Heartbreak

5 Signs I Missed When My Husband Cheated On Me

Photo: Anatoliy Karlyuk / Shutterstock
couple arguing

Should I stay or should I go? 

It’s a question that requires careful consideration. We all have our own standards of what we’ll tolerate, especially when it comes to cheating. 

Knowing whether you’re better off without him is a personal decision. The red flags are typically there when we‘re willing to look, though sometimes confronting the truth hurts.

I loved my husband and our family life. I thought we’d finally made it. 

We’d just moved into a beautiful home, and all the hard work invested in our business was finally paying off. After twenty-plus years of being pregnant and nursing, our youngest of nine was five — no more diapers and sleepless nights. I couldn’t wait to begin our next chapter.

It felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. 

But then, my husband gradually became more distant and cold for reasons unknown to me.

When I asked him what was wrong, he dismissed it by saying he had a lot on his mind. But it was clear my once devoted family man didn’t enjoy being around us anymore.

His behavior changed. He worked late each night and found reasons to leave whenever he could. He pulled back emotionally and physically. 

My suspicions grew. Was there somebody else? I searched high and low and sifted through everything with a fine tooth comb. But I couldn’t find any proof. 

Something had shifted — I knew we were in trouble. I began to question when the dynamics of our relationship had changed. The respect, devotion, and love he once portrayed were no longer there.

In hindsight, my heart wasn’t ready to recognize what my mind knew. The red flags were there, but I found reasons to explain them away. Until one day, he brought up divorce. After twenty-two years of marriage and nine children, my world turned upside down.

We stayed in limbo for a long dark year. I struggled with knowing if I should fight for us or let go. He looked me in my eyes and swore there was nobody else. In the end, things went from bad to worse, and I decided to file for divorce. 

When he moved out, proof of his affair finally fell into my hands without any effort on my part. It validated my decision — for me, it was over. If I couldn’t trust my husband, there was nothing left for me in our marriage.

If you suspect your spouse is cheating, it’s likely for a reason. The question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you want to know or not. There’s no right or wrong answer. It comes down to what is best for you and your situation.

Here are the red flags I missed when my husband cheated on me:

1. His interests changed  —  and I wasn't included.

I remember one evening, our kids and I were playing Uno at the kitchen table. My husband, late, walked in, blaring “Ahora Me Llama” by Bad Bunny and Karol G from the speaker on his cellphone. This was new. He liked music from the olden days  —  decent music, as he called it.

He didn’t lower the volume. Instead, he plopped down on the couch as if we weren’t there. He sprawled out, scrolling his phone as he bobbed his head to the rhythm.

The transformation was subtle at first, but his priorities changed. His taste in music, upgrading to designer clothes and learning Portuguese, and the red sports car.

We all change throughout life. But when character changes come out of nowhere, it might be a sign to pay attention.

Ask yourself this: Is there a reasonable explanation for his sudden shift?

RELATED: What Really Counts As Cheating, According To Experts

2.  He craved more privacy. 

My husband was an open book for the majority of our marriage. His email, computer, and phone were never hidden or password protected. The first time he put a password on his phone, I thought he was joking. But he never shared it again. 

Whenever I questioned him, he told me I was acting jealous. I should trust him. He said I don’t own him — being married doesn’t mean we need to share everything. 

After the password, his phone never left his sight. The kids and I were no longer welcome to use it.  

Everyone has different standards within their relationship. Some couples prefer privacy, while others share everything. If he suddenly changes passwords or anything else you once shared, it might signal something is off.

Ask yourself this: Is he guarded and more secretive?

3. He started caring more about his appearance.

“I don’t know, but for me, I’m the best-looking man in the world.”

My husband stated this to me as he admired his face in the mirror from different angles. 

Working out began replacing family time. He started wearing his hair in a younger man’s style. Shopped the latest twenty-something trends. 

When I questioned what was going on, he said to quit acting so insecure. 

We all have our own standards, and caring about our appearance is a form of self-care. But when these changes suddenly come on without explanation, it may be a red flag.

Ask yourself this: Does his new and improved lifestyle involve you too? Is the change enhancing your life as a couple, or is it just about him?

RELATED: The Subtle Signs He's Cheating Right In Front Of You

4. My intuition kicked in, and something felt off.

I was gathering clothes to throw in a load of laundry. I grabbed my husband’s jeans and quarters spilled everywhere, spinning across the hardwood floor. 

I picked them all up and put them in a glass jar. I remember thinking how odd; he rarely carries change. Why all the quarters? He doesn’t gamble. Maybe he went to the laundromat? Arcade? But he didn’t play video games. 

And then it kept happening. 

I couldn’t figure out what was going on. When I finally asked him, he brushed me off, saying, “It’s just change from the gas station. Why are you snooping? I’ll do my own laundry from now on; don’t bother.”

By then, I’d already filled the glass jar with more than a hundred dollars worth of his quarters. 

Something was off. But I had no proof or explanation. Deep down, I knew we were in trouble. I felt us falling apart. But I tucked that worry away for another day. 

Trust your gut. If you feel something’s wrong, it’s time to pay attention.

Ask yourself this: Rather than what he’s saying, what is he showing you? 

5. He starts choosing work/friends over you.

Summer holidays always meant camping for us. We’d stay locally or travel to different states, tenting or RVing as a family. But then, time spent together became a burden — he no longer liked the idea of being a family man. 

Holidays stopped meaning anything to him. He chose to work instead. 

We shouldn’t ever have to force or guilt someone to be with us. We all choose how to spend our time. And we always make time for what we value. Everyone gets busy. But when everything else becomes more of a priority than you, it’s a sign something may be off.

Ask yourself this: Has time out with friends, late nights, or being too busy become the new theme?

RELATED: How To Tell If He's Cheating (Or If You're Just Paranoid)

Trust in yourself

I gave my ex-husband the benefit of the doubt; I was hoping he’d be the exception to the red flags. But despite my better sense, I chose to believe in him. It’s not that I’m a fool — I consciously chose to trust him.

I remember one night, we were lying in bed. He was doing his daily Portuguese lesson on his phone. In the middle of it, he paused and stared hard at my mouth.

The sudden attention came from nowhere. This was during our indecisive year of limbo — we were together, but not. I could’ve walked by him in nothing but stilettos, and he wouldn’t have given me a second look.

“Do you wax your lip?” he asked. 

“Ahh, no. Why?” Twenty-two years together, and not once had he ever asked me about waxing.

“You don’t have any hair there? Really? Are you sure?” 

He inched in to get a closer look but found nothing. With a puzzled look, he grunted and went back to his lesson. 

I went to sleep with an uneasy feeling but pushed it away. 

Had I trusted my instincts, I’d have saved myself a lot of unnecessary time and pain. I’d held on to us for way too long.

Are you better off without him?

Once I found out about his affair, I found a sense of closure  —  it was over for me.

I eventually learned his lover was here on a visa from Brazil. And apparently loved the casino a few miles from our home. The pocketful of quarters now made sense. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say she got her lip waxed at one of the many luxury spa sessions he treated her to with our money.

Hindsight offers much wisdom and clarity. For me, letting go was the best choice I ever made.

If you suspect your spouse is cheating, the red flags are usually there when you’re willing to look. But sometimes, recognizing and confronting the truth is difficult. So first, decide if you want to know. There’s no right or wrong — only you know what’s best for you.

Whether you’re better off without him is a personal decision. There isn’t a one size fits all type of blanket answer. We all have our own standards and tolerance level when it comes to cheating.

It’s worth careful consideration, though. Going around in circles wears a person down. We either need to move on or make peace with our decision.

RELATED: 15 Telltale Signs He's Cheating On You, According To Cheaters

Julie Gaeta is a holistic health coach, yoga instructor, and wellness enthusiast. She writes on food, enhancing nutrition, relationships, and pursuing growth.  

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