Extramarital Affairs: She cheated and broke your heart. Or maybe you’re the one who cheated and broke hers. WHY do husbands and wives cheat? And why don’t they just end the marriage cleanly before dating others? Isn’t your spouse your best friend? Is having an extramarital affair what your spouse deserves? If not consideration for the other person’s feelings, needs or desires, what about a little honesty?
One of the most difficult things to face is the possibility that your husband or wife may be having an extramarital affair. Although we at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia / the Center for Growth have identified some reasons why a spouse has an extramarital affair, you may never truly know exactly why your spouse was unfaithful. In fact, your spouse may not have a good reason either. Common reasons why spouses stray may include:
- Anger at spouse
- Unresolved childhood issues that are playing out in the marriage
- Trying to avoid conflict in marriage
- Trying to get back at a spouse for some perceived “wrong”
- Emotional relationship that turns sexual
- Career problems / job changes
- Looking for excitement, passion or sexual compatibility they judge as missing in marriage
- A way to end an unhappy marriage
- A general fear of growing older and having another person find them sexually attractive makes them feel young vibrant / self esteem booster
- Looking for a one-night stand
- Long-term relationship outside marriage that might have begun at an earlier point
- Randomly truly meeting the one in a million right person who you were meant to be with – even when you had been in a great marriage
- Chronic cheater / sexual addiction
The future of the relationship can depend on your ability to spot telltale signs of an extramarital affair that is about to happen or has just begun. With rapidly rising divorce rates, you can no longer afford to be the “last to know.” There are several factors that could make you suspect that your spouse is having an affair, but how do you know for sure? Here are some signs to look for:
How Your Spouse Relates To You
- A gut feeling. Something just feels off. Your gut is usually right that something is amiss.
- Your spouse’s involvement with another person can cause him or her to treat you differently — even on a subconscious level. Look for behavioral changes that feel “out of the blue”.
- Sudden Disinterest / Interest in Sex that is unrelated to changes in you
- One of the most obvious signs that your spouse may be involved in an affair is his or her sudden disinterest in having sex with you–if your spouse is spending time with someone else, he or she will want to make sure that they are conserving their ‘energy’ for the affair. Your spouse may feel as though the affair gives them something different or exciting to look forward to, and may not be paying you as much attention as a result. Similarly affair sex is always better because of the increased endorphin rush caused by sneaking around, thus they may find sex with you not as exciting. Additionally they could also be feeling too guilty to have sex with you, thus they avoid it.
- Similarly, a sudden burst in sexual energy can also be a tell tale sign of an affair. Your partner is now on a sexual high, and it is carrying over into your relationship. Your partner is suddenly introducing new sexual techniques into the bedroom that seem out of the blue to you. The key message is any dramatic change in the bedroom can be a signal that something else is happening.
Change in Money Habits
- If your spouse suddenly becomes controlling when it comes to spending money or handling expenses, this may be cause for concern. If you discover that large amounts are missing from your joint bank account, you can’t find receipts for purchases, or you can’t see any of the things that your spouse has been purchasing with the money, he or she may be using the money to spend on the affair. Your spouse may also abruptly suggest that you open separate checking accounts, if you’ve been sharing all of your finances previously. Similarly, your partner may suddenly shower you with gifts. This is called guilt money. Your partner feels so badly that she/he wants to buy you off.
‘Forgets’ to Wear Wedding Ring
- If you discover that your husband or wife leaves his or her wedding ring at home very often, or doesn’t want to wear the ring when the two of you are in public together, this is a sure sign that something is wrong. Your husband or wife may not want people to know that they are married, and could even be looking for ‘prospects’ while the two of you are out together.
Travel & Work
- Your spouse may not always be traveling for legitimate reasons. Even if he or she is, business and pleasure can easily be combined. Travel affords a cheating unfaithful spouse a unique opportunity to cheat away from prying eyes.
- Your spouse may be staying “late for work” and have other unexplained periods of absence. Additionally he or she may not want you to spontaneously show up at work functions or go on business travel with you.
- If you believe your spouse is cheating, it may be best to sit him or her down and ask point blank what is going on and if there is anything that needs to get out in the open before things drop downhill dramatically. If you don’t, and he or she is cheating, then it could hurt you in the long run more than it will your spouse. Take a risk and ask. Many people when confronted will answer the questions honestly. However, not everyone will. Trust your gut. Only you know when your partner is lying. If something does not feel right, it’s not right. At the very least, seek marital counseling to help you make sense of what your gut is telling you.
The key to a successful relationship is the degree to which two people are dedicated to making things work. While affairs can ruin marriage, affairs in a backwards sort of way can strengthen them. Uncovering an affair (and having a spouse admit fault and apologize) are the turning point where both people re-commit to the marriage in a whole new way. While certain types of trust are broken, and are gone for good, a new type of trust can be developed. Frequently this trust can be deeper and more powerful. For others, extramarital affairs are a deal breaker.
Couples counseling can help you achieve a stronger marriage and / or help you understand what happened and what each person’s role was. Extramarital affairs rarely occur when during the “honeymoon phase” when everything is perfect. Usually both people have experiences some discomfort in the relationship and each person have found their own form of “exits” to deal with the pain. “Healthier” exits often are seen as throwing oneself into work, children, reading, working out etc. – anything that allows one to avoid dealing with their spouse. Couples counseling can help each person develop the communication skills needed to actually talk about what is going on.