Emotional Affair

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
    • How did you first meet this other person? Were you ever close to them in the past before you were married?
    • How has this other relationship progressed from that initial friendship? Where did you start and where are you now?
    • Have strong feelings for this person surfaced (or resurfaced) and how have you been handling those feelings?
    • Do you ever hide this relationship from your spouse?
    • Do you talk to this person about problems with your spouse?
    • Do you confide things to this person about your marriage that would make your spouse feel uncomfortable?
    • Do you and this other person exchange flirtatious humor?
    • Do you think about this person when you’re with your spouse?
    • Can you tell me a little about your marriage and how you’re building into that?
    • Have you considered how having an emotional connection with the opposite sex puts your marriage at risk?
    • What does this other friendship reveal about your marriage and areas where God needs to work there?
    • Do I have your permission to be completely honest about areas of concern, even if I won’t always express those things perfectly?
    • Can you tell me a little more about your relationship with God?
    • What does “affection” look like to you?
    • What was affection like in your family growing up (verbal and non-verbal)?
    • What would you like to be different in the way your family (or your spouse) shows affection?
    • How did your father and mother show affection differently?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how much affection do you feel like you have in your marriage right now? What would you like it to be if you could patiently and gently affect
    • Have you and your spouse discussed your sexual past with one another?  When did you do that?  Do you feel that each of you were fully honest in that disclosure?
Deeper Questions
    • Are you aware that many people who commit adultery express surprise that it happened? What does that say about the danger of emotional attachments outside of marriage?
    • Are you open to talking about setting healthy boundaries to protect your marriage?
    • Do you ever tell yourself, “We’re just good friends,” but secretly long for something more?
    • Honestly, do you wish you could walk away from your marriage and spend more time with this other person?
    • Jesus said that adultery is really a matter of an unfaithful heart. How do you feel about that?
    • What were you looking for in this relationship that was missing in your relationship with your spouse?
    • If your spouse does not yet know about this other person, what has kept you from confessing? What do you think needs to happen before you are ready to make this confession? What steps can you take to rebuild trust with your spouse?
    • Do you consider this an emotional affair? Would your spouse consider it an emotional affair?
    • How important is it to you what the Bible says about faithfulness in marriage? Can we take a look at that together?
    • If you have to break off this emotional connection to start rebuilding your marriage relationship, are you willing to do that?
    • Do you ever pray with your spouse? Would you be willing to start, even it’s just for a moment or two each day?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • - Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, Intimate Issues, p. 111

    “Faithfulness to our vows is more than the absence of an affair or the absence of a divorce document. Faithfulness is the presence of love, devotion, honor, loyalty, and encouragement. Faithfulness is positive and dynamic; it means we actively seek the welfare of our spouse.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Staying Close, p. 81

    “Emotional adultery is unfaithfulness of the heart. It starts when two people of the opposite sex begin talking with each other about intimate struggles, doubts, or feelings. They start sharing their souls in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship. Emotional adultery is friendship with the opposite sex that goes too far.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 100

    “We do not accidentally fall in love or into sexual immorality. We either dive in that direction (either passively or aggressively), or we intentionally choose to turn the other way, refusing to cross the line between that which is fruitful and that which is forbidden.”

  • - Jerry Jenkings, Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, p. 35

    “Tell your spouse about the person (you are emotionally attracted to), but use your own judgment as to how fully to explain your dilemma. I have a friend who seems to delight in telling his wife about all the women upon whom he develops such instant and fleeting crushes. He encourages her to do the same, but while she admits she is susceptible to similar experiences, she prefers not to talk about them or to hear about his.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 33

    “When women compare their husbands with other men, they are toying with a threat similar to the threat a man plays with when visually lusting after other women. Whether the comparison is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, we not only show disrespect for our husband’s uniqueness, but also undermine our marriage and our emotional integrity.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 99

    “The secret to ultimate emotional satisfaction is to pursue a mad, passionate love relationship with the One who made our hearts, the One who purifies our hearts, and the One who strengthens our hearts against worldly temptations. The secret is to focus your heart on your First Love.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 39

    “If, because you aren’t happy in your marriage, you daydream about who you might marry should your husband die, be warned. You are likely to encounter the same disappointments and problems if you remarry … If you cannot conquer pride, feelings of rejection, lust, selfishness, and laziness in this relationship and communicate your needs in such a way that inspires your husband to fill your emotional bank account, you can be sure that a different man isn’t the remedy.”

  • - Stephen Arterburn and Sam Gallucci, Road Warrior, p. 140‐141

    “Give your friends permission to ask you hard questions about anything. And offer information to them as well. We must learn to bring into the light the private conversations, fleeting thoughts, personal struggles, and personal interactions that occur while traveling for work. Once something is discussed and brought into the light, it loses its power to control you.”

  • - FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Manual, p. 26

    “An extramarital affair is an escape from reality or a search for fulfillment outside of marriage.”

  • - Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, Intimate Issues, p. 93

    “Temptation has a beginning (the initial enticement) and end (death), and several steps in between. As seen in James 1:14‐15, each step builds upon the previous step, producing a deadly downward spiral.”

  • - Dan Doriani, The Life of a God‐Made Man, p. 60

    “The desire to keep options open destroys marital stability. People need a security that unlimited choosing annuls. We must do more than make loving decisions. We must make commitments and stick with them in ways that cut off other decisions.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 104

    “The kind of communication to guard against with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t your spouse: ‘Flirting and complimenting; complaining and confessing; inappropriate counseling and praying.'”

  • - Nancy Kennedy, When He Doesn’t Believe, p. 38

    “God created women with a need to feel emotionally connected. Be warned: When there’s a wall of loneliness in your marriage, don’t be surprised when everywhere you turn you find godly, caring men who seem to be heaven‐sent to meet those needs and ease your spiritual loneliness. Guard your heart.”

  • - Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, Intimate Allies, p. 302

    “While it is true that marriage can be a shield against loneliness, it can also become a weapon that provokes the greatest loneliness in life.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 37

    “While it is normal and healthy to have fantasies, they need to be restricted to your marriage partner … fantasizing about anyone else is mental and emotional unfaithfulness to your husband.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Pressure Proof Your Marriage, p. 56

    “Contentment arises from a spirit of gratefulness and thankfulness. It is a courageous choice to thank God for what you have and for what you don’t have.”

  • - Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman’s Battle, p. 96

    “Rather than running to the Ultimate Healer for relief from our emotional wounds, women often make idols of relationships—worshipping a man instead of God … If we continue this pattern of looking for love in all the wrong places, we may find that our affairs have progressed into full‐blown addictions.”

Next Steps
    • Encourage them to understand that this is a fantasy… that it’s easy to idealize another person outside of marriage because they often aren’t encumbered by the usual marital distractions like kids, bills, fatigue, house, laundry, etc.
    • Encourage your mentee not to overestimate their own ability to overcome temptation. God may give them a way out by having them cease all contact with the source of temptation! (1 Corinthians 10:13)
    • Encourage them to understand that an extramarital “affair” is any escape from reality or search for fulfillment outside of marriage. That could take many different forms: hobbies/activities, material things, career, fantasy, sexual affairs, etc.
    • Encourage them to realize that adultery almost always occurs unexpectedly and as a result of a progression of emotional attachments outside of marriage.
    • Encourage them to be honest with themselves, with God, and with their spouse.
    • Encourage them to break off any emotional connection that is endangering their marriage.
    • Encourage them to protect their marriage and not to be naïve about extramarital temptations. Encourage them to consider attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway together with their spouse.
    • Encourage your mentee to be intentional about accountability.
    • Challenge your mentee to pray together with their spouse every day—this makes them mutually accountable before God.
    • Encourage them to regularly open up their inner life to a godly mentor for wisdom.
    • Talk to your spouse about what affection was like in your family growing up (verbal and non-verbal).
    • Think about how your father and mother may have shown affection differently.
    • Discuss ways your family could express more affection for one another.
    • On a scale of 1-10, rate how much affection you feel you have in your marriage right now. Talk about what you would like it to be if you and your spouse could agree on how to gently and patiently bring about change.
    • Consider discussing your sexual past with your spouse in a way that is open and honest.