Emotional Affair Scenario: My Husband’s Emotional Affair
“My husband of 21 years is having an emotional affair. When I confronted him about it (before reading break free) I told him without anger that I wanted him to end the affair and for us to remain married. He said he did not know that I cared at all. He did not refuse to cut off the affair but he just shook his head and started hesitated with his words. He finally stated it is just not that easy and that other people’s feelings are involved. He says he doesn’t know what to do. I have backed way off and I have not made any other demands of him. Since then he has started communicating with me more and all I do is listen and provide support and agree when required. I make sure to tell him thanks when he does something. He has reengaged with our two sons and begun reading the book “How We Love”. My backing off has slowed down his decision process but he feels like he has to make a decision to stop stringing people along. He still hasn’t decided to stay or go but I am sure he is more undecided now than he was two weeks ago. I have been taking care of myself and putting my energies into my kids and myself. I try to go out at unusual times for me and I have begun exercising even more. I don’t ever mope around him and don’t do any of the activities that might trigger him to thinking that things will be the same. It is very difficult but I am staying patient, calm and consistent. This seems to be causing him some confusion and distress as he doesn’t understand why I am reacting this way. I truly believe he hoped that I would make the decision to divorce so he doesn’t have to. I am staying strong and fighting hard.”
Dr. Huizenga’s comments:
This is a good job of “backing off.” Backing off is counter intuitive and for one wracked by fear and dread that marriage may be over, is usually a difficult skill to implement. But, it appears this person is able to mentally stand away from the feelings and do what needs to be done, even though she probably feels like doing the opposite at times.
Confusion on the part of the cheating spouse is normative. The confusion emerges from an inability to integrate the standards and values one (this is what is best for me) with one’s need system ( I truly need a great deal of attention and/or flattery.)