It’s difficult to pinpoint a cheating spouse, even though all the signs are there. When you suspect your spouse is cheating, it’s even more difficult to make them confess.
From my point of view, cheating spouses often make the best effort in hiding their deception – from deleting texts on their cellphones to getting their friends to lie for them. The latter is something that has been shared to me by a few of my clients.
But when you suspect your spouse is cheating, asking questions about the suspected affair is like taking a shot at something in the dark. So what’s the best approach here?
When a cheating spouse does not admit his or her transgressions, it drives the partner nuts. The anxiety, the stress, and the fact that infidelity is causing all of these can be too much to handle.
The first thing that my clients ask me is “is it normal to suspect my spouse is cheating?”, and my response is NO.
It’s not normal to suspect your spouse is cheating because the problem with your marriage lies in deep-seated trust issues, even if your spouse does not have a history of cheating.
However, it would be too naive of me to say that an honest spouse won’t develop cheating tendencies. They just happen in a relationship, and that’s what bothers me the most.
Suspecting a cheating spouse
Contrary to how the media portrays a cheating spouse, the first few signs doesn’t include a lipstick on the collar or strange phone calls in the middle of the night.
Rather, suspicion is reliant more on an intuitive nature – “something’s different”, to put it simply. While it’s not sufficient to justify your suspicions, it can play a central role in making you more vigilant in keeping an eye for the actual signs and symptoms of cheating.
I actually consider GUT FEELING as the first indicator that your spouse could be cheating, or the fact that your gut is telling you that something’s wrong. It can come in many forms, but it all boils down to one thing – SUSPICION.
The signals can be subtle, albeit just certain shifts in behaviour. For example, a spouse being more distant or more preoccupied could be signs that he or she is cheating, but sometimes, it’s just what it is. A spouse that’s distant or preoccupied could be those things because of other reasons, like work and stress.
This is why communication plays a vital role in confronting your spouse. I am not talking about asking the right questions as to whether or not he or she is cheating, but rather getting down to the root cause. Could it be that he or she is distant because of work, or is something else bothering them? Your job as spouse is to help your partner get through it.
However, what your gut instinct is telling you could be on point.
So if you’re suspecting that your spouse is cheating on you, you can try to confirm your suspicions by keeping an eye out for these signs first before you drop the loaded questions.
Suspicious behaviour including, but not limited to, hiding communications
As corny as it may sound, spouses who hide who they’re talking to might just be a sign of infidelity. If a spouse is honest with his or her partner, there’s no reason to hide, unless the spouse is planning a surprise of some sorts.
Though it’s arguable that a spouse needs to respect his or her partner’s privacy, the right to ask who he or she is talking to is still there. This would lead me to the next sign.
Generic answers can be suspicious
“Who are you talking to?”
“Oh, no one. Just an officemate.”
Spouses who hide behind generic answers may be cheating, given that there are quite a few reasons he or she is hiding behind generic answers.
First, he or she doesn’t want you to backtrack to the friend that he or she lied about. What do I mean? For example, your spouse tells you that they were talking to their best friend, and if they are telling the truth, they’d admit it right away. But in the event that they slip up, you go to their best friend and ask them what they talked about that day. Then the best friend slips up and tells you that they didn’t talk to your spouse that day.
Second, generic answers can often indicate that your spouse doesn’t want to talk about it even further, suggesting that he or she could be hiding something.
Confronting when you suspect your spouse is cheating:
Now, supposing that you’ve gathered enough evidence that your partner is cheating, what do you think happens next? Before you decide to confront them, you need to figure out something for yourself.
- Do you want to confront them because you want the truth, or just reassurance?
- Are you open to the possibility of leaving or staying?
There’s no right way to confront, but you can handle it as diplomatically and as rationally as possible. Put aside your emotions for the meantime and proceed with the confrontation.
Begin with the most neutral question “ARE YOU HAVING AN AFFAIR?” then gauge his or her reaction. Don’t deliver it in a way that it surprises him or her because it will provoke a knee-jerk denial up front. Rather, prepare the partner for the conversation with premeditated sentences like:
- There’s something I want to ask you
- I want you to tell me the truth
- I want you to be honest with me
Once the question’s popped, you need to be calm for whatever answer you might get. When they take a defensive stance, like denying the affair, don’t push them into a corner with your questioning because you will never get the answer that you need.
After getting the answers that you need, how to proceed from there will be totally up to you. If he or she is really cheating, you have the choice to leave or stay and make the marriage work. You have the choice of being vengeful or being understanding.
The bottom line
Confronting a cheating spouse is difficult because it can literally make or break your relationship. If you feel that you can’t handle the confrontation, you may want to seek help from a marriage counselor who will act as a mediator.