The first time a couple contacted us about an emotional affair, it seemed like a lighter load to us than a physical affair—and that came across. Everyone agreed it was a betrayal of the marriage vows. But we were early in our recovery at the time and ignorantly believed that because the unfaithfulness had been revealed prior to a sexual encounter, the injury was less severe. We failed to comprehend then that the pain of that betrayal was just as significant to their relationship as that of a physical affair. The pain, loss, and grief of betrayal may be experienced from different causes, but it is not measured in increments. We will endeavor never again to underrate the pain another is feeling.
When God described marriage in the very beginning of time, he made it clear that the marriage relationship between husband and wife was to be the number one human relationship from that moment on: a one-of-a-kind, intimate human relationship.
The problem is not that we as human beings can care about more than one person; rather it's about what we share with another person.
The debate over whether or not men and women can be friends will probably never be decided to everyone's satisfaction. However, we believe if you add one word, intimate, then the decision has already been made. Intimate implies closely connected, personal, and confidential.
Dr. Shirley Glass says that "infidelity is that you took something that was supposed to be mine, which is sexual or emotional intimacy, and you gave it to somebody else." (Shirley P. Glass, PhD, "Shattered Vows: Getting Beyond Betrayal," Psychology Today July-August 1998.)1