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Is Your Spouse Cheating?

indifferent ignoring man sits on sofa

Infidelity, a more dictionary-specific definition of cheating, in marriages is a complex issue that can sink even what had been the happiest of relationships. Cheating should be seen as a reflection of the cheater's choices and issues, and it can happen to even the most loyal and loving of spouses in any marriage. If you find yourself in the painful situation of dealing with a cheating spouse, remember it's not a testament to your worth or desirability, but is instead the result of your spouse’s decisions. Self-blame can be far too easy to feel in such a confusing time, so it's important to approach the situation with the understanding that you are not responsible for someone else's actions.

You will inevitably wonder why it happened, though, no matter how confident you are that you did nothing wrong. With a brief exploration of why some spouses choose to cheat, you might be able to find the peace of mind you deserve sooner rather than later.

Why Do Some Spouses Cheat?

Why do some spouses cheat while others don’t? In many cases, the answer will never be known, which can be terribly frustrating for the spouse who was cheated on. However, if you know your spouse well, you might be able to form some ideas.

Common reasons why some spouses cheat include:

  • Emotional dissatisfaction: Feeling emotionally disconnected or underappreciated by their partner can lead some spouses to seek emotional fulfillment elsewhere, rather than trying to work on the relationship they are already in.
  • Lack of intimacy: A decline in physical or emotional intimacy within the marriage might wrongly convince a spouse that infidelity is justified.
  • Urge for new experiences or excitement: The desire for novelty, risk, or excitement can tempt some spouses into affairs, especially if their current relationship feels routine.
  • Revenge for a perceived slight: In some cases, cheating is used as a form of retaliation against a partner whom they feel has wronged them, viewing infidelity as a way to “even the score.”

If your spouse cheats on you, don’t blame yourself. Their decision to step outside the marriage reflects their choices and issues, not your worth or desirability as a partner.

Recognizing the Signs of Cheating

Recognizing the signs of cheating can be a gradual process, as these indicators often become more apparent over time. Initially, the signs may be subtle and difficult to identify, easily dismissed as just a quirk or something unusual. However, as the cheating continues, the patterns tend to become more pronounced, making the behavior changes harder to ignore. It's important to approach these observations without jumping to conclusions, but also not to dismiss your instincts if the signs begin to form a picture of infidelity.

Behavioral signs of cheating include:

  • Changes in communication: A noticeable decrease in communication or a shift in the way your spouse interacts with you can be a red flag. For example, your spouse might have less willingness to share about their day or discuss future plans together.
  • Unexplained absences: An increase in late nights at work, last-minute trips, or time spent with friends who they used to rarely see before can indicate something is amiss.
  • Increased secrecy around their smartphone: If your spouse suddenly becomes very protective of their phone, changing passwords, or stepping away to take calls, it could suggest they have something to hide.
  • Unusual expenses: Unexplained charges on bank statements or credit card bills, such as hotel rooms, gifts, or dinners out, can be telltale signs of a cheating spouse.

Emotional signs of cheating include:

  • Decrease in intimacy: A steep reduction in physical affection, sexual activity, or emotional closeness can suggest your spouse is detaching from the relationship.
  • Less open to talking about feelings: Your partner might become more withdrawn, showing less interest in sharing their thoughts or feelings, indicating they are possibly sharing that intimacy with someone else.
  • Accusing you of cheating: Sometimes, a cheating spouse will project their guilt onto their partner by accusing them of being unfaithful or overly jealous without cause.

If you notice these signs in your spouse, approach the situation with sensitivity and care. Remember that these signs alone do not confirm infidelity; they merely suggest that there may be issues in the relationship worth addressing.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Spouse Is Cheating

If you suspect your spouse is cheating, it's important not to jump to conclusions based on suspicions alone, as accusations can harm the relationship if they're unfounded. A direct confrontation might not always be the best initial step, especially if it could lead to denial or further secrecy. Instead, consider observing the situation a bit longer while reflecting on the changes you've noticed in their behavior and your relationship.

Before taking any action, think about what you aim to achieve by addressing the issue. If your goal is to salvage the relationship, consider whether starting with a conversation about your feelings and the changes you've observed (without directly accusing them of cheating) might open a pathway to honest dialogue. On the other hand, if you're leaning toward ending the relationship with divorce, understanding your legal standing and rights should be a priority.

Gathering evidence of infidelity isn't necessary unless you're considering divorce and believe that it might impact the proceedings, such as in a situation where fault could affect the division of assets or spousal support. If you do decide to gather evidence or documents, ensure it's done in a way that respects privacy laws and consult with a lawyer to understand the implications.

Counseling or Divorce?

Marriage counseling offers a structured and supportive environment for couples aiming to rebuild their marriage after one of them cheats. It facilitates open communication, allowing both partners to express their feelings, fears, and desires in a safe space, guided by a professional who can help interpret these emotions and mediate difficult conversations. Counseling helps uncover the underlying issues that may have contributed to the cheating, offering insights into emotional needs, relationship dynamics, and patterns that both partners may not have been aware of. Through therapy, couples can learn new coping strategies, ways to rebuild trust, and how to implement healthy relationship practices.

On the other side of marriage counseling is divorce. Divorcing a cheating spouse, while a challenging and emotionally taxing decision, can offer a path toward personal healing, autonomy, and the opportunity to build a more fulfilling life away from the person who emotionally hurt you so profoundly. Divorce can also serve as a crucial step in establishing boundaries and standards for future relationships, emphasizing the importance of trust, respect, and mutual support. Furthermore, it opens the possibility of finding a partner who shares these values and is committed to a faithful and loving relationship.

Moving Forward After Infidelity

Rebuilding trust with a cheating spouse is a gradual and intricate process that demands patience, commitment, and open communication from both partners. An essential step in this process is establishing new boundaries and expectations for the relationship, which serves as a foundation for transparency and accountability moving forward. Both partners must be willing to participate in candid, sometimes uncomfortable conversations about emotions, the reasons behind infidelity, and how to prevent similar situations in the future. Engaging in couples therapy can also provide a supportive space for these discussions, offering guidance on navigating the emotional complexities of reconciliation and developing strategies to strengthen the relationship.

If you don’t want to try to rebuild trust with a cheating spouse, though, it is entirely understandable, and it could mean that it is time to consider divorce. To get all the legal counsel and guidance you need to confidently file for divorce and progress through it while protecting your best interests, come to Gill Law Group, PC in Orange County, California. Our divorce lawyers have intentionally focused our practice on divorce cases involving spouses who cheat, lie, and exhibit signs of narcissistic personality disorder.

Call (888) 392-1941 or contact us online if you have any questions about divorcing a cheating spouse.