But I was wrong.
I used to believe that my marriage was impervious to outside pressures — we were passionate, communicative and had weathered many storms. I was confident. Too confident. My assurance that there was no danger was the danger. Subtle signs, that perhaps I would have seen if I was on high alert, went unnoticed since I thought I was safe.
I was familiar with the usual signs of infidelity — changes in hours, habits or behaviors. Apparently, he was familiar with them as well, as he was careful to cover his tracks without triggering any alarms. When his double life was revealed after he left the marriage with a text message, I was questioned endlessly about how I didn’t see it coming.
I didn’t see it because I failed to recognize the following myths about relationship red flags:
The danger of slipping on a wet floor does not come when we pass the orange cone emblazoned with, “Cuidado: piso mojado.” Rather, the hazard is when we do not see the sign and we continue to walk boldly across the innocent-looking floor until we are caught off guard by some hidden spill.
17 thoughts on “Six Relationship Red Flag Myths That Can Destroy Your Marriage”
You are so right, it’s the whisper, the gut feeling. That is what I’ll listen to next time!
I did listen to the whispers and that is partly why I looked incessantly for proof hoping against hope that I would not find it. However the next time round I wish to be more believing of my gut feeling (with or without proof) rather than second guessing at every instance.
I didn’t notice anything either until 3 weeks before my first DDay. By then, it had been going on for four years. His hours never changed as most of his sexcapades were during work hours. He didn’t text until AP#3, so his LTA? No paper trail at all. The main sign was his detachment when I look back, but I thought that was just stress over my health issues, having 5 young children and his stressful job you know? Yeah, the warning signs are sometimes so very very subtle ornot there at all.
That’s part of it – there’s always other (more logical) explanations available in our busy, messy lives!
“I used to believe that my marriage was impervious to outside pressures — we were passionate, communicative and had weathered many storms. I was confident. Too confident. My assurance that there was no danger was the danger. Subtle signs, that perhaps I would have seen if I was on high alert, went unnoticed since I thought I was safe.” I have said much the same thing…but, is not a marriage supposed to be safe? Are we not supposed to assume that it is strong? Isn’t that what this whole commitment thing is supposed to be about? It is not your error if you have faith. It is the other’s for taking advantage of it. I have seen marriages also destroyed by the person who’s alert level was always so high, that no trust could exist. I don’t even know if there is a happy medium, because the decision will always be wrong if there is dishonesty from one.
My biggest fear was that I would stay on high alert in my next relationship. That can be equally as destructive. It took time to build trust, but I do not carry that hyper alert status. I have faith again but I am also more aware.
And, you are so right, dishonesty destroys regardless.
Excellent article (congrats). I think this is the best advice you could give anyone who has not been touched by infidelity yet. I’ve seen a million shows about how to know if your spouse is cheating and my husband didn’t fall into these categories. What I see now when I look back was that he was uneasy, disconnecting from me and his family, and there was a sense of unhappiness with himself. As soon as that feeling sank in my gut–I relelentlessly searched for the reason until I found the answer. Since he ended the affair things have gotten better and I see the difference in him too… I hope this article can help someone before they have to go through what either of us has been through.
Glad that things are going better:)
I think an internal unhappiness is a common precursor to infidelity.
I think the main point is that when you have trust, absolute trust, you do not look out for the red flags because you do not think that you have to.
I think you’re right that we get stuck on external signals / structure when we should be more attuned internally. There really isn’t any “alarm system for a troubled marriage” it’s mostly about being connected to someone in an honest, direct way. And giving them/encouraging them to have their own independence and space.
Plus signals are not static. Someone working late frequently (a commonly acknowledged “warning signal”) could be a reflection of their passion for getting things done right. I’ve seen people spend 8-10 hours in one day together and it not replenish their love/connection, and others spend 45 minutes and be totally sync’d up. If you’re always willing to ask / answer / be flexible about the question “what works for you” then you won’t need an alarm system with “this means that” warning signals.
Ahh, yes. The quality vs quantity distinction. So true!
See, I saw those lists and went “check, check, check.” I asked, twice, if she was having an affair. She said no, both times. We got divorced and now she’s marrying her boss. Yeah… sometimes the lists are actually right.
Does that mean that he will hold annual review meetings for their marriage?:) I can’t even imagine marrying a boss!
All kidding aside, I’m sorry to hear about your marriage and that the lists were right.
Ha. I can imagine one of them getting put on a performance improvement plan.
I’m not sorry to hear about my marriage… just glad it is over and that I’ve found someone a little (understatement) more clear on what loyalty means (in addition to a great number of other important qualities).
I think these lists are useless too, all except one… the change of behaviours. These are things that cannot be ignored.
My ex dyed her hair and was so concerned about losing weight, eating properly and she hadn’t had so much concern about her body image in the 12 years we were together.
She would always leave her phone lying around but she started taking it everywhere with her. I mean she would go to the toilet and have it with her. She’d have a shower and have it in the bathroom with her. Yet before this she’d often struggle to remember when she had it last. So from a phone that she could never find to one that never left her side.
Finally, we were always so honest and open. It got to the stage where if I walked past her when she was on her laptop, she’d hide the screen from me, turn it away so the angle was such that I couldn’t see it. She’d keep her phone out of my viewing range when she was using it.
It’s the little changes that matter – and lots of them – not an ordered list of stages offered by armchair psychologists.