I recently read an article that was talking about what signs you should look for to tell if your spouse is cheating on you. The signs the article shared seemed to be right on point; you spouse starts keeping their phone on lockdown, they are distant and take up new hobbies, or they try new moves in the bedroom. All signs that could be red flags that your spouse is being unfaithful. Reading the article though, there was something missing. A piece that is more important than any of the warning signs that may be present. You have to be ready to admit to yourself that your partner is having an affair to be able to see it happening.
I know that it may sound a little odd that I would think it is so important that someone is ready to see that their spouse is having an affair. Wouldn’t you just be able to see? Unfortunately, no! Your spouse could be wearing a sign that says, “I am having an affair” and if you are not ready to face the issue and deal with the pain and hurt it is easy to deny or rationalize why the sign isn’t true.
We all have psychological defenses to protect us again pain. If our defenses our up we rationalize, we deny, we overlook because we fear the pain the truth will cause. I have had client after client who found clue after evidence after proof of an affair but were only able to see the truth when so much evidence piled up they could deny it no longer. It is so easy to accept an answer from our spouse that does not add up so we do not have to face reality. “It is just a woman I work with,”or “I am texting him so much because he is my friend and understands me.” Almost every couple I have worked with where one spouse is having an affair, has said “I knew way before I actually found out.” They could sense the difference in their spouse, the distance in the relationship, or all of the signs were right there. Some know a week before, some months, some even a year or more but they just cannot face the reality of what was really happening.
The pain of an affair is immense and does not go away quickly. Having a feeling consciously or subconsciously that you cannot handle or deal with that amount or type of pain an affair causes often leads us to not be able to see what might be right in front of us. Counseling is about being able to take down those psychological defenses and having a guide to help you navigate through the pain that comes along with that. If there is an elephant in the room in your marriage, ignoring or pretending like the elephant is not there does not make the elephant go away. Healing and growth can only begin when the truth is talked about. The truth really can set you free.