Once people enter the covenant of marriage, they are not allowed to break their vows and engage in affairs with anyone else. This includes emotional affairs.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley, a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained Doctor of Ministry, wrote in an article for Charisma News that emotional affairs are real and dangerous, and often lead to physical affairs.
She explained that emotional affairs are emotional, physical, or spiritual intimacy that is as great, or greater, than the ones spouses share between them.
Peters-Tanksley said both men and women are vulnerable to this, adding that the only way they can protect the state of their hearts is with the help of God. "Protecting your own heart from an emotional affair is only possible through God's grace," she said.
But what should Christians do if they find out that their spouses have been having an emotional affair with someone else?
Peters-Tanksley suggested that people check their hearts first.
"Before you confront or blame your spouse, take a look at your own emotions, investment in the marriage, personality and spiritual sensitivity. Your spouse is always responsible for his/her own behavior, but in the same vein, you are also responsible for your own," she said.
Next, she said Christians need to brave the "talk" about the emotional cheating. Peters-Tanksley strongly suggested that people refrain from blaming or belittling their spouse, and simply understand what their spouse needs to bring their marriage closer.
But if the spouses are unwilling to work on the marriage and give up their emotional affair, setting healthy boundaries is the next step, she said. "You have many choices. You can state clearly and without anger the steps you will take until and unless your spouse commits to working on your marriage," she said.
If not, Christians can seek help for themselves and invest in their own growth or maturity no matter what their spouses choose to do.
And most importantly, Peters-Tanksley recommended prayer. Regardless of what happens in the marriage, she said God will be with Christians in every step of their journey. "Staying on your knees will allow God to do His work in your own life and in your relationship. Don't move forward without Him," she said.
Earlier, an article from The Christian Post stated that the Bible made it very clear that adultery does not need to be sexual in nature. Guest contributors Mike and Trisha Fox, who are marriage coaches, said "active adultery" or unfaithfulness actually begins internally and emotionally, adding that it starts in the heart, not the bedroom.
People say emotional affairs usually start when spouses feel neglected, prompting them to seek attention from other people. Pretty soon, they start rationalizing the friendship and even look forward to spending time with this person instead of their spouse. Though they refuse to admit it, they wonder what life would be like with the other person even as they try their best to minimize this external friendship from their spouse.