THE DANGLING CARROT – Emotional Infidelity/Adultery

Modele and Andrew have been married for two years and have a seemingly perfect marriage with Modele’s 9 to 5 well paying job in an advertising agency while Andrew works with a Multinational company as an Executive Director in charge of the African Sub-Region. Consequently, Andrew’s work schedule involves short lived but frequent overseas tours within the African continent. They both agreed to hold out for two years after marriage before having children, in order to secure their careers.

Given Andrew’s increasing absence from home, Modele decides to spend more time at work to advance her career. As she does this, she receives increasing company from Bodun, a widowed colleague, who is the Creative Director. They start off a platonic friendship which gradually changes course. He starts by lending a hand at Modele’s home with innocuous tasks like changing burnt light  bulbs, fixing faulty gadgets, fixtures and fittings, car repairs etc. Out of boredom, they go for the occasional movie and Modele finds herself opening up to Bodun on intimate and personal issues. She begins to rely on him for counsel on matters that relate to her relationship with Andrew and his family as well as decisions on most aspects of her life. She looks forward to his calls, messages and occasional visits with excitement and there is a connection. She realises that she no longer misses Andrew but rather looks forward to his trips as a time to connect with Bodun. Of course , she tends to compare Bodun with Andrew , and catches herself increasingly thinking of Bodun and caring about him. Even when Andrew is around she sneaks around the house to make contact with Bodun through calls and texts. Her Christian upbringing however prevents her from any sexual interaction outside her marriage but she feels frustrations fighting her emotions.

One Saturday evening, her dear Aunty Molly calls to inform her that she would be attending a week long workshop in her city –  Abuja, and would like to stay with her for the week especially since Andrew was away. Modele was ecstatic. This would give her the much needed opportunity to discuss Bodun and her emotional entanglement  with her pragmatic young Aunty Molly.

True to her word, Aunty Molly arrives the next day  and after settling her in, Aunty Molly in her characteristic manner asks : “Dele dear, what’s new and how is work? Any gist”?

Discussions start off with work and Modele tells Aunty Molly about Bodun and excitedly describes their friendship and the void his relationship fills.  After 42 minutes of listening Aunty Molly clears her throat and says…”Hmm…my dear daughter, it appears to me you are playing with fire. This is a classic case of ”emotional adultery”.

Modele replies in a daze, “Haba…adultery aunty? We have not had that level of interaction. Aunty, no sex is involved! I just feel extremely comfortable with him and can broach ANY matter with him. He always has workable solutions, he is witty and empathetic”.

Aunty Molly asks “Is Andrew aware of this… “friend?”

Modele replies “…Well, he knows him as a colleague but, aunty, you know Andrew, he can be jealous. I can’t tell him o”.

Aunty Molly chides her niece “Dele, Dele, Dele…how many times did I call you? Listen and listen good. What you are doing with Bodun is playing with fire! You are having an EMOTIONAL AFFAIR which amounts to Emotional Infidelity/adultery because you are a married woman. Let me break it down for you.

As a Christian you know adultery is unacceptable to God. It is also a legal offence punishable under the country’s Penal code and Sharia Law (which is applicable in the Northern part of the country) although it only serves as a ground for Divorce in the Southern parts. That means, Andrew can use Adultery as a basis for divorce.

What is Adultery?  Adultery can be defined as voluntary sexual relations in which at least one participant is married to someone else.

In the absence of sexual relations, can there be adultery?  This is where EMOTIONAL ADULTERY comes into play. In Matt. 5:28, the bible states “But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. This shows that you don’t have to have sexual intercourse before you commit adultery. The mere thought of it suffices. The important thing here is the intention not necessarily the act. The word of God also teaches us to “Flee from all appearances of evil”. What do you think anyone who saw you at the Cinema with Bodun would think?  That qualifies as an “appearance of evil” my daughter. Sin starts from the seemingly harmless and then dwells in the mind before it is acted out. Every unholy act proceeds from the mind. It should therefore be clear to you now that you don’t have to be involved in a sexual relationship to be in an adulterous one.  

That said, how do you identify Emotional Infidelity? The emphasis here dear Dele, is on the word emotional. It occurs when an innocent platonic friendship starts arousing romantic feelings and inclinations even without physical interaction. It is a relationship you prefer to keep concealed especially from your spouse,  you are more comfortable discussing your challenges or problems with “your friend” rather than your spouse and you end up neglecting your partner’s emotional, physical or psychological needs. It also showcases in your call or chat log with such “friend” being lengthier than that with your husband.When these happen, it is time to analyse the purport of such relationship. Dele, I hope you now understand where I am headed.

Emotional infidelity is not something that one is intentional about but it slowly creeps in on you as it starts by filling a void you may not even have realised existed until you start relating with each other. It is indeed common in many marriages at one point or the other but it is important to recognise it for what it is – A dangerous carrot NOT to be swallowed –  as it can actually consume the marriage.

Having identified it, you must consciously address it in order to save your marriage.  It is certainly easier to prevent yourself from falling into the crevice of emotional infidelity provided you recognise the symptoms but once you are already in it, the next best thing is to scamper out of the crevice before Andrew even catches a whiff of it because its effect can be as devastating as actual physical adultery. Dele dear, I am not crucifying you for where you find yourself because many marriages easily fall into this snare, but you must  identify it for what it is, an evidence of a fissure in your marriage that must be fixed to enjoy the sanctitity and harmony of marriage. Modele ruminated over Aunty Molly’s admonition and made up her mind to do three things:

  1. Deliberately cut off her interactions with Bodun and intimate him of her decision.
  2. Discuss the impact of Andrew’s frequent travels with him and collectively navigate a solution.
  3. Prepare her mind for children while sourcing better ways of being occupied when Andrew has to  travel.



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