Unfortunately, infidelity in marriage is becoming more and more common these days.
It is basically a form of betrayal or cheating when one spouse goes behind the other one’s back and indulges in emotional, physical, or sexual acts with a third person.
If you also feel that your spouse is cheating on you or that you are getting romantically attracted to someone else, I can well understand your situation.
You’re bound to feel helpless and scared in either of these scenarios.
In this think-piece, I shall tell you all about the symptoms and risks of infidelity and how to overcome the emotional barrier between you and your spouse.
What is infidelity in marriage?
When your spouse is romantically involved with someone else – physically, emotionally, or even spiritually – that is called infidelity in marriage.
As horrible as it might seem, infidelity doesn’t mean the end of your marriage or relationship.
If you want to know the definition of infidelity, well, it’s a pretty subjective one. For some people, infidelity might be something as basic as being attracted to someone else, while for someone else, infidelity means having sex. In fact, many people feel that viewing pornographic content is also a form of cheating!
But whatever your definition may be, it’s a fact that infidelity isn’t something you’ll enjoy. Once you find out your partner has betrayed your trust, it’s hard to renew the relationship and create something beautiful again. It’s absolutely normal to feel heartbroken and lose your sense of self-worth during this phase.
After all, when you and your partner first got married, you wanted your love to last forever, right? But the truth is, it’s easy to lose sight of the sacred bond of marriage and stray away.
If your mind is constantly haunted by the fact that your partner has committed adultery, there are a few ways to find out for real. Just keep reading, buddy!
Symptoms of infidelity in marriage
I believe that adultery and extramarital affairs are like a disease. And just like with any other disease, you can spot the signs and symptoms of this one too!
Let me help you identify 10 red flags that reek of infidelity!
1. The communication is becoming dry
You must have heard that communication is the most important key in a committed relationship. Well, it’s true! A breakdown in communication is definitely not a good sign.
If at one point your spouse used to write cute messages like “I love you” or explain to you why they’re angry but have suddenly ceased to do so, it might mean that someone else is receiving their attention.
Since your spouse has already found someone else to talk to, they don’t feel the urge to vent out to you. Another common sign of cheating is when they keep coming up with strange and baseless reasons as to why they can’t communicate with you anymore.
2. They are extremely passive-aggressive
Hold on, being passive-aggressive doesn’t always mean that your spouse is cheating on you. But if their behavior has changed suddenly, it might hint at an extramarital affair.
Does your husband suddenly storm off without a word when you ask him about his whereabouts? Does your wife use dismissive body language (rolling her eyes irritably or shrugging) when you ask her what’s wrong?
These little actions of passive-aggressiveness can mean serious red flags. Even stalling important conversations or pretending to do something else when you’re trying to talk to them can indicate that they are putting their efforts elsewhere.
3. “How do I look today?”
Everyone loves to look good and feel good, right? But doesn’t it ring off an alarm in your head when you suddenly see your husband, who never cared about his hair or the color of his shirts, suddenly putting an insane amount of effort into his looks?
One very clear sign of infidelity (for both men and women) is the sudden interest in how they look or dress up.
However, don’t accuse them of cheating if they want to appear well-dressed for an important meeting or for a competition in society.
4. The work hours are suspiciously long
In the beginning, your wife couldn’t wait to come home and give you the biggest hug in the world but recently, you’ve noticed that her work hours never seem to end.
Along with that, you’ve also noticed that whenever she comes home late from work, she seems to be happy and fresh, rather than tired or stressed out.
This is a clear indication that your partner isn’t really working but spending time with someone else. And if she’s wearing fancy clothes to work all of a sudden, you can be sure that it’s to impress someone else there.
5. They criticize you endlessly
Every married couple becomes a little cranky and critical after a few years of marriage but when your spouse is always front-line talking about your flaws, you know it isn’t healthy.
And when they start comparing you with someone else, it may be because this “new” person has gained an important position in their life.
For example, are you suddenly hearing things like, “You know this new colleague of mine at work? He manages to multitask so well, why can’t you do the same?” or “My project partner is so amazing at picking out the right outfits. You could really look like her if you made efforts”?
…then there’s something nasty cooking, and you can smell it.
6. Your instincts say something’s fishy!
Remember there’s a gut-feeling inside of you that always speaks something. Hear it!
If your subconscious mind tells you your spouse is cheating, don’t dismiss it right away. Instead, dig in further and look for more signs on the list. I’m not saying, believe it blindly but don’t dismiss it either.
So, if you think you are making strange excuses or worse, not bothering to say anything at all, it can be because your partner is not happy in this marriage.
And when you try to confront them about it, if they simply respond with, “Don’t worry, everything is fine” or a phrase that doesn’t reassure you, you know something is off.
7. Their social circle behaves weirdly
If your spouse’s friends and family members all act anxious and strange around you, it can mean that they’ve already caught wind of your partner’s affair but want to keep it a secret from you.
They know you’ll be immensely hurt if you found out that the person you’ve loved for so long has been going behind your back all this time, so they wish to keep you in the dark.
If your spouse also seems reluctant to take you out with their friends or coworkers, it can mean that they’re trying to cover up the truth.
8. Your sex life has changed drastically
At one point in time, you both were the most sexually-active couple among all your married friends but now, things in the bedroom are nearly dead. While this doesn’t always mean that your partner is cheating on you, it can be a good sign to inspect further.
In any marital relationship, sex is one of the most important parts and if you feel it isn’t as steamy as before, talk about it to your partner.
…and if they seem to have some lame answer, it’s for you to be alert!
9. You both are having financial issues
Almost all marriages undergo money issues at some point. But some financial problems can strongly indicate signs of cheating.
For example, are you suddenly seeing strange transactions made from your partner’s bank account, especially to a specific account only? Or maybe they are suddenly interested in purchasing expensive and romantic gifts but not for you? If you do, then money will become a greater issue between you both in the future.
Moreover, if your spouse suddenly stops caring about investing in long-term things like a car or a new house and wants to spend all their money recklessly, it may be a sign that they’ve another bucket that needs some “water”… If you know what I mean.
10. They have become strangely private about their social media
I truly believe that social media accounts and passwords should be kept private, even in marriages.
But if your mate seems to be more defensive than ever before and refuses to show you their social media posts or profiles, it can mean that their new social media handles are dedicated to someone else entirely.
One very common sign of marital infidelity is when your partner sneaks out to attend phone calls or reply to texts. Further, if you see their phone constantly popping from someone known as “Coworker” or “Car repair mechanic”… do you really think it makes sense?
Risks of Infidelity in Marriage
So why do married people cheat? Is it something related to their mental health or something deeper? The reasons and risk factors are many.
Right from personality disorders to childhood trauma, there can be so many factors that contribute to infidelity in marriage.
Here, I shall point out the individual and relationship-related risk factors of cheating. So, let’s first begin with…
1. Individual risk factors
You might have heard of the popular phrase “It takes two to tango”, and in this case, it means that it takes both partners to mess up the relationship. But that isn’t always the case. Many times, an individual is solely responsible for causing a rift between themself and their partner.
a. Substance abuse
Substance abuse, such as an addiction to alcohol or hard drugs can mess up a person’s mind. Even if your partner wouldn’t think of being unfaithful, these addictive substances can lower their inhibitions and cause them to do something wrong.
b. Attachment issues
Some types of attachment, such as attachment insecurity, can cause a person to cheat. Even poor self-esteem or low self-confidence can make a person seek validation by being with someone else.
c. Childhood trauma
Believe it or not but childhood trauma, namely physical, mental, or sexual abuse, can pose a huge risk later in a person’s life. If your partner hasn’t addressed their childhood trauma properly, they can find refuge by cheating on you with someone else.
d. Exposure to infidelity in childhood
Unfortunately, previous exposure to infidelity (especially in childhood) can make someone cheat on their spouse. A 2015 review showed that adults tend to engage in infidelity almost twice as much when they have seen their own parent(s) cheating on one another back in childhood.
e. Mental illness
Some mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression, can be risk factors for cheating.
f. History of cheating
The saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” isn’t just another phrase. A study conducted in 2017 revealed that a person who indulged in cheating once was thrice more likely to cheat on their partners again.
g. Psychological problems
People who have psychological issues like narcissistic traits can often end up cheating on their spouse. This is because their narcissism is fueled by ego and a sense of entitlement. These people are not only self-centered but also feel that cheating won’t impact their spouses much.
h. Sex addiction
In addition to substance addiction, something as dangerous as sex addiction can be a huge risk factor for cheating. Someone who isn’t receiving enough fulfilment from their spouse and wishes to constantly have sex can look elsewhere for pleasure.
2. Relationship risk factors
You may think no problem in a relationship is big enough for “cheating” but that’s not what everyone thinks. So, here are a few relationship issues that can ultimately lead one of you to infidelity
a. Domestic violence and emotional abuse
This goes both ways. If someone is the victim of constant emotional or physical abuse, they might seek a bit of warmth and love from someone else by having sex with them. On the other hand, the attacker can also indulge in sexual infidelity by finding pleasure in hurting the victim and constantly having affairs with other people.
b. Emotional or physical detachment
Very often, couples to feel out of sync try to bring back a bit of the spark through sexual infidelity. If your partner feels that this marriage just isn’t working or that you both have seemed to lose the special bond that you once shared, this is enough reason for them to build a special connection with someone else.
c. Financial problems
Imagine a situation where both you and your partner are always burdened by financial problems. To curb more spending, you’ve advised your partner to not buy anything unnecessary.
Enter your partner’s coworker or friend who has not only been giving your spouse emotional reassurance but is also gifting them luxurious and costly items.
It’s pretty natural for your spouse to become more attached to that colleague or friend, even though you haven’t really done anything wrong.
d. Lack of respect and communication
Respect and communication are the two basic things every relationship thrives on. Whenever there’s a lack of either of these, it can cause major problems. If your partner doesn’t respect you as a human being or simply stops communicating openly with you, they are much more likely to cheat on you.
e. Low compatibility
Two individuals who married each other for the wrong reasons will inevitably find themselves incompatible. Low compatibility can lead to something known as “buyer’s remorse”, where one person feels guilty or regretful after getting married.
They might feel that they had no choice but to accept this marriage (especially if it was forced upon them by elders). So to feel a little free, they go out and enjoy themselves with someone else.
Reasons for Infidelity in Marriage
As I’ve already told you, there are many reasons why someone might suddenly end up cheating on you. But in many cases, the root cause of infidelity is unmet needs.
Maybe your spouse feels that you haven’t been addressing their needs or problems properly and it’s time to go find someone new. Each of these reasons might have a short-term or a long-term impact on your relationship.
So let’s see some of the basic reasons why people cheat.
1. Primary reasons
Unmet needs is the number one cause for infidelity. However, what does that really mean? And what are some of the other primary causes of cheating? Keep reading to find out more.
As you might have already realized, unhappiness or dissatisfaction in marriages causes the most problems. What most people don’t realize is that marriage is work and takes a lot of effort to sustain it. A sexless or emotionally-void marriage can lead to infidelity.
b. Feeling undervalued
Always feeling undervalued or unappreciated can also cause infidelity. While this causes marital problems at first, it can lead to many other things later.
When both partners work, women have to bear the brunt of doing the housework and taking care of the children. They often feel that their husbands don’t appreciate their hard work enough and tend to find this acknowledgement in someone else.
c. Lack of excitement
Men and women who look for some thrill in life often resort to cheating. The rush of feelings when they find someone who matches their wavelength and agrees to take part in fun activities makes them crave a relationship.
d. Body image issues
There are innumerable stories of middle-aged men having affairs with young women. But behind these stories lies a major cause of infidelity, that is, body image issues. Men wish to prove that they still “have it” and are still good in bed. Hand in hand with this, other middle-aged men and women feel that their spouses aren’t attractive anymore and have let themselves go.
e. Revenge cheating
Revenge cheating is when an individual decides to have an affair with someone because their spouse or partner cheated on them first. In many countries, such as the United States, revenge cheating is a very common way to “get back” at your partner for being unfaithful.
2. Secondary reasons
Here, I shall tell you about the four most common avenues that have not contributed to cheating directly but have definitely led to it through indirect means.
Even though the internet has been a boon for millions of us, it can sometimes show its ugly side to people. Having an affair over the internet has become easier than ever, thanks to social media platforms. Online infidelity and online relationships are also considered to be cheating, even if two people have never met in real life.
b. Periods of absence
Opportunities such as work trips or serving in the military can also be indirect reasons to fool around. Absence allows both spouses to have affairs, with little risk of being discovered. Often the loneliness that stays after your partner leaves for work can lead to cheating.
c. Personal boundaries
Poor personal boundaries, or poor self control can also increase the chances of an affair. People pleasers often find it hard to say no to others and might even end up sleeping with someone else, even if they didn’t want to in the first place.
Porn materials, such as sex videos or stories have also contributed to cheating. You might feel that viewing porn isn’t cheating but it can serve as a gateway for infidelity. Your partner might get more and more carried away while watching porn (especially things like group sex or kinky sex) and might wish to try those things out in real life.
When to walk away after infidelity in marriage? – 10 Signs
Cheating is undeniably one of the worst things to happen to someone. If your own marriage has gone through it, you’ll know the pain of experiencing betrayal and hopelessness.
The whirlwind of negative emotions can also cloud your mind and make you confused as to whether or not you should leave your spouse for good.
To make matters clearer, here are ten signs that it’s high time to leave them behind and start afresh.
1. Apologizing isn’t in their nature
Your partner’s first reaction after cheating on you with someone else is to apologize and make sure they never repeat this behavior. But if they refuse to express any sort of guilt or remorse, you know it’s time to call it quits.
Words are free, after all, and it costs nothing to say sorry and make sure they don’t make the same mistake twice.
But if your spouse cannot find the will or reason to be remorseful, it’s a hint for you to understand that they might indulge in this sort of behavior repeatedly. So it’s best to end the relationship then and there.
2. They don’t want to go for counseling sessions
After you both have had your initial share of arguments and conflicts regarding your partner’s infidelity, the next logical step is to see how to mend your marriage.
My suggestion is you must visit a family psychology center and seek marriage counseling. But if your partner doesn’t wish to go to these sessions, it means bad news.
You need to keep in mind that cheaters tend to avoid therapy or counseling for many reasons, right from religious upbringing to inability to express themselves.
If you’ve gotten to the bottom of the problem but your cheating wife or husband just won’t go, it means that the chances of mending your marriage are slim.
3. They don’t wish to make any effort
So finally your spouse has agreed to go to therapy but the effort they’re putting in is minimal or non-existent. Would you really like to live with someone like that? I don’t think so! Even the best marriage counselor or therapist can provide a treatment if your partner isn’t willing to change.
If you’re stuck with someone who is talking just for the sake of getting over with therapy, it’s probably best to stop associating with them altogether. They won’t wish to change and feel that therapy or communication is just another burden.
4. They still talk to the person they cheated on you with
This is a clear sign that your mate feels absolutely nothing even after breaking your heart. If you’re met with half-hearted excuses like, “It was just once, I promise we won’t do it again” or “What’s the harm in keeping touch?”, you must run!
Keeping in touch with the third person is simply rubbing salt in your wounds. Not only did your spouse do something horribly wrong by cheating on you but has also refused to give up the person they cheated with.
Even if the affair is over, this behavior demonstrates an immense lack of respect toward you.
5. They aren’t committed to the marriage
Marriage isn’t just chanting vows and wearing fancy clothes. It takes so much hard work and dedication, right? Since their cheating came into light, your partner has probably agreed to do everything you’ve said… but not for real.
Your husband or wife hasn’t come up with any ideas to fix your bond or heal the impacts that their infidelity has left on you. If they aren’t a hundred percent committed to making things work, then it makes no sense to be stuck with them for the rest of your life.
6. They lie again and again
If there’s a pattern of dishonesty in your marriage, it’s not a healthy marriage. Not only will you never be able to trust your spouse but you’ll also constantly be insecure about their whereabouts. And this fact holds true even if your partner isn’t lying about anything significant anymore.
Their affair might have ended but they still seem to be lying about who they’re texting or where they are going. Once your trust is hammered by a weapon called cheating, it takes a long time to gain it back.
And if your spouse doesn’t understand it, then there’s no reason why you should stay with them.
7. Your spouse blames others
Taking accountability is a big step after cheating on someone. But if your partner blames the other person or their social circle for their wrongdoings, what are you even doing with them in the first place? It’s obvious that cheating doesn’t just happen out of thin air.
Maybe your partner cheated on you due to childhood trauma or under the influence of alcohol. But instead of accepting responsibility for their actions, if they simply play the blame game, it indicates that they feel no shame for whatever they have done.
8. They even blame you!
This is even worse than blaming others for their infidelity!
If your spouse blames you or finds any loopholes to make you accountable for their behavior, trust me, you don’t want to stay with them. They will inevitably figure out other ways to keep blaming you and can even try to gaslight you to show that they’re the victim, not you.
Phrases like, “I had to go behind your back because you would never give me enough time!” or “Why are you making such a big deal? It was just once!” are sure-shot signs of gaslighting.
9. Your friends and family hate them
Ofcourse, you and your partner should have the last say in your marriage. But at times, it’s a good idea to listen to what others are saying about your marriage and your partner, in particular.
If your social circle is constantly telling you to dump them and move on, they can’t all be wrong, isn’t it?
Your family members, especially, will always want the best for you and they already hate the fact that you’ve had to undergo something as traumatic as cheating. So if they’re asking you to start afresh, then maybe it’s time to bid your partner goodbye… forever.
10. Your gut feeling is telling you to leave them
If you look closely, you’ll figure out that the reasons why you wish to stay with your spouse have nothing to do with a healthy marriage. Maybe you’re just too used to having them by your side or that you’re afraid of society.
Sometimes, cheating spouses aren’t meant to change and you won’t be able to reform them through love. So if your mind is telling you to get out of this loop and walk into a healthier environment, you have to listen to it.
How to survive infidelity in marriage?
Surviving infidelity in a marriage is tough. When you and your partner exchanged wedding vows, neither of you knew this day would come. And yet it did. So now that you’ve found out your spouse’s wrong actions, how do you simply forgive and forget? Don’t worry, I am here to help you.
1. Let it all out in the open.
Healing your relationship starts with honesty. Tell your partner that you’ve figured it all out and that you wish to talk. They might seem ashamed, reluctant, or apprehensive, but don’t keep the conversation aside for another time.
Ask them why they did this and what went wrong. But while doing all this, make sure that the “lover” is completely out of the picture. It might be hard to restore your marriage once the outsider has left but it’s impossible to do so if they’re still hanging around.
2. Try to overcome your resentment
Yes, you’re angry beyond words and the hurt you feel is immeasurable. But you have to overcome these negative feelings to make your marriage work again. The healing process might take time but it’s so worth it!
Even if you do forgive your spouse, you won’t ever forget what they did. So what do you do? You don’t let it cloud your decisions. If you see that your spouse is truly sorry and is mending their ways, try to support them in their journey.
3. Take some time off
Unless you self-introspect, you won’t get anywhere. Take all the time you need to heal yourself and do things that will get your mind off the past few weeks or months.
Remember, men and women cheat for many reasons, but marriages survive because both individuals work on themselves. Just as it’s important for you to support your spouse to repair your bond, it’s equally important to let your spouse know that you need healing too.
How to avoid infidelity in marriage?
Each of us may have different definitions for infidelity but the impact remains the same. So, whatever your definition may be, here are 5 ways how you can avoid this horrendous incident called infidelity.
1. Make your choices clear
In a monogamous relationship, it’s necessary for both parties to be very clear about what cheating means to each of them. Have an honest conversation with your spouse about what you consider as cheating and ask them about their views.
Once everything is laid out in the open, honor both the choices and stick to them with all your might. If you feel that you’re doubting your choices, talk to your spouse about it.
2. Spend quality time with each other
One great way to avoid infidelity is to notice how absolutely wonderful your spouse is. And for that, it’s important to spend some quality time with each other.
Plan frequent date nights and build an emotional attachment. The closer you both get, especially in a strained marriage, the more you’ll realize how wrong you were to even think of cheating!
Notice all the nice little things that your husband or wife does for you and do the same for them!
3. Be open. Always.
This is the most important mantra of a healthy marriage. Talk, no matter what. Just talk!
If you’re going through a tough time, discuss it with your mate. If you feel attracted to a colleague or friend, make sure you tell your spouse and assure them that you won’t ever do anything wrong.
Half of your desires to cheat on your spouse will vanish the moment you talk clearly with your soulmate.
4. Never compare
Nope, comparing your spouse to another person of their gender is a big no-no. Yes, you can say things like, “Honey, this dress looks so great on this woman! Why don’t you try wearing something similar?” but taking things a notch further can be dangerous.
And while we’re at this, don’t ever compare your relationship to someone else’s. Every bond is unique and beautiful on its own, so there’s no reason to feel insecure.
5. Keep your sex life exciting!
An active and healthy sex life is often the secret to most long-lasting marriages. If you both shy away from talking about this openly, it will cause problems later on.
Experiment with sex toys or new positions. If you feel you’re not that bold yet, try with some mild foreplay and pay attention to what makes your partner get turned on. Gradually, you’ll find yourselves enjoying each other’s company more and more in the bedroom!
Who’s more likely to cheat in marriage and why?
According to studies, men are more likely to cheat than women. This may be because of unsatisfied sex life or insecurity.
Like it or not, butstudies have shown that men are most likely to cheat on their partners than women. This is because men express their love through physical gestures like sex, touching, hugging, etc. We all know that men aren’t that great when it comes to being expressive through words. So sex becomes a path toward intimacy and love.
Many men reported feeling that if they don’t feel sexually satisfied, they’ll feel unloved and take this rejection from their spouses seriously. In fact, men are also much more likely to cheat out of insecurity than women. When women cheat, they’re often trying to fill an emotional void in their lives through an emotional affair.
Most women, according to family therapists, go astray because they feel disconnected from their husbands. They want that intimacy and sense of belonging, so they try to find it with someone else.
This is why an affair is more of a “transitional phase” for a woman than a man. When a woman cheats, she might be seriously looking to end her marriage and start a new life with her lover. But a man mostly indulges in an extramarital affair for short-term purposes only.
However, this is just a general consensus, and many men and women’s behavior can differ from this. Similarly, boredom with one’s marriage can make them cheat, irrespective of their sex.
Even though now you know most things about infidelity in marriage, I am sure you still have some questions knocking your head. Let’s find the answer to them here.
A study by the American Psychological Association showed that 53% of married couples who experienced extramarital affairs and then went to therapy divorced in the next 5 years.
On the other hand, only 23% of married couples who didn’t experience adultery got divorced within 5 years. However, in a survey conducted by the Testing Health Centres, 20% of cheating women and just 10% of cheating men have reported staying in the relationship in which the affair occurred.
The answer here depends on whether or not the affair comes into light. The APA’s previous study showed that 43% of couples who had worked through their past indiscretions had opted for divorce, while a whopping 80% of married couples who had secret affairs were no longer together.
Surprisingly, it proves that even if the victim doesn’t find out explicitly that their spouse has cheated on them, they can still figure things out through lies and deception.
Luckily, there is always a road to recovery. You can always forgive your partner and move on with your life after grieving. Currently, the Gottman Institute is dedicating a team to figure out how to build trust in a marriage after infidelity and regain self-confidence. This method is called the Trust Revival Method, which comprises Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment.
In the Atonement stage, the cheating partner is supposed to express guilt and remorse and hear out their spouse. In the next stage, both partners are encouraged to work together and analyze what went wrong.
Finally, in the Attachment stage, the parties concentrate on fixing their marriage and bonding with each other.
This is a question that can have both answers. It only depends on you whether you choose to walk away or stay with your spouse. If you want some extra wisdom, you can check out some great talks by motivational speakers or read a self-help book!
A word from ThePleasantRelationship
So dear reader, I understand that this article has given you many insights into adultery and extramarital affairs. If you follow it carefully, you’ll be able to notice your partner’s behavior and analyze them.
As with anything else, it always helps to go to a counselor or therapist and speak to them. You can even seek help from a trusted friend or family member if you’re suspicious about your partner.
Other than that, don’t give up on love too early, and don’t be afraid to walk out either!
Surabhi wakes up every day with a drive to craft words that can create a soulful impact. Creatively adventurous, she is always seeking to learn new skills and acquire new experiences. With a hidden soft corner for languages (especially Urdu), she writes poetry occasionally, binges on romantic shows, and LOVES to talk. A hustler, admirer, chaser, Surabhi is just another-someone who refused to give up on her dreams. She says, she is just somebody who’s trying to make herself a writer and for now, she’s just writing...