For Julia, it all started when she finally got on Facebook. She fought it for years, but her kids had been asking her to set up an account. Julia, unlike her kids, was more reserved and didn’t feel like she would have many friends to connect with online. She had lots of real life friends. She didn’t need any “fake friends.” When she joined, she added her extended family, neighbors, and a few friends from her local mom’s club, but that was it.
After a few months, she reconnected with most of her old high school friends, including, as it turned out, her old boyfriend Sean.
She hadn’t seen or heard from him in years and found herself excited to accept his friend request. It was perfectly safe; after all, she lived in New Jersey and Sean lived in Arizona.
Once connected, Julia spent hours perusing the pictures of Sean and his family. She thought to herself, “what a handsome guy he still is.” Her husband, Jake, on the other hand, had let himself go. So when she saw pictures of Sean and all the good things he was accomplishing, she was a bit more than just envious. What had happened? All she felt was tired and bored these days. Actually, she didn’t remember the last time she felt anything…much.
As she found herself thinking more and more about Sean, she started noticing things about her husband she disliked. Hadn’t she noticed them before? What was wrong with her?
One day, Julia saw that it was Sean’s birthday, so she decided to break out of her reverie and write a little celebratory note on his wall. She offered a few kind words and that was that. Safe enough, right?
Little did she know that short post would prompt Sean to send her a private message in response: “Julia, thanks for your sweet birthday message. I looked at your page and you don’t look a day over 20. Remember that hayride we took together, back when we were kids? ;)”
Julia was of course flustered. She remembered that hayride so well. It had been 29 years since she and Sean dated, but the feelings came roaring back like it was yesterday. She found herself on Cloud 9, totally overcome by her memories of young love. He was her first.
She was a prudent lady, so she decided to wait a day or two to message Sean back because she didn’t want to sound overly eager. She kept her response short and simply shared an update on her life and her family.
- Sean messaged her back
- she liked his picture
- he loved her post
- messaging went from a daily occurrence to an all-day event
- it became the reason she got up in the morning
That’s how it all started…..
They shared everything about their families, their kids, their jobs, and the challenge of taking care of their aging parents. As the days and weeks, became months, their Facebook messages grew more intimate. They became better friends. They knew a lot about each other. It was just easy…so easy.
And eventually, for both of them, love—or what they thought was love—rekindled. His attention excited her; she felt alive like she hadn’t in years.
They became more open with each other about the difficult and passionless marriages they both felt “stuck” in and about their growing feelings for each other. Neither brought up the idea of meeting up or getting back together again. They weren’t there yet. After all, they were just friends. Right?
However, they were ready, and eagerly they agreed that they had somehow fallen in love again—2,000 miles apart—all via Facebook Messenger. It happens.
They hadn’t seen each other in person. They had never talked on the phone, texted, or emailed. And yet, there they were; wildly, madly in love. It was crazy… it was exciting! She felt alive again…they both did.
That is until one day when Julia left her Facebook account open and her husband, Jake, saw a message from Sean pop up.
Jake wasn’t a prying sort of guy; he wasn’t trying to be nosey, but he clicked on the message and there it was; six months of daily messages between Sean and Julia.
Jake read through the messages and felt shocked, stunned, and hurt by the things Julia said about him. He was devastated. Had he really become lazy, fat, and mean? He cried as he read through the messages, and realized:
- how in love Julia was with Sean
- how lonely Julia was in their marriage
And then Julia walked in. Suddenly she saw…she was horrified.
Jake, with real and honest tears in his eyes, looked up from the computer and asked, “Julia, why?”
Recovering from the emotional affair
Instead of letting this “emotional affair” destroy their marriage, Julia and Jake decided that they wanted to work on their relationship. They wanted things to change, to get better again, and they were hopeful that things could improve with the right knowledge and resources. They wanted to stay a couple.
To heal from the wounds of this emotional affair, revive their dying marriage, and protect themselves against the danger of future affairs, Julia and Jake did three things:
First, it was by her own choice that Julia cut all ties with Sean and unfriended him on Facebook. That was a boundary she needed to set for herself.
Second, Julia and Jake worked on meeting each other’s needs. They first found a marriage therapist who worked with them and soon passed them onto a coach to continue their daily efforts. With the understanding developed in therapy and the practical daily routines set up with the coach, Julia and Jake began to discuss additional changes; they were soon
implementing those changes into their marriage, helping them feel more connected.
Third, Jake came up with a fabulous idea on his own; he decided to win Julia back through Facebook Messenger.
And it worked!
Messaging each other via Facebook became a daily ritual for Jake and Julia.
Connecting in this way helped meet Julia’s achingly deep need for more frequent communication and her husband’s affectionate words. And as they messaged each other back and forth, they established new patterns, better patterns, and felt more connected than ever before. They rediscovered a deep sense of emotional connection leading to the rekindling of their dormant passion. Soon they were experiencing the kind of connected sex life that neither remembered ever having before.
Their new perspective allowed Julia to be more intentional about how she and Jake parted for the day—he worked an hour outside of town while she worked from the home—and how they reunited after being apart for the day. She came up with genuine compliments to give him about his appearance, since he was often insecure about his weight, and she would always make sure to give him a long, welcoming kiss. It was such a small thing, but it made Jake feel like a million bucks. After all, isn’t life made up of all those small things?
They focused on setting some money aside, allowing Jake and Julia to implement a new ritual of romantic getaways. Together, they planned and scheduled two romantic getaways for that very year. This simple ritual helped them strengthen their friendship, share dreams and plans, and summon novelty back into their relationship. Soon neither remembered being bored with the other.
How the story ends
Along with nurturing their marriage, Jake and Julia set new boundaries to protect against future affairs and to rebuild trust in each other and their relationship. Her idea.
It took time, but Jake came to completely forgive Julia, and Julia regained his trust by honoring the boundaries they set together and tried openly and honestly to meet Jake’s needs.
This deep connection was something that had been missing in their relationship for such a very long time. After many months of healing, their relationship was indeed getting better. They felt more intimate on all levels—emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and recreationally. They were happy…they built new habits and ways of being with each other.
They felt connected again in a way that Julia never imagined possible. She never imagined that her own needs could be met so completely.
Armed with this hard-earned and refortified bond, Julia and Jake have committed to continue intentionally working together, and as individuals, to co-create the type of marriage they both wanted and knew could be theirs. They understood that there was no magic trick, just the big job of maintaining their new habits and their new way of life that would keep them happy and growing together. They decided to keep each other safe.
They realized one day that they loved the work.
How have things gone in your life? Has your relationship experienced a sexual or an emotional affair?
If you feel comfortable with it, send me a note or call and let me know how it went for you.
I am available to help.
Schedule some time and we can talk about how things are going and where you would like to go.