Question: Dear Stacy, I think my husband is cheating on me or planning on it. He is worried about his appearance and changing his outfits – changing his overall look. He is always on his phone. He has been talking a lot about getting a new car and he has been buying new clothes and other items he never bought before. He also told me he is popular at work and talks a lot about these two women he works with. He said that they say he is such a hard worker that they all wish there were more like him. Our intimacy has been on and off/hot and cold and when we argue he tells me I can just leave. I am starting to have a tough time trusting him due to these changes. This happened once before, but he denied it. What should I do?
—Wondering in White Marsh
Answer: Dear Wondering in White Marsh, I am sorry that you are feeling this way. It hurts when we suspect that we cannot trust our partners. I certainly can’t tell you how to perceive these changes, but I also don’t want you do jump to conclusions. Maybe he just feels really confident at work? Maybe he wants to get healthy and look better? Whatever the reason these changes are happening, you will have to communicate with him about it. I know that confrontation can be difficult but planning your conversation will make an enormous difference.
The other suggestion is that you educate yourself about why men cheat and about relationships. Our relationships take two to make it work, so also some self-reflection into how you are feeling and what part you play in your relationship will be a huge help to you. Since statistics show that one in two marriages end in divorce, there are lots of resources on this topic.
Nicole Smith of Survivedivorce.com states, “Cheating can be in the mind only, purely emotional, or physical, or a combination of all three. Just like every marriage is different, so too is every case of cheating. We won’t quote statistics, but studies show that a lot of men (and women for that matter) do contemplate cheating in some way at some point. It’s one way to explain why the nation’s divorce rate currently hovers at around 50 percent. So, no matter what your degree of suspicion is when it comes to your husband and what’s in his mind, there are a number of things to keep an eye out for. Don’t take them as gospel by themselves that cheating is going on, but if you see a lot of what follows in your marriage, it may be time for the “we need to talk” intervention.”
- He lies about things that don’t even really matter.
- He’s playing cell phone defense.
- He sucks at getting back to you when he’s out with other people.
- He’s hanging out with a new crowd when you’re not around.
- Is he dropping one particular female’s name into your conversations?
- The best defense is a good offense. – “Has he accused you of cheating for no good reason? He may be trying to put you back on your heels to distract away from his own fiddling’s. It’s a form of gaslighting by taking the focus off of themselves and on to you. You can’t focus on his misdeeds if you’re trying to defend your own harmless actions.”
- He tells you he’s hanging out with his buddies to watch the game, but when he gets home, he can’t even tell you who won.
- He looks way better than normal.
- Regular work habits aren’t so regular anymore.
- He changes the passwords on your shared media accounts.
- What are those charges on the credit card?
- The thrill (in the bedroom) is gone.
- When his phone rings, he sees who it is and doesn’t answer it.
- Cheat on me once, shame on you. Cheat on me twice, shame on me.
- His friends are acting differently toward you.
- Is he headhunting more these days? – “If he’s trying to pick a fight, it may mean he’s trying to drive a wedge in between you so it will justify his cheating ways. It’s a common way for guys who can use it as an excuse to say that your fighting drove him into the arms of another.”
These are just a few of the thirty-eight items listed. Go here to see them all: 38 Telltale Signs Your Husband is Cheating
Wondering in White Marsh, you have listed a couple of these things in your own situation, but before you jump in, be sure that you are clear with yourself. Do you want to save your marriage or throw in the towel? Finding a therapist to discuss this process with will be helpful, especially if you feel like you can’t talk to your family and friends just yet.
Remember, this is a process. Start with gathering information, educating yourself and then plan to confront him. Don’t make impulsive decisions and take the time to see what you want to do. It is best to take some time to think this through as you will have a plethora of feelings and emotions at this time. “Keep trusting in yourself. Your gut helped you feel something was off, and your gut will also let you know what to do.” Nicole Smith of Survivedivorce.com
If you decide to stay and work on your marriage then there will have to be full honesty, and transparency moving forward. Obviously, you will want your husband to show remorse on his part and end the affair.
If you find that your instincts were right and he is/was cheating, you may find that you are not attracted to your husband or wonder if your husband cheats will he do it again, and that is totally normal. Nicole Smith of Survivedivorce.com
“If you decide to stay, this is where a trained professional comes in. You both will need to attend individual as well as couples therapy to get over the betrayal, lies, and emotional abuse, as well as to get to the bottom of what caused your husband to stray. Remember – this is not your fault, and you did not “cause” the affair. When you find out that your husband cheated on you, it is one of the most devastating events you could ever imagine. Take time to take care of yourself, make sure to eat well, rest sufficiently, and do something that you enjoy. This will help you make the best decision about your marriage.” Dominique Orland from onlinedivorcer.com
Here are resources on the topic.