In my practice, I often see military couples whose relationship has been hit with infidelity. I was struck by how often those affairs began in the workplace.
So I started asking men who were cheating during their marriage or relationship how they were able to cheat without any obstacles to their behavior or being caught. Why was it so easy for them to cheat for long periods of time during their relationship? When did they have time to cheat with more than one woman?
Men happily let me know how their spouses and girlfriends helped them cheat. Take a look at the top five ways you may be helping your man cheat and my quick tips to help you with each one.
1. You have very few friends. Sometimes military life moves you away from your network of friends. Sometimes you isolate yourself. Sometimes you do not allow your few close friends to give you a “gut-check” or any advice about your man. The cheating man loves this because you don’t have any outside influences. Many men reported that a friend of their wife or girlfriend had seen them in public with the other woman and never said one word.
Quick tip: You need some girlfriends that you can depend on and trust. Don’t leave your girlfriends behind just because you are in a relationship.
2. You believe what he says and never ask questions. Cheating men tell me they are skilled and know how to “flip the script.” In other words, they know how to turn a situation around and make you look crazy. The cheating man becomes defensive when you question him. So to avoid an argument or because you don’t want to lose the relationship, you decide to avoid the situation totally and not ask questions about his increasingly long hours at work. Or times when he is missing in action and unaccounted for. Or late night phone calls, etc.
Quick Tip: When you know something is not right and you are prepared to deal with the truth, a good offense is a good defense. Don’t put your partner on the defensive with “you” statements. Instead make “I” statements like “I think,” “I feel,” or “I need.” This way you are not being negative, you are being assertive and telling him what you need. His actions will let you know if he is truly invested in the marriage or relationship.
3. You are invisible to his co-workers and friends. When his co-workers and friends don’t even know you exist, this gives a cheating man room to lead a double life. It also gives the other woman courage and boldness to step up and take your place. After all, the other woman would love to be his wife or his girlfriend. The other woman lets her presence be known. She is available and you are not. One reoccurring reason men say their wives are invisible: They are too involved with the children. The children became “front and center” and he didn’t matter anymore. As a result, he became vulnerable and it led to cheating.
Quick Tip: Men consistently tell me that they wish their wives could have more balance with the kids and work. Include him so that he feels like he is a part of the family and not an outsider. Make time for him. Meet people on his job so people in his unit know who you are and make friends with some of them. Bringing lunch to work once in a while is something many couples make time to do.
4. The finances are off limits to you. The cheating man handles the checking and savings account and any other investments. You don’t know anything about the finances so he’s free to spend money on “her.” This is a serious red flag. If your husband leaves, you will be destitute because you have no finances of your own. This is one dynamic that marriage counseling does little to change. It’s about power and control -- and he has all of it.
Quick Tip: You have to become resourceful, gain independence, continue your education, and start earning an income. This will increase your confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. My grandmother once said: Every woman needs her own pair of roller skates.
5. You blame the other woman. Your man has cheated on you more than once. Each time you blame the other woman and forgive him. He has your permission to cheat.You help him cheat because you don’t hold him accountable for his behavior. He apologizes. He cries. He tells you how much you mean to him. He buys you some presents or takes you on a nice vacation and promises never to do it again. Then, history repeats itself.
Quick Tip: I always recommend counseling to help repair the damage done because of infidelity. In this case, I would highly suggest individual counseling to help you answer one question: Why would you choose to stay in a relationship with a cheater and protect him?
According to the research, infidelity touches about a third of all marriages. When infidelity reaches into your relationship, you can’t afford to pretend it isn’t happening. I hope you will use these tips to give yourself a reality check and then take the right actions.
|Family and Spouse|
Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.
Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.