Know these signs of infidelity that might confirm your suspicions.
I’ve written here before about the devastating effects of an affair on a relationship. Affair Recovery can mean working toward repairing the relationship after infidelity or coming to terms with a decision to end the marriage. Either way, at Foundations we have the experience and the expertise to guide you and your spouse through the process.
Let’s back up a bit. Let’s talk about HOW you know if your significant other is cheating. What are the warning signs and what should you look for if you suspect infidelity?
Of course, every case is different and no couple dealing with infidelity – or suspecting it – experiences it the same way.
I had a client recently who came to me in what can only be described as a state of total confusion and unease. “Connie” was a mother of two kids: one about to start preschool, the other going into first grade. She had been married for nearly 10 years to a man who, until recently, had never given her any cause to worry. “Ted” was a good dad, a good provider, and a real partner in their marriage.
But lately Ted had been acting a bit strange. Connie couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something was off. Before she confronted him or made any rash accusations or decisions, she came to Foundations.
She was looking for clarity and a way to articulate the knot in her stomach and the ache in her heart that were causing her so much worry and anxiety. She wanted an outside perspective and nonjudgmental environment to ask if her concerns justified or if she was crazy.
We began by doing an audit of their relationship from Connie’s perspective (I had not yet brought Ted into the counseling dynamic). I asked her questions about their communication, the time they spent together, how their relationship had changed over the years, how they co-parented, resolved issues, dealt with conflict, and approached household roles.
Connie described Ted’s behavior to me. Ted had recently become a bit secretive and aloof. Every night he worked late, sometimes not coming home until 9 or 10. Even his appearance had changed: he had started to dress a bit better and even lost 10 pounds…10 pounds that Ted had never cared about before.
He wasn’t mean or cold to her, never abusive or hostile, just preoccupied and uninterested. They hadn’t had sex in several months because Ted claimed he was too tired. The clincher for Connie was finding a credit card receipt in his jacket pocket for a lunch at a restaurant an hour away.
Normally Ted would have told her about an outing like that. Usually they would come home at night and tell each other about their days. But it had been weeks, maybe even months, since Ted had told Connie about what was going on at work, or even about the latest with their mutual friends.
Trust is a surprisingly fragile thing. It can be eroded easily, so I would never advocate snooping or spying on your partner. It’s always better to come out and directly ask the question.
The safe and nonjudgmental environment of a therapy session is a good place to do this. Rather than sneaking around, going through a spouse’s things, or listening in on his conversations, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
You know your partner better than anyone; you’ve been together long enough to sense his happiness, changes in personality and behavior, and mood swings. That sinking worry is often a true barometer for something not being right. Regardless of if there has been infidelity, these feelings are sign that your relationship needs attention. We can help you gather the courage to face what you might discover.
Here are signs or patterns that can be indicators that someone is cheating:
· Emotional distance: you and your partner don’t share the way you used to; the closeness you have always had is no longer there
· Things aren’t the way they used to be: things you're used to share, whether that be a love of hiking on the weekends or cooking Sunday dinner together, don’t seem important anymore
· Change in appearance: dressing better, losing weight, etc.
· You don’t spend time together
· Your partner doesn't ask to do things together anymore
· A distinct change in schedule: blocks of unaccounted-for time, working late more often than not, etc.
· Avoidance: won’t answer calls, etc.
· Your spouse appears anxious and nervous but won’t tell you why. He/she might jump when the phone rings, or act suspicious and “cagey” when they get a text
· Your spouse has become overly critical of you
· Unaccounted-for spending
· Mileage on his vehicle. Have they been doing a lot of unexplained traveling?
· Credit card receipts to unfamiliar places (restaurants, hotels, florists, jewelry stores, etc.)
In Connie’s case, her instinct was correct…or almost. After several meetings, I asked that Ted join us. In that couples session Connie gathered up her courage and asked Ted directly if he was being unfaithful. I wasn’t surprised when Ted broke down and confessed. Not to having an affair, but to being tempted to have one with a client he had met recently.
Ted was beside himself with guilt and shame, but also relieved to finally have this conversation with his wife. His admission allowed us to explore what had been happening in his life and in their marriage to leave it open for Ted to consider an affair.
Over the last year or so, with the kids demanding more and more of Connie’s time, Ted had been feeling alone in the marriage. He was also feeling a great deal of stress at work but didn’t feel he could share those worries with Connie.
The happy ending to this story is that Connie and Ted were able to really communicate with each other. Both truly wanted to work on their relationship and we were able to plot out a strategy for them to rebuild what they had been so close to losing.
Are you worried your spouse is cheating? Set up your free consultation - you can talk to us.