When my marriage was slowly sliding off a cliff eight years ago, there were plenty of warning signs. Hindsight is 20/20, so of course I’m aware of those signs now. I had no idea I was drifting right into a marital affair back then.
Here are the top nine signs:
1. Your marriage has become transactional
Your interactions revolve around driving carpool, grocery shopping, calling the plumber, shuttling kids to birthday parties and volunteering at the food pantry.
It’s all about who is doing what, where and when. There is zero time for self-care and to just “be” together.
2. Everything is prioritized over your partner
Work is crazy. You catch up in the evening after the kids are asleep.
The kids’ schedules are crazy. They all have to be at different places at the same time – every day.
You got into running and are training for a marathon in two months – with your eye on another in eight months.
Your sister and brother-in-law just moved 10 minutes away. You’re helping them settle into their new house and the community by hosting a couple of casual get-togethers.
You feel like you haven’t seen your partner in months – and it doesn’t bother you.
(This is actually one of the biggest signs a marital affair could be coming. Being this disconnected is detrimental to any relationship.)
3. You can’t remember the last time you went on a date
You have been making a list of restaurants you want to try for years. But you never set a time to go out. “Maybe next month,” you always say.
As soon as the kids are in bed, you are too. And in fact, you’re so exhausted in the evening, you can’t imagine dressing up and going out.
If you do go on a date, you’re not even sure what you’ll talk about.
4. You pick fights
His dishwasher loading technique? Ohmigod, I might as well just do it myself.
The way she folds your socks? Doing it wrong.
The music he listens to? No. Just no.
All of that lotion she insists on keeping in the bathroom? What is wrong with her!
Yes, this stuff can be harmless to mildly annoying – but now it just drives you batshit.
5. You avoid sex
You make sure you go to bed before your partner. Or you stay up way later than you’d prefer just to be sure your partner is asleep first.
You use every excuse in the book. I’m tired. It’s late. It’s early. I have a headache. It’s that time of the month. I’m sore from that intense workout yesterday.
Your partner tries to hold your hand, nuzzle your neck, or cuddle on the couch – and you don’t respond. Or if you do, you are sure not to take it any further. You’re just not interested.
6. You have no idea what your partner wants in life
The last time you had a really deep, hours-long conversation about life, the future and your goals was … um, six years ago? Maybe?
In fact, your partner has been making noises about auditioning for a local theater production – but you had no idea he was “into” theater.
And all your friends know you want to retire to Costa Rica – but your partner doesn’t find out til you happen upon an episode of “International House Hunters” in Costa Rica and suddenly shout, “That’s where I want to live!”
7. You look for fun and adventure elsewhere
You live for happy hour with your colleagues, going on long runs with your best friend, spending weekends at car meetups where you can show off your restored MG, playing in a co-ed softball league, working out with the delicious new trainer at the gym … the list goes on.
You’d rather be out and about with other people than at home with your partner.
Pretty soon, you look for events or activities that will get you out of the house and with people who “get” you.
8. You lie about who you’re spending time with …
Eventually, you have to start lying. “Why are there so many photos of you with X at the bar after softball?”
And: “This is the fourth time you’ve been to the gym this week – what gives?”
Or: “You must really like your co-workers – it’s nearly 2:30am on a Thursday!”
This is when the marital affair warning flag really becomes obvious.
9. … And where you’re going
“Someone put together a last-minute birthday party for one of our softball teammates. I’ll be home late.”
“I have to go into the office on Saturday morning to finish up a presentation.”
“I’m going to a new happy hour tonight!”
“My cousin just texted that he’s in town. We haven’t seen each other in ages, so I’m going to meet up with him after work.”
Believe me, it gets more creative as the flirtation heats up.
When you begin texting surreptitiously and imagining life with another person, you are well on your way to having a marital affair.
If this sounds like your life right now, consider becoming a member of The Shelter. You will have a safe space to discuss what’s going on and get clarity around what to do next. Learn more here.
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