Is there such a thing as emotional adultery?


“Is there such a thing as emotional adultery? e.g. a woman is in a loveless marriage but is drawn to another man. not necessarily physically. Does that still qualify as adultery?” 


Yes there absolutely is. Any time you seek a closeness to someone other than your spouse you are dabbling with emotional adultery. The Bible teaches that marriage is the closest earthly relationship, in which man and woman become one flesh and share everything with each other, their bodies, their life, their thoughts, and their secrets. Anytime you do something with the intent of becoming closer to another person instead of your spouse who is part of your “one flesh” relationship, you are sinning. Intimacy is built by sharing thoughts, feelings, experiences, and moments together, especially when these are not shared with anyone else. When somebody has sex with a person other than his/her spouse, we understand that it is sin, because he/she is taking something special (sexuality) and sharing it with someone other than who it belongs to (the spouse) . When someone shares another special thing (emotional closeness and a special type of intimate friendship) with someone other than a spouse that is also sin, it is adultery on an emotional level.

You can think about it this way, often when men seek a romance they are focused on  physical attraction.  Women, on the other hand, are often more concerned about emotional attraction. (Although both sexes are certainly emotionally attracted to each other.)  Its simply the way that we are attracted to someone; usually men are first fond of a woman’s body and appearance, while women are are inclined to like a mans character and attitude.  And while it’s normal to recognize someones physical or emotional beauty, the question is whether it makes you want or desire to have an intimate relationship with that person. And if you are inclined to desire spending time with them, being intimately close, and opening your heart for then while you are married to someone else, this is a sinful desire. It is actually a type of lust, or illicit desire, in which you lust for emotional intimacy with someone that you shouldn’t be intimate with.

Once we are talking about lust, we are talking about sin. Jesus said in Mat 5:28 that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  The Greek word for lust is epithymeō, meaning to have a forbidden desire or longing.  In the Matthew passage it does not mention what the man admires about her, whether body or soul or her mind, but it focuses on what purpose he looks at her with, to lust or desire.  So if there is a desire to be closer or more open with someone than your husband, according to Jesus, its already a sinful desire.

If the situation you bring up is real, I am sorry, but it can still be fixed. I cannot imagine how hard it it but you must first stop these thoughts and repent of them. First, break off all communication from your person of interest, get rid of any emails, text messages, phone numbers and etc. Stop sharing anything special with them. If its someone at work that you still see daily, don’t open your heart or reveal your secrets, struggles, and desires; but remain professional. You also need to ask Jesus in prayer to give you a heart for your husband, and start acting like you do love him every day. Many older and wiser men, women, pastors, teachers, professors, all confirm the same thing: if you don’t think you love your spouse, start acting like you do, and it will grow. Try to figure out why your feelings went away, is there something about him that bothers you? Lovingly ask him to accommodate you. Is there too much selfishness in your life? Are your expectations influenced so much by the media that you want a perfect man that does not exist? If you can find out the reason, you can see that its likely selfish and you need to repent of it and ask God to help you love your husband.

Paul said in Titus 2:4 that older women should “train the young women to love their husbands and children.”  I would recommend seeking out an older woman who you know has a good loving relationship with her husband and ask her to counsel you.

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