How to recognize the signs of a cheating husband and how to deal with him if he is cheating on you. How you can forgive your husband if he has cheated on you.
Few things are as anxiety provoking as wondering if the person you have committed your life to is cheating on you. It’s not only the “is he cheating on me” questions, but also the anger, doubt, self-blame and sadness cycles.
Fortunately, there is a remedy. That is being able to determine whether your husband is being unfaithful and knowing the steps to successfully deal with cheating. And, knowing that the way you deal with cheating will give your marriage the best chance to survive.
Signs of a cheating husband
Many times I have heard women say that they don’t believe their husband would cheat on them because they had never cheated on them before. While it is true that men who cheated before are more likely to do it again, for every man who cheats, there is a first time.
Unless you catch your husband in the act with another woman, you will need to rely on his behavior. There are three main categories of behavior to be aware of. If you see behaviors in all three areas, then cheating is much more likely than just changes in one.
1. Relationship changes
How you and your husband are getting along can be the result of many different things. If your husband is becoming more distant, you can’t assume he is having an affair. However, the more sudden these changes in your relationship, the more likely an affair is the reason:
- decreased interest in socializing with you
- decreased interest in having sex with you
- insulting you and putting you down
- very quick to become angry
These are all distancing behaviors. For most men, it is emotionally difficult to have close relationships with two women at the same time. So, they create distance with one of them. Another reason for the distancing is for them to justify their unfaithful behavior, to themselves. It is easier to justify cheating in a bad relationship than in a good one.
None of these mean your relationship is over. Learning when your marriage is over is good to keep you from giving up prematurely.
In new relationships and when seeking a new relationship, men try to become more attractive. Typical changes include:
- getting into shape
- more time spent grooming
- new clothing of a different style
- keeping the car clean
These are all courting behaviors designed to attract or keep the attraction of a woman. As he becomes more secure in his relationship with the other woman, these behaviors drop off. So, they can also be an indication of when an affair may have started.
Changes in routine
Because of the need for secrecy, men often need more privacy for contacting their affair partner. Some of the changes you may notice:
- secluding himself at home, especially where he can use the computer
- getting up before you or staying up after you
- keeping his cell phone with him at all times
- putting passwords on all his devices
- finding reasons to be out of your home more
These behaviors are self-incriminating. That is, his secrecy indicates his knowledge that what he is doing is wrong.
Your own intuition
In my experience, by the time a woman thinks her husband is having an affair, he has been for some time. Just suspecting an affair doesn’t mean their is one. But it does mean that you should look for some evidence that he is or isn’t.
Is there evidence in each of these areas for an affair?
- Sudden distancing in the absence of a good reason?
- More time and effort put into being attractive?
- More secrecy and secluding at home?
Although you still won’t have proof of an affair, you will have proof that something is wrong with your relationship. When I work with women on reconciling, proof of an affair is not necessary. Neither is his admission of an affair. Problems in the relationship are enough for us to work on an intervention. Those he will not be able to deny.
Don’t try to get him to admit to an affair
Focusing on getting him to admit to an affair is not productive. Repeatedly asking him about it will do more harm than good. Needy women will question because they want to feel reassured there is no affair. But, needy behaviors always damage relationships.
“Why should I reconcile with my husband if he is cheating on me?” is a question I have heard many times. It is not something that I can decide for someone. I help people to reconcile, but I don’t make decisions for them. Everyone must weight the costs and benefits of their decisions for themselves.
However, I would like to offer some food for thought on this. Is this question really so different from “why should I reconcile with my husband if he neglects me?” or “why should I reconcile with my husband if he is controlling and angry?” My male clients also sometimes ask the same thing.
What reconciling really means
For me, reconciling means relationship restoration. That means both people loving and supporting each other faithfully. That is what I help my clients to achieve. Often it is possible, and often it is not.
So, if we transform the questions a little bit, it can be easier to decide. “Do I want to stay with my husband if we could be faithfully loving and supporting each other again?” Most people will then say that they do want that. Then we do our best to achieve that. If he remains unfaithful, or neglectful, or selfish, even after doing everything you can, it will be him who has made the no reconciling decision for you.
As a Christian, that is something that I feel more comfortable to live with. The biblical principle is that we may divorce if our spouse remains unfaithful. However if our spouse seeks forgiveness and reconciliation, then we are to work on relationship restoration. God wants a loving relationship for you even more than you want that.
However, if you know that even were your husband to become a faithful and loving partner again, you could not, then the loving thing is to set him free to find that love elsewhere. Be sure if you do that, you won’t regret it later.
How to deal with a cheating husband
Reconcile or not
Your first decision is whether to reconcile or not, as covered in the previous section. If not, you then have the choice of taking vengeful action or amicable action. I recommend the amicable route for a few reasons.
1 If you behave badly, if will make him feel even better about losing you. If you have children and are vengeful, it is going to be more difficult on them, regardless of their age. And, if you behave in a vengeful way, it will prevent the personal growth you can gain from the experience.
2 As a person who has been severely mistreated, I can tell you that empathy and forgiveness brings growth. Anger and bitterness always hurts us more than the other person.
3 To honor your commitment. I’m not talking about submissiveness here. We don’t submit to ungodly people. Honoring your commitment is about doing things in a loving way. “I love you, but can’t stay married under these circumstances,” is loving and not submissive. If you can be the bigger person, you will leave your husband with more regrets for his part in losing you.
Confront or not
If you want to reconcile, confrontation is to:
- get the affair out in the open in your marriage
- put him in a position to have to choose
Some women will choose not to confront until after they have strengthened their marriage. Some will confront right away. Eventually, you will have to have him make a choice. There are many steps in going from confrontation to reconciliation. Don’t have the unrealistic expectation that merely confronting him is going to end his affair.
If you want to reconcile, re-connection will be necessary. This is the process of helping your husband to enjoy you more than he enjoys the other woman. This involves stopping any damaging behaviors that you may have (such as being critical). It also involves using skills much like good dating skills so that he will want to spend more time with you (why sex is never a part of getting your husband back).
If all you did was to help your husband to enjoy you more, it still would not lead to reconciling. Coaching programs based only on submissiveness, or relationship building leave women frustrated and resentful. This is because while he will enjoy your relationship more, he will still not give up the other woman. You would be enabling him to have his cake and eat it, too.
To prevent that, you will need to use boundaries. They must allow enough contact for relationship building. They also must prevent him from having all he wants from your relationship. I have written an article on the boundaries the promote reconciling.
How to forgive a cheating husband
Consider his motivations
No affair is justifiable, although some are understandable. Sort of like it is never right to steal, but it is understandable if a starving person steals food. If you have treated your husband badly for years and he has an affair, he may have been starved for attention and affection.
On the other hand, if you really treated your husband well and he selfishly cheated, it’s hard to empathize with him. Most people will fall somewhere in the middle of these two positions. Considering that should help you to be less angry.
What forgiveness is
Forgiveness is often misunderstood. To forgive someone means to release them from a debt–regardless of how you feel about it. It means that you will no longer bring it up to them. It also means you will no longer try to get them to pay for it in any way. If they do bring it up on their own, you will behave as though that no longer matters. This is how God forgives us when we turn from our sins and turn to Him. This is how God expects us to forgive others.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors–Matthew 6:12
There is nothing easy about forgiveness. Or loving for that matter. We do both of those things not because they are easy but because they are worthwhile.
Do not punish him
Some women give their husbands a long period of grief as a penalty for the affair. What ultimately happens is he will leave you. I often get emails from women who have done this and regret it, only to find that it is too late.
Pray for God to help you love your husband
Whether you believe in prayer or not, there is a valuable way of thinking to be learned. When we pray desperate prayers they make us more desperate. Something like this:
God, please, please make him give up the other woman and return to me. I just can’t be happy or live life without him.
Compare that with:
God, please show me how to love my husband in this situation so that I can do my best in reconnecting with him. I know you love me and my husband. And, I know that no matter what happens, you will take care of us and work things out for the best.
The first prayer is fearful and desperate, focused on self. The second is calm and secure, focused on loving and trusting God. More information on having peace with God.
Make him earn your trust
One of the biggest mistakes women make is taking their husbands back immediately after he gives up the other woman. Since he is motivated at that time to rebuild your relationship, that is what should happen next.
If instead you take him right back, he will lose his motivation to work on the relationship and you will be living with an emotionally distant man again. This is setup for another affair.
Get the right help
Individual counseling will give you emotional support at a difficult time. It won’t give you skills for reconciling. Most therapists will help you to accept that your husband is gone and to move on. Their emphasis, by training, is on the individual rather than the relationship. This is good if you decide not to reconcile.
Relationship coaching is focused on the relationship. Whether reconciling is difficult or not is a secondary concern. Coaching is generally not emotionally supportive and you are likely to hear some blunt truths. The objective of coaching is success, not mental health. But, you will not be left guessing what to do if you want to reconcile. Boundaries and connections skills are core benefits. Marriage coaching for ending a spouse’s affair.