Early Warning Signs of Infidelity

Marital unfaithfulness is a problem of catastrophic proportions in our culture.  Experts have estimated that infidelity occurs in up to 75% of all marriages in the U.S.  While some try to justify this phenomenon by labeling it as human nature, the devastating consequences to individuals and families are a clear testimony that there is nothing normal about adultery.  It only leads to tragedy.  [See related article.]  While there are some with deep-seated problems who intentionally seek opportunities to cheat, most do not deliberately set out to do so.  Indeed, many who become unfaithful to their spouse never believe that it will happen to them.  Often they are left thinking "how did this happen?"

It is important to realize that you are not immune to potentially comprising situations no matter how much you love your spouse or how committed you are to your marriage.  It is a myth to think that all marriages in which infidelity takes place were already in trouble before it occurred.  That is true in many cases.  But, it is also true that some happily married people find themselves in jeopardizing circumstances they never anticipated because they are not cognizant of the warning signs.  Or, they may recognize some of the red flags, but seriously underestimate how quickly their thoughts and emotions can betray them causing their reason and will to deteriorate.

Here are some of the common early warning signs of infidelity...

(1)  Your mind and thoughts go to another person.  If you find yourself frequently, or even occasionally, thinking about someone else you need to recognize that this is a serious problem.  Many people justify such thoughts by telling themselves there is nothing wrong with imagining as long as they don't act on it.  In reality, however, only bad things can result from allowing your thoughts to dwell on another.  [See related article.]

(2)  You make mental comparisons between your spouse and another person.  If you find yourself comparing characteristics of another person to that of your spouse you have taken a major step in the wrong direction.  Even if this mental process is very informal or subtle, it is dangerous ground.  When confronted with a moral conflict, our depraved human nature will seek to rationalize the offending thoughts and feelings.  By making these mental comparisons you are unwittingly attempting to convince your violated conscious that you are justified in what you are pondering.

(3)  You pick fights with your spouse.  In order to pacify the conscience from thoughts and feelings of betrayal, a common manifestation is to pick fights with one's spouse.  This is generally done unintentionally.  What is actually happening is that you are further affirming or justifying your negative perceptions in an unconscious effort to validate your rationale for a breach of loyalty.

(4)   You desire to impress another.  This may take several forms.  You may spend time thinking about what to say in your next encounter.  You will probably find yourself dressing or grooming nicer than usual.  You might impulsively decide to lose weight or work out in order to appear more attractive.  This does not mean you have yet made the decision to be unfaithful.  But it is certainly a tell-tale sign that you are headed down the wrong path if your intention (conscience or unconscious) is to impress someone other than your spouse.

(5)  You find yourself not wanting to go home.  When the moral conflict reaches a certain point, you may find yourself hesitant or anxious about going home.  Whether you realize it or not your conscious wants to avoid the dormant guilt and shame inherent in entertaining the possibility of another relationship.  Some even experience divided loyalties and will withdraw emotionally, and even sexually, from their spouse while the conflict rages in their mind.

Recognizing the early warning signs of potential infidelity is not sufficient in and of itself to halt impending danger.  You must take decisive action to remove yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally from such threats.  But, being aware of these warning signs is the first step in the critical process of protecting your marriage.
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