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Anne Bercht, author
"My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing That Happened to Me"

 
When You Suspect Your Spouse is Cheating and they won't confess to an Extramarital Affair

Question: What about the husband who will not admit it to his wife? It drives her nuts. There have been too many clues and when she confronts him, he always denies it. It would be much easier to handle and deal with and it would help her to stop doubting her own sanity! What do you do when the husband will not admit it and continues in his ways?

Answer: There is no doubt that this is a terrible place to be, wondering if there is an affair or not, feeling like you are losing your mind, and in this situation a final confession from the cheating spouse would bring more relief than anything.

However, you cannot control the actions of your spouse, only your own. You cannot “make” your spouse confess if they do not choose it. You can create an atmosphere most conducive to an honest confession, but there is no formula to guarantee a confession 100% of the time.

No matter what difficulties we face in our relationships with others, we must realize that we cannot change the other person, but we can change ourselves.

Most likely if you have strong suspicions, and there are many clues, you are right, an affair is indeed taking place. One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from affair survivors is they learn to trust their intuition, their gut instincts, that still small voice inside that is telling us what is true in our lives, even when we don’t really want to face that truth. Knowing is much better than living with uncertainty and suspicions. Many affair survivors have described it this way, “there was something wrong, something not quite right, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.”

If you suspect an affair, the best approach is a direct and honest confrontation. Don’t hint around the issue, but come right out and say, “Are you having an affair?”

However, just because you directly confront them, if the unfaithful person is not ready to confess they may still lie out right, deny the truth, and even become angry with you for asking.

If the anger is overpowering, and they also begin to blame and criticize you, it is an added indication that your suspicions about the affair are correct. If a person is not having an affair and is asked this question, they would most likely be surprised and ask why you suspect this.

Sometimes we have to face the fact that the unfaithful person may never choose to be truthful. In a number of situations, I’ve supported people who caught their spouse red handed in bed with the affair partner and the unfaithful person still didn’t confess, but tried to convince the faithful spouse that they were merely seeing things!!

Sad as it is, one can often have a good laugh at the expense of those having affairs, because the actions, lies and logic they come up with are so ridiculous. Thus the article I wrote, are unfaithful spouses mentally impaired?

Here are some general guidelines to follow when suspicious of an affair written by Peggy Vaughan, www.dearpeggy.com, printed with permission.

Suspecting:

The first signals of an affair are seldom the stereotypical things like lipstick on the collar or strange phone calls; they're much more likely to be an intuitive sense that "something is different." Many people have trouble deciding whether or not to trust their intuition. And while it's not sufficient in and of itself, it plays a central role in the list of "signs and symptoms" of an affair. In fact, this is one of the first indicators of a possible affair--this gut feeling that something is wrong. Most people reported having this feeling, although it varied in the way it appeared. For some it was a sudden feeling that resulted from a casual comment or incident, while for others it came as a growing feeling of uneasiness.

The signals may be quite subtle, just slight shifts in certain behaviors; for instance being more distant, more preoccupied with job, home, or outside interests, more attentive to clothes and accessories, more focused on weight and appearance, more absent from home with time unaccounted for, more glued to the TV set than usual, more interested in trying new things sexually than before, less attentive, less willing to talk or spend time together, less available emotionally, less interested in family issues, less interested in sex than usual, and less involved in shared activities.

Of course, even if you detect some of these signs in your partner's behavior, you can't assume it means they're having an affair; it's not that simple. Determining whether or not there's any significance to the changes in behavior depends on evaluating both the number of areas of change and the degree of change. For instance, changes in only a few areas would not be as significant as changes in many different areas. And very slight changes would not be as significant as more drastic ones.

But even if there has been a great deal of change in a large number of areas, this does not necessarily signal an affair. There are many reasons for such changes in behavior that have nothing to do with affairs, one of the most likely being an increased level of stress in the work environment. Other possible causes include concerns about health, aging, family, or finances.

So there's no one, two, three process for knowing when a spouse has had an affair, but these are some of the factors that can reasonably be considered. In the final analysis, it calls for talking about it--very directly with your partner. So, to get back to the original question, intuition is only a signal to begin the process of getting more information in order to determine whether an affair is taking place.

Confronting:

"Whether, When and How" to confront are all critical issues that need to be determined prior to any confrontation. Whether and when to confront are based on asking yourself two key questions:

1. Do you really want the truth (rather than just looking for reassurance).

2. Are you open to the possibility of either staying or leaving (without having predetermined this important decision).

As for HOW to confront, it's probably useless to ask tentative or vague questions--because there's a basic, unspoken mindset among most people having affairs: "Never tell; if questioned, deny it; if caught, say as little as possible." Therefore, it's important to begin by being very specific in asking, "Are you having an affair?" However, if the question comes as a complete surprise, it may prompt a knee-jerk denial. So for the confrontation to have any reasonable possibility of eliciting the truth, this question should not be blurted out without proper preparation.

Here's an overview of some of the ideas presented in my book, "The Monogamy Myth:"

First, it's important to choose a time and a place where there will be no intrusions or distractions. Then it's essential to establish real contact with the person; look them in the eye and say something like this: "I need an honest answer to the question I'm about to ask you. I hope the answer is no, but I need to know the truth. If the answer is 'yes,' that's not necessarily the end of the relationship. But if it's 'no' (and I find out later you were lying), I'm not sure we would be able to overcome that."

A failure to ask this kind of direct question allows the other person to avoid a direct reply. Many people having affairs depend on never being asked directly, on never having to lie. A straightforward question makes it more difficult to pretend no harm is being done and to deny the possibility of getting caught and having to deal with the consequences. Of course, even making this kind of direct effort doesn't guarantee success in getting an honest answer; some people are accomplished liars and this won't have as much impact on them. It can be extremely frustrating to finally ask directly, and still feel the truth didn't come out. It's at this point that people usually stop talking and start taking more direct action aimed at finding out the truth for themselves.

End of comments from Peggy Vaughan.

Some people choose to hire private detectives or become one (more or less) themselves. When it comes to all aspects of affairs, the best thing to do is gain as much perspective as you can by reading good books on affairs, and talking to others who are going through it, thus the benefits of joining a BAN support group.

The most important thing is for each individual to make their own decisions. No one else is living your life, and only you will live with the outcome of whatever decisions you make, not your friends or family who so willingly can offer their unsolicited advice.

A marriage plagued with suspicions is not a good one, regardless of whether or not an actual affair is taking place.

Rather than become an obsessive detective, I would recommend individual counseling, therapy or coaching and taking a very good look at yourself. Focus your attention on becoming a better you, and then you will be stronger and more capable of handling the future whatever the future brings. Also as you become a healthier person, you will become better at recognizing unhealthy patterns in your relationship and/or any codependent tendencies. As you change you’ll find your partner will also be forced to change. It can be a surprising revelation to learn how we also have a part to play in the relationship “dance” that is taking place in our marriage.

We can change our relationships by learning how to change ourselves.

©Copyright 2010 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

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