Almost every day, I receive messages online from a spouse who believes the other spouse might be cheating or pulling away, or at the very least, hiding something. This puts the doubting spouse in a frustrating predicament of wanting to know the truth, but not knowing how to proceed without seeming paranoid or making false accusations. I’m a little apprehensive about doing this, because I don’t want to cause unnecessary doubts or fights in a marriage. Still, I strongly believe that this is information you need to have. I’ve discovered a clear and consistent set of behaviors that often signal that ADULTERY, DISHONESTY AND/OR APATHY is happening in a marriage. I’m going to list these behaviors below. I believe that these six behaviors represent the main warning signs.
As a spouse starts pulling away from the marriage, he/she wants to justify the affair and/or their desire to plan a future that doesn’t include you. He/she falsely justifies it by making you, the faithful spouse, seem like a terrible person. Meanwhile, he/she is most likely fixating on his/her cheating partner or a person he/she fantasizes about being with and seeing this other person as “perfect” by comparison. Of course, all of this is a delusion fueled by lust and selfishness, but the faithful spouse becomes verbally mistreated in the process.
#2 often happens simultaneously with #1. #2 is also a common trait among Sociopaths and Narcissists…
2. He/She sees him/herself as either the VICTIM or the HERO in every situation (never the one at fault).
Another part of the mental coping mechanism for a spouse who is pulling away is to refuse to take responsibility for his/her actions. He/she will have a difficult time seeing it as “wrong.” To make this twisted view of reality work, he/she is forced to redefine reality where he/she is NEVER in the wrong about anything. When things are going well, he/she plays the hero. When things are going badly, he/she plays the victim. They refuse to see fault in themselves. They’re never the “bad guy” in the story even when confronted by the clear evidence of their sin.
#3 is probably the MOST common sign of adultery and/or dishonesty in marriage…
3. He/She is secretive with their cell phone (or tablet/computer) and gets defensive if anyone looks at it.
This is probably the most obvious one on the list! If a person is cheating, they’re going to be very concerned about getting caught, and the phone is the most common way people get caught. If your spouse is reluctant to let you see their phone (or if YOU are reluctant to show your phone to your spouse), then there are some serious trust issues at play. Even if infidelity isn’t happening, secrecy is a huge red flag in a marriage. Honesty and transparency pave the way to intimacy. Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy in marriage.
#4 often marks the beginning of a “mid-life crisis,” but it can also be a telltale sign of infidelity…
4. He/She starts paying much more attention to his/her appearance while also becoming more critical of (or indifferent toward) your appearance.
If he/she develops a sudden interest in fitness and fashion, that doesn’t automatically mean that he/she is on the prowl or trying to impress someone else, but it’s definitely something to talk about. If he/she is taking much more interest in his/her appearance while simultaneously becoming more critical (or completely ignoring) YOUR appearance, that’s a huge warning sign that adultery is happening or it could happen very soon unless something changes.
#5 will be quickly noticeable in your sex life if an affair is happening…
5. He/She shows less interest in sex (with you), but when sex is talked about he/she might suggest (or even pressure you for) new sex acts that you haven’t done before.
If your spouse is cheating (or planning on cheating), you’ll notice some changes in your sex life. He/she will probably be less interested in sex with you, but he/she might also start suggesting (or even demanding) new sex acts that you haven’t done or that you’ve done before but don’t like doing. This isn’t always a sign of an affair, but it’s very often the sign of heavy porn use by a spouse. It signifies that SOMETHING is going on that needs to be addressed.
#6 might be the first sign you notice indicating that something is definitely wrong in the marriage…
6. He/She isn’t home as much as usual and he/she seems to always be looking for excuses to be anywhere else.
In a healthy marriage, both spouses desire to be with each other and make efforts to be with each other. When one spouse starts pulling away to spend more time at work or with friends or with hobbies or to run random errands, it’s not always a sign of adultery, but it’s usually a sign that something is off in the marriage and needs to be addressed.
These six warning signs aren’t meant to be evidence against a spouse who might not be cheating. Rather, these are listed to give you some common warning signs and traits found in unfaithful spouses. Even if there’s no affair happening, I hope this simple list can spark some healthy dialogue between you and your spouse about building stronger trust, treating each other with respect and what it takes to safeguard your marriage from any form of infidelity.
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This article originally appeared here.