Coming to therapy to resolve issues surrounding a partner’s infidelity is both unfortunate and fortunate. Unfortunate for obvious reasons – you’d rather be anywhere else dealing with almost anything else! But fortunate because you are there. In the office of a compassionate therapist trained to deal with the emotional and psychological fallout of an affair is the safest place to be (though it might not always feel so). Marriages can come back from infidelity, and in fact can be stronger than they were before the affair. However, since if given a choice most would choose to never have had the affair happen, here are some potential warning signs of an affair (by Beth Leuders):
- Looking for ego boosts outside your marriage. Men tend to turn to extramarital liaisons to build up their self-image or sexual self-esteem. Women are suspect to affairs to satisfy their longing for love, appreciation and tenderness. Beware of leaning on others beyond your marriage as primary sources for love, value and respect.
- Neglecting to talk openly with each other. If you only talk to your spouse about the bills and household chores, you may be sliding into trouble. Holding in your thoughts and feelings does not enhance transparency in your relationship. Practice the art of small talk that can open the door to deeper sharing.
- Resisting conflict resolution. Every couple runs into communication rough spots. It’s important not to build walls between you and your spouse. Some people mask their hurt while others spew their emotions. Neither method is constructive. Both ways create relational roadblocks. Unresolved conflict leads to isolation and leaves you vulnerable to fleeing your marriage.
- Discounting fun and relaxation together. Think of the last time you and your spouse enjoyed a date or a weekend getaway together. As the old adage says, “Couples that play together, stay together.” If career, family and homes responsibilities are crowding out laughter and friendship with your spouse, you need to book in some recreational retreats with each other.
- Increasing the time you spend apart. The demands of work travel, ill children or differing interests and hobbies are common issues that can keep couples apart. The more time you spend away from your spouse, the greater temptation to drift in your relationship.
- Allowing daily stresses and fatigue to sabotage your intimacy. Packed schedules and raising children are two common reasons husbands and wives feel ho-hum in their relational intimacy. Romance, in an instant, can remind you of the reasons you love each other. All marriages require times of refreshing and an in-depth look at intimacy saboteurs.
- Letting your love life fizzle instead of sizzle. Familiarity and boredom can creep into any marriage. Beware of shaking things up in your sex life by dumping your spouse for another more promising lover. If you or your partner suddenly is disinterested in sex with each other, be sure to explore the true reasons.
- Giving in to predictability. A little mystery can go a long way in adding spice to your marriage. Many couples succumb to affairs out of fading interest in their spouses. One way to continue your wedded bliss is to surprise your mate with love notes or an occasional unexpected outing or gift.
- Living in denial. Pretending that problems do not exist in your marriage will only widen the gap between you and your spouse. Many extramarital affairs start when a frustrated spouse searches for a reality check in marriage by turning to an officemate or friend of the opposite sex for support. Dare to face the truth of your marital struggles.
- Forgetting your commitment to each other. Over time couples are prone to forget why they fell in love. In our easy-come-easy-go culture, it takes courage and determination to honor commitment instead of convenience.
- Failing to resist come-ons and temptations. In our over-sexed world, even the most innocent husband or wife can fall prey to sexual temptations. Before you or your mate find yourself in compromising situations, talk about safeguards for your marriage. You may need to avoid after-work soirees, certain hotels on business trips and sexually compromising magazines, movies or television shows. Thinking “Just this once,” can lead to a lifetime of regret.
Quick Infidelity Quiz
If your marriage partner exhibits several of these following behaviors, your marriage may be in danger of an affair:
- Avoids eye contact with you.
- Talks continually about the unknowns of the future.
- Shows an increased disinterest in the topic of sex.
- Makes excuses for not spending time alone with you.
- Acts unusually guilty when you do something nice for him/her.
- Quits complimenting you on your physical attractiveness.
- Stops saying, “I love you” and even acts rudely to you.
- Starts buying you gifts to ease his or her guilt.
One of the best recommendations for troubled marriages is enlisting the help of a licensed counselor. Often, involving a third party — especially one who’s trained to counsel — can force root issues out into the open and guide you and your spouse on the road to healing.