This story was written by Patty Blue Hayes and reposted with permission from YourTango.
At 2:30 a.m., sitting in a rental car outside a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, my husband said, “I don’t think we should be married more. “An hour earlier, I had grabbed his phone, curious to know who he had kept texting all night long. He told me about two casual sex partners he had had in the past six months, but my mind has stepped back in time to calculate the exact time he started his infidelity.
It had been two years. After rereading in my journals, I created a map of the turning point. A cheater will manipulate situations and lie to cover their tracks. In my case, with my self-esteem already in the bathroom, I was easy prey to believe his lies and question my instincts. Never question your instincts; it is always fair.
1. He began to slip and turn buff.
Yes, it’s fine for a man to groom himself, but when he starts to shave and shave more than he has ever done in the past, that’s something to question. Is he more in love with his own body than yours when you stand next to him in front of the bathroom mirror? It’s a big red flag. My ex even had me shave the back of my neck and cut the stray spots on the middle of his back, and I had no idea I was grooming him for his sex partners.
Sure, fitness is healthy, but when she becomes obsessive and he continues to show off his abs and biceps, take this as a warning sign that might cause him to become more fascinated with his own body than by his commitment to your marriage.
It got to the point where my husband would rather work out and come home at 10 p.m. rather than have dinner with me at home. He resisted my requests and told me that I didn’t understand or appreciate how hard he worked to provide for us. I wanted to be a support spouse, so I stepped back my need for quality time with him.
2. He stopped inviting me to professional events.
Does he go out several evenings a week to meet with clients, suppliers, agencies and people in his department or team? Were you excluded from social gatherings and then learned that other spouses attended? This is a pretty good sign of cheating, in my experience. It might not be all infidelity, but he’s flirting with it.
My husband told me he didn’t want me at business parties because he felt inhibited with me and responsible for me. In the past he would stand near me and I was welcome to attend business meetings. The important thing is to look for changes in what used to be the norm.
During the last two years of my marriage, I had no self-esteem. So I tolerated his behavior and believed his lies. Spare yourself the torture. Have courage and stand up for yourself now.
Here’s what men and women really think about cheating in relationships:
3. He got angry.
Does he show anger and volatility that he never had before? It could be his guilt on you. He may feel guilty for cheating but may not be able to tell you the truth, so it’s his subconscious protective mechanism to keep him safe that causes him to blame you for his outbursts.
One of the first signs of cheating I received was when he told me I was upset him by leaving the ironing board up after ironing his shirts. He said I was purposely trying to piss him off because he thought I didn’t enjoy ironing. I loved ironing.
We went to the council. Sitting on the therapiston the couch he put his arm around me and told him that I didn’t admire him, respect him, understand him or listen to him. And I didn’t keep the house clean enough.
Do not tolerate his blame and bad-tempered accusations, fueled by guilt. He is responsible for his own emotions, but the guilty mind will wiggle around everything to avoid telling the truth. He will blame his anger on something you did or said, or a situation at work.
If he’s become more critical of you, your choice of dress, where you want to go to dinner, or the sound of your ringtone (even if it’s been the same for years), this should tell you about his inner turmoil. Don’t take it personally like I did. It will erode your self-esteem like a breaking wave on a sandcastle.
Starting today, create healthy boundaries for yourself and realize that we are showing people how to treat us by what we will accept from them.
4. He had new movements in the room.
Where did you learn that? These are my exact words after he does something a little different during sex. Unless you’ve both discovered a new technique or stance and he’s doing something new that he’s never done before, you’ll see some red, like in a really big red flag.
He also asked me to completely shave all of my hair “you know where”. I kept asking him why he wanted me to do this, but now I know it was because one of the women he had slept with had to have a Brazilian. I’m glad I never did. Going through grief was painful enough without an itchy reminder of regrowth of her betrayal.
5. He started drinking and smoking and avoiding you.
Apart from the other women, has he developed bad habits? This guilt problem can creep into self-destructive habits. Over the past couple of years, my ex and I both drank too much alcohol, but it fueled his anger and numbed my pain. Not a good combination, as it led to arguments, accusations and hangovers.
I believe that his overconsumption was due to his guilt, or his deep desire to leave me but his inability to tell me. During the past two chaotic years, my ex also tried to hide his cigarettes like his mistresses.
Be aware if you notice an increase in smoking, alcohol, gambling, and spending. Again, you keep an eye out for a change in normal activity. His cheating is like a cancer cell– an abnormal change in behavior – and you are looking for irregularities.
Does he feel like he just doesn’t want to hang out with you? He’s too busy with work to come home to eat, he needs to hang out with the guys on the weekends, this big game is on and he just can’t miss it, or he’s too tired to talk and needs to decompress on your own?
I finally started to wonder why he was staying with me when most of his actions told me he didn’t want to spend time with me. At the start of our marriage, he wanted to sit at the table with me and said he appreciated that I was cooking and taking care of the house. Pay attention to his actions, not his words or empty promises.
6. His phone access code suddenly became a secret.
After taking the phone from my husband that night at the bar, he refused to enter his passcode. My heart was pounding. The red flag I missed was that in previous years he had never hidden passwords on his phone, emails or Facebook; we shared these things openly. Yes your husband has changed his protocol and passwords, it might be worth taking a closer look, especially if it does other things mentioned here.
Observe and watch for differences in his behavior from what has been the norm. Chat with him and be aware of the number of “I” statements he makes. Does he always suggest that you need to change? Claiming that you made him angry or that he acted in a certain way? Does he easily get on the defensive and blame you?
If you confront him he will deny, deny, deny, so stay alert and hold on. Don’t just not see their password protected accounts if you ask to see them. Yes, our privacy is important, but if your sense of trust is at stake, it’s a request. He will do his best to make you believe that you are just paranoid.
Above all, trust your intuition. Intentionally take the time to sit quietly, widening your breath and relaxing your body. With each deeper breath, release the mental chatter and let the thoughts flow downstream. Then gently remind yourself of the question or situation in a neutral way and listen to your inner voice – the wise intuitive self will guide you. Keep doing this exercise for clarity.
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