Emotional Affair = Adultery?

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1stFreedom

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I don’t understand why the Church seems to be silent on emotional affairs between a married person and an unmarried person. I have yet to find anywhere a condemnation of an “emotional affair” anywhere in Catholic circles.

As I understand it, adultery, as defined by the Church, must involve sexual relations. The Church seems to minimize the fact that Jesus said that looking lustfully after a woman is adultery.

The widespread use of instant messaging and chat room discussions has sharply increased the amount of people involved in emotional affairs.

I ask this question because my wife got emotionally involved with another man she met offline, and gave up on our troubled marriage.

She did bring this to the attention of two priests, a Legionnaires of Christ (LOC) Priest, and her parish priest (who did the old “mercy of god” and “you shouldn’t suffer with this” spiel). Both told her that they could only be friends, and that she should treat him as any other brother in Christ.

She was told that it’s not sinful, for example, for a priest to be attracted to woman, which is true. But what priests are supposed to do is not cultivate those attractions/desires.
The priests failed to understand that the foundation of their friendship was not Christ but desire of heart and flesh. As a result of this advice, my wife continues to:
  • Confide in him
  • Plan for their future
  • Tell him she loves him and can’t wait to start their new life together
  • Accepts flowers, jewelry (heart pendant) and gifts from him
  • Spend holidays, such as Christmas, out of town and overnight with him
  • Gives him her emotional fidelity
This behavior is not behavior she does with other single Christian men she knows.

This “friendship” has done nothing but cultivate the emotional affair instead of ending it.

Our divorce will soon be finalized. Though divorce has tangible impact on our lives, it has no impact whatsoever on the fact that we are still validly married until proven otherwise.
Non-christians often date during separation and divorce, and this is the way of the flesh. Yet Christians shouldn’t follow the world and the flesh but the way of Christ. WWJD?

Yet this flies in the face of communion with Rome. Canon law favors the presumption of the validity of marriage. Yet the prevailing attitude seems to be favoring the presumption that the marriage is invalid till proven otherwise.

Where Rome has failed me and countless others is in not condemning emotional affairs. It’s given priests permission to allow the cultivation of these affairs through continual “friendship”.

I think if Rome was to speak out on emotional affairs, our situation would be much different.
Finally, the whole thing essentially in the end will reward her behavior by allowing her to remarry. IMO, the church should ban marriage between two people who were involved with each other in such a fashion, even if an anullment was granted. I guarantee you that there will be far less anullments!
 
I found at least two references in the Catechism that could be applied:

CCC 2380 “Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire” which refers to “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already commtted adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

CCC 2387 “The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.”

Seems to me your wife has violated these teachings. You cannot be faithfully committed to your marriage and keeping it indissoluble if you are having intimate conversations with another man and planning your future with him.

I am sorry for your pain and frustration! You are in my prayers.
 
I think that an EA DOES qualify as adultery. Most people. clergy or not, don’t seem to have the same opinion-possibly because they have nerver THOUGHT about the subject before. All they really have to do is think about where it eventually leads the person.

I don’t know exactly what the church teaches regarding EA’s- Personally, I think that there should be more preaching/teaching about this and adultery in general. Where are people going to hear this stuff is WRONG? Movies? Media? TV? HA! Our secular culture is not marriage friendly. Some people who should know better simply don’t.

You said your divorce was not final yet. Have you tried Retrouvaille? It is a marriage encounter for people in troubled marriages. I have been through the program and it has been good for us. I’m so sorry you have had to go through this. You & your wife will be in my prayers.
Karen
 
I agree with much of what you are saying. I think you wife goes way beyond the bounds of what would be considered simply friendship. But I find it troubling that you want to place blame on the church. I think the church teachings are very clear based solely on what has been pointed out already in the Catechism. Your wife seems to be doing what so many people try to do and that is to look for your own meaning in the teachings. It’s like the pro-abortion polititians who say “The Church tells me I’m allowed to follow my conscience”.
I have worked on the telephones in a tax office and we always get a laugh from people who call in with a tax question, they get an answer they don’t like and call back a little latter with basically the same question but the “facts” are just a little different. Some will continue until the get the right set of “facts” to get the answer they are looking for. The IRS will eventually sort it out to determine the real facts.
People will do the same with priests, they will ask one get what is probably a good answer which they don’t like and ask another with slightly different “facts” and they say “Well I asked a priest and he told me it was ok”. These folks are dillusional because of course God knows the real facts.

(Don’t anyone be accusing me of equating the IRS with God, it’s only the IRS really think they are God not me 😃 )
 
CCC 2380 “Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire” which refers to “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already commtted adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28
The problem with this passage is desire is viewed in terms of carnal lust (Ie, one want’s to have relations). It does not, IMO, beyond a shadow of a doubt, condemn an emotional affair. After all, if there isn’t physical lust, but emotional dependency, it’s not carnal desire.

From what I gather, my wife and her priest views this as ok since as long as she doesn’t carnally lust after him, she isn’t committing adultery.

CCC 2387 “The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.”

But still, this does not forbid emotional affairs!

This is my point. It absolutely needs to be in black and white. Since it’s not, it’s not broadly accepted that an emotional affair is wrong. To you and I it may be obvious, but remember that if something is not explicitly defined, then it can be debated for eternity with both sides having some valid points.

There should be no confusion on this whatsoever, but since Rome has yet to address it directly, it’s muddy.
 
Though it is not adultery It still goes against the commandments, though shalt not covet thy neighbors wife. And that would include emotionaly as well wouldn’t it!

I’m Praying for you.

Peace and God Bless
 
St. Agustine…

“Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” is the only one which thy false doctrine does not oblige thee to break. But if it is unlawful to covet our neighbor’s wife, what must it be to excite covetousness in others?
 
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1stFreedom:
As a result of this advice, my wife continues to:
  • Confide in him
  • Plan for their future
  • Tell him she loves him and can’t wait to start their new life together
  • Accepts flowers, jewelry (heart pendant) and gifts from him
  • Spend holidays, such as Christmas, out of town and overnight with him
  • Gives him her emotional fidelity
This behavior is not behavior she does with other single Christian men she knows.

I am not exactly answering your question, but word to the wise. I think your wife has gone past the “emotional” affair. To be blunt, not many people spend holidays overnight together & nothing sexual takes place. There is a chance, but it is probably very small. She knows what she’s doing is wrong, she just doesn’t care. The excitement & thrill of something new has her fooled.

Yes, you are still married in the eyes of the church, but please be sure your attorney knows all the facts here. It is not against Church teaching to do what you must to defend/protect yourself/keep another from fleecing you in a court of law.

Pray, pray, pray…& I hope you are talking to YOUR priest about this, too.
 
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1stFreedom:
She did bring this to the attention of two priests, a Legionnaires of Christ (LOC) Priest, and her parish priest (who did the old “mercy of god” and “you shouldn’t suffer with this” spiel). Both told her that they could only be friends, and that she should treat him as any other brother in Christ.

She was told that it’s not sinful, for example, for a priest to be attracted to woman, which is true. But what priests are supposed to do is not cultivate those attractions/desires.
It’s impossible to know if your wife is quoting the priest accurately, but it’s possible. If so, he really dropped the ball. The Church does teach that we must avoid the near occasion of sin – that is part of the act of contrition. I saw a commercial for some stupid show on which lovers “test” their love by going on romantic outings with other people. My thought was, “You idiots! Of course if you go to a romantic place with someone of the opposite sex, you might have romantic feelings!”

Your wife should not have been “chatting” with someone once she realized she was having these feelings. The relationship should have been cut off. We do not need to maintain all relationships.
 
I think that the emotional adultery is worse that the physical act. The marriage vows indicate that you will forsake all others. I would hope that doesn’t just mean physically.
 
Seek a doctrinally sound spiritual advisor. You have brought a very emotional and painful subject I and don’t think scouring Church documents looking for a rational, crushing response to whomp her or the flaky priests over the head with is going to alleviate the hurt.

God bless!

Scott
 
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Didi:
I found at least two references in the Catechism that could be applied:

CCC 2380 “Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire” which refers to “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already commtted adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

CCC 2387 “The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.”

Seems to me your wife has violated these teachings. You cannot be faithfully committed to your marriage and keeping it indissoluble if you are having intimate conversations with another man and planning your future with him.

I am sorry for your pain and frustration! You are in my prayers.
Ditto. Plus:
  1. THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE. Commands: purity in thought and desire.
    Forbids: unchaste or impure thoughts, desires of another’s wife or husband, and all other unlawful impure thoughts and desires.
 
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iguana27:
I think that the emotional adultery is worse that the physical act. The marriage vows indicate that you will forsake all others. I would hope that doesn’t just mean physically.
As a married man, I don’t think I could say it’s worse. Both are terrible, but the physical act would be much harder to forgive.
 
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iguana27:
I think that the emotional adultery is worse that the physical act. The marriage vows indicate that you will forsake all others. I would hope that doesn’t just mean physically.
It appears that the original poster is talking about more than emotional adultery as someone else has pointed out. However, the catechism is quite clear that friendships are a great good, whether they be between same sex or opposite sex friends. One does need to be aware of temptation but friendship w/ the opposite sex is not to be normally avoided, whether married or not. This is slightly off topic but marriage does not mean NO close opposite sex friends.

2347 The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality. Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.
 
I’m a little confused here; you say your wife is not committing adultery?
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1stFreedom:
Spend holidays, such as Christmas, out of town and overnight with him.
You’re not talking about an emotional affair. Unless of course, you think they’re spending the night discussing Scripture and not having sex. Do you think the Church approves this behavior?
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1stFreedom:
As I understand it, adultery, as defined by the Church, must involve sexual relations. The Church seems to minimize the fact that Jesus said that looking lustfully after a woman is adultery.
Not according to anything I’ve heard or read.
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1stFreedom:
She did bring this to the attention of two priests, a Legionnaires of Christ (LOC) Priest, and her parish priest (who did the old “mercy of god” and “you shouldn’t suffer with this” spiel). Both told her that they could only be friends, and that she should treat him as any other brother in Christ.
I’d just like to ask, were you present when she discussed this with the priests? You speak as if she is telling you what they said. Are you taking her word for what the priest said?
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1stFreedom:
Yet this flies in the face of communion with Rome. **Canon law favors the presumption of the validity of marriage. **You need to apply for an annulment. Scripture does allow for annulment in the case of infidelity/adultery.
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1stFreedom:
Where Rome has failed me
Rome hasn’t failed you. Your wife is unfaithful, you’re hurt, you’d like to blame the Church, but it’s your wife’s fault, not the Church.
 
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Tom:
I’m a little confused here; you say your wife is not committing adultery?
You’re not talking about an emotional affair. Unless of course, you think they’re spending the night discussing Scripture and not having sex. Do you think the Church approves this behavior?
Not according to anything I’ve heard or read.
I’d just like to ask, were you present when she discussed this with the priests? You speak as if she is telling you what they said. Are you taking her word for what the priest said?
You need to apply for an annulment. Scripture does allow for annulment in the case of infidelity/adultery.
Rome hasn’t failed you. Your wife is unfaithful, you’re hurt, you’d like to blame the Church, but it’s your wife’s fault, not the Church.
From a female perspective, I would just like to note here that unfaithfulness comes in more than one form. There is emotional and physical unfaithfullness. Affairs and divorces do not come out of the blue. There are always underlying currents ebbing along the way until the wave breaks.

The Church has not failed you. It seems you both failed each other along the way.

Maintaining a healthy relationship takes both parties. Somewhere along the line your wife must have been feeling detached from you. Communication had to have broken down between the two of you in order for her to turn to someone on the internet to fill the void. I would hope you would use some time reflecting on that so you can come to a better understanding of the overall picture.

I’m sorry your wife was comfortable enough to speak to priests about her situation and not a marriage counselor. I’m angry that the priests did not advise her well in this matter at all. In that regard, I believe the church failed you, but it was your local church which did that, not The Church in Rome. This is the point which gets to me most, too, how parishes can very from state to state, city to city and sometimes drastically. It sets a poor message, imo. But that’s just me.

I truly mourn the loss of your marriage and will keep you both in my prayers.
 
Did a search and found an old discussion. This September, my sister took a part time job working part time with an accountant alone in his home office. 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Her youngest is now full time in a Catholic School and it seemed like a perfect way to add money to the families account and still be with the kids when they got out of school. They go to Mass every Sunday and do a family Rosary each night. Suddenly she is going in a lot earlier than required and not getting paid for it. Two weeks ago, I got a call from the school at 4:00 pm as secondary contact that the kids still had not been picked up. I drove over, picked up all three kids and went to her job site. Her explanation was they were so involved in work, she forgot about the time. Last week we went mall shopping for six hours. All she talked about was her boss. He is married with two kids and supposedly involved deeply in his bible based church. He was a runner in high school and now running again to get into shape for a marathon. Knew way too much about his schooling, previous jobs, accounts etc. Never once did she mention her husband or kids. Now I find out he is taking her to lunch several times a week, just the two of them. 21 years of a good marriage and she seems too attracted to this man who I think is a user. He flirts with me every time I go to his office and last week told me how good looking I was. Is she headed down the wrong path? My sister never dated in school and is pretty naive about men.

Sally
 
Is she headed down the wrong path?
Heck Yes!!!

You deal with this woman as only a sister can! Whatever works, give her a reality check.
 
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