Cheating Spouse? Avoid These Mistakes
Finding out or even suspecting that your spouse or partner is having an affair is one of the most hurtful things that can happen to a relationship.
Instant feelings of anger, shock, resentment and other negative emotions can set in quickly causing you to do things that can harm your future. Knowing that your partner is involved with someone else is hard enough, but knowing what to do can be even harder.
Don't Overlook the Signs
One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from my clients is that they trusted their intuition. That small voice inside telling them that something was going on, something was wrong but they couldn’t quite put their finger on it.
Still, there’s that nagging doubt in their mind.
There are common behaviors of spouses that are cheating. Keep in mind that these signs don’t prove infidelity, but when you observe many of the behaviors, your marriage could be headed for trouble.
Your spouse is suddenly spending more time than usual away from family and home.
There are unexplained charges on credit card bills for restaurants, theater tickets or department stores.
S/he’s not interested in any other sort of physical contact—whether it’s holding hands, sex or cuddling.
Your partner drastically alters their appearance, clothing style, or body shape for no apparent reason.
S/he is overly defensive about activities or ways s/he is spending time.
Your spouse avoids being alone with you and your conversations become purely superficial.
Your significant other is frequently unavailable or unreachable.
Again, let me reiterate that these behaviors are only indicators of an affair.
If you've observed any of these signs, it doesn't necessarily mean infidelity is happening. These behaviors usually only signify cheating if they're a departure from the norm.
Don't Confront Without Evidence
Although our instincts are often on point it’s important to make sure you have strong evidence to support your suspicions.
Unfortunately, a person having an affair will often deny it when asked for the first time. They will often come up with excuses or explanations for their changes in behavior.
If you confront your spouse with little proof, this only tells them of your suspicions and allows them to get better at hiding their affair. Your uncertainty can make you doubt yourself and your instincts.
Not knowing can sometimes be more stressful than having everything out in the open.
If you want to get information, then it does you no good to raise their defenses. You want to make it as easy as possible for your partner to open up to you.
If you want to find out if your spouse is cheating, your best decision may be to wait. It won’t be easy, but looking for hard evidence can take time.
Unfortunately, this can get you caught up in the dilemma of possibly violating your partner’s privacy without a good reason. Is it okay to search cell phones, look at emails and search through dresser drawers?
Although this decision is ultimately up to every individual, if you notice a pattern of behaviors that seem to indicate your spouse is having an affair, then it can be justifiable in doing what would normally be violating someone’s privacy. A marriage full of suspicion isn’t a good one, whether or not infidelity is taking place.
The sooner you have evidence, the quicker you can start to make decisions about your situation
Don’t rely on one piece of evidence but get several pieces of evidence from different sources. Get emails, texts, credit card statements, etc that all confirm that your spouse is hiding or lying about something.
Then approach your significant other and objectively describe what you’ve observed. Say why it makes you think your partner is having an affair, and how it makes you feel.
If you suspect that your spouse may be cheating on you, the best approach is to have a direct and honest conversation with them. Don’t tiptoe around the issue, but come right out and say, “Are you having an affair?”
Don't Beg and Promise to Change
While some women get angry, others do the opposite by saying, “I’ll do anything as long as you stay.”
That’s not healthy for the relationship and likely to backfire. When you first get confirmation that your partner has been unfaithful, you may be tempted to beg them to stay and not divorce you. You may promise to change.
Although this reaction is normal, it is not necessarily a good idea. Begging will make you come across as a doormat—and no one respects or wants a relationship with someone who appears weak and desperate.
Your promise to change will often be seen as “too little, too late.” If your spouse wants to stay with you s/he has to respect you.
S/he isn’t going to want to be with someone they can’t respect. Begging will come across as weak and unattractive, and if anything it will have the opposite from the desired effect.
So if you have things about yourself that you know you should work on, work on them for the benefit of both of you. Be different and let them see the changes in your actions.
Don't Seek Revenge
Don’t get so mired in hurt and anger that you think having an affair or one nightstand of your own is a good idea.
Finding out your spouse has cheated on you can kill your confidence and cause you to want to confirm your attractiveness by having a one night stand or turning a flirtation into an affair. Adding more problems to your relationship and going against your ethics will only make things worse—for both of you.
Focus on doing what is right and look to that to build your self-esteem, not someone else.
Don't Forget to Educate Yourself!
Do educate yourself. Read a book about infidelity and surviving an affair--or how to recover from one. Find resources online that will benefit you in coping with the affair.
Join an online forum or live support group with others in your situation. Attend a workshop or watch a webinar.
Don't Be Afraid to ask for Help
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Find someone you trust who can help you cope—whether close friend, religious leader, counselor or physician. If you fall apart emotionally during this time, doing anything will be harder, no matter if you choose to continue your relationship or end it.
Take care of yourself and those parts of your life you still have. Stress can affect many things in your life, especially eating and sleeping habits, which can cloud your mind even further.
You don’t want to cause additional problems in the future by forgetting to pay a car payment or concentrating so much on your situation that you neglect your children or friends.
Don't Forget to Plan Ahead
Organizing important personal and financial documents is important. And if your marriage survives the affair, organizing various important documents will certainly not have a negative effect!
Writing down a plan or list of goals during this time is a good idea. Break your goals down into smaller steps so they won’t seem overwhelming.
These goals may be writing out what steps you can take to keep your marriage intact or what you need to do to begin divorce proceedings.
Don't Distance Yourself From Your Spouse
Infidelity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Lack of closeness was probably part of the original problem and pulling away will only make things worse for both of you.
Talk openly and honestly about the situation. Try to understand the reasons behind his or her actions and figure out what is missing in your relationship. Do what you can to assure your partner of your love and then prove it by meeting his or her needs.
Berating your partner for his or her actions may make you feel temporarily better, but will only help your spouse be able to further justify their infidelity. Beating up the unfaithful mate with guilt, shame, or the opinions of others won't keep them from leaving.
No one wants or deserves to be screamed at or condemned for hours, even if they have been unfaithful. Provoking a spouse can lead to embarrassing incidents, involvement with law enforcement and other negative consequences that could affect things in the future—such as your children or job opportunities.
Provoking your spouse doesn’t make you look like the better person and it will do absolutely nothing to stop adultery.
Don't Use Your Children as Pawns
This should go without saying. Children are already affected by their parents having marital problems—no matter what age they are.
Double-check your behavior and don’t use your children to punish the unfaithful partner or to try to get them to manipulate the mate into staying. This will only cause resentment and hurt your relationship with your children.
Don't Immediately Tell Everyone
Whether or not they will admit it to you, your partner feels shame and guilt over what they’ve done.
Threatening to expose them will only increase these feelings; it will not keep your partner from leaving. If you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful, it’s perfectly normal to want to let others know.
This can be for a variety of reasons—you may desperately want support, you may want to punish your partner for their behavior by embarrassing them or you may not want to suffer alone in silence. But the future is full of unknowns. You cannot predict whether you will stay together or get divorced.
You don’t know if your partner will end their relationship with the other person. There are too many unknowns.
You don’t want to eliminate your options by speaking to others and getting others involved. Their involvement will only make dealing with infidelity more complicated.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tell anyone, it just means that you need to be careful who you tell and why. For example, if you find out that your partner has been unfaithful and you immediately tell your parents, they may never forgive your spouse.
Even if you and your partner recover from the affair and decide to stay married, your parents’ negative behavior toward your partner can put a strain on family get-togethers and holidays. Your spouse may be embarrassed to face your parents, or your parents may try to avoid your spouse.
A situation such as this is not only difficult to fix, but it will only add to your problems.
Should You Divorce?
Oftentimes the spouse who had the affair will push for a quick divorce to “legitimize” the person they cheated with. But many affairs end after a year or two, so in many cases, a legal separation may be a better decision.
A legal separation will slow down the process of divorce and protect the parties involved at the same time. If nothing else, a legal separation will give everyone a chance to recover from the emotional rollercoaster they have been through, as well as look at the situation more objectively.
You may even want to take steps to "Affair-Proof" your marriage to avoid future problems.
No matter what difficulties we face in our relationships with others, we must realize that we cannot change the other person, but we can change ourselves. The most important thing is for each individual to make his or her own decision concerning the relationship. Only you are living your life, and only you will live with the outcome of the decisions you make—not your family or friends.
Suspect that your spouse is having an affair? Have questions about what divorce or separation will entail? Contact Jack’s Law Office at (740) 369-7567.
Jack W. Carney-DeBord is licensed and admitted to the practice law in the State of Ohio-ONLY. Jack has no intention of soliciting clients in any state other than Ohio and nothing posted on this website should be viewed as an attempt to solicit or do business in ANY state other than the State of Ohio.
The content on this website is provided as general information only and is not legal advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based upon information provided on this site without first consulting legal counsel.
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