Many times, I (Vincent) have spouses who are blindsided by affairs. Their comments are: “I didn’t see it coming. I have been breaking my neck over here trying to help us while he has been cheating. I have been working extra hours so that we can be more comfortable while she has been sleeping around.”
The signs were there, but they did not see them. They refused to pay attention to them. They were focused on everything else. But in hindsight, my clients see them clearly.
What if you could see the signs beforehand? Wouldn’t that save a lot of heartache, pain, time, and money? Below I have listed some of the signs that my clients see in hindsight.
1.) “My spouse will never have an affair on me.”
Marriages are a covenant – a promise to God and to spouse that you will be faithful to each other. Some people take these marriage vows as a guarantee. They believe – “My spouse would never have an affair. He is upright and honest. He is a good Christian. This could never happen.”
They take their spouse’s good-heartedness and loyalty for granted. They continue to neglect the marriage to help the seemingly weaker or more volatile relationships. They focus more on the kids. They put more time into their work relationships. All of this weakens the marriage. The marriage is taken for granted.
The truth is that all marriages are susceptible to infidelity. A couple has to invest time and effort to maintain the relationship. They must constantly be working on improving it. No marriage has a guarantee. Once you start believing that yours does, then you begin to put your marriage at risk.
2.) “We never have conflicts.”
Every couple should have disagreements. Conflict is healthy. No one agrees exactly with someone else on everything all the time. It is good for a couple to discuss issues that they do agree upon.
If conflict is handled well, then the relationship grows and prospers. When there is no conflict, then someone is not being honest and truthful about how they feel. They are being passive. Anger will build in this passive person, and sooner or later they will express it either aggressively or passive-aggressively.
An affair is very passive-aggressive way of expressing anger. For more information on handling conflict, read my article “SLOW DOWN! Practical Ways To Handle Conflict.”
3.) “We don’t have dates.”
Let me first define a “date.” When many people (aka women) think of a date, they picture an expensive meal and an extravagant outing. This most definitely qualifies, but this does not always have to be the case. A date is planned time spent between two people, usually involving food, but not involving other dependents (ie., kids or their elderly mother) where you get to know each other better.
The key to a date is that it is intentional. Both people are setting boundaries around their time spent together. Dates always involve a lot of conversation, but they do not always have to cost a lot of money. Dates can be inexpensive like a picnic and a walk.
4.) “I never use his cellphone.”
Healthy marriages should be honest and open. Whenever spouses are secretive with their cellphone or computer, then there is reason for alarm. Spouses should be comfortable using each other’s electronic or communication devices.
Your spouse has the right to know who you talk to and when. But it is not healthy for your spouse to be constantly checking up on you. They should not have to, but they have the right.
Your communication with others should be so forthright that they need not to worry. However, in crisis situations, your spouse may have to examine your communication with others.
5.) “I don’t know what the bills are or how much money he makes.”
Both husbands and wives should be aware of the amount money that is coming in and going out of their checking and savings accounts. Both spouses need access to the financial information in a marriage.
In a healthy marriage, you and your spouse make financial decisions together. You discuss large purchases, spending allowances, and your budget together. Both of you understand how much bills are and the cost of household expenditures.
Honesty and openness with your money discourages the temptation of adultery. (Having trouble talking to your husband, check out this article: “How To Get Your Husband To Talk About His Feelings”.)
6.) “We never pray together.”
Time in prayer together always strengthens a marriage. Sincere prayer is powerful. It encourages the weak. It convicts the guilty. It breaks hardened hearts. It mends souls.
When a couple allows the holy spirit to guide them, amazing things can happen. The sinning spouse feels compelled to confess. The offended softens their heart to the sinner while becoming more angry toward the sin. Both are positive ways of building a strong relationship. (William Zajac emphasizes how important prayer is in marriage in our podcast episode 012 Marriage: William Zajac Describes the “Unbeatable Marriage”.)
7.) “We don’t agree on parenting.”
One disagreement on parenting doesn’t mean that a spouse is necessarily going to have an affair, but it does create a rift between the husband and wife. What do children do when there is confusion and lack of cohesiveness with the parenting?
They exploit it to get what they want. They ask dad and if he says no, they ask mom. They find the weak link and get their way.
This is unhealthy for the kid, and very unhealthy for the relationship. If an amicable agreement is not reached, then this parenting issue can cause further divide in the relationship. The anger in one spouse may reach the point to where they feel justified in talking to someone else of the opposite sex about how unreasonable their spouse is. From there, the door could be opened to an emotional affair. (Family counseling or counseling for your child may be a good option.)
Is it difficult for you to get your point across to your husband? Here’s a skill that will help: “The Most Misunderstood Couples Skill”.
Are you being blindsided by your spouse? If your spouse is having an affair, check out my article, “So Your Spouse Is Having an Affair…A Practical Christian Guide.” Have questions about marriage counseling?