/, Intimacy & Sex/How Do I Handle It When I Suspect My Spouse May Be Cheating On Me?


Have you ever had that feeling that something’s changed in your relationship with your partner? Something’s off, something just not right and you get a sense of foreboding. They’re acting, I don’t know, somehow different. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but they’ve changed. You’re not feeling the love from them the same way you did before. Or the opposite is happening. They’re over attentive, giving you gifts or buttering you up with compliments or kindnesses that are just out of character for them and for your relationship as it was.

Then it strikes you! “I wonder if they’re seeing someone else” Could my partner be having an affair? It’s shocking at first, but the more you think about it and put two and two together, you can’t come up with any other explanation. They must be cheating on you. Now what do you do?

You can’t just go off accusing them of cheating without proof, they’ll only deny it and then it’s your word against theirs. It’s no good acting the part of the jealous lover, because, what if you’re wrong and you’re blaming them for something they may not have done? This will end badly for both of you and tear your relationship apart. You’ve got to be calm and think it through. You should have two things before you ever confront your partner.

  1. Have a plan: Consider all the possibilities and how you’ll react if it’s true and your partner is cheating.  Will you leave? Will you stay and try to work it out. What if your partner doesn’t want to? What if they do? There are many options to consider and you have to think of them all and how you will react. Will you try to salvage the relationship or end it? Affairs in a marriage are resolvable but both parties have to be committed to the process and be truly present. You have to decide if you are willing to be in this marriage before you can work on it. This may require individual counseling or using joint counseling to make that decision. If you’re not prepared to talk to your spouse about the affair get some individual therapy. Counseling is not merely an option when it comes to an affair, it’s a requirement.
  2. Have an exit strategy in case you decide to leave. If it’s all going to end when the affair comes to light you should have a strategy that includes a place to stay, money and a vehicle. You don’t want to end up stranded or locked out of your home without any resources. If you have shared finances and share a home together this can be a very big problem.
  3. Understand that infidelity is not necessarily a sexual issue. People have affairs because they feel lonely and unfulfilled.  We need to make sure that our relationships are filled with connection and emotional fulfillment. There’s nothing more painful than feeling alone and isolated when your partner whom you love is lying next to you.  When this is the case, people crave that emotional connection to such a degree that they are willing to violate their vows and their ethics and morals to have it. There’s a great deal of emotional turmoil attached to knowing you’re breaking your promises to your partner.

When there are thoughts or suspicions of cheating what needs to be addressed is the lack of emotional connection in your relationship. You each need to look at the part you played in the relationship and whether you’re fulfilling each other’s emotional needs. This is necessary for the relationship to succeed. You want to be with that one person in the world that you feel a deep emotional connection with and that you love more than anything. If you’re not feeling that connection with your partner, something is lacking and that’s where infidelity can become an issue. If you suspect your partner is cheating on you; you must ask yourself why your relationship is susceptible to this. I don’t recommend you confront your partner until you’ve had some counseling about these issues. If you and your partner have that feeling of loneliness and emptiness, you need to get to the heart of what is keeping you from meeting these attachment needs in one another. The person that you need is the one who understands and is willing to give you all those things that you each need to feel loved and important. This is why counseling is essential to resolve these issues when it’s not happening.

Get help from a qualified couples counselor to help you examine these issues and help you to find your way back together if that’s what you both desire. If your spouse isn’t cheating, there’s obviously still something wrong that you both need to address in the relationship. You need to find your way to connecting with each other on a closer and more connected level so that you know that you’re both having your attachment needs met by each other. You will have no reason to ever go outside of the relationship to find what you’ve been missing, because you’re getting it now from your partner.

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About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.

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