Sheila and Mark have been partners for eight years and tight friends even longer, since they graduated the academy over a decade ago. They share the same taste in music, the same sense of humor, and stories and scars from the same bar fights and one major squad crash two years ago. They are even Godparents to each others' children. There is one thing Sheila can never share with Mark, though, or her husband Phil, or anyone else for that matter. The spark for Phil, the one that flared way back in their sophomore year of college, went cold years ago. She still loves Phil, of course - he is a great guy and an excellent father and one of the finest actuaries the firm has ever had, everyone there says so! (gag!) - but only goes through the motions at home. She still has a spark in there for Mark, though. The true love she can never touch. The one who adores his wife and tells Sheila she is "the sister he always wanted."
Emotional affairs may never become physical, although they often do, and they may even be one-sided, but they are very destructive. An emotional affair steals intimacy and focus from your real partner, distracts you from home, and creates an unattainable ideal in your mind.
Thirty-seven years of marriage and not once had Ed strayed. He adored his wife more today than he did when he proposed to her all those years ago, still amazed she had patiently waited almost three years while he led a platoon of petrified kids through Vietnam. Thirty-seven years and then, checking in on two of his young midnight guys as they waited for a stupendously drunk (and lucky) DUI suspect to be stitched and cleared for booking, he met Kaylie. Ed had gotten to know a lot of ER nurses over the years, and more than a few had made their interest in him very clear, but not once did he even consider it. Kaylie was different. Hilarious and vulgar, she was a high-energy chatterbox who charmed him immediately. Conventionally beautiful, beneath her scrubs were an elaborate collection of tattoos and piercings and scars that both horrified and fascinated Ed. She had a mind both brilliant and unhinged, and you never knew which you would get. And more than thirty years his junior, she had wicked Daddy-issues, wildly acted out on him. He was smart enough to know she was using him for her own dark purposes, flailing through her pain, and he was powerless to stop.
Staying faithful requires more than true love and good intentions. It requires vigilance and strategy, especially in a career with more than its fair share of relational landmines and plenty of opportunities to stray. What follows next month is a five-step tactical plan designed to defend against the pitfalls you will encounter.