July 19, 2011
You've been married for a while and things are getting, well, monotonous. Do you:
A. talk to your spouse about your concerns.
B. hope it just fixes itself.
"Marriage is work and a lot of people don't want to put in the work sometimes," says "Mr. Goodbar" (not his real name), a self-proclaimed cheater and author of the book "The Married Man's Guide to Cheating: Rules and Regulations of the Game" (iUniverse.com, $9.95). "So many times we don't want to talk about our needs and what we're thinking because it might be scary."
Mr. Goodbar interviewed several cheating men for his book, and by revealing the warning signs of a man who will stray, he hopes he will motivate couples to express their needs and desires before it's too late.
"Stepping out on your marriage happens because there isn't communication," Mr. Goodbar says. "I think this information could help women learn how to make their marriage better. Sometimes just knowing what's going on in a man's mind can be helpful."
So how do you know if someone is cheating? Mr. Goodbar, who wrote about men cheating, gave the following tips that apply to men and women:
•Starts wearing flashy clothes. "If your man never cared about his appearance, and suddenly he is — that's trouble."
•Starts hanging out with the guys (or the gals) too often, or works late. "If he's suddenly got hobbies he didn't have before, it could be an excuse."
•A new attitude about sex (wanting more or wanting less).
•Money issues. "Also, watch how they spend money. If there's a separate account, that's a no-brainer."
"Whatever you are getting by cheating, whether it's intimacy or appreciation or that rush of falling in love, it's a novelty," says psychologist Kelly Minor, who has treated male and female cheaters. "You get hooked on that and if you don't wake up to it, you just stay in these patterns."
Mr. Goodbar says not enough couples go to counseling, which can be the key to saving a marriage when the infatuation wears off.
"I was so in love with my wife, I thought she could do no wrong," he says. "I never thought I would cheat. I thought this was it. But then we started growing in different directions. I wanted to go to couples therapy and my wife wouldn't do it. Nobody likes to look at their faults, but cheating happens because something shifts for both of you. It's never all one person's fault."
And when the boredom in your marriage sets in, Mr. Goodbar says that's when most people just give up.
"If you're just coming to bed in sweatpants, and she's wearing a green mask on her face seven days a week, that's not gonna fly," he says. "You both have to make an effort and share your needs and fantasies."
If you cheat once, will you always be a cheater?
"I have seen people transform — absolutely," says Minor.
Mr. Goodbar agrees.
"Just because you cheat once doesn't mean you will with everybody," he says. "I think you can be a cheater, but then you find that one special person and you just want to be with that one person. That's when you stop."
Minor says breaking the cheating cycle takes awareness and the desire to change.
"Someone who cheats can choose to blame others or they can pause and go deeper and sort of wake up to their life and realize, 'Look at what I'm feeling here,' and then they can be more aware," she says.
Mr. Goodbar says it's often the shame that will stop men from being repeat offenders.
"There was a man a couple of years ago who got busted (for cheating) and his wife made him stand on the corner with a street sign that said, 'I cheated on my wife,'" says Mr. Goodbar. "He was so ashamed and he said he would stand out there as long as it took to make it right. It's a horrible feeling — the guilt is a terrible thing.
"But people keep cheating."
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