10 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

adulteryCurrent infidelity statistics reveal that in over one-third of marriages, one or both partners admitted to an extramarital affair. This number might actually be low because affairs are under reported. Other research estimates indicate that nearly 60% of all individuals will engage in an affair at some point during the marriage.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I do a lot of affair recovery work. My clients have taught me that sometimes there are obvious signs that the faithful spouse misses and sometimes there are no signs at all, because (sadly) some folks are just that good at compartmentalizing. The signs below are not meant to represent an exhaustive list and if present, may not necessarily mean your spouse is cheating. Every relationship is unique and you will have to discover the truth for yourself in your own situation.

  1. Emotional Distance is a huge clue that something may be wrong in your relationship. It’s hard to be emotionally invested in two people at the same time so the guilty partner creates space. The emotional distance works to create a shield that protects them from discovery. If you notice conversations becoming more superficial and your spouse withdrawing more and even becoming secretive, it could be because he/she is growing closer to someone else.
  2. Critical Attitude over the things that never bothered your spouse before such as your weight, wardrobe choices, not having things in common, the way you clean the house or cook, your appearance or even your sexual preferences and zeal between the sheets. Being unfaithful creates a lot of tension and requires the guilty party to focus on the negative aspects in the marriage. In a way, having a critical attitude helps the guilty partner justify their decision to continue their extramarital liaison.
  3. Guilt drives behavior changes. Most people cannot handle the guilt of cheating, so they respond by either showering the unassuming spouse with gifts, attention and affection or they withdraw. They may avoid eye contact and communication efforts aimed at explaining their behavioral changes. The guilty mate may pick fights, especially when the faithful spouse does something nice because it creates mixed emotions and forces the cheater to think about their actions.
  4. Grooming improves during an affair. The cheating partner may suddenly pay closer attention to their looks, change fragrances or begin wearing a fragrance, purchase a gym membership, a new wardrobe or lose weight.
  5. Evasive or unreachable when he/she used to be accessible. Text messages are not given priority and phone calls are not answered or returned. “Client meetings,” “projects” and “business trips” increase with a hyper focus placed on work responsibilities while at home.
  6. Defensiveness is a form of self-preservation. It is a way to blame your partner and says, “It’s not my fault, it’s your fault.” Defensiveness when attempting to address suspicions or making an observation about recent behavioral changes can be an effort to hide an affair.
  7. Blaming the faithful spouse for all the marriage problems and only seeing the marital relationship in negative terms. Often the infidel will flip the script and begin keeping tabs on the faithful spouse or accuse them of being paranoid, delusional or insecure.
  8. Change in behaviors such as listening to new music, picking up a new hobby, an increase in privacy, shutting doors that used to be left open, becoming more confident or more flirtatious with other men or women. It takes money and passion to fuel an affair, so look for changes in spending, a desire to suddenly control the family finances and credit card statements, working longer hours and pulling away from church or extended family.
  9. Sexual intimacy fizzles out or abruptly stops. The guilty partner moves to the guest room or the couch for “better quality sleep” because “snoring” or “restlessness” is keeping them awake. Paradoxically, intercourse sizzles with requests to try new positions and techniques.
  10. A new “friend” enters the picture and more and more time is spent with them. Talking less about interactions with certain colleagues that used to be the topic of conversation can also warrant suspicion.

The Long Way Back to Me: Finding Normal

Prior to exploring trauma with a new cljozwlqkegtewqncmpsnk5rzwhl5t3lvsrfavzctrxxazlc0ipng0fa8aheic-e2st6d_kgs154ient, I assess their needs and ability to cope with traumatic symptoms. After ensuring stabilization and increasing coping strategies we are ready to begin the arduous journey of unpacking the damage from all the psychological and emotional wounding. For me, writing is a coping skill I use to deal with the traumatic symptoms of adultery. It is a way to make sense of nonsensical things. A way to re-write my life narrative, gain clarity and leave a legacy.

Not every marriage can be saved after an affair. Not every marriage should be saved. Mine was, but it’s been a long way back to me. Since my husband’s confession 16 months ago, I have laboriously toiled through the wreckage of my feelings in an attempt at finding normal (again). I have cycled through intense emotions that at times have been dark and frightening and on other occasions, completely out of character.

Affairs rip families apart; they are devastating to everyone involved. My initial emotions were shock and fear. Shocked that the one person who stood with me before God, family and friends and covenanted to forsake all others had rammed a dagger in my back. This affair partner (AP) actually thought she was taking my man. In my one communication with her I told her to leave my husband alone and she replied, “…It is not for you to say with whom I am in contact with at this time. This is out of line.” In an email exchange earlier that day she told my husband, “I have interviews in North Carolina in December.” Now she was plotting to move to my zip code! The fear that my husband might actually abandon our family for this desperate person enslaved me. I could not shake loose the shackles of anxiety.

His betrayal left no area of my life untouched. As I crossed the threshold from 2015 to 2016, I had but one goal: saving my marriage. We attended marriage therapy for months sifting through the affair details. We stabilized our relationship, repaired the breaches and increased our emotional intimacy. Yet there are still questions I will never have answers to, questions that haunt me to this day. As I stand on the precipice of 2017, my chief goal is to rediscover me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milestones

imagesI just passed a crucial milestone. A year ago on September 9th I discovered my husband was having an affair and planning to abandon our family. What a difference a year makes! This September 9th, we were in Asheville, NC with five of his closest high school buddies and their wives celebrating the occasion of turning a half-century-old (well, not the ladies- just the men). Over the past 12 months, we have worked diligently to restore our relationship. This has not been an easy journey for either of us, but it has been worthwhile. Although I am not in a place where I can say I am thankful the affair occurred, I can say that I am thankful for the wake up call the liaison gave us.

My heart was crucified. I lost my identity, my confidence. I lost me and for the exception of pastoring a small church and my job as a therapist, I withdrew from every event and organization I participated in and retreated inward. A strong extravert, I even stopped connecting with friends. After spending months in individual and couples therapy, I am feeling invigorated. I am slowly coming back- not to the person I was, rather I am transforming into a new self. God is remaking me and I am rediscovering my gifts and talents.

I have much to be excited about. I have a new grandson, a book in the works and very soon I will be redesigning my website and introducing the fascinating services I will be offering my clients. Stay tuned!

 

Adultery is a Pandemic

3c8e503a9d8358d897cce3ac62bf30f2It’s been a while since I wrote my last article. I cycle through these periods where I struggle to articulate what is in my soul. I withdraw until another story brews in my spirit and then I put fingers to keyboard. I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for now and work on my book- title to be announced after I obtain my ISBN.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage and it is not okay with me that most relationships do not endure the pressures of infidelity. Survivors of adultery are often left without a voice. We are told not to air our dirty laundry because no one needs to know our business. We are shamed and asked “What did you do to make him/her stray?” We are admonished when we do share our stories and feel we need to hide. It is more acceptable to talk about all our ailments and diseases or post pictures of our daughters on social media wearing scantily clad outfits and bikinis than it is to talk about infidelity. Adultery is a pandemic, it is a global problem of epic proportions and it is ripping families apart, but no one wants to talk openly about it! Just boggles my mind!

I recently finished my latest John Maxwell book, Intentional Living. He asks his readers three questions: (1) What makes you cry? (2) What do you sing about? (3) What do you dream about? The answer to all three questions for me is, my marriage and my children. So for their sake (yes I said “for their sake,” it could happen to them one day), I am breaking the code of silence and I am writing and I will continue to write until I die because marriage and family are my passion. I am sharing the story of our reconciliation, redemption, grace and forgiveness. I am talking about my emotions and the agony of betrayal. This is not something you “just get over.” It doesn’t go away after a month, or six months, or a year. This isn’t the same thing as overdrawing the bank account or spending frivolously at the mall.

It has been nine months since I discovered my husband’s affair and every time I think about it (which is pretty much every hour) I get angry. I still break down and sob in his arms at night because last summer after 20 years together, I stopped being enough for him. In spite of all my anger and pain, I have forgiven him and I am learning to trust again. If I can do this, others can too- but how will they know if we don’t talk about it?

 

 

5 Things He Never Gave to the Affair Partner

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31

Your view of adultery strongly depends on your understanding of the sanctity of marriage. If you believe  lovemarriage to be a relationship between two people that exists for as long as you think you’re in love, you have missed the entire point. Marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, who before God establish a vow to love, honor and cherish one another until parted by death. It is an exclusive, two-person arrangement that requires forsaking all others, cleaving only unto one another. Marriage is unique among all other human bonds because it symbolizes Christ’s relationship to His bride, the Church. Marriage partners are stewards of a sacred covenant and as stewards they are charged with guarding against intruders. Because third parties threaten the marital union, it must be guarded with fierce devotion.

We stopped guarding our marriage in 2015 when my husband crossed the monogamy line. Discovering my husband’s affair was the hardest day of my life. A close second was the day I learned that he and the affair partner were still in contact some seven weeks after I believed the affair ended. I gave this man everything, including my youth and the best years of my life and he gave away the most intimate and precious part of our relationship as a husband and wife. However, as I walk this long and winding road toward healing, I have come to realize that there are five things that he did not give to the affair partner.

  1. Commitment– The most important ingredient to a long-term successful relationship is commitment- not love, not communication, not attitude. Commitment is deeper than love and says, “I am determined to make this work regardless of how I feel, no matter what it takes!” As a couple, we are committed to each other and our family. There was a brief moment in our history when my man was not as committed, but when I look at the broader picture and consider that his indiscretion lasted a mere 19 weeks out of our 20 years together– well, that is really just a blip in time. Todd has sacrificed time, money and plans for our children and me. He has worked at jobs he hated to provide for our family so I could stay home when our children were babies. He is committed to restoring broken trust and honoring our sacred vows to one another.
  2. His support- My husband supported my decision to stay home when our kids were born, he supported my decision to go back to school and become a therapist. He even supported the bad decisions I made without his knowledge, like the time I bought a car while he was on a business trip (I’d like to forget that one!). But what makes him a real keeper was the support he gave to me when I had cancer. He held my hair while I tossed cookies in the toilet, carried me when I was too weak to walk, served meals to me in bed, helped empty my catheter bag, listened to my endless complaining about the whole cancer smancer thing and wiped away all my tears.
  3. Honor- Honor seeks to protect another person’s dignity. Outside of this affair, my man has held me in high regard. I have never felt threatened by wandering eyes or flirtatious remarks because he has always demonstrated high moral standards. He has a pulse so I’m sure he noticed other attractive women, but he refrained from admiring them in my presence. For the exception of the five months he was emotionally absent in our marriage, he has treated me with great respect; he has never withheld information or kept secrets. Today, he is open and transparent about the details and causes of the affair. I feel honored by this man once again.
  4. Love – Romantic love is the first step in the “falling in love” process and is often confused with lust because of the similarities. Certainly we have romantic love in our marriage- I still get a case of the butterflies when he walks into the room, but our love has matured and we have reached a higher level of intimacy. The biblical definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 13:4-8). Love endures when it is allowed to go through the transformational process from romantic love (the lowest level) to agape (biblical/highest level). Most couples that do not understand this process quit when they no longer feel the rapture and intense chemistry they felt at the beginning of the relationship.
  5. Sacred vow– On October 10, 1997 I stood at an altar with the man of dreams beside me. Hand-in-hand before God, our pastor, family and friends we promised to love, honor and cherish one another- forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live. That sacred vow still stands. My husband regrets his decision to cheat every single day. Today, he works diligently to protect my heart so our relationship can experience the safety we once enjoyed effortlessly.

Marriages thrive in transparency and truth. Affairs thrive in secrets, fantasy, lies and deceit and this is what the affair partner gained in the brief encounter she had with my husband. Yet this behavior does not define the man I love. He is giving, loving, affectionate, open, and forgiving. He is a man who is committed to me and our children, he is supportive of my decisions, he honors and respects me (again), he deeply loves me, he is standing by our sacred vow and his arms are still my safe haven.

 

The Hurt and The Healer

images-1All of the articles prior to this one were written in October 2015, just weeks after discovering the affair. All articles published from this day forward, I am writing now. Writing about the affair has been instrumental in the healing process. I am not there yet, but each sunrise brings me a day closer to the truth that one day I will be able to look back on this experience without that familiar stab of pain in my soul. My marriage is prospering; we haven’t been this close in years! Personally, it’s a long way back and I feel like I’m clawing my way out of a dark pit.

I lost who I was- I know I am Todd’s wife, I am the mother of Nathan, Kelly, Teagan and Noah. I am a licensed professional counselor and an ordained minister of God. Beyond that, I simply don’t know who I am anymore. I closed my counseling practice in December 2015 and began full time as a therapist at a local psychiatric hospital. I needed a change. I needed to know that I still have some measure of control in what happens to me. I’m just getting through the days the best I can. Praying and hoping God will make sense of my husband’s adulterous affair. For now, I plan to continue writing my blog on A Broken Vow and New Beginning, but I need time to think and process before I publish anymore of my thoughts.

I was able to read some of the emails my husband exchanged with his affair partner. I can’t get one of the comments she made to him out of my head “Each hour I feel that a part of my soul is being torn apart.” This she said in response to his ending the affair. I can’t discard the thought because if she thinks her soul is being torn apart…imagine being the wife of the same man for almost 20 years…I knew we had some problems, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed and suddenly I discover my husband was considering throwing me away like trash for someone who couldn’t measure up to me when I roll out of bed in the morning. This unimpressive affair partner has caused unimaginable pain and sorrow in my soul and our family. Our children, parents, extended family members and a few friends are aware of what happened and they are all deeply hurt.

MercyMe sings a song called: The Hurt & The Healer. I’m including the lyrics in this post because nothing else seems to capture my emotions quiet like these:

Why?
The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from being explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Breathe
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes it’s rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take this heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide

[x2:]
Jesus come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
And find Your glory even here