Ask If They're Cheating If you’ve been surprised and hurt by a cheating partner in the past, it can be tough to trust your current spouse. BY DR. NEIL FIORE
Have you ever thought your spouse was cheating on you?
In my first marriage, my spouse cheated on me. I have since remarried to a great partner. Why do I feel that my spouse is fooling around behind my back?
When trust has been broken in a former relationship, you may doubt your ability to know if your spouse is cheating. You may also feel insecure and doubt the desirable qualities that you bring to your current relationship. It’s only natural after heartbreak to be on your guard and protective of your heart, even when your spouse is faithful to you.
Take a look in the mirror. Begin trusting in yourself, your positive qualities and what you offer your spouse. Stop doubting your worth. Take the attitude; I’m going make him or her remember why we were so excited about getting married.
Examine your suspicions and determine if they’re left over from your prior relationship or a childhood fear of abandonment, or are being triggered by some change in your current relationship. Changes in your marriage may be a natural adjustment to balance the seeming contradictory needs for both closeness and for independence. This delicate balance of dependency-independency need is like a dance that brings you together and then moves you apart––until you rediscover yourself and your desire to come together with even greater closeness.
Spending a lot of time together sometimes means that we lose our sense of a separate self and feel stifled. That’s when one of you may need some time alone or with friends to experience their independence and begin to miss you once again. There’s actually a perfect card I saw for expressing this that said, "How can I miss you if you won’t go away?"
What to say and how to say it. How can you express your concerns in a way that may bring you closer? Begin by finding a way of talking about your concerns without actually accusing him or her of cheating. Ask your spouse for the closeness you want and be assertive.
For example, instead of, "You make me feel suspicious by not calling me when you’re supposedly 'at the office working late.'" You might try one of the following:
* "I have a problem with feeling insecure since my last partner cheated on me. I feel very open and committed to our relationship and I don't want to hold back because of silly suspicions. I would feel so much closer to you if you called me when you are going to be late and tell me when you are coming home."
* "I want to connect more deeply with you, but I’m afraid that your feelings have changed. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but you feel more distant. Is there anything I should worry about, or do you just need some time alone?"
* "Is there anything I can do to rekindle the closeness, love, and passion we had before? Let’s set aside time to talk openly. Our busyness is keeping us from connecting."
* If all else fails, you can always ask directly, "Are you interested in someone else?" Okay, so this is more accusatory, but this is more easily said, and heard, when put in the larger context: "I love you and I want our relationship to be joyful, loving, and exciting. Lately, you seem more distant and I need to ask you, are you giving up on us because you’ve found someone else? Are you willing to bring the passion back into our relationship?"
Trust that you can maintain your self-respect while expressing your feelings and communicating without blaming. Keep trusting in your worth and the value you bring to any relationship.
Dr. Neil Fiore is a psychologist practicing in Berkeley, CA, a coach, a speaker, and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage [McGraw-Hill, 2006]. His bestselling guide to overcoming procrastination, The Now Habit [Putnam, 2007], is revised and available at iTunes under "Audio books," and at www.audible.com under "Self-Development." You can schedule phone sessions with Neil at "Coaching" along with his "Free Articles & Tips" at www.neilfiore.com.