Reply To: Emotional affair

Reply To: Emotional affair

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tcoleTim Cole

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It can be difficult to know how to restore trust when a spouse has been emotionally involved with someone else. In such situations, because the emotions are so intense and people have little practice working through these types of problems, it’s common for people to both make accusations and try to control their partner’s behavior (e.g., “Why are you talking to her?” and “Please stop it.”).

When partners are confronted with accusations and attempts to control their behavior, however, they often resist… they deny what they’re doing, resist changing their behavior, and learn to hide it better. This is especially the case for partners who have a cool style of attachment — they don’t like to be told what they can and cannot do.

A better way to approach this problem is to focus on your wants, needs, and expectations. It helps to focus on the big picture: You probably want to feel loved and cared for. Try not to focus on his actions or behavior. If you can focus on how you’re feeling hurt, frustrated, and disappointed, your partner will have an easier time listening to your concerns. When talking to your partner it helps if your goal is to gain his empathy rather than trying to control his actions. Try to go into the conversation with the desire to be understood.

If you can focus on your feelings, rather than his behavior and what you want him to do, you will probably have more success at gaining his cooperation in solving this problem.

You can even tell your husband that you don’t want to control the outcome or what he does, you just want him to understand what you’re going through. If you can get him to see the situation from your point of view, you’re more likely to achieve the outcome you desire — a spouse who takes your feelings into account.

If you’re successful at getting your husband to understand your point of view, it also helps to listen to his side of the story. Tell him you want to understand where he is coming from… you want to know what he’s going through. If he starts talking, listen to him. Try not to judge or react negatively to what he says. Your husband is more likely to open up to you when you try to understand his feelings. If he feels judged or evaluated, he’ll probably stop sharing what he’s going through.

As difficult as it is both you and your husband will need to listen and try to understand each other in order to solve this problem. Again, explaining how you’re feeling and listening to how he’s feeling is essential to rebuilding trust — and this is less likely to happen when conversations focus on accusations and attempts to control a partner’s behavior.

By learning new ways of talking to each other, couples can overcome the problems you’re going through right now.