Finding out that your husband or wife has been unfaithful isn't just a time of profound heartbreak and shock, it's also a time of intense confusion. There are so many unanswered questions and so many overwhelming emotions.
Most unfaithful partners are deeply committed to saving their marriage. They are honest, forthcoming with information and willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help heal the heart they have broken. They'll answer questions put to them. They'll acknowledge what they've done and how it's hurt their partner. They'll show true remorse. They'll have patience with their emotional spouse. They'll end the affair and cut all contact with the other person, and they'll be transparent with their phone, whereabouts and so on to help regain their partner's love and trust.
Unfortunately, not all unfaithful partners will react with honesty, humility or empathy when their betrayal is discovered. Not all will work collaboratively with their spouse to rebuild the marriage. These folks aren't focused on the marriage -- they're focused on themselves and how they can get through this with the least amount of drama and personal inconvenience.
Remember: those who have nothing to hide hide nothing.
What follows are ten things an insincere spouse would prefer you didn't know:
1. They are fully aware their actions were a betrayal. Their attempts to deny, deflect or downplay their actions, or to draw you into a debate (i.e. "I just sent him a naked picture, I didn't sleep with him!" or "Texting isn't cheating!"), are simply their way to muddy the waters so you cannot see the situation clearly.
2. There's more to the story than they've told you. Statements like, "It was only one time," or "We never met in person" or "We always used a condom," are often misleading. It is very common for extra information and revelations to trickle in after the affair or indiscretion is first discovered.
3. They enjoyed having all the power. Infidelity is in many ways a power imbalance in the marriage. The person who is being unfaithful has the power. They know the secret. They can choose whether to end it, continue it or reveal it. And like any kind of power, it can be intoxicating -- and a lot of fun.
4. Their phone is proof of guilt. When they accuse you of being "paranoid" or "controlling" when you ask to look at their phone, it is because they are hiding something and want you to stop asking. They know that nobody wants to be "that wife" or "that husband" who is meant to feel insecure or controlling, so they use that to their advantage. Remember: those who have nothing to hide hide nothing.
5. They're doing their best to pin it on you. Their attempts to transfer blame onto you (i.e. "I wouldn't have had to have sex with her if you'd be more available!" or "I wouldn't have had to turn to him if you'd just talk to me once in a while") are deflections meant to take the spotlight off their behaviour. Yes, pre-existing marriage problems may have factored into the infidelity; however, there were other options available to your partner. He or she did not have to secretively become emotionally or sexually intimate with this other person. Only they are to blame for that choice.
6. They want you to stop whining about it. Their impatience with your questions or pain, or their statements like, "Get over it already!" or "I already said I was sorry, what else do you want from me?!" usually mean that they are unwilling to invest the time, energy and emotion into regaining your trust and affection. Translation: they want you to shut up about it so they can watch the game in peace.
7. They made a choice to do it. There's no such thing as "It just happened." Similarly, a spouse who says, "It's impossible to be with just one person!" isn't addressing their betrayal, they are trying to justify it. The truth is, many couples have enjoyed long-term, devoted, loving marriages. It may not always be easy, but it comes down to personal choice and how you want to live your life.
These behaviours often mark the difference between a spouse who wants to save their marriage and a spouse who just wants to save themselves.
8. They are not trustworthy. No matter how many times they say, "You have to trust me," you do not and should not. A spouse who has engaged in any kind of secretive behaviour -- whether it's sexual or financial -- is not trustworthy. They can regain your trust; however, this is done through actions, not words.
9. It may not be the last (or first) time. While it isn't necessarily true that "once a cheater, always a cheater," it is often true that infidelity can become a pattern in marriage on the part of one or both spouses.
10. They know exactly why they did it. A spouse who answers the question, "Why did you do it?" by saying, "I don't know," isn't telling the truth. The truth may be "deep" (i.e. "I thought I was in love with him/her") or it may be "shallow" (i.e. "It was fun and I didn't think I'd get caught") but either way, they know exactly why they did it.
It's worth mentioning that even motivated spouses can and do show elements of these behaviours. For example, a sincere spouse may say "I don't know why I did it" to avoid further hurting their partner. A sincere spouse may try to downplay their actions to try and stabilize the situation.
Nonetheless, these ten points should be red flags to you if your partner has been unfaithful, particularly if they are prolonged or delivered with a belligerent attitude. These behaviours often mark the difference between a spouse who wants to save their marriage and a spouse who just wants to save themselves.
Of course, infidelity is complex. One blog cannot comprehensively cover all the ways a "difficult" spouse may react to being found out. If you're facing an episode of broken trust in your marriage and your spouse is not supporting you as he or she should, you should reach out for help.
I created my Overcoming Infidelity // For Betrayed Spouses audio crash course to deal with higher-conflict partners like this; however, there are many other resources out there, too. There are ways to motivate them to sincerely recommit to you. So don't be fooled by their behaviour. At the same time, don't give up on your marriage without giving it all you have.
Visit DebraMacleod.com for more info.
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The wedding may be over and done with, but this doesn't mean the excitement shouldn't continue. Take turns devising a trip or planning a special occasion like an anniversary. "Remember, you don’t have to wait for a special event to have some excitement. Try taking a last-minute overnight road trip or simply try a new restaurant," says divorce attorney Bruce Provda.
Don’t believe you’ll be able to change a person or even get them to act more like you just because you’re married, Provda says. "Accept the fact that your spouse’s background and life choices have created them to be a different person from you even if your belief systems are in sync." Instead of trying to mould someone into your idea of the “perfect” person, remind yourself about his or her differences.
Your love for your spouse shouldn’t be a mystery, so make sure to get in some public displays of affection when you can. Hold hands if you're walking through the mall or exchange a casual kiss after dinner. "Showing affection affirms the connection between you and your partner," Provda says.
Avoiding conflict won’t help build the relationship, in fact it will just add stress, Provda says. "While you can’t be scared to express tension or face confrontation, never say anything intentionally mean or intended to hurt the other person."
Being aloof can imply a level of deceit. "If you believe you have to shield part of yourself from your partner in order to be appealing, you’re actually creating low-level tensions that only work to erode the bond and your attraction for each other," Provda says. And yes, it may sound cliché, but honesty is the best policy.
Make sure you share the important things, Provda says. "Marriage isn’t a 50-50 proposition. It is a 100-100 deal that brings a true depth of relationship through a depth of knowledge." If you're having a bad day, talk it out, and if something is bothering you about finances, the children or extended family members, make sure both of you can talk it out. "Doing so consistently will help build a connection that gets more complex and deeper as you go through life."
After the surge of romance and honeymoon phase wears off, it’s time to understand reality will set in. "It may be time to reassess where you, as a couple are, and what you are willing to do to make the marriage work. Then you have the choice to readjust the relationship or walk away." Staying in a unhappy and unhealthy marriage is never beneficial to either person, but giving up is just taking the easy way out.
Sure, it sounds old school, but marriage really is about understanding your partner’s needs, Provda says. "You have to be willing to offer what the other person in the relationship needs in order to get their needs fulfilled," he says — and this should work both ways!
Follow Debra Macleod on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DebraMacleod