“Emotional Affairs” and Dr. Phil

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.

5 thoughts on ““Emotional Affairs” and Dr. Phil”

  1. Another saying is that it is “just the tip of the iceberg “.

    The tip is small and seems ok to navigate.

    90% of the berg is hidden under water and you cannot know what is down there.

    They tell you what you already know. It’s crumbs compared to the whole big cake eating picture.

    Looking back, my Stbx Minister Husband had a number of questionable woman ” justafriends” throughout our marriage.

    The one that destroyed us is the one that he has continued for the last 5.5 years right in front of everyone.

    She’s a big rat, but I know that there are many others who slipped into my marriage and chewed away at it for years.

    Did you know that 70% of all clergy marriages end in divorce?

    I do now .

    1. Tip of the iceberg, indeed! Sorry to hear of your experience, Lisa. My heart goes out to you. And I am not surprised about the high numbers in clergy. It is very sad. And I know it is not just clergy who are cheating as I am one whose former spouse was the adulteress. I was told and have read about how narcissist are especially attracted to the profession. This was a noted problem when I was interviewing to join the Navy as a chaplain. They were trying to weed out these sorts back then.

Comments are closed.