Recognizing Emotional Adultery

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Except for financial problems, unmet emotional needs rank first as the major cause of divorce. These unmet emotional needs include unrealistic expectations. But the greatest unmet emotional need is the need for understanding. This is the reason Satan continually tries to cause misunderstanding in relationships. We must be alert to his devices.

But a lack of understanding alone is not enough to cause divorce.  Coupled with that lack of understanding from one’s spouse is an abundance of understanding from someone of the opposite gender who is not one’s spouse.

Like physical adultery, emotional adultery does not just happen.  There are situations that lead up to it.  Here are some of the warning signs:

1) Emotional adultery begins with emotional divorce.  This means that the couple must experience a lack of understanding before emotional adultery has soil in which to plant its ugly seed.  While all marriages have times when one spouse feels misunderstood, prolonged feelings of being misunderstood are a red flag that the marriage may be slipping toward emotional divorce. If this is the case with you, seek outside help.

2) You live as married singles.  Married singles share the same living space but do not share their lives. They lead separate lives with little, if anything, in common.

3) You have little communication. If you find yourself not having anything meaningful to say to your spouse, you may be heading toward emotional divorce. It’s time to pay attention when all you talk about is money and the kids. Also, if your spouse no longer includes you in what is happening in his or her life, your marriage needs help.

4) There is continual criticism. If you feel that you are always walking on eggs and can’t do anything right, or if you feel the need always to point out what’s wrong with your spouse, then your marriage is in trouble. If the same issue keeps cropping up, it may not be the real issue at all but only the sign of a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.

5) You find escape in other activities. If you find yourself spending inordinate amounts of time watching TV, playing games on your cell phone, iPad, or computer in order to avoid confronting your spouse, you have a serious problem and should get help.

6) Physical intimacy has decreased. Physical intimacy is necessary and designed by God to build a strong marriage. Except for sickness or times of prayer and fasting, when physical intimacy decreases emotional intimacy has already decreased.

If you find yourself in any of the scenarios described above, what can you do?

1) Ask God to help you.  God is more interested in your marriage than you are.  Since He created marriage, He can restore it.  Even if your spouse is not interested in improving your marriage, you and God make a majority.  With God on your side, your marriage can be restored.

2) Put your spouse first, above every other relationship except your relationship with God.  Be intentional about making time for each other. Find an activity you both enjoy and participate in it. 

3) Determine to listen to your spouse with your heart. Pay attention not only to your spouses’ words, but to his or her body language. Learn to read between the lines.

4) Pray that you will see your spouse as God sees him or her.  We are all flawed human beings.  We all need grace and forgiveness. Learn to see your spouse through the eyes of mercy and grace. Be quick to forgive, knowing that you yourself have received God’s forgiveness.

5) Protect your marriage. Guard it as your most precious human relationship because it is. If you watch carefully over your marriage, it will last you a lifetime.

Questions: 1) What are some other signs of emotional adultery 2) How do you guard your marriage? 3) How can you improve yourself as a marriage partner? You may leave a comment by clicking here. To receive these blog posts in your emailbox, please click here.
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Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.

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