By Jen Grice, Crosswalk.com
Disclaimer: Adultery is not limited to a male-only practice. Women can lie and cheat as well. If you are a male, just change the pronouns to fit your situation.
Most women get married believing their husbands will never cheat on them. Many take their vows very seriously and expect their spouse to do the same.
I’m one of those women. It was a shock to my system when I learned my husband of one month was looking for women on the internet. And was even trying to set up a time to meet with one. This started a pattern that ended on the day of our divorce.
After a time of betrayal trauma healing, I started coaching women who also had experienced a discovery day of their own.
“D-day” is short for discovery day--the day you learn that the person who vowed to be faithful to you until death, may be having an affair and secretly keeping another woman, women, or even a man on the side.
The problem that often comes up after this discovery is proving that something is going on and that it’s not just a figment of your imagination. Even with concrete proof or documentation in front of your face, you still may want to believe “this can’t be happening to me.”
That’s why it’s important to know the signs that he is doing what you think he’s doing. And then, figure out what your next steps should be.
I wish someone would have told me these things when I was faced with each additional discovery day, throughout my marriage. I hope through my painful experiences with repeat betrayal, I can help other women through this difficult time as well.
Is He Cheating Online?
Back in 2001, when I found a “friend” (hook-up) website in our family computer’s internet history, these things weren’t erased and automatically deleted like they are today. It was just a matter of looking in that file folder to see the list of websites our computer had been on.
Knowing I wasn’t on that website myself, and only two of us were using that computer, I knew what was going on.
Sadly, today with computers, tablets, or phones in almost anyone’s hands it has become a lot easier to sneak around and not so easily found out. Liars and cheaters become skilled at covering their tracks. And sadly, many apps make hiding a secret life that much easier.
In this technology age, with so many ways to hide a secret affair, it’s so important that couples have transparency and integrity. Where you don’t have that, it could mean something is going on.
Things to pay attention to:
- Increased phone or computer usage not tied to a job or home project.
- Immediately clicking off a website as soon as someone enters the room.
- Quickly putting a phone or tablet away, or hiding it, as soon as someone gets close enough to see the screen.
- Leaving the room as soon as they get a phone call or multiple texts--hiding conversations.
- Hiding their phone or taking it everywhere, even in the bathroom.
- Not allowing you to use their phone or another device.
- Other lies being exposed, like money being spent, cash withdrawals, and time unaccounted for.
If someone is willing to lie about something small, they’re probably willing to hide something big as well. When your spouse is not willing to share all parts of their life, seems to be hiding something, and unwilling to have their phone available for your use if needed, there could be something going on that they don’t want you to know about.
“People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” – Dr. Phil
It’s also important to note, just one or two of these things going on doesn’t automatically mean they’re having an affair. If there is a legitimate reason a person is keeping their electronic device away from you, then an open and honest spouse would be willing to prove that to you.
Their willingness to be honest and transparent is a good sign during this time. Someone who’s hiding something will seem defensive and try to blame you as being the problem or call you crazy for even thinking these things.
Is He Cheating at Work?
Spouses with a full-time job away from home spend a lot of time with their co-workers, sometimes more than with their family at home. Work relationships easily develop from friendships to something more, especially when boundaries aren’t put into place from the beginning to protect the marriage relationship.
All it takes is a disagreement at home being shared with an opposite-sex coworker, for the doors of connection to be opened.
Spouses with integrity will make sure that any working relationship is kept strictly to business and superficial communication. Because without that boundary in place, it can be easy to feel like the problems he has with his spouse could be elevated with just finding a new spouse.
Things to pay attention to:
- Repeat lunch dates with one coworker of the opposite sex.
- Lying about these lunch dates or saying they’re with someone else.
- Having work meetings, calls, or texts after work hours, for no good reason.
- Texts or emails sharing feelings rather than work projects.
- Not being truthful and forthcoming about work relationships.
Does your spouse have boundaries with his coworkers, that places the importance on the marriage and his family? Does he keep from venting his marriage frustrations at work with opposite sex coworkers?
If he’s not having inappropriate relationships and keeping your private issues, private, then there’s no real reason to worry. But if not, your spouse is at a higher risk for having an affair now or in the future.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/zimmytws
Is He Cheating While out of Town?
If working long hours is not enough, having your spouse spend time away from his family, time alone in a hotel room, and around places like hotel bars and other establishments frequented by single people, could cause anyone to question if temptation could creep in.
Again, it’s so important for couples in these situations to have boundaries with other people--this goes both ways when a spouse is away for extended periods. You have to find ways to keep that connection strong.
If not, the devil will introduce a temptation to try to destroy the family. This is important to keep at the forefront of both of your minds.
If your spouse seems to be distancing himself from you, not contacting you regularly while out of town, when possible of course, and there are other signs, mentioned above, then you have a right to ask questions and communicate your feelings with your spouse.
If he dismisses your feelings and makes you feel bad for having them, this could be a red flag that he’s not keeping boundaries or protecting the marriage from adultery.
All parties in a relationship need to realize that we are human and fallible. This doesn’t mean that everyone lies and cheats, but it does mean we are all capable of being tempted towards that direction. The devil seeks to destroy all relationships, so knowing this could happen, especially when partners are separated for a time, means that insecurities and feelings shouldn’t be ignored.
Is He Cheating or Am I Paranoid? How Will I Know the Difference?
If you’ve been cheated on in the past, you might find it easier to assume your partner is cheating. Before my husband committed adultery, I had a hard time believing he ever could. I knew there would be temptation I just never knew he’d follow through with such an act because I never would. As a young 20-year-old, this betrayal trauma took away my naiveté.
Some may see that as being paranoid, but I prefer to say that I’m more alert to red flags now than I was 20 years ago. I’m not so easily gaslit into believing that I’m crazy for thinking someone is having an affair when all the signs point in that direction.
During my marriage, after multiple affairs, I told my intuition to stop warning me that another affair was happening. I knew something was happening each time it happened, yet I was told I was crazy to think anything could be going on behind my back--when it fact it was.
Not asserting myself or expecting boundaries caused the pattern to repeat--I don’t take the blame for his affairs but I do see how I could have been stronger.
Now, with a renewed intuition and an even stronger sense to speak up when someone is lying, I don’t discount anyone’s feelings when something is just not right. I think you’ll know the difference when you first listen to what the Holy Spirit might be telling you.
Then, without reacting start to ask questions with the plan to seek out the truth--whatever that might be. Then, pray while you seek the truth as God reveals it to you.
Your inquiries should not be dismissed. You should not feel projected upon or blamed for just making sure everything in your marriage is good; and no temptation is overtaking your partner.
I never cheated on my husband, yet I was blamed plenty of times, which is projection. Even in those cases when I was being accused of cheating, I was ready and willing to prove that was not the case.
I was innocent and I knew that I had nothing to hide. I believe any innocent person would be the same way even when being accused of adultery.
How to Confront Your Husband about His Cheating
This part could get difficult, so you may want to make sure you’re emotionally ready to do this before you just confront a cheater. Let me tell you this comes from experience doing it the wrong way several times! Again, I wish I had known better.
If I could go back and tell myself the right way to handle this I would have first, sought counsel that would support me no matter what decision I would make. I would’ve talked to the domestic violence shelter, knowing adultery is just another form of domestic abuse, so I could have a safety plan in place beforehand.
And I would have made sure I had collected all that proof so there would be no denying, blaming, or projecting onto me.
Instead, I went in blindly and wasn’t emotionally healthy enough to confront the manipulation that came with the argument. I easily took the blame and then did the work to save my marriage on my own. There were no real consequences so the affairs repeated many times after.
I don’t want to see anyone go through what I went through. So my advice would be to seek out help from the right places to process all that you’re seeing in your relationship. Also, remember God created and gave you that intuition for a reason; it should not be ignored.
Listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you and seek how He would have you proceed in ahead towards healing.
Photo Credit: ©Getty/nd3000
Jen Grice is a divorce coach and the author of “You Can Survive Divorce”. She empowers Christian women to not only survive their unwanted divorce, caused by abuse, adultery, and/or narcissism, but to become stronger and thrive after. Jen Grice can be found on YouTube, talking about divorcing a narcissist. Or you can find out more about Jen’s books, coaching for women, and ministry at JenGrice.com.