Mind and Body

Dr. Keith: For A-Rod, The Rest of Us: How to Have an Emotional Affair With Your Spouse

Cynthia Rodriguez has had enough, she says, of her famous husband's affairs.She alleges A-Rod had a string of sexual relationships during their five-and-a-half years of marriage.But the last straw for Cynthia was Alex's relationship with Madonna, one that his lawyer defines as an affair of the heart-an emotional affair.Cynthia's own lawyer has never alleged the connection was sexual.

We know plenty about the sexual monotony that can set in a marriage as years go by.Husbands and wives become so familiar with one another, so present in one another's day-to-day lives, that it frequently becomes difficult to feel romantic with one another.I've joked before (really only half-joked) that couples should avoid flossing their teeth together if they want to feel passionate in bed together.

What we speak less of is the emotional estrangement that marriages so often fall victim to.And that space between Cynthia and Alex Rodriguez seems to be the one now allegedly occupied by Madonna.(Neither Madonna nor A-Rod have confirmed any kind of relationship - friendship or otherwise). Thatkind of estrangement-not the physical kind-is what finally brought Cynthia Rodriguez to divorce court.

The truth is that many of us have never truly gotten to know our wives and husbands intimately.Even after years of togetherness, we maintain walls that keep our real emotions under wraps.And time doesn't tear down those walls; it builds them up.Then we can feel truly isolated, misunderstood and in need of intimate connections outside our marriages-when we might well be able to find them just over those walls we've been building for five or 10 or 20 years.

We might be able to have emotional affairs with our own wives and husbands.

Here's an 8-step plan for how to do it:


Assume that you do not know your spouse's innermost thoughts and feelings-at least not all of them-and never have.


Assume that some of these thoughts and feelings, the true core emotional life of your partner, are rooted in life experiences that unfolded long before you met-even in childhood.


Remind yourself that there are aspects of your own thoughts and feelings-probably very deeply held ones-that you have never shared with your partner.


Assume that your own emotional defenses, as well as those of your spouse, are the reason that you have remained, in part, strangers, even while living together.


Resolve to start scaling the emotional walls between the two of you.


Share one emotionally impactful event from your earlier life history that you never talked to your spouse about before.Did you lose a friend you cherished?Were you bullied?Did you wish your relationship with a parent were different?Dig deep and talk about your feelings and how the event changed you as a person.


Ask your spouse to do the same.


Repeat steps 6 and 7 again.And again.

Sounds simple, right?It isn't.You'll see when you try.You can be married a lifetime and not let yourself be known.Maybe that's what happened to Cynthia and Alex Rodriguez.

I've helped people find that love in marriages that seemed to be done for.I've seen it happen after a decade or two or three.It can even happen for a superstar slugger who has hit lots of balls over the wall, but may never have climbed the emotional wall between him and his lover of five-and-a-half years - his wife.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's website at livingthetruth.com


Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.