How to Back Away From an Emotional Affair With a Co-Worker

Emotional affairs at the office are now so prevalent that an actual term for it has been generated-office spouse. Emotional infidelity, which happens when thoughts and emotions are focused on someone other than your husband or wife, can weaken a marriage. There are, however, steps to take to back away from an emotional affair with a co-worker.

No one wakes up one morning intentionally setting out to begin an affair. What seems innocent enough at the beginning, can quickly escalate into an inappropriate relationship. It may start slowly, but it has to end abruptly. Secret phone calls and emails, comparing the "other" to your spouse, unkind behavior towards your spouse, an added interest in your appearance, thinking about your co-worker at home, and seeking opportunities to be with your co-worker outside of the office are all signs that an emotional affair is brewing.

It may seem counterproductive, but the first step toward backing away from an affair with a co-worker is to admit the problem to yourself and then tell your spouse about your feelings. She naturally will be pained, but getting it out in the open will allow honest communication to begin, and the affair to stop dead in its tracks. As she sees your desire to come clean, to repent and rebuild your marriage, she hopefully will become your biggest ally in helping you stay on the moral high road.

You will have to hand over your cell phone and blackberry to your spouse for the time being, as well as give her your passwords to all email accounts. She will monitor you until you can be trusted to monitor yourself.

Do not share information regarding your office relationship with other co-workers. This could have a negative effect on your job. More importantly, you do not want to further humiliate or hurt your wife or husband by having a whole company know about your private matters. If you have a close trusted friend at your workplace, you might think about letting that person know just so they can help you stay clear of any interaction with the "friend."

Emotional affairs with co-workers are messier than other affairs due to the fact that you have to see one another every day. Lunches and breaks with the co-worker must end, as well as all social conversations. If the job requires contact, make sure there is always another person present. Of course, all phone and Internet contacts must be discontinued immediately.

You must focus on your spouse's strengths, the love you have for one another, and what you have to lose. Channel your time and energy away from the co-worker and back to your spouse. Verbalize feelings and frustrations, but emphasize the positives in your marriage. Pray together.