(As told to Avantika Debnath)
(Names changed to protect identities)
Love is perhaps not the beautiful and absolute be-all-and-end-all they show in the movies, or we show on our Facebook page; not a single one of those 2073 pictures Jessica and I have on our profiles would give you a hint of what I am going through. None of those pictures would have so much as hinted about the existence of Shay, whom I called several times over the vacation I took with my wife, Jessica. It was not cheating exactly, but rather some kind of emotional adultery, which makes me question if I was really doing something wrong or not.
I Emotionally Cheated On My Wife
Don’t get me wrong here, all those calls were strictly professional. Shay was my backup at work while I travelled with my wife Jessica. Most of those calls were formal, but I have to admit that they were tinged with something a little more.
Jessica and I celebrate our 7th anniversary this year, blessed with the prettiest daughter and the most charming son one could ever pray for. She is the ideal wife; I couldn’t have dreamt of anyone better. We dated for over 5 years before tying the knot.
We used to be crazy about each other, it used to be good once upon a time. We try now but somewhere deep down I know it’s not the same. I don’t find comfort in her presence anymore which is why I emotionally cheated on her.
I emotionally cheated because my wife and I have grown apart
She chooses to stay unaware of the struggles I put up with all day; I’m quite guilty of being unaware of the details of the life she spends at home too. The little time we get together, we invest in updating each other about the groceries that have run out, the times the boy was being a brat, and how the girl stood first in her class. We know about everything, except each other. So it may seem like the perfect marriage on the surface, but it is quite empty on the inside.
Someone who knows me better is my co-worker, Shay. What she and I have is an emotional bond and it seems innocent. The nine hours we share together empower us; we take each other through the regular struggles of a regular life, we see into each other, while staying opaque to our respective partners.
Why can’t I choose one?
Sometimes I do ask myself…why can’t I chose one of them instead of emotionally cheating in this way? I often find myself wondering, if given an opportunity would I go back in time to undo my marriage with Jessica, would I pick Shay instead?
No I wouldn’t, I’m confident. I can’t even envision that scene, it’s not possible. But then, what I have gotten into isn’t anything better either. Clearly, I am cheating on my wife – not physically, but emotionally. Is emotional adultery explicable? I don’t think I’d have been able to overlook it if Jessica had an ‘emotional affair’. I don’t want to come off as a hypocritical husband and claim that what’s not good for Jessica is okay for me, on account of me being the man and the breadwinner.
“Jessica, do you have a minute? I have something I want to talk about.”
“Not now Desmond, I am cooking.”
I ask her to sit with me again after dinner.
“Not now Desmond, I have to make potatoes for breakfast.”
I follow her to the kitchen like a psycho stalker. “I can stand here and talk, right?”
“No, I am watching Greys Anatomy on my phone. Let’s talk later, please. I’m already so tired. ”
Related Reading: No infidelity, no domestic abuse and yet am lonely in my marriage
Can You Emotionally Cheat On Someone?
I really wanted to speak to her. One of my subordinates was getting promoted, chances were I’d have to report to him. This was killing my male ego. I was debating if I should continue in the firm or take the other offer that I had gotten recently. It was a decision I needed help to talk about. I wanted someone to be a non-biased listener as I listed my options. And so, I called Shay. It was 10:30 at night. We spoke for an hour, only about my career choice, nothing else. And still I feel that cheater’s guilt of committing emotional adultery.
I’ve found in Shay the woman Jessica once used to be for me. The one who would hear me out, let me vent when I wanted to, and understand me. In these few years, I have witnessed how we have outgrown each other. I miss the old Jessica, and I miss the old ‘us’.
I know my wife will never be able to turn herself back into the woman I had once fallen madly in love with. And yet, she’s my wife, the mother of my precious children and the most wonderful human being I’ve met. Which is why I don’t want to shatter her heart.
I never want to see her hurt, but I also want this emotional shelter that I’ve found in Shay, which I’m confident will always be within its limits. Shay is a moral woman, loyal to her husband, she doesn’t think of me like that – I know. What we have is different, it’s complicated. But it’s also beautiful and I don’t want to live without it even if I am emotionally cheating on someone.
This episode of emotional adultery has indeed left me in a fix and I keep circling around the question of “Can you emotionally cheat on someone? Is it morally okay?”
Emotionally cheating on someone can happen because one is dissatisfied in their present relationship. You might feel like the spark is gone or the love has waned or you are growing apart in your marriage which is why you may seek love and affection elsewhere.
Emotional adultery does not involve any actual physical cheating, but your heart has indeed flown to someone else. You can either come clean to your partner about these new feelings for a new person or you can suppress those feelings to nurture your present relationship instead.
Emotional adultery has no lifespan. It can last from days to week to years.