After I learned of my former spouse’s infidelity, I discovered these old videos from a Dr. Phil session on emotional affairs aired in 2009. Last night, I watched them again with Mrs. DM, and we both agreed they are worth posting on the blog. While I do not endorse everything Dr. Phil writes and says, I do believe he does a good job in addressing adultery in this session. It is a model from which many a godly pastor, congregant, and counselor can learn a few things.
I have posted the first of the seven segments below. The rest can be found by simply following the YouTube prompts after viewing the first segment (top left-hand box option of implanted screen when finished with first segment).
A couple of things struck me in this first segment:
1) “I was never planning on having sex.” – Amanda
Amanda’s words were a dead give away to more having taken place than her multiple, devastating emotional affairs.
Notice the subtle shift in her words? She is not reporting actions but intentions. Amanda does not say, “I may have talked with these other men, but I never had sex with them.” By making this shift, she preserves a way for her to tell the possible truth of her intentions while obscuring the truth about her fidelity or lack thereof.
As the old saying goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Personally, I believe from this move alone that Amanda is telling us by not telling us that she committed adultery (other information later revealed makes this even more likely).
Pastorally, please note that we will be judge according to what we do in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10). I cannot judge another person’s intentions as I do not see his or her heart. However, I do see actions and am called to judge those actions among Christians according to Scripture (see I Cor 5:12b (NRSV), “Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge?”). In general, my former Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) supervisor taught me to avoid talking about intentions and focus on actions/words plus their impact since those can be observed and addressed.
2) “‘For every rat you see, there’s fifty you don’t.'” – Dr. Phil quoting his dad.
This phrase has stuck in my mind since the first times I watched the video. It has reminded me to not be naive about my own first marriage as I am more and more coming to the conclusion that I only saw “one” rat. While not necessarily a Biblical proverb, I do believe this saying is worth considering as a faithful spouse.
As proof of this statement in my case, I was thinking my former spouse had only sexually cheated on me with one man up until she confessed to having sexual relationships with men from bars in one rather “delightful” Thanksgiving Eve phone conversation. (Again, when confronted with what she said she played the “I don’t remember talking about more than just the one” card).
In addition, I would note that the adulterous spouse has already demonstrated the ability to cover infidelity for some set amount of time. A wise person would not believe just the words of a proven liar if he/she tells the faithful spouse what has been discovered. That’s the one rat.