When we think 'affair'... we often think of the scenario where a young, bright, childless co-worker presents an inexorable snare for someone trapped in a negative, passionless marriage. Most likely we think of intense sexual attraction. But this is rarely the case. Research indicates that the problem is usually a lack of emotional intimacy in the marriage.
Emotional intimacy refers to the capacity to be vulnerable with your partner. Pretty straightforward and basic so far. Just be vulnerable with each other and the marriage stays solid. But in order to be vulnerable, the relationship needs to be a place of trust, security and safety. And there it is... the brick wall where we crash. After a few of life's inevitable challenges (like babies, debt, career absorption, in-law issues etc.,) marriages can too easily become a place of distrust, insecurity and emotional threat. A place where there is competition, criticism, blame, judgment, ridicule and withdrawal. A place where you feel weak, inadequate, unheard, crazy, unforgiven, unappreciated or irrational. Not very safe at all. So.... that when someone shows up with a warm smile and a hot coffee for you, willing to accept, respect and listen to you ... well... that's a pretty enticing lure.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether you are emotionally connected with your partner.
1. If you hit another car in a minor car accident, who would call?
2 If you got fired from your job, to whom would you go for comfort?
3. If you got a great promotion, with whom would you want to celebrate?
4. If you just learned that your mom passed away, who would you call first?
5. With whom do you share your dreams, fears, anger, sadness and beliefs?
6. If you had an important decision to make, by whom would you feel most supported?
If your partner is not the person you would honestly want to be with, the emotional connection between you is in jeopardy. Now is the time to repair that disconnect. If you don't feel like you can do it on your own, for heaven's sake, see a therapist. Don't delay. Don't wait until one of you seeks an emotional connection elsewhere.
Emotional intimacy in a marriage is awesome. Lack of emotional intimacy is lonely, sad and sometimes heartbreaking , not to mention expensive. If you recognize that you should do something but don't know where to begin, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I can help