An emotional affair is described as an affair in which the participants are involved with each other emotionally, but not physically. Even with this important distinction, a wife who learns her husband is emotionally involved with another woman is bound to be deeply hurt, and probably resentful as well. Although forgiveness is a challenge, the good news is that if you genuinely want to forgive, and are willing to work at it, you can.
Figure Out If You Want to Forgive
Understand that forgiveness is not how you feel, it's what you do. You probably won't be able to avoid feeling betrayed, hurt and angry. But if you've decided that you want to forgive, you can choose not to act on your angry feelings. You can choose to listen to what your husband says, to consider your own words carefully before speaking, and to make a genuine effort to reconnect with him.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
Communicate calmly, but honestly, with your husband. Talk about the state of your marriage and identify areas that you feel may be improved. Author Peggy Vaughan is quoted in Psychology Today: "Many people believe that too much discussion just reopens the wound; but, in fact, the wound needs to be exposed to the light of day so that it can heal." Although it will be tempting, try to avoid blaming your husband for any problems there may be in your marriage. Make it crystal clear, however, that you expect complete honesty and a genuine effort on his part, as well. It may be necessary for your husband to find a new job, or to make other changes in order to cut all ties with his affair partner.
Reach out to a pastor, mental health professional or marriage counselor. It may help to be able to talk freely about your feelings to another person. Visualization may also be helpful: WebMD cites a study by Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD, professor of psychology at Hope College, in which she monitored physiological responses as 71 college students either mulled over wrongs done to them, or imagined themselves forgiving the wrongdoers. When students imagined themselves forgiving, their physical responses and emotions were calm. By contrast, when they brooded over the wrongs they'd suffered, blood pressure shot up and heart rates increased. This may be scientific verification of the old saying that forgiveness most benefits the one who forgives.
Give Yourselves Time to Heal
Give yourself, and your marriage, time. If it's possible, take a vacation and get away someplace where you and your husband can have time together alone. Psychologist Barry McCarthy is quoted in Psychology Today as saying that though it may be difficult, re-establishing intimacy is important. "In the course of an emotional affair, you open the window to your affair partner and wall off your spouse. To repair the marriage, you must open your windows to your partner and wall off the affair."
Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.