Wife Is Having Emotional Affair

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Here’s my story: Married for 12 years with two beautiful children. During their upbringing, the wife and I grew distant of each other. She began to treat me badly with little respect and I began to emotional disconnect with her and stopped providing the emotional loving support that she needs. Looking back – we both were at fault!

Her solution was to start an emotional affair with an old boyfriend – it may have started with a sexual encounter but that’s not been confirmed. This lasted for 3 years and she continued to lie to me about it even though I knew the truth. This obviously affected my ability to reconnect to her emotionally. We have discussed this issue over the 3 years never getting to the root cause of her having an emotional affair. Her mindset is, “if I don’t get it from him, I’ll get it from someone else”. After time, she realized that she couldn’t take this affair any further and it began to slow down.

Then she was introduced to social networking and hooked up with another man from her past – and has started another emotional affair – this one is much more serious where they have told each other that they love each other and are trying to make plans to be together in the future – he’s married with children too. I found out about this affair and have confronted her with this. During these discussions, she FINALLY confirmed that she had an emotional affair #1 – something I knew all along. And insists that this is harmless. I however know better and have stumbled on to detailed information that prove this emotional affair is even more serious than the first. She claims to have broken it off completely, but I know for sure that they are still carrying on behind my back – she is now lying to me every day.

She is attempting to work with me to “fix” our marriage, but this to me is just to serve her guilt of what she’s doing. It’s hard to take anything she says or does seriously, since she is constantly lying to me and carrying on with this other man.

They are close to taking this emotional affair to the next level – meeting in person. I’m at the end of my rope – I’m trying to fight for my wife – but am questioning whether I’m wasting my time. She’s done this twice – what’s to prevent her from doing it again and again. I think she needs help but don’t understand what’s going on inside her head.

I need help – I need to understand what she is going through and is this worth saving our marriage, or is she beyond saving. Just let her go and be with the other man and let her become his problem.

A. The core of your relationship is gone, long gone. You can’t trust her. She lies to your face on a daily basis. She has decided that cheating and lying are an acceptable way to improve her life. The cost to you is quite secondary to her desires and imagined needs. There are many wives who are unhappy, feel neglected by their husbands and want much more in their lives. Some of them choose divorce and others choose to cheat. What is the difference between the two? Morality. To many good women, lying and cheating to enhance their lives is unacceptable. They choose divorce when they believe their marriage can not be improved.

Counseling can solve great problems in a relationship but counseling will not teach your partner morality. It is wrong to knowingly hurt other people. Lying is wrong and infidelity is wrong; according to every major religious doctrine that I am aware of.

You mention that her cheating is “emotional” and perhaps also sexual. She explains to you that emotional cheating is not really cheating. Love is emotion, perhaps the most powerful and meaningful of all emotions. When she turned to another man for her emotional needs, she invalidated the totality of her marriage to you. A marriage is based on love and trust and the most sincere belief that your partner will protect you from pain. Your partner has inflicted pain with a callous regard for your feelings and safety and overall well being.

She has purchased her happiness at the cost of your suffering. She plans to leave you and is making plans to do so. Does she care how this will upset your life or hurt you? You ask her to be honest with you. Why, because you would like to be prepared for your future. You would like to minimize the pain that potentially lies ahead. She continues to lie to you so that she will still have you if her affair doesn’t work out or her new man decides he doesn’t want her. You are her insurance.

What bothers me the most is her constant lying to you. She has found lying to be a functional part of her life. Dishonesty, cheating, deception are all signs of an unhealthy individual and all of these are certain poison to a relationship. Without trust there is no relationship. It’s time to think about your self. Stop thinking of her needs because she has long ago stopped being concerned about yours. She is not ready to leave you because she has yet to find someone who will accept her. I’m sure you are a convenient baby sitter and help pay the bills. You have proof that she is planning or at least attempting to leave you. Is your relationship over? It has been over for many years, even before her affairs.

She is insensitive to your well being. She doesn’t care if she lies or cheats and is anxiously attempting to find your replacement.

I can understand that she is unhappy in her marriage. I can understand that she wants more. I would agree that she should have a good strong marriage. I can not accept her belief that these things are accessible through lies and deception. I would say instead that theses things can never be acquired through lies. The only things acquired through deception and cheating is the illusion of that which she seeks.

The decision is yours. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Wife Is Having Emotional Affair. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/04/06/wife-is-having-emotional-affair/