Affairs, Attractions and Friendships outside of Marriage
While it’s healthy and normal for people to have friendships outside the marriage, the fact that this relationship feels like an emotional “affair” suggests that it’s supplanting the emotional bond between the two of you, or that there is some sort of betrayal implied by its secrecy.
Friendships are based on attraction, in that we are drawn to various qualities of our friends. Healthy friendships and attractions don’t need to threaten a marriage at all, but often add richness and enjoyment to life. When an attraction turns into an obsession or into an affair, it can become harmful to everyone involved.
When is it an affair?
The question as to whether an emotional or a sexual affair is worse varies from person to person. A sexual affair, except for very unusual circumstances, is a betrayal of the intimacy of the primary relationship. An emotional affair can be as painful for some if the energy or time spent and the intimacy of that relationship are inordinate and thus damage the primary relationship.
The feeling of jealousy, unless you’re easily jealous, is often an indicator to alert you to pay attention to what’s going on. Use jealousy as a warning, but not as a reason to become antagonistic and possessive. Jealousy can be a wakeup call to put more effort into the relationship and to explore why it is that your partner is attracted to that particular person. Of course, it can also indicate that there is something more serious going on.
Using attraction to indicate what’s missing
Often, attraction to another person indicates what is missing in our life or relationship. No relationship can embody every possibility in life, because every relationship is limited by the experiences and capacities of the two people involved. Nor can we expect to satisfy every need and desire of each other.
Attractions point out the qualities we are ready to bring into our lives and possibly also into the relationship. For example, a couple might have a financially stable situation, a secure family life, and an active social life. Yet, there might be a lot of potential for growth in the area of sensuality, adventure, or spirituality. The husband may find himself repeatedly drawn to sensuous women, or the wife might be drawn to rugged adventurers.
Someone who lives primarily from the passions with his partner might be drawn to calm, stable types, and so forth. Specific efforts could be taken to become more sensual, take adventurous trips, or work on being more grounded etc. it is an opportunity to grow and discover new parts of self in each other.