It's all about intuition.
Intuition is that still small voice inside of us, gently urging us toward information that can help us to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
And yet too often, even when evidence of this information is right in front of us, we discount or ignore the signs — both internal and external — that our intuition is sending us.
My former client, whom I will call Lil, is a perfect example. Lil sought me out as a life coach shortly after she divorced her husband of twenty-five years.
One morning at 4am, Lil awoke to a very clear voice inside her head: "George is having an affair with a stripper," it said. As she lied awake, tears stinging her face, Lil mentally tried to argue with the information she’d just received, but in her gut, she knew it was the voice of truth.
She remembered previous times in her life when she’d received similar messages — all of them alerting her to something critical that needed her attention.
In the course of our work together, as Lil confided in me all the sorted details of her ex-husband’s infidelity, she realized in retrospect that these signs had been present long before the facts of the matter were revealed.
1. He abandons old traditions.
For the entire history of their marriage, dinner had been a time that Lil and George looked forward to, both to enjoy a nice meal and to reconnect at the end of the day.
Toward the end of their marriage, Lil began to notice that George would come home saying he wasn’t hungry and would drink just wine instead. He also began forgetting her birthdays and ignoring her on Mother’s Day, and would later feel guilty and buy her big presents to make himself feel better.
2. He puts up a front.
While he ignored her at home, whenever they’d go out with friends, George made an extra effort to pay close attention to Lil when she was talking. He'd put his arm around her, hold her hand, open the car door, and say nice things about her. And then, on the way home, he would not talk at all.
In the end, she realized this was all an act, a performance so that their friends would think he was a great husband.
The lump in her throat that Lil would feel when friends commented on how lucky she was to have a husband that loved her so much was actually her intuition signaling her to pay attention to this growing disparity.
3. He displays erratic or inconsistent behavior.
Every Sunday the phone would ring, and George would tell Lil it was his friends inviting him to play golf. He would decline, and then about an hour later he’d pretend to call his friends back, telling them he'd be right there.
"I decided to play golf after all," he'd say, and then he’d be gone for the day.
4. He's moody.
For most of their marriage, Lil described George as even-tempered and quiet, but in the months leading up to their divorce, his moods shifted dramatically. Sometimes, he seemed disinterested and withdrawn, while at other times snappy and irritable.
Physically he was present, but his mind was far away, and he didn’t seem to hear a word she said.
5. He suddenly has new preferences or interests.
Lil began to notice that George was grooming himself differently and shaving places he never shaved before. Also, whenever the two exercised together, George began working out on his own while blasting "new music" written by bands she’d never even heard of.
George also began texting a lot and laughing at his texts. Not that texting is strange behavior, but for George, it was new.
6. He often lies about inconsequential things.
Details can be hard to keep track of when someone is leading a double life. Mixing up alibis such as working late, family emergencies, or unexpected business trips out of town are a telltale sign that your partner is not being completely honest.
7. He starts issuing ultimatums.
Every couple has occasional disagreements, and some may even openly discuss the option of divorce.
When after thirty years of being together, George began bringing up ending the relationship when the two had just a minor argument, Lil knew her marriage was in trouble.
8. There's unsettling energy between you two.
Although it hard to quantify, Lil shared that her husband would return home with what she called a "bad energy" surrounding him, and each time he left the house she would burn sage in their bedroom to get rid of it.
When months later, she went to the club to confront the stripper George was having an affair with, she felt that same ugly energy and recognized it immediately.
9. His attention and interest in you wanes.
The human psyche has a limited bandwidth, and the more time and attention someone devotes to a relationship outside the marriage, the less they will have to invest in their spouse.
Diminished eye contact, decreased frequency of communication, and waning interest in sex or other forms of physical intimacy are all signs that your partner may be investing love and attention elsewhere.
10. YOU start rationalizing his behavior.
Even as Lil’s anxiety continued to escalate, she rationalized the warning signs because she was not yet ready to come to terms with all that would be involved in separating from her husband.
After all, she told herself, they had two wonderful sons, a great group of friends, and had created a life with plenty of material comforts. Also, being from a divorced family herself, Lil swore that she would never allow her children to grow up in a "broken" home.
Finally, her discontent grew to the point that she was no longer willing to tolerate the disparity between the image her husband projected to the world and the reality of actually being with him.
If you’re brave enough to listen, your intuition will always tell you when something is not right; when things have changed, or when a relationship is different than what it appears to be on the surface.
If your significant other is displaying any of the signs that they might be cheating, this is a really good time to consult a counselor or a life coach and let them help you work through your emotions.
Intuition is the mode of communication our wiser self uses to get our attention. If signs like those described above are present in your relationship, or if it just feels "off" to you, I encourage you to go with your gut, trust your instincts, and be brave enough to move forward.
These signs appear for a reason and it’s often to help you move on to a better life.
In Lil’s case, I’m happy to report that the life she is living today is much happier, healthier and more fulfilling than the one she shared with her ex. She is with a man who treats her with dignity and respect, and who she can laugh with and grow with, because the relationship is built on a foundation of honesty.
If you see signs that something in your relationship is not quite right, do your best to embrace the gift that this information holds. Although painful in the moment, the truth is always a blessing in disguise.
Jeanne Provost is the founder of Living Well Life Coaching based in Portland, Oregon. As a life coach and certified hypnotherapist, she supports women and men in realizing their full potential and creating abundance in all areas of their lives. To learn more about her work, visit her at Living Well Life Coaching.