It might seem simpler, though even more devastating, to walk in and find your spouse in bed with someone else. Emotional cheating is squishier. You – and your spouse – may find it easier to come up with excuses and rationalizations. You may wonder if you’re the problem. You may find it difficult to trust your own intuition or senses. But if your spouse is emotionally cheating ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
Emotional affairs are real, and dangerous. They often lead to physical affairs, but that’s not the point. Both men and women are vulnerable here. Rationalizations are easy; “Our clothes aren’t coming off, so there’s nothing wrong.” “He meets my emotional needs in a way my husband doesn’t.” “We’re helping each other spiritually and praying together.” “She understands and validates me professionally.”
But your heart is drawn away. Whether or not your clothes eventually come off, the damage to your marriage and to your own soul is significant. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
The state of your heart matters!
Protecting your own heart from an emotional affair is only possible through God’s grace. But this is especially for husbands and wives who suspect – or know – that your spouse is doing the emotional cheating.
What Is Emotional Cheating?
First, what’s the criteria for emotional cheating? Are all friendships with someone of the opposite sex, other than your spouse, forbidden? What about work colleagues, church friendships, or ministry partners?