What are the signs of infidelity in marriage? This is a question that crosses the mind of anyone who suspects a spouse might be having an affair. The reason I am writing about this topic is that I was blind to the signs. If I had identified them earlier, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Unfortunately, there is no formula when it comes to finding out whether a spouse is cheating. However, if any of the following five signs are evident, I suggest it is better to address the situation than to live in ignorance. You are living in a fake bubble that is bound to burst at some point anyway.
There are always clues
There is an assumption that a cheating husband will always leave some clues. If you do not pick up on them, you are thought to be naïve or that you are turning a blind eye. The fact is that some partners are very good at concealing an affair. They become very good liars. You may also subconsciously ignore the signs because you don’t want to believe what is happening. Few spouses will come home with obvious signs of having been with another person, like a lipstick smear on a shirt. The clues are usually far more subtle. However, hiding an affair is not that easy, particularly for any length of time. There are always clues.
1. Emotional distance
One of the strongest clues is when a partner becomes emotionally distant or distracted. It’s very difficult to maintain emotional intimacy with someone you are busy betraying. People who cheat feel guilty. They are trying to keep something from you so they can’t afford to let their guard drop. They are afraid that you will guess their secret so they have to keep their distance.
My ex was working away from home for a long period and I asked one day “Are we still okay?” He insisted that we were fine. I then jokingly threw in “… as long as there isn’t another woman”. He immediately said he had to go and pretended he hadn’t heard. I must have really been in denial as I still didn’t believe he was having an affair. As we had been physically apart for some time, I hadn’t realized how emotionally distant he had become.
2. Secretive behavior
Unexplained, secretive behaviour or changes to normal routines could mean there is something to hide. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there occasions when your spouse works long hours, has to go on business trips, often goes to see male friends or suddenly starts going to gym every day?
- Does your partner terminate a session or close open windows on the computer when you come into the room? Does he/she regularly delete browser history? Does he or she suddenly have new passwords unknown to you for devices?
- Does your partner keep a cell phone close at hand at all times and often go outside to take calls? Of course, your partner may even have a second cell phone to communicate with the other person.
- Is your partner’s phone turned off at times when you should have been able to get through? There are periods where you don’t know where your spouse is and you don’t get a proper explanation of why there has been no response to a call or a text.
- Have you found a secret credit card or a receipt for unexplained items? Your partner may come up with an explanation if confronted but it cannot always be believed.
3. Attitude changes
When your significant other is overly defensive, and it’s out of character, this could be an indicator of guilt. Remarks like “I was playing squash with John and you can call him if you don’t believe me” are typical. When a spouse who has always been patient and understanding becomes critical of you or angry with you, this is another telltale sign. A silly example in my case was that I have always read in bed at night before falling asleep. I did this for years and my ex was always tolerant of this because he understood that it helped me to fall asleep. Suddenly, he started voicing his irritation, saying that the light was bothering him. If your spouse is criticizing you over issues that were previously unimportant, he/she is probably focusing on your flaws to justify the cheating.
4. Physical intimacy changes
Has your spouse stopped showing you those small signs of affection that may have been common before? If these gestures have disappeared, it could be a sign of deeper issues. Have there been any changes in your sex life? Of course It is possible to have physical intimacy while emotional intimacy is lacking. However, your routines and other aspects of your sex life may be different. For example, your spouse may suddenly want to have more sex, less sex or none at all.
5. Physical appearance changes
Changes to physical appearance are a possible sign that another person is in the picture. Has your partner suddenly lost weight, bought new clothes or developed new grooming habits?
Trust your instincts
You will often realize intuitively when a spouse is having an affair. You will probably pick up on subtle signals even if you are not consciously aware of them. Maybe you just have a gut feeling. Obviously, you don’t just want to come out and accuse your partner. A few of the above signs does not necessarily mean that your partner is having an affair. A change in weight and exercising habits could be entirely innocent. However, if you have noticed a combination of signs and instinctively feel that something is going on, it’s time to talk.
Have the talk
If you are convinced that your partner is having an affair, you must try to talk about it. Being upfront about it is not easy. However, honesty and openness paves the way to easing your fears or confirming your suspicions. It is better to face it head on. Too many partners of cheating spouses are unwilling to face up to the unwelcome truth.
This is not an easy conversation to have so you need to choose the right time and place. You don’t want it to turn into an angry confrontation. Try not to start off by being judgemental or your partner will immediately become defensive. You can voice your concerns about your relationship and see if your partner is willing to talk about them. Couples counseling may be helpful if your partner still wants to work on the relationship.
My philosophy is that it’s always better to know the truth. Even if it is shattering, at least it rips away the veil of lies and deception. You deserve true intimacy with your partner. When that has gone, you have to both have a desire to work hard to restore it. If a partner is no longer committed to working on the relationship, a divorce may be the only option. If a partner feels remorse about an affair and truly wants to work on the marriage, it still has a chance of survival.