People don’t cheat for the reasons you imagine. Only eight percent of cheaters said their motivation was lust, while 48 percent said they strayed due to emotional unhappiness. Men (and women) whose egos aren’t stroked at home may seek it elsewhere.
How, then, can you tell if your sig-o is cheating — or on the verge?
1. They don’t feel sexually desired by you
Bill (all names are changed) cheated because he felt “decimated” by his wife’s sexual criticisms. He said, “Ann would poke at my belly and say no one would mistake me for Brad Pitt. “When pressed, his wife of five years insisted her jibes were a joke. The 32-year-old often added, “I hope you’re not thinking of cheating.” He’d say reflexively, much like “Bless you” after a sneeze, “Of course not.”
But the first woman who came along who made him feel like de sexy bomb, Bill not only fell into bed with, but also eventually married.
2. They are the king of defensiveness
Sheila, 38, recalled, “I kept asking Tim if there was someone else. He was late a lot, kept shielding his phone from me… When I questioned him he’d say, ‘How can you not trust me? In 10 years of marriage, have I ever given you a reason to doubt me?” She finished angrily, “I wound up feeling like the bad guy!”
When a man is very defensive he is often using reverse psychology to fool you… and perhaps himself. In Tim’s case he admitted in session, “I hoped by telling Sheila there wasn’t anyone else it would stop me from pursuing this woman at work who I found myself attracted to. Unfortunately denying the attraction didn’t ultimately stop me from giving in to temptation.”
Don’t fall for indignant attempts to make you feel guilty for doubting his honesty.
3. They feel unappreciated by you
It’s crucial for a couple to feel valued by each other. Ed told me, “Lynn never complimented anything I did for her or the kids. All I’d get were criticisms like, ‘You forgot to buy milk again! Can’t you remember anything?'” While Ed frequently vocalized his need for praise, to feel something he did resonated in a positive way with his wife of 13 years, Lynn didn’t take heed the marriage was threatened.
The 40-year-old said, “When I asked Ed if there was another woman, he said, ‘Of course not.’ So I told him, ‘You know I appreciate you. I’m just not a verbal person’ and we went back to our lives.”
Mistake: Her husband had been nakedly telegraphing his need to hear comments like, “Honey, I so appreciate that you always bring me coffee in bed. You’re so thoughtful,” or for Lynn to make some thoughtful gestures of her own toward her mate.
Men — women too, for that matter — want to hear what they do well, not just areas where they are lacking.
4. They say the marriage is different than it used to be
When Alan told Jeanne the marriage wasn’t feeling as satisfying as it used to, he insisted she didn’t need to worry about his fidelity. She believed him and assumed her 48-year-old husband was going through a mid-life crisis.
Five months later she discovered Alan’s ‘crisis’ had expanded and he was now embroiled in a two-month-long affair. The 43-year-old cried in session, “I guess I should have taken his unhappiness more seriously and suggested couples’ therapy. But he said things would be fine and I believed him.”
When someone says something is feeling off, it doesn’t mean you must rush to therapy but it does mean you must take the words to heart and take some sort of action.