The anguish of an emotional affair can seem unbearable at times. This is my story.
I woke up in a hospital bed, still drowsy from the anesthesia after having a complete hysterectomy. I was glad to be awake, as I was so ill that the doctors did not know if I would make it through surgery due to low blood pressure and other complications. I was glad to be alive. I had high hopes that I would no longer experience the pain, I had been experiencing for the previous 3 years. As, I drifted in and out of sleep, my husband walked in the room. We began talking about me surviving the surgery. Then, out of the blue, Earl said, “Yeah, the people at work kept asking me, “So, if Cindy dies are you going to marry Annette.” And I answered, I could do a lot worse.”
This tore through my heart and all the pain medication I was on, could not decrease the heartache I felt. I had suspected that Earl and Annette were having an emotional affair, but was shocked that they would be planning marriage when I was on the brink of death. Earl and I had been married for 13 years, and up until my illness I had thought that we had a pretty strong relationship. The pain that I felt that day, was just the beginning.
Let me give you some background story. Earl and Annette had worked together for years. In matter of fact Earl and I would hang out with Annette and her husband at all the company functions and other events. Then Annette’s husband died suddenly. I felt sad and empathetic and befriended her. She would come to our house for holidays and such. Then I became very ill, and I believe that was the beginning of this very strong emotional bond that developed between them. Earl began leaning on Annette for support. It is interesting to note that even at the very beginning his co-workers seen the strong emotional affair they were having.
A few weeks after my surgery, a good friend asked me to watch her children while she attended a Christmas party. She wanted to drop them off Saturday afternoon and pick them up Sunday morning. I told her no. I didn’t feel up to dealing with my two children plus her two. That would be 3 boys, ages 10, 9 and 8. They could be quite rambunctious and my 10 year old daughter would be trying to take control. Earl chimed in, that yes we could watch the boys because he would be home and he would take charge.
That Saturday morning Earl got called into work. At noon, he called me and told me that was going out to lunch with Annette, because she wanted to talk. I told him, but you said that you would be here to watch the boys. He promised he would be home by 5:00. He asked if I would be ok with the kids for three hours. I complied. This was in 1990, long before cell phones were the norm. This was the first of his betrayals due to his emotional affair.
- 5:00 came, there was no Earl. I started getting angry and jealous. He promised he would be home, where was he?
- 6:00 came, still no Earl. By now, all kinds of thoughts were racing through my head. I could envision Earl and Annette in bed together at her house. I hadn’t even heard the term emotional affair at that time. I tried calling her house, there was no answer.
- 7:00 came, No Earl in sight! I was becoming quite livid. I felt betrayed. Earl had never broken a promise to me before. How could he do this do me?
- 8:00 came, Earl still not home. No answer at Annette’s. I became a crazy women. I was enraged. I had so much anger and hurt in me that it had to come out. I found myself outside, beating the crap out of his truck and his garage door as I screamed and yelled. This went on for quite a while, until I found myself lying on the driveway in tears. (Proof that an emotional affair hurts just as bad as a physical one.)
- 9:00 came, Earl, where in the hell are you and why in the hell is Annette not answering her phone? Why are you doing this to me????
- 10:00 came, still no peep from Earl. At this time, I called a friend. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t cope. There was so much anger, and sadness inside of me that I couldn’t tell one from the other. My friend told me that if he was having an emotional affair, that I should stop it. She said she would never let her husband go to a restaurant with another woman.
- 11:00 came, No Earl
- Midnight came, No Earl
- 1:00 am - Wow, Earl finally gets home. The sparks really flew. I called him every name in the book, plus some. I could not understand how he could do this to me. His excuse just added so much fuel to the fire. It made me feel as if I did not matter at all.
The Emotional Affair Excuse:
He said, “You should be glad that Annette and I talked. We really needed this talk, and so did you. If there was ever any question that things would get physical between Annette and me, it can get put to rest. Annette and I talked and we both value marriage and would never do anything to destroy it.”
My interpretation was something totally different! I thought, ok, you and Annette sat there and talked about how much you would like to jump each other’s bones, but are going to restrain because you are married to me.
That night was truly the end of my marriage, though it took me 6 years to heal and to gain the strength to leave. Earl never would have left me. He married me for better or for worse.
On Sunday, Earl had to take me to the emergency room because I was in so much pain. My doctor informed me that I had ripped open the inside of my wound. I had over 30 staples as I was cut from my belly button, down. There was no blood, because I didn’t rip open the staples, but there was some internal damage. It was embarrassing having to tell the doctor that I beat the crap out of Earl’s truck and garage because I was pissed off. Anyway, the doctor explained that my hormones were wacky because I was so young and put into instant menopause. This became the excuse Earl used, anytime I would bring up his so called friendship with Annette.
As the years progressed, they got friendlier and friendlier. Both of them always denied that there was sexual contact. I’ll never know. They were definitely quite intimate in their conversations. Often the participants of an emotional affair, do not think they are cheating because there is no sex involved.
My therapist and friends kept telling me that it was ok for Earl to have friend of the opposite sex.
My therapist and friends kept telling me that it was ok for Earl to have friend of the opposite sex, as long as they weren’t having sex. My family told me that they didn’t like what he was doing, but didn’t think he was having an affair. They disregarded the entire aspect of an emotional affair.
Annette, kept telling me that if she was causing problems in my marriage, to tell her and she would stop being friends with Earl. I thought, she is an adult and if she is too dumb to know what she is doing, then I’m not saying anything. I knew that if I said something, that Earl would take the approach that no one would tell him with whom he could be friends with.
As the years went by, my self-confidence and self-worth deteriorated. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. As their emotional affair nurtured, Earl would do anything Annette wanted him to, and nothing that I wanted him to. One time, he turned off my water main (there was a leak in our house) and went to Annette’s to work on her car. It was in the middle of August, and he left me and our children without water. His father was outraged, and came over to fix the pipes, so that I would have water.
I tried explaining to Earl that he was having an emotional affair. He denied it. He always stated they were just friends. It’s interesting to note that they never hooked up after our divorce, though they did remain close friends. Makes a girl wonder …
I would love to know your thoughts and experiences regarding emotional affairs.
How much is too much, and at what point do you say enough is enough?