Advice from Amy: Emotional Affair Strains Long Marriage

By Amy Dickinson | November 26th, 2021

What’s a spouse to do when wronged like this?

husband wife after an argument Photo Katarzyna Bialasiewicz Dreamstime. For article, an emotional affair strains long marriage

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson responds to a woman who has discovered her husband’s “emotional affair” through incriminating correspondence with an old flame.

Dear Amy:

My husband of 50 years has had an “emotional affair” for a year with an old flame from college.

They have exchanged very intimate emails and texts, which I discovered by accident. When I confronted him, he denied that it is an affair, but just two old classmates exchanging messages.

When I confronted him about the intimate nature of these emails, he told me that he only wrote those things to make her feel good.

In one email, he told her that he didn’t marry me for love but to have a family, and that she is his soulmate.

He wrote that he can’t be with her because he doesn’t want to hurt others.

Of course, I am devastated. This is all I think about. The things he wrote to her have wounded me.

He reassured me that he loves me and that he doesn’t want a divorce.

We have two adult children, and grandchildren.

He agreed to stop the affair but didn’t confirm to me that he has done so.

The thing that bothers me the most is that he has never apologized to me. He has never owned his actions.

He behaves like nothing happened.

Should I bring my concerns to him?

I don’t want to nag him, but should I give him an ultimatum?

I don’t really want a divorce, but don’t want to be his second woman either.

How do I move forward?

– Hurt and Betrayed

Dear Hurt:

Of course your husband doesn’t want to discuss this with you! Once he had been found out, his preferred reaction was to put his fingers in his ears and say, “La-la-la-la – I can’t hear you.”

Talking about this episode would be extremely uncomfortable for both of you – and it is human nature to avoid this discomfort.

Please, don’t use the word “nag” to describe your right to express yourself.

I agree that he needs to “own” this. Yes, you deserve an acknowledgement and apology, as well as proof that he has stopped this contact.

Don’t lock yourself into an ultimatum. State your case, share your feelings, tell him what you need from him, and invite him to have the sort of intimate conversation you know he is capable of having.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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