The emotional affair wasn’t the catalyst for change. It was a simple, honest conversation.

The Emotional Affair Wasn't the Catalyst for Change

By Linda

I was asked by one of our readers how I was able to get back all those loving feelings — primarily my sex drive and level of intimacy with Doug — and whether the only way I was able to do so was by being “shocked” after finding out about the emotional affair.

To be honest, my wake-up call didn’t have anything to do with the emotional affair. I didn’t truly find out about the affair until much later.  My wake-up, or should I say our wake-up call, came the night that we finally had an honest conversation about our relationship.

Yes I did pull him out of bed to confront him about the numerous phone calls that I saw on his cell, but he quickly dismissed them.  Being naïve and trusting at the time, I believed him.  The rest of our conversation was what really changed our relationship.

Our marriage had been deteriorating for several years prior to this conversation. Several factors were to blame; our stupidity, stress, being very busy with work and kids, financial obligations, resentment, etc.

During this downward spiral we both began the blame game, believing the other person was responsible for our discontent.  We never really openly discussed our unhappiness, as we masked it by our behaviors.

We used many of the behaviors that are described in the book “Real Love.” Doug became angry, sarcastic, critical and overly busy with other obligations.  I withdrew affection and love (ran away), or became clingy (needy), or acted like the victim.

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Being completely uneducated about relationships at the time, we both believed that these behaviors indicated that we didn’t love or care for each other anymore.  We felt as if love had died and we were trapped in this unfulfilling relationship.

The Awakening Poem

The night that I used to call “the awakening,” Doug didn’t use any of those behaviors of anger and sarcasm.  He had an honest conversation about his feelings.  He told me how lonely he had been and how he missed the time we used to spend together.  He missed the closeness we used to have and how we were always each other’s best friend.  He told me how he missed being intimate with me and how he would lie in bed each night and want to be with me.  It wasn’t the phone calls that blew me away it was the honesty and vulnerability that Doug displayed during our conversation.

At that time I truly understood what he was saying because I felt the same way.  I realized that both of us had been acting that way not because we were angry at each other or that our love and feelings had disappeared.  We acted that way because we really missed being together. We missed our closeness.  We were just covering up our sadness and emptiness with behaviors that hurt the other person.

It all began to make sense to me, and the most important message I received from our conversation was that Doug missed me.  He wanted to be with me.  He cared for me and he loved me.

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From that realization everything changed, as all my resentment went away and I started to educate myself about relationships and marriage.  The more I learned the more I understood how we got to that place.  The more we discussed, the closer we became.  The closer we became the more time we spent together, which in turn created everything that we both had missed — including great sex and increased intimacy.

Unfortunately, all the good we were creating was taken away by the revelation of Doug’s emotional affair.

It wasn’t the emotional affair that was the wake up call.  In fact, having the affair in our lives made trying to save our marriage that much more difficult.  It was the honest conversations and revelations of how we really felt about each other that jump-started things.

Doug once told me that Tanya was just a replacement for me, and that he was just waiting for me to come back to him.  It doesn’t take an emotional affair to be the catalyst for change in a marriage, whether it has to do with sex, intimacy or other issues.  It all starts with open and honest communication.

    12 replies to "The Emotional Affair Wasn’t the Catalyst for Change"

    • Alice

      Linda, you are an excellent writer. And that was an excellent post.

    • karen

      Great post, Linda!!!

    • mil

      Linda,was his EA still going on after you reconnected and started having great sex again and being so close and intimate?

      • Linda

        Mil, sorry about the delay I had to think about your question. The purpose of yesterday’s post was to explain that the EA was not why I was shocked into saving our marriage but it was the honest conversations we had about our marriage. I was trying to convey that it doesn’t have to be an affair to shock us into taking action, honesty and real communication could serve the same purpose. During Doug’s EA we did start to connect again and had great sex, but it was just the beginning compared to what we have today. As I have said many times you cannot save your marriage while your spouse is involved in an affair. I will say we improved our relationship. We started to get to know each other again. It is very sad to think that two people could live day to day with each other however because of our obligations we really loose contact and a connection. Every conversation or activity involved logistics or our children. We started to become friends again instead of enemies, spent time alone doing the things we used to enjoy and it just took off from there. I believe this created a lot of confusion for Doug and made him question the affair and his feelings for Tanya. I don’t regret trying to make our relationship better, however I do regret some of the things I did to try to compete with Tanya and the fantasy of the affair. Linda

        • mil

          Thank you Linda, I really appreciate the thought and personal touch you put into your replies. My H’s EA as I’ve mentioned before was because I was cold and distant (due to the menopause I think in retrospect). I can understand his need for emotional support at that time as he was going through a very bad time and was having to put his mum in a nursing home plus work stress.
          In our case, the reconnection started after I found out about her and realised what an idiot I’d been and what I nearly lost. He was devastated too and we were like a young couple in love, sex was amazing and we were hopelessly in love again.
          I knew they were still in contact as they had to discuss a lot of serious work related stuff although they work at different practices. The devastation was that he bought a secret mobile to do so which I discovered a few months later (he didn’t buy this until a few weeks after my first discovery and I know he didn’t contact her during our 2 week cruise which was also a few days after the discovery). He swears that it was all work related and it was easier than showing me phone bills for his proper phone and me going through them with a fine toothcomb.
          After reading your website though, I now wonder every minute of every day if he was in the withdrawal stages and couldn’t cut her off overnight. BUT when I discovered the secret phone and also contacted her, it stopped on the spot so if they were still so involved how come he was able to do that? I can’t believe he could be soooo loving towards me and still need her so do you think there’s an outside chance that the further contact was no longer an EA but just friendship and business.

          • melissa

            Hi mil
            Sounds like your husband had a relapse but it seems to me, reading these posts and through personal experience, that sometimes it takes several attempts for the betrayer to stop connecting with the EAP. What is important is how many times are YOU prepared to see him fall and fail again and still give him support and love? As to the possibility of there being only work and friendship, this is only possible in a context where the husband and wife is also involved in the relationship and there are no secrets. The secrets and secretive behaviour (buying a separate phone) are what destroys a marriage. I am certain that if my H had told me over the summer that his EAP had called him (allegedly on a professional matter), I’d have been upset but prepared to talk about it and not half as upset as when I found out they’d been in touch secretly again. Those few phone calls, that one ‘professional’ meeting are what pushed me back to the deepest despair of D-day. My H says he didn’t tell me because I’d have been upset, I say that shows very little respect for me and for our marriage. Time will tell…

            Take care, mil.

    • Inthemiddleofit

      Thanks Linda – I guess I missed that part of your timeline. I thought the EA was the wake-up call. I’ve started reading the second Real Love book, so we’ll see how that goes. I told my W I’d read it first and then she can. I’m sure though we’ll discuss it as I go through it…

      • Linda

        inthemiddleofit, that’s ok, its all a blur anyway. I have tons of books I could recommend but I don’t want to overwhelm you. I really liked “Love and Respect” and “What woman want men to know” I believe they are all in our library if not I am sure Doug will correct my mistake. I just type, he’s the tech guy. I am glad you got the book “Real Love” I was wondering did you also get “real love in Marriage” there is a chapter on sex that I thought might interest you. Good luck with your reading. Linda

    • K

      Amazing post, Linda! 🙂

    • Inthemiddleofit

      Actually I did get that book, the “Real Love in Marriage” one. I saw that chapter in the table of contents. Looking forward to reading it.

      I did make a quick comment to my wife last night after reading the intro that if people knew how hard being married really was, no one would ever get married 🙂

      I’ll check out those other books as well….

    • mil

      Hi Linda, did you see my post yesterday x

    • maryanna1962

      Inthemiddle of it, marriage is a partnership and like every partnership it has to be worked at, you will get out of it what you put into it, it only starts being hard work when you shirk your responsibilities like having an affair, stop communicating or fall out of love. I think communication and respect are two very important factors in the marriage recipie along with love of course.

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