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Marriage 911

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Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis restore and revitalize their relationships for more than 30 years.

At The Marriage Recovery Center, Dr. Hawkins promotes '3 Days To a New Marriage, Guaranteed!' Contact TMRC for a free 20-minute consultation.

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Dealing with an Emotional Affair


I watched the couple sitting in front of me, each talking carefully and with a bit of calculation. I couldn’t understand what was going on, but knew, having watched hundreds of couples interact, that there was something stilted and stiff about their interaction.

Jeff and Lori had come for a Marriage Intensive subsequent to him having ‘an emotional affair’ with a colleague.

Jeff was a handsome, 30-year-old man with a finely honed physique. “I enjoy working out,” he said.

“And the girls like to watch him work out,” Lori quipped. Jeff rolled his eyes at her sarcastic comment.

Lori was several years younger than Jeff, and was quite attractive herself. More light-hearted than Jeff, her sarcasm took me by surprise.

When I asked about the emotional affair, and the impact it had on them, both were quite non-descript and played it down.

“It wasn’t really anything,” Jeff said. “It’s over and done and I just want to move on.”

“How about you?” I asked Lori.

“Yeah, he tells me it was nothing and I think I believe him. We have a great relationship and we’re just here to make it stronger. When I ask him about it, he gets upset; so I don’t talk about it much.”

“I get upset,” Jeff jumped in. “I don’t get upset. I’ve answered all your questions haven’t I? I’ll answer any questions you have.”

Lori turned away, sighing deeply. Clearly this was still a raw spot that this couple had buried alive. Not only was it a raw spot because Jeff had engaged in an emotional affair, suggesting something was either wrong within him or between he and Lori, but their reaction to each other suggested more feelings were lurking below the surface.

I spent the next several minutes teaching Lori and Jeff about raw spots and the importance of attending to them in their marriage.

1. We all have raw spots.

Because we have all been wounded in various ways throughout our lives, and rarely are we completely healed from them, we can expect to have places of sensitivity. It is critical that we know where we are extra-sensitive, why we are especially sensitive and how we came to be that way.

2. We need extra care in our places of vulnerability—our raw spots. 

Knowing where we have been wounded in the past will help us talk about and navigate around those places in the future. For Lori and Jeff, it required that they recognize Jeff had a raw spot in talking about the emotional affair and perhaps even in the circumstances leading up to the affair. Lori had a raw spot in regards to his affair. Both required extra sensitivity in some of these issues.

3. Raw spots make us over-react.

Because we are overly sensitive, our reactions to comments or situations that come close to our raw spot will make us over-react. In fact, an over-reaction is often a sign that we have a raw spot hiding below the surface.

4. We can help each other heal.

When we share our raw spot with our mate, opening it up to the light, we open ourselves up for healing. Of course, to do this requires each making an agreement to treat the other carefully and caringly. As we do this, showing understanding, grace and sympathy, we heal.

Scripture has much to say on the topic of showing compassion for others. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

5. Appreciate your raw spots and those of your mate.

Our vulnerabilities, shared appropriately, bring us closer to one another. As we sympathize and honor our mate for where and how they’ve been hurt, we create a powerful bond. As we look to the interests of our mate, sharing compassion, we unite our hearts. 


Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and yourrelationshipdoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, May 13, 2013 4:59 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Dealing with an Emotional Affair

it's only GOD that can help to save an emotional damage marriage.... the only problem is what if it happen again and again.... men don't tell the truth...
Left by amanda felton on Jul 24, 2013 10:44 AM

# RE: Dealing with an Emotional Affair

only God can heal our wounds..I pray God heals every emotionally damaged relationships and bring peace and restoration in Jesus Name. Its not always easy to open up your pain to man only God can heal such wounds..
Left by Princess Oles on Dec 10, 2013 3:49 AM

# RE: Dealing with an Emotional Affair

I'm going through the same thing, we have two kids one is 10 and 3, my husband put things in his head, and though that I didn't love, and that I wanted to be single since my mother andsister wwere, so he stop going to church, and he had an affair, and walk out on us. He called and text me, and we talked and now he knows the truth, but he is in a bad situation and I don't know can he get out, of it. He told me that he loves me, he just got himself in this situation. I just don't know what to do anymore. I just pray that he let God back in before it's too late. I pray that the Lord bring him out of this mess and bring him back home to me and our kids.
Left by Ash on Dec 11, 2013 8:12 AM