.
As much as possible, make sure these are only seasons in your life, and not the whole life. When those seasons are over, celebrate together! Go away for a weekend. Have a few date nights in a row, even if it means you don’t see the kids.
And when you are going through it, try to keep communicating. Call as much as you can. Text. Pray. Keep up to date with your spouse’s schedule so you at least know what they’re doing, and tell him what you’re doing, so you can pray throughout the day or think of him. Send emails every morning telling him what you’re praying for him about. Let him know that you want him home, and you want to be home.
Sometimes in these seasons of distance we start getting annoyed at each other, because we’re busy, and we want him to pick up the slack. Or we’re mad at him for leaving us with the kids. As much as possible, try to stop that. Realize that this is just a season of distance, and it is more important to get through that season with your relationship close than it is to change the way you manage the household or the way he works. The time to address the discrepancies in your life–if you honestly work harder than he does, for instance, or if he leaves you more often than is necessary–is not during the seasons of distance. It’s when you’re reunited again and you’re comfortable together. If you start a big confrontation when you’re already not close to each other, it can drive you both apart right when you need to cling to each other.
If you have real issues, by all means deal with them. But hold them until you’re at a place in your marriage when you really can.
2. Dealing with a Guy You Feel Attracted To–and Preventing a Full-Blown Emotional Affair
Let’s say you’ve been going through a season of distance and you’ve met a man that you feel quite close to. You’ve been sharing some stuff about your marriage, and he’s been sharing some stuff about his. You feel quite bonded to him. You like being around him. You feel like a young girl again, all giggly and desired and in love.
What in the world do you do?
You don’t want to wreck your marriage, but you don’t want the feeling to go away, either.
I know that you feel a lot more connected to the other guy. That’s only natural if he’s the one that you’re really talking to. But you can’t grow your marriage if you continue to confide in him and not your husband. You’ll be expecting your husband to act like this other guy, and that’s not fair. You also probably have an idealized picture of the other guy. He makes you feel great, but what makes you feel great is the intimacy from talking to him, not the day to day interactions. If you were to actually end your marriage and get together with this guy, you’d have the same problems you do in your current marriage. What makes you feel so close to this guy right now is that you don’t have to deal with the reality of life. You just have to deal with sharing emotions, and that’s a very intense, intimate feeling, but it can’t be sustained.
You’ve got to figure out how to get back with your husband, and give up the dreams of these feelings. It’s not realistic to have those same feelings for your husband again, because those tend to occur when a relationship is starting. But they’re not sustainable.
Cut off, as much as possible, your communication with this guy.
Or if you do keep talking to him, don’t talk to him about your husband. Stay on neutral ground. Don’t share stuff that will allow an intimate attachment to grow.
And then talk to your husband about how you can feel close again. Don’t expect to feel totally close to him again right away. Just say that you want to do stuff together like you used to. Try to figure out a schedule where every now and then you each can become your priority. Go watch sports events together, or take hikes, or go biking, or take a cooking class, or anything that interests you. Take an investment course, or set yourselves a goal that you work at together, like figuring out how to spend only $600 a month on groceries and still eat great, or how to save money for Christmas presents, or anything that’s a shared goal.
Just talk to him and figure out what you can do together and what projects you can start together. Stop trying to make him act towards you the same way this other guy does, because it won’t work. What the other guy is offering you is actually something false, because it’s an intimacy without any responsibility, and that’s always more intoxicating than real life relationship. I find that what women often want is to keep that feeling alive, they don’t actually want to live with the guy on a day-to-day basis, and so you’ve got to find a way to build a great relationship with your husband again.