Recognize these signs of infidelity? Follow these steps to fix the real problems in your marriage.
Considering the amount of attention in the media given to the effects of infidelity on marriage and divorce, I find myself surprised by how few divorce cases I see where cheating has actually occurred. Far more often, the key factor in the destruction of a marriage is the persistent belief that an affair must be happening because the suspected spouse is acting in a way that the blamer can only explain it by making this assumption.
It's not that the blamer is necessarily just paranoid or hyper-sensitive. In some cases, I'm not even sure if the spouse insisting that they did not have an affair is telling me the truth.
What I do know is that in these cases, there are behaviors that both the husband and wife have developed over the course of their marriage that have led both the blamer to make the accusation and the accused to look guilty.
Here's the thing: whether or not the affair is real, the behaviors causing the suspicions come from a very real, quite palpable disconnect between these two married individuals. And whether or not the affair is real, the emotional distance and lack of intimacy that led to such behaviors will lead you to a divorce if they cannot be acknowledged, recognized and talked through.
The 7 behaviors most likely to cause suspicion of an affair include the following:
- Having one, or even a few, very, very close friends of the opposite sex.
- Keeping passwords to social media, email, computer log-ins, etc. a secret from your spouse.
- Shutting down browsers quickly when someone enters the room.
- Refusing to have sex on a consistent basis.
- Maintaining multiple email addresses for no explainable reason.
- Withdrawing or transferring unexplained amounts from your bank account.
- Insisting on maintaining separate bank accounts to which you and your spouse do not have equal access.
If one or more of these describes you or your spouse, you don't necessarily need to panic, but you do need to give some serious thought to how you can make changes in your relationship before it is too late.
Communication within marriage is an art, which is why I have developed the ART method for re-teaching yourselves how to talk to each other in a constructive way. This method provides you with a roadmap to lay the real issues on the table so can move forward to a more secure chapter of your lives.
The ART method is a two-way street, just like any relationship. Each of these three steps below must be taken willingly by both husband and wife.
- Acknowledge the behaviors causing the suspicions. Something is happening. It may not be anything covert or immoral or wrong, but something is happening. Maybe he's been trying to buy you a perfect gift. Maybe he just likes the simplicity of porn. Wives: if you don't allow him the freedom to explain, you will never get the truth. Husbands: if you don't tell her the truth, she will continue to suspect you and search for answers elsewhere.
- Recognize each of your roles in the current state of your relationship. Someone has behaved this way, and someone has allowed it. Hear each other out from a place of being curious to understand, rather than from a place of trying to find a basis on which to prove your point.
- Talk through the reality of what is going on. If these behaviors are in fact happening as part of the dynamics of an affair, get that out in the open so you can both decide where your relationship can or cannot go next. If there is no affair, but rather simple explanations, let down your defenses and present simple explanations.
You may hate me for saying this, but sometimes after you have done all of the above, you won't like the answers you find. The answers may even lead to a decision to divorce. If that is the case, you will not have broken your marriage by having this conversation. Your marriage has already been broken.
Addressing suspicious behavior is the best chance each of you have to stop living in an anxious marriage. This conversation is your opportunity to deal with the reality of where your marriage actually is. This isn't a matter of for better or for worse. Your life and relationships can only get better when you experience them honestly.
Thinking about having this conversation with your spouse but not sure how to start? Email me at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation. Check out my website at http://ajmediation.com to learn more.