WARNING SIGNS OF INFIDELITY
This is the third article in a series on infidelity. The first two articles were published in the Southern Neighbor and
are also available on my web site described above. This article will provide information about warning signs and began a
discussion about the first steps to take to resolve this serious challenge to your emotional stability, your marriage, your
family and children. I will discuss changes you sense in yourself, changes you perceive in your marriage, changes in the
behavior of your spouse as well as changes in his or her schedules and habits. Of course there are different types of affairs,
and each will have its own different clues for detection. Some unfaithful spouses are na´ve and full of guilt, leaving obvious
signs in their trail. Other affairs grow slowly out of friendships, with the changes in this outside friendship almost undetectable
until the affair is consummated. In other cases the unfaithful spouse will take elaborate steps to avoid detection. Some
marriage partners have a sexual addiction, seeking sexual trysts without long-term affairs.
Often the first change you will notice is a sense of unease and change in your comfort level with doubts being raised
in new areas of your life. With hindsight, betrayed spouses recall vague doubts, intuitions creating suspicions, gut instincts
that something is wrong. You may notice little things that don't add up, and you find "pieces of the puzzle" before
you can put the whole puzzle together. These nagging doubts and suspicions are particularly important if you have not previously
been suspicions or jealous. However, individuals who are always jealous will not be able to notice this kind of change, and
in fact may be driving their spouse away with their chronic accusations and suspicions.
You may also notice changes in the patterns of your marriage. You may find yourself with uncertainty about issues which
were previously a source of trust and security in your marriage. Obviously marriages do change over time, and not all changes
will signify that one spouse is entering into an affair. However, the marriage is likely to be solid when spouses are best
friends, when they share their deepest thoughts and intimacies, and when they turn to no one except each other for comfort
and support. Some marriage changes may indicate the beginnings of an affair, especially those that seem to indicate a spouse
is stepping outside of the marriage or someone is slipping into a close relationship with your spouse. When, for example,
a spouse stops saying "I love you," it may be time to start asking why. New signs of jealousy without paranoia
may be normal reactions to impending signs of deterioration in the marriage relationship. The most suspicious changes are
signs of lying and secrecy, with this new pattern of deception likely indicating the intrusion of an affair relationship into
Reasons for the changes noted above are usually related to changes in the behavior of the spouse who may have initiated
an affair. Changes in your spouse's appearance or behavior are noteworthy especially when there are no other obvious reasons
to explain the altered behavior. While guilt may cause the unfaithful spouse to give extra attention or presents, or to even
show increased sexual interest at home, the changes are usually unpredictable and temporary, related to factors outside the
marriage. At other times your spouse's unpredictable behavior will seem critical and defensive, even starting arguments as
if to push you away or storm out of the house. While some unfaithful spouses try to make sure their behavior appears totally
predictable, normal behavior patterns are hard to maintain during the highly charged romantic and sexualized atmosphere of
the affair relationship.
Most obvious will be changes in the unfaithful spouse's habits or behavior which are direct clues about an affair, always
accompanied by some degree of lying and secrecy. Lies may be total fabrications, stretching the truth or may be errors of
omission. The unfaithful spouse may show a new preoccupation with personal appearance, making transformations to appear younger,
more attractive or sexy. Unexplained new interests or activities not shared with the marriage partner may originate in another
relationship. An increased desire for privacy along with changes in schedules may result in more unexplained behavior and
time out of the home. Cell phones may be guarded, and computer messages may be hidden or erased. Finally, changes in expenditure
patterns, especially if accompanied by increased secrecy or denials, may indicate spending on the new romantic interest.
If this sounds like your marriage, what should you do? The first step will be increased vigilance. Pay attention to
the changes in yourself, your marriage and your marriage partner, without drawing conclusions initially or making accusations.
Most important, look at the patterns in your marriage, looking for changes signaling a need for improvement. Any or all
of the changes described above may signal a need for marriage counseling. Especially if you wonder about an affair, the most
helpful initial strategy will be to attempts to improve the marriage relationship. A professional can help the couple navigate
the fine line between jealousy and angry denial, directing the couple inward toward marriage improvement and recommitment
to the marriage vow of fidelity.