Shared by our friend Danny Burns at Instant Checkmate…
It’s happened. The worst thing you could’ve possibly imagined in your marriage – your husband cheated.
He claims he is sorry and will never betray you again, and he is begging you to trust him. The problem is: You aren’t sure if you can do that. The bottom has fallen out of your world, and you’ve spent every ounce of energy you have trying to decide if you are willing to try again.
To make things worse, your husband has been sending you mixed signals. Much as he claims he wants to make the relationship work, he keeps doing things that seem shady to you. You’re confused, because he seems to be sincerely trying to recommit to you, but these particular actions make you question if he “gets” how much he has hurt you.
My name is Caroline Madden, and I specialize in Affair Recovery as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). I understand how much pain you are in, and I want to help you interpret your husband’s actions.
I’m going to assume you already know the basics. For example, if he’s still in contact with his affair partner, you’ve got reason to be concerned. Instead of dwelling on the obvious, I’m going to address three things husbands often do (after you’ve caught them cheating) that can muddy the waters. It is my hope that this helps you determine if your husband is sincerely recommitted to you or not.
1. You keep finding out more details through drips of truth-telling.
You think you’ve heard it all. You’re trying to heal and move on and then wham! You find an old e-mail or letter that shows you more details that you didn’t get the first time.
You confront him about it and he admits to more than he told you initially. You get angry and deal with it, but boom! Repeat. You discover more evidence yet again.
This may happen time and time again, but in most cases this happens because he was afraid to tell you the entire truth all at once. He feared you might leave if you knew everything, and he truly wants to just forget what happened and move on.
When to be concerned: You find information that indicates the relationship with his affair partner is still continuing.
When not to be concerned: You’re finding information that is old news. Maybe he was more involved than he let on to you at first, but there’s no evidence on continuing contact.
2. He is upset that you are telling other people.
It’s very natural for you to be upset when he gets angry that you’re telling people about his mistakes. You may feel that he has no right to dictate your reaction, given how deeply he hurt you. But if you’re trying to fix the relationship, it’s valuable to take a step back and consider that his desire for privacy might be grounded in his desire to protect the relationship.
He likely doesn’t want the information to get back to your children, who may be scarred for life if they find out. He certainly doesn’t want your family to know – even if you forgive him and move on, they probably won’t. He may fear for his or your family’s safety if his affair partner’s spouse finds out about the infidelity – potential danger or social repercussions could ensue.
When to be concerned: If he gets angry with you for confiding in a trusted friend or a therapist. You have the right to vent and get support as you work through the situation.
When not to be concerned: If he asks you not to tell his affair partner’s spouse, his boss (he could get fired, which hurts everyone involved), or the kids. He is probably just protecting everyone from serious damage.
3. He says “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
You find yourself constantly trying to understand and to gain some closure or clarity on how or why it happened. To him, it sounds like talking in circles or like he’s being punished.
It may feel like he’s telling you to just get over it, but most likely he simply feels like you’re stuck and doesn’t know how to help you heal.
The best thing to do is to self-reflect for a minute. If you actually are asking the same questions over and over again, you probably need to see a therapist to help you move through this. You may need expert advice to determine if the relationship will work or not and to help you recover from the trauma of discovering the affair.
When to be concerned: If he actually says things like, “Get over it” or “The past is the past – let it go,” you should be concerned that he isn’t truly remorseful or doesn’t understand how much he has hurt you.
When not to be concerned: If he says he doesn’t know what else to say to help you, or that he has already answered your questions to the best of his ability, he’s probably truly at a loss. He knows you need help to work through this, but he doesn’t know what else he can say or do to fix things. He probably is afraid that discussing the same questions over and over will only make things worse, and he wants to repair the relationship with you, not rehash the painful past.
About the Author:
Caroline Madden, MFT is an Affair Recovery specialist and the author of the following books:
Have you ever noticed just how much of your dating life is conducted in smoky bars and clubs? From that first date drink to the affair conducted under the cover of darkness, it’s likely that you will have been on a date to a bar (or on several dates to several bars) at some point during your dating career. If you’re a recovering alcoholic or simply don’t drink alcohol for any reason, this can make the dating world difficult: whilst you may be happy to enjoy a coke whilst your date is sipping on their beer, many people, particularly men, find the concept of drinking alone to be problematic. And if you haven’t been in recovery for long then you may well not want to go into a bar or club and stare temptation in the face. During the early stages of alcohol recovery being around other people drinking really isn’t a good idea: even if it is your only chance to meet and date the person of your dreams! However there are other options available: such as online dating. Online dating is a wonderful option for recovering alcoholics and provides a wonderful way to meet new people.
The Wonderful World of Online Dating
Dating when you’re a recovering alcoholic can be very difficult. When is the right time to tell the person that you want to date that you have a history of alcoholism? Is it better to be upfront straight away? Should you leave it until your third date, your fifth date? Many people shy away from these kind of uncomfortable conversations in the flesh, but find them much easier to have online when they have time to think about what you want to say and how you want to express yourself. It’s easier to be upfront and let your potential love interest know everything they need to know about you very quickly, including the things you find difficult to talk about. If the person you wish to date doesn’t want to meet with you in real life because they are turned off by your past then you also have the advantage of knowing this before you invest any real time and emotions into the potential relationship.
Find the Right Match
When you’re meeting people in a bar you are going in blind: you know that you like the way a person looks before you deliver that initial chat up line but nothing else, not even their name! Online dating gives you an immediate advantage though; you can indicate clearly in your profile than you don’t drink and you can even make it clear that you only want to be contacted by non-drinkers or people who only drink occasionally in your profile. This means you don’t have to have that immediate conversation when you see a profile you’re interested in and it also means that you won’t run the risk of starting to date an alcoholic, something with could have negative effects on your own recovery process. When you’re heading to a bar with your friends to meet new people, it’s highly unlikely that you will meet someone that doesn’t drink: however online dating helps you to widen the net and find someone who matches your very precise criteria.
Online dating also allows you to take your time getting to know your potential match and then when the time is right for meeting each other in the flesh you will know each other well enough to know that meeting in a bar is not a good idea. This will help you to protect your sobriety and give you the opportunity to try another fun date option: after all, how much fun can you really have on a date in a bar when you could be holding hands on an ice skating rink, snuggling in the back of a movie theater or even indulging your foodie impulses in a delicious restaurant instead? There is an assumption that the best dates take place when you have a glass in your hand, but actually, sober dates can be so much more unusual, exciting and fun!
This is a freelance article from Gemma Crooke.
A central task each of us faces when choosing a partner is loving ourselves. And as science would have it, a crucial aspect of loving ourselves is setting boundaries for whom we’ll let in our lives~and who gets shut out.
A big shut-out? Anyone whose past might ruin your future.
I have lost track of how many letters I’ve gotten from women and men who are trying to ignore a partner’s past. We have all done things we’re not proud of. But I mean past behavior that speaks poorly of a partner’s odds of being a Good Citizen in the relationship.
This especially applies to the Three A’s of addiction, abuse, and adultery. Or anything else you find unbearable.
One woman was dating a man who had slept with his best friend’s wife. He had also cheated on his now-ex-wife. Did I think he would cheat on her, too? That’s the question she asked me. I think if she had not been in love with him already, or if someone else told her that same story about another couple, she would know the answer. But too often, we get emotionally and sexually involved with people before taking the time to know the important aspects of their character.
So people keep hoping that the past is the past, and it’ll be different now that they’re together.
Well, maybe it will. It’s a big world, and every kind of action we can think of has happened and will happen sometimes. Some people cheat once, and never again. For instance, a person who fumbled their way into an affair at work, but then felt horribly guilty, ended the affair, believes affairs are wrong, and never had another affair is likely to be a safer bet—much safer than someone who has had multiple affairs and feels entitled to get some on the side. Some people kick addictions—but one of the biggest studies on sobriety ever conducted found that only 15% of men remained alcohol free for the entire four years. And maybe some abusers stop; but science suggests those odds hover near zero.
Science is about odds, and odds are highest that your would-be sweetie will behave like they already behaved, as long as conditions are similar. For instance, if they cheated while traveling for work, and they are still traveling for work? Bad bet. If they habitually lied, or drank, or fill-in-the-behavior-you-find-intolerable, they will probably do it again under similar circumstances.
Are you okay with it if their behavior comes down on the wrong side of probably?
It’s one of the very few Laws in psychology: What a person did in a similar past situation is the absolute best indicator of what they’ll do in the future. It’s not a guarantee; science has few of those. But it’s the way to bet.
We all have a crystal ball: the past. Now it’s time to love ourselves enough to use it to chart a great future with someone trustworthy and good for us.
Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, releasing on January 7, 2015; this entry is a partial excerpt. You can read more and get a free chapter at http://lovefactually.co. Copyright Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.
In 2014 it has never been easier for people to cheat online. Social networks such as Facebook are just the tip of the iceberg; now there are dating websites aimed specifically at married men/women looking to cheat, universal mobile apps such as Tinder, Grindr and Snapchat and online chat rooms designed purely for people to share intimate material with one another or even to arrange meetings for sex. Anyone tempted to cheat in this way definitely isn’t short of opportunities and outlets to do so and one study suggests a depressing 2.5% of British married couples have engaged in some sort of virtual infidelity on an illicit encounters website.
If you suspect that your partner is cheating online it can be difficult to prove it and you may find yourself questioning your own judgement to the point of emotional turmoil. Laptops, tablets and phones can be password protected or kept out of your reach and any incriminating evidence can quickly be removed. Therefore if you want to find out the truth about your partner’s online activity you have to be clever and somewhat devious in your approach and remember that sometimes their reaction can be just as telling as any hard evidence you might find. Here’s what to do if you suspect that your partner is cheating online.
Making direct accusations in the initial stages will alert your partner to your suspicion and probably make them more careful when it comes to hiding their deceit. To begin with, don’t make accusations or even ask them too frequently what they are doing or who they are talking to. Instead watch their behavior and monitor the time they are spending online. Are they smiling and happy when they are interacting online and so they shut webpages down when you come into the room? If so it could be a warning sign of cheating.
Ask to see their belongings
If they are up to no good then your partner will not want you to have access to their phone, computer or tablet. So make them squirm and ask to see it. Again, don’t make accusatory demands as they will probably act in defense and refuse on the basis of you being unreasonable. Instead say something like ‘my battery is flat, can I borrow your phone to quickly send a text?’ or ‘I left my laptop at the office, can I borrow yours to check my email?’ If they stutter, delay or otherwise show reluctance or refusal towards this reasonable request then you know that there is something to hide.
Suggest time out
Another giveaway sign of virtual cheating is increased time online, hasty replying to texts/emails and unwillingness to spend time away from the computer. Suggest taking time out from technology by locking your phones and laptops away for the evening while you watch a movie or go out for dinner and observe your partner’s reaction to this thoughtful suggestion. If they have nothing to hide then spending some time together should be appealing but if they appear disinterested or even irritable at the prospect of being without technology for a few hours then it shows where their priorities lie.
If your suspicions are mounting then it may be necessary to start a little detective work. To do this you will need to gain access to their phone or laptop so pick a time when they will not be around (or even when they are sleeping) and do a little digging. Searching their internet history will provide you with an account of the websites that they have recently visited– unless it has been deleted which in itself could raise suspicion. A quick internet search can also be revealing as many of the advertisements on generic websites are often based on your most recent Google searches so this could be an indication of what they have been looking at. If you can gain access to their email accounts you may be find registration emails to websites, confirmation of dating apps purchased or even condemning emails from other people. You could also consider installing keystroke software which traces passwords.
Once you feel that you have enough evidence then it is time to confront your partner. Print off emails, internet history, phone bills and call into question the amount of time they have been spending online and their secretive or defensive attitude about their internet use. They will probably still deny it and if they do own up they may play it down because many people believe that is isn’t ‘really cheating’ when there has been no physical contact. Regardless, online cheating – whether it be the exchange of sexual material or even just emotionally opening up to a specific person over a period of time – is generally the first stepping stone to traditional cheating and in any case, they have still been deceptive towards you and invested their time, attention and potentially their money if they have subscribed to a paying site to another person whilst neglecting you. Ultimately only you can decide how to move on from that.
This is a freelance article from Gemma Crooke.