No marriage is perfect. Yet if your spouse is cheating on you, you often have an intuition that tells you something is not quite right. Nothing happens in a vacuum and infidelity may be a symptom of something else going on at home. On the other hand, your spouse may just be a cheater. It may be that part of his behavior pattern that you either didn’t notice, or want to know.
Cheating is particularly damaging to a relationship and is the cause of most divorces. It targets your very sense of self, your feelings of value, self-worth, and self-esteem. And, when cheating is discovered, you go through the same symptoms of grief that you would if you experienced the death of someone close to you. Betrayal tears at the very fabric of your being. I had one friend tell me that she felt as if her best friend had died. The one person in the world who could give her comfort and solace, at this time of pain and suffering.
There are some telltale signs to look out for, if you fear your spouse may be cheating on you.
- An obvious emotional withdrawal from you - and a lack of emotional intimacy. When you are fighting, it is difficult to find emotional intimacy and often a cheater may create a fight because he needs space and distance from the relationship. Therefore, he can subvert the relationship and regain control.
- Extra time spent away from home, i.e. late nights at the office, work on the weekends, trips away from home and without you.
- The tell-tale lipstick on his collar, marks on his body, unfamiliar scents in the air and clothing, all pointing to intimacy with someone else.
- Lack of physical intimacy with you, acting vacant and detached from you.
- Unusual behavior when he returns home, such as starting fights for seemingly no reason or out-of-the-ordinary showering patterns.
- Sudden interest in his appearance: losing weight, working out at a gym, buying new clothes, attempting to exhibit a more youthful look.
- Possessiveness. Accusing you of flirting or being interested in others. Remember: the best offense is a good defense.
- Picking on you, and undermining everything you do. Or, on the other hand, being excessively flattering and polite, bringing home the occasional flowers or gifts.
- Telling you that he needs time alone to think about your relationship. You can be sure, if he goes away to think about your relationship…he’s not going alone.
What you can do if you think your spouse is cheating
So what can you do about it? Listen to your intuition or to the subtle innuendos of friends and colleagues. Be proactive, paying attention to the ripple or changes in your day-to-day experience, with your spouse.
Look online. Here’s where many relationships begin. And no: an online relationship is not the same as physical adultery - remember Jimmy Carter’s famous line that he only lusted in his heart.
Now you must choose: do you want to save your marriage? Is it worth saving?
If the answer is yes, then use my Empathic Process to confront your mate. Talk about your feelings without defense and listen to his. Professional help can guide you into the realm of your feelings, so that you can decide if you still love this person.
If the answer is yes, and if he loves you as well, then together you can rebuild your relationship. Use a ritual such as reconfirming your vows, with the promise of creating, not the same relationship, but something new. Because now through the approach of counseling and my Empathic Process, you can get to know each other, perhaps for the first time . You can get to know the good, the bad and the ugly, and decide how you want to live your lives together. It’s easy to get a divorce, but if through authentic and open conversation, you find that you love each other, then you may also decide that this relationship is worth saving.
In the final analysis, these choices are yours. Deep woundings, such as adultery, never truly go away. They form an outer scar covering your inner wound, and a grieving process, a transcendent experience into a new relationship identity for you and your mate.