From a reader: I’m wondering, ‘Is my husband cheating?’ In the last year, my husband has taken an interest in colognes and new underwear. And, his data on his cell phone shows crazy high usage. I have asked if he has a girlfriend and he has denied it. Our sex life has diminished through the years so I am guessing that the signs lead to someone else, but I am afraid to try and learn more. Any thoughts on next steps?
Let me start by saying I’m very sorry that you have to wonder, ‘Is my husband cheating.’ I’m sure this is a difficult time. The not knowing must be frustrating and hard to deal with.
All that said, here is my opinion. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just what I think. Ready? This might be hard to hear, but…
No one’s gut instinct was ever wrong.
That could include yours. So, if your suspicion is correct, you have some choices to make. First, ask yourself, “If I find out for sure that he is cheating, what do I want to do about it? Stay silent and do nothing? Work things out with him because I still love him? Work things out with him because we have kids and I don’t want to be a single mom? Get divorced? Come to an agreement that we will stay together and declare our marriage an open marriage? Have a trial separation?”
These are all options you have, and things you need to think about. However, you can’t really be expected to make a decision until you hear what your husband has to say. Therefore, you have to get him to admit to the cheating–if he is.
I would recommend sitting him down and getting it out of him. Ask him about the cologne and underwear, the excessive phone usage. Be nice but firm. Try not to be accusatory, because that will only make him defensive and angry. Be smart about this.
If/when he does admit to the cheating, the way he handles it will affect what you choose to do. One of these three things could happen:
1. He could be extremely apologetic, regretful and show remorse.
He might cry and beg you for forgiveness. If that happens, the two of you might have a chance to work things out.
2. He might become angry and mean about it, admit to the cheating and tell you it’s your fault, that he hasn’t been happy in several years.
He may even say something like he never loved you. If that happens, your marriage might be over.
3. He might tell you he is in love with another woman and wants to be with her.
His tone might be kind of quiet and sad. If that happens, your marriage probably is over.
You wrote that you are afraid to learn more. I can completely understand how you might feel that way (especially after reading Jackie’s possible scenarios.) I get it. Facing the truth about “Is my husband cheating?” can be terrifying. That’s why doing nothing is an option. I bet there are countless women (and men) out there who know their spouses are cheating and choose to do nothing because they have weighed their options and keeping things status quo seems like the best one. No one should judge anyone for any decision they make.
For me personally, I couldn’t live like that. I think living in that situation can cause someone’s self-esteem to plunge, their self-love to go bu-bye, and their life to get dark, dreary and lonely. It also sets a really bad example for the kids about what marriage is.
I guess what I’m saying is, it takes immense courage to get to the root of the truth and then handle what you find out. And, that might take you to a worse place for a period of time. But, once you get through the dark tunnel (which could mean divorce or working on the marriage or even just getting over the hurt, deceit and lies), the other side might be better.
Only you can make that decision, but I hope that you love yourself and that you cherish your values enough to do what is right/best for you and your kids.
One last thing I want to mention is that you need support right now, and some great ways to get that is through family members, close friends and faith. You need to lean on something or someone, almost as if you are bracing yourself. This is a very hard time for you. Let yourself trust someone.
In closing, you might roll your eyes when I tell you this, and that’s OK. I’ll say it anyway.
Things are going to turn out fine. They just will. I promise. It might not seem like that, but it’s true. Just remember to do what’s right for you and your kids, and what’s in your heart. Oh, and remember to TRUST YOUR GUT. Did I mention that no one’s gut instinct was ever wrong?