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Published on February 27, 2020

How to Handle a Cheating Spouse

How to Handle a Cheating Spouse

When a person gets married, they hope to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. That’s how all the Disney movies and romantic comedies portray marriage, right?

But unfortunately, for many people, it doesn’t work out that way.

Most couples start out crazy in love, and they think that feeling will last forever.

Even if they know that feeling of infatuation may wear off, they at least expect to have a loyal partner by their side for the rest of our lives.

Sure, some couples do live happily ever after. There are little old couples walking around hand-in-hand just as in love as the day they met.

But for many, that is not their story.

If a marriage goes downhill over the years, there can be many reasons.

It could simply be because they have grown apart, or because they focused too much on raising children and forgot to nurture each other.

Or, it could be the reason many people dread the most – cheating.

What is Cheating?

This may seem like an obvious question, but in today’s world, it is not as clear-cut.

Usually, people think of physical indiscretions when they think of cheating. This could be anything from hand-holding to kissing to full-out sex.

That’s the easy way to describe cheating.

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But there’s another kind of cheating where there is a little more gray area, and that is emotional cheating.

The problem with emotional cheating is that many people have different standards for it, which we will discuss in a moment.

Regardless, most people expect their partner to remain emotionally loyal to them, and to not get too close to another person.

The Gray Area

Here are some examples of behaviors that might fall into the “gray area” for some people. In other words, some people might consider these cheating, while others may not.

  1. Flirting or romantically teasing another person
  2. Talking to or meeting with your ex(es)
  3. Texting other people too much
  4. Touching or grabbing other people
  5. Buying presents for other people
  6. Going out with others too often
  7. Talking to a person (or people) online too often
  8. Engaging in pornography
  9. Going out on a “date” (or date-like activity) with someone else
  10. Going to clubs and dancing/grinding with other people
  11. Asking other people for their phone numbers

As you can see, some of these are worse than others.

Some people might not care about the above behaviors (or even notice), while others might see them as all-out cheating.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Even if these don’t involve any sort of physical contact, many people do consider these things a betrayal to their relationships, and thus, “cheating.”

Signs of Cheating

If you suspect that you have a cheating spouse, how can you catch them? How can you know for sure that it’s not just “all in your head?”

That’s a huge issue for many people. They go back and forth about it.

Sometimes they think their mind is playing tricks on them, but other times, they are totally convinced that their spouse is cheating.

The best thing to do is to keep a record of their behaviors. Record the dates, times, and any other relevant information.

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This serves two purposes: first, it helps you put it into perspective and realize that it’s not all in your head.

Second, when you finally confront your cheating spouse, you have “evidence” to present them with.

If you don’t have that, they might try to play mind games with you and deny their behaviors, making you think that you’re just making it all up.

Here are some pretty common signs that you might have a cheating spouse:

  1. They are hiding their phone from you or guarding it particularly well (especially if this is a change from past behavior)
  2. They start dressing better or losing weight (the assumption is that they are trying to impress someone else)
  3. There are frequent times when they are “unavailable” and you can’t reach them
  4. There’s no more intimacy in your relationship, or it has decreased suddenly
  5. If you question if they’re cheating, they get emotional and accuse you of being crazy
  6. They “overshare” and give an abnormal amount of details about their whereabouts or what they are doing (liars tend to give too much information)
  7. They’re going out with “friends” more than usual
  8. They’re “working late” more than normal

These are just a few of the countless signs that someone is cheating.

Each person is different, so if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, but it’s not on the list above, then pay attention to that. Our gut feelings are usually right.

Can cheating be prevented? It can be possible: 10 Ways to Prevent Cheating in a Relationship

Can a Marriage Survive Cheating?

So, let’s say that you catch your spouse cheating. Maybe she or he admitted to the cheating, or maybe not.

Regardless, most people wonder if a marriage can ever survive cheating.

This is not an easy question to answer, because each individual and couple has their own limits and standards.

For example, I know some people who would not tolerate even the smallest indiscretion and would be asking for a divorce right away.

But then, there are others who will tolerate way more than they should.

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It all comes down to your own standards and boundaries.

The Social Exchange Theory

There is a theory of interpersonal communication called the Social Exchange Theory.

In essence, is says that we weigh rewards against the costs of being in a relationship. We will stay in a relationship as long as the rewards outweigh the costs.

However, once the costs outweigh the rewards, then we will leave the relationship.

The problem is, what qualifies as a “reward” and what qualifies as a “cost?” It’s different for everyone.

Reclaiming Happiness

Sure, a couple can stay married after one (or both) of them cheats.

However, does that mean they will be happy and that it won’t happen again? No, of course not.

I think when most people ask the question of whether or not a marriage can survive cheating, what they are really asking is:

Can the couple go back to how they were in the beginning and be happy again?

It can happen, but it’s relatively rare. In order for the couple to get back to a truly happy, loving, and healthy relationship, several things need to happen:

First, the cheating spouse needs to really, really, really understand the pain that s/he caused their spouse.

And the other spouse needs to know that the cheating spouse is very, very remorseful – so much so that they will never do it again!

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Second, the cheating spouse needs to be patient with their partner.

Getting over a betrayal such as cheating does not happen overnight. It takes a long time.

Third, the cheating spouse needs to prove themselves again.

They have to have consistent, trustworthy behavior over a long period of time in order for their partner to trust them again.

Finally, going to therapy will certainly help the couple move forward. Many couples simply can’t do it by themselves, and that’s okay.

Read more about understanding your partner’s actions: Why Your Partner May Be Cheating

Rebuilding Trust After Cheating

As I just mentioned, finding a good therapist will definitely help when you are in the trust-rebuilding process.

In addition to that, here are some other steps that can be taken in order to try to restore the bond you once had with your partner:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open at all times.
  2. Share passwords to phones, computers, and email and social media accounts.
  3. Always be available when your partner calls or texts.
  4. Spend quality time together going on dates and getting to know each other again.
  5. The cheating spouse needs to continually acknowledge their indiscretion and take responsibility.
  6. The cheating spouse also needs to stay true to their word and keep promises.
  7. Put your partner’s needs before your own.
  8. Both people need to be able to openly share their emotions and thoughts with one another.

Final Thoughts

Finding out that you have a cheating spouse is not something that anyone ever wants to deal with.

However, it does happen, and it is worth it to know how to move forward if it happens to you.

The bottom line is this: do you want to try to work it out or not? Sometimes it’s best to step away, separate, and move on with your life.

But in other circumstances, the relationship can recover, and you may be able to build it into something even stronger down the road.

More Relationship Advice

Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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