Q: MY husband and I have been married for five years and we have two lovely children. My husband has been acting strange lately; he comes home late, his phone is always with him when he showers and he is not the affectionate man I know him to be. In short, I suspect he is having an affair. While washing his shirts recently, I discovered receipts for a perfume and flowers, but I never received such gifts. I guess the lucky person is his girlfriend. I have spoken to some of my friends about how to handle this situation and they tell me that all men cheat, so it’s better to stay with my husband than to leave him and meet someone worse than him. How do I confront my husband about having an affair and is it even worth it? - SCORNED WIFE
A: WHEN someone you’ve committed yourself to spending the rest of your life with changes on you and you have suspicions of infidelity, it brings about feelings of doubt and insecurity. Matters are far worse when you’ve given yourself whole-heartedly to the relationship. Thoughts will flood your mind everytime he steps out of the door, when you look at him, when you’re by yourself and everytime you do something for him. You start to think of the depth of your commitment, the time and energy you’ve invested, your values, the children, the meaning of the vows you took, as well as the meaning of life in general.
DON’T PUT OFF DEALING WITH IT
No one can ever argue the incredible pain of the possibility that your husband may be cheating on you. However, as you seem to have reasons to suspect that he is cheating, then it’s time to actually start confirming his unfaithfulness. The longer you put off dealing with this potentially devastating situation, the worse you will feel if you find out that he has not been honest with you. You should carefully listen to what he says and observe what he does around you and pay particular attention to what has actually changed. Don’t start out by accusing him. Rather enquire about his changed behaviour and the receipts in a manner that won’t end in a fight.
We can’t stress enough the importance of not assuming that he is cheating. Unless you have hard evidence or undeniable proof, he won’t easily admit to it on the basis of your suspicions. There are many behaviours that indicate a possible affair. However, it is quite possible that your husband could have some of these behaviours and not actually be cheating. To ensure you don’t come out looking like a crazy person, you have to gather evidence before you can confront him about cheating. Unless you catch them red-handed, cheaters generally manipulate and cause you to doubt your sanity. Even then they usually only admit to what they think you already know. If you confront a cheater before you have evidence and hard questions that demand hard facts, there’s a good chance they’ll take the affair more underground. Put all your evidence in a safe place and remember to never reveal your sources.
NOT ALL MEN CHEAT
We advise the above because we believe the first person to talk to, even about the behavioural changes you notice, is your husband. While you may feel you need someone to talk to, sometimes the worst advice you can get is from your friends. You should never endure the pain of a man with a cheating lifestyle just because of an unfounded assumption that you will meet someone with worst behaviour. However, it’s not surprising that your friends believe the myth that “all men cheat”. Yes, it’s a myth! Not all men cheat. Believing this lie will lead you to let your husband off the hook and reinforce false stereotypes about male and female sexuality. It naturalises an immature, cruel and deliberate act of infidelity.
NEVER TORMENT YOURSELF
People are faithful to their partners because they make a conscious and deliberate commitment to do so and because they don’t want to hurt them. Men are no more capable of cheating than women. When you make cheating ‘a men thing’, you not only allow yourself to stay in a relationship with a sketchy and a selfish liar of a man, but you also teach him that he’s not accountable for his own behaviour. People who believe the lie about “all men are cheaters”, usually also believe another lie, that “once a cheater always a cheater”. Based on your husband’s behaviour, there’s a very good chance that your intuition is sensing that he is indeed unfaithful, whether it is physical or emotional. You should be concerned if your gut feeling says nothing to you. If your husband keeps denying it, but you remain convinced, you may need to get professional help. But never torment yourself and live in fear that your life and that of your children will come to a miserable end over myths.