Are You Prepared to Pay the Cost of an Emotional Affair?

Do you remember the 1996 film The Preacher’s Wife? In the film, Rev. Henry Biggs, played by Courtney B. Vance, was having trouble in his marriage to Julia, a gifted singer, played by Whitney Houston. The good reverend’s marriage was suffering because of all the attention he was paying to the deprived community they lived in. So, Dudley, a debonair and charming angel played by Denzel Washington, was dispatched to help the reverend regain his marital footing.

So, did Dudley do right? Well, though neither intended it to happen, Dudley and Julia “clicked” as they spent more and more time together. In the outstanding soundtrack to the movie, Whitney sang about it in “My Heart Is Calling.”

The thing about it is
It's oh so innocent
I wasn't looking for
It came knockin' at my door

I'm trying to do things right
But I'm about to lose this fight
'Cause spending time with you
Well, it feels so good and that's the truth

And that brings us to today’s topic – an emotional affair. An emotional affair is a nonsexual bond between two people that has aspects of the closeness and intimacy that should only be between spouses. This scene is replicated in “real life” thousands of times across this country every day. One Internet study on emotional infidelity said that nearly 8 out of 10 men and more than 9 out of 10 women admitted to having an emotional affair at some point in their marriage. Those numbers are astounding, aren’t they?

An emotional affair. Yet another scenario that confirms the incomparable wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. See if you don’t agree with me. Two thousand years before the term was even coined, Jesus cautioned against the flirtations of the flesh that led to the compromise of the Spirit. Listen to Him in Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So, what’s wrong with a little innocent flirtation? Well, if you are married, that’s where it begins. A full plunge into the river starts with dipping one little toe in the water. And then BOOM – you are submerged!

JUST US LIMITED implores you, married person, to examine yourself. Scroll through your text messages – what would your spouse think about those words? What about your verbal exchanges during the day – were they “clean?” Prolonged exchanges, lingering looks or touches, private lunches, working out together…all of these can be recipes for disaster.

If your spouse would raise an eyebrow or think twice about it, you should too. So, you say it’s really not that deep? Well, it is that deep. It is key for a married individual to establish healthy relationship boundaries and adhere to them.

Some believe that emotional affairs don’t cross the line – but if you are a follower of Christ, they DO cross the line. Emotional affairs need to be recognized, acknowledged for the sin trap that they are, and moved past!

Here is what one man said after discovering his wife was having a 3-month emotional affair that was actually beginning to get physical. The wife had actually been up front about some inappropriate things “the other man” had said to her, but he had persisted. Her husband had mistakenly shrugged it off as harmless and felt his marriage was “safe.” It wasn’t. Here is what he said upon the discovery. 

What followed was a physical and emotional turmoil from which I am still reeling six months later. Although difficult to describe, it is a near-lethal cocktail of loss, rage, fear, sadness, shame, confusion, paranoia, disgust, and helplessness, coupled with…loss of appetite, sleep disruption, and weight loss experienced by all trauma survivors. I continued to work, but I sat at my desk unable to focus, a hollow, empty, grieving shell of my former self. 

Wow. He got rocked. 

So – how about some warning signs of an emotional affair taking place? Here are a few: 

  1. Your spouse doesn’t know how close you two truly are. For  instance, do you communicate with one another every day? Has the communication bled outside of the workplace? If your spouse were to see the text messages or witness the body language between you two, would he or she take notice? Have others raised an eyebrow at how giddy you two are together? 
  1. You share private thoughts with your friend that you don’t even share with your spouse. Your primary sounding board outside of your spouse should not be anyone of the opposite sex – and that includes a parent. Leave and cleave is real talk from the Word! Your conscience should be working overtime and telling you to step away! 
  1. You’re thinking about the friend when you should be thinking about and responding to your spouse. You find yourself daydreaming, looking forward to the next exchange – or remembering the last one. You look forward to spending time with them, whether in the workplace, or the gym, or yes, even the church! It has happened! Sometimes, the unrealized “potential” of the fantasy can be more appealing than the reality. Just remember that fantasies lack the flaws and weaknesses that come with real life. 
  1. They “get you.” They make you laugh, and you rationalize that it’s harmless because everybody needs to laugh – everybody needs an outlet! You LOVE their craziness and sense of humor. Home can be so stuffy and there’s just so much stress – you need that release you get from him or her. 

The Preacher’s Wife ended after Henry confronted Dudley and the angel realized that he really was falling in love with Julia. He finished his assignment and then erased all memories of himself from the adults; the reverend rediscovered his love for his wife and family and resolved to be a better husband and father. However, real life doesn’t often give us those Hollywood endings. 

Tell us, Whitney: 

I'm trying to live my life
And I'm trying to live it right
If I desire you
It ain't because I'm trying to

Boy, every day with you
I swear it brings me closer to
My only reservation is you,
My sweet temptation, baby

Do Whitney’s words ring true in your thoughts and feelings about a friend? STOP – DANGER STRAIGHT AHEAD. The most effective remedy for emotional infidelity is prevention – stop it before it starts! Every couple goes through their challenges and problems and they have to fight against the mundane setting in. Marriage can be a rollercoaster, but couples can manage the highs and lows through staying committed to principles by which they govern their behavior. The very best principles – God’s principles of course! 

JUST US LIMITED is here to help. You can reach us at or 832.856.0805.

1 comment

  • Great article ! My husband thinks an emotional affair is not really cheating on your marriage 🙄

    Phoebe Mompoint

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