How to get past an emotional affair

Your Chance to Help a Reader Out

When I asked about your most vexing marital problems, one reader wrote this:

I cannot seem to stay focused on my marriage. I keep drifting away. And I’m kind of having an emotional relationship with another man. And I feel so guilty for doing it. I am forcing myself to stop. But I have all this guilt pent up inside of me…and I sometimes feel like I would rather be with this other man. I don’t know what to do. I want this marriage to work. But I want my husband to be like this other man. That is so wrong. I feel so ashamed…

There are many different conventional ways to deal with this situation and I’m hoping the readers here will suggest them all to you. As for my advice, I’d like to tell you about several Buddhist meditation techniques that I’ve found quite helpful. It’s possible they might help you. It’s possible they won’t. Just keep an open mind, try them and see what happens.

1. Turn your shame into action. Your shame serves no one. It doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t serve your spouse, either. So use that sense of shame to create a healthy and strong feeling of renunciation. Renunciation is the feeling that says, “I’m done with this. I do not want to do this anymore. I want this problem out of my life and I am going to do whatever it takes to ensure I overcome this problem.” Then whenever you feel ashamed–for backsliding, for indulging in a fantasy, for turning to your emotional confidant instead of your spouse–remind yourself of your pledge. Say, “Enough already! Enough!”

2. Offer your emotional attachment to a higher power. Think of the person you are attracted to and then imagine yourself giving that person as a gift to Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad or some living being that you greatly admire and respect. Say, “Please hold onto this person for me for a while. Care for this person with love.” Do this visualization every day, and especially do it when you find yourself obsessing about that person.

3. Redirect your attention and love. Visualize your spouse clearly. Take the same love and passion you felt for the other person and now imagine yourself feeling it just as strongly for your spouse. Do this over and over again. It might help to imagine your love in the form of light. See that light leaving your heart and enveloping your spouse.

4. Meditate on your spouse’s kindness. Take note of all of the wonderful things your spouse does for you day in and day out. Try not to harp on the negative. Accentuate the positive. Even write it all down in a gratitude journal that you read often to remind yourself that your spouse rocks.

5. Be patient. Your feelings won’t change overnight, but they will change. If you don’t believe me, think back to a crush you had years ago, perhaps in high school. Remember how strongly you felt and how absolutely sure you were of your love? If someone had told you back then that you would eventually get over that guy, would you have believed it? Probably not. It’s the same now. Eventually this emotional affair will weaken and end.

Readers: What is your advice? What do you think this reader should do? How can this reader move past this emotional affair and embrace her husband again?

Note: I’ve noticed that the number of comments have been dwindling. It’s possible that’s because I’m writing boring content that no one is reading. If so, no worries. If, however, the comments are dropping because of some technical issue, please make me aware of it: alisa (at)  alisabowman (dot) com.

81 comments… add one

  • kate August 12, 2015, 10:02 am

    Having suffered an emotionally, physically, mentally abusive relationship with my spouse, and because I resented him so much, I also wanted a way out. One day, I found myself becoming excited about another man. I came out and told my husband that I had been talking with this guy I had re-met, and friendship would be where it would stay (this mystery guy, btw, he and I never dated, but had just known each other surfacely, until social media was invented….it was hard because he and I are way more alike than my spouse and I….I get what you are feeling!). My husband was not happy (hey, now he knew how I felt when he lied to me, but at least I came right out and told him about my correspondence!). He grew angry over a time….I had a hard time even thinking about hurting my friend’s feelings, and I knew I had to draw the line somewhere, couldn’t tell when, I was literally walking like a blind lady). After much counseling and having people pray for my spouse and I, the light bulb went on when I found myself laughing about something with my spouse in an instant message(during the day when he was on his work break). After I took action to stop talking to this other guy, my husband shared that when this correspondence with me and the other guy was going on (never went further, thankfully), he would just sit at his desk at work and cry. So now I use social media to flirt with my husband, and every bit of attention that I started to feed that other man with, I feed my husband with. I oftentimes wish my husband and I could have a non-verbal relationship where we can’t hear each other’s voices because it always turns into a fight, and it’s still our issue since dating days, but this helps and hope my story is helpful to someone else out there. Stop before your extra-marital “friendship” or what goes further. It’ll be a struggle if you run into the other person in life, but keep the flirting between you and your spouse….put the other person out of your mind with other activities….even if your spouse is away, or out of town.

    Reply
  • mercy August 17, 2015, 9:54 pm

    DR. FAVOR BUENOS DÍAS

    DISCULPE MI INSISTENCIA, NO PUEDO CREER LA FALTA DE SERIEDAD.

    DESDE HACE 13 DÍAS SEGÚN USTED ME ENVIÓ EL PAQUETE Y AÚN NO ME
    LLEGA, DE FAVOR ME PUEDE INFORMAR QUE PASA

    SÉ QUE ES UNA PERSONA MUY OCUPADA Y CON MUCHO TRABAJO, PERO
    ME INTERESA SABER DEMASIADO QUÉ PASA

    ESPERO RESPUESTA A LA BREVEDAD, MIL GRACIAS

    Y DISCULPE SI SOY INOPORTUNA E INSISTENTE, PERO COMO SABRÁ TAMBIÉN
    TENGO COMPROMISOS Y YO CUENTO CON SU AYUDA

    SU DESESPERADA AMIGA CARMEN MARTÍNEZ

    Reply

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