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Affair of the Heart: Worse than Sex?

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Is your husband having one?

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Yankees star Alex Rodriguez's relationship with Madonna was "an affair of the heart"--not "sexual infidelity," according to wife Cynthia Rodriguez's lawyer. "The correct analysis is a relationship," he told People. "Some people categorize an affair as...sexual infidelity. We're not claiming that. It's an affair of the heart."

According to the New York Post, A-Rod's obsession with all things Madonna includes listening only to her music while driving, dumping his longtime sports agent for her manager--a kabbalah practitioner--and the three of them enjoying private Friday-night Sabbath dinners together, sources have said.

The divorce petition reads: "Alex has emotionally abandoned his wife and children and has left her with no choice but to divorce him."

"Many women feel more betrayed by an emotional affair than a physical one," family therapist Shannon Fox tells momlogic. "They'd rather a guy say, 'I had sex, but I didn't love her,' than have their husbands admit that they are in love with or have an emotional bond with another woman."

But if they didn't have sex, why does an emotional affair cut women so deep? "For most women, marriage has always been more about the emotional connection than the physical," Dr. Fox continues. "When a man commits emotional infidelity, it's as if something has been stolen away from his wife."

In his book, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, M. Gary Neuman says emotional infidelity occurs when someone fails to put most of their focus into their marriage. If your husband puts more of his focus on something other than you, Neuman writes, he's committing emotional infidelity--and he's draining your marriage of the energy it needs to be great.

According to Dr. Fox, here are some additional warning signs to look for:

- He talks about a woman a lot, and often peppers her into conversation for no apparent reason.
- He frequently has lunch, coffee, or even dinner with the same woman.
- He dresses up or pays particular attention to his appearance when knows he's going to see her.

If you suspect your husband is having an "affair of the heart," Dr. Fox says you need to talk about it. "Tell him how it makes you feel when he talks about her or sees her," she advises. "And explain what an emotional affair is--he might think that because he kept his pants on, he did nothing wrong. But if you're not OK with this other relationship, then it's not OK--no matter if they had sex or not."

But when it comes to emotional affairs, Dr. Fox says prevention is the best medicine. "When someone has an affair of the heart, the person usually feels their emotional needs are not being met, and they have a foot out the door, anyway. So pay attention to things before they get to that point. Are you happy in your relationship, or are you just getting by? Is your marriage emotionally fulfilling for both partners? If not, do something about it. Go on a date. Listen to each other. Respark that connection."

If there's one good thing to come out of the A-Rod-Madonna scandal, Dr. Fox says, it's that it proves men have emotional needs, too: "Men want to be paid attention to and listened to, just like women do."

What would you do if your husband had an "affair of the heart"?


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