Is My Husband Having an Affair?
Dear Dr. Betty,
My husband and I have been together for 17 wonderful years. Though we've had our ups and downs, we've had very good communication and a very good sex life overall. Up until three or four months ago, that is. In that time he's been distant. I know he's under a lot of pressure at work (that's his excuse), but he's been under a lot of pressure at work before. Do you think he might be having an affair? --W.
Beware of jumping to conclusions and confrontations. It's wise for you to go through a checklist of shifts in your husband's behavior first. Being less attentive and distant, less interested in sex, less emotionally available and willing to talk; having a renewed interest in his appearance, staying away from home more without accounting for his time and spending more time in front of the TV are all changes that could indicate an affair. But, these are also things that could result from being under a lot of stress at work, and going through all the changes of midlife -- including concerns about health, a parent's illness, awareness of mortality. . .
Before discussing these changes with your husband, ask yourself how much you really want to know. If you're ready to deal with the issue honestly and your husband's behavior has changed to a degree that you suspect something -- and you are aware of the consequences of asking -- then it's time to talk.
You say your communication is good and now is a time it'll really be tested. Try to remain calm -- there's a lot of emotion related to this issue, so state your fears clearly, invite your husband to express his feelings, and be patient. Also be aware of the temptation on your part to use criticism, sarcasm, or any below-the-belt tactics. They'll only bring on anger or avoidance. Good luck -- you will be dealing with a fine balancing act here.