These are words no married woman ever wants to say, yet 60% of husbands have cheated, so if you haven’t dealt with it already, you may have to one day.  When you discover your husband is cheating on you, it is devastating. 

What do you do? 

First of all, you need absolute proof.  If you have suspicions, they must be confirmed.  Many a man has been driven to cheat because he thinks, “She thinks I am already, so I might as well go ahead.”  You want to avoid that position.

Other women make the mistake of ignoring early signs that he’s cheating.  There may be phone call hang-ups you’re ignoring, or he’s changed his schedule without a good explanation, coming home later at night, or not at all. 

You know your man, and if he’s changed things in his life recently, and is acting distant, defensive, or irritable, you need to pay attention to your intuition.  Some clues are:  losing weight and getting in shape, hiding credit card bills, being gone from home and blaming it on work, going outside with the cell phone (how many times can you “walk the dog”?) or suddenly wearing cologne when he never did before. 

Suspicions are clues that you need to investigate.  Many women stick their heads in the sand and refuse to face what they’re perceiving, but the longer you let it go, the less your chances for remedy.

So what do you do when, after weeks or even months of suspicion, you’ve had it confirmed either by personal discovery, or by hiring someone to investigate?  With the sure knowledge your husband is cheating, now you have to do something. 

The last thing you want to do is suggest counseling.  I first learned this tip from Dr. Huizenga’s book, “Break Free from the Affair,” and he’s a psychologist!  Why not counseling?  Because, first of all, it rarely works.  No one profits from anything they don’t really want to do, and it’s unlikely a cheating husband in the throes of an affair is motivated in that direction.  He may agree to go, but when he gets there, he’ll sabotage, refusing to disclose anything.  Think about it.  Would you? 

Another thing to avoid is clinging and demanding.  The reason this doesn’t work is that he has somewhere to go, to another woman who is all lovey-dovey, which makes you seem even more like a witch.  As one man told me, “Why should I come home and listen to all that when I can go to The Other Woman and get some loving?”

Men discharge emotion; they don’t like to sit with it.  If you’re annoying him (I know that sounds unfair), he’ll go somewhere for some soothing.  That’s just the way it works. 

Also avoid comparing yourself to The Other Woman.  Find out about her, if you can, and you’ll likely find out she’s very ordinary, and probably not half the woman you are.  Some lack on your part isn’t why he’s cheating.  Some women do benefit from seeing a photo of The Other Woman, finding out where she lives, etc. 

Men cheat for various reasons, which often don’t have anything to do with loving you.  It may be about ego – he’s suffered a setback at work, for instance, and feels inadequate, and that’s just the way some men’s minds work.  Getting another woman makes them feel like “more of a man.” 

Or maybe he’s somehow gotten the idea he’s inferior to YOU, which also certainly is not your fault.

The best thing you can do is take care of yourself.  Coaching or counseling for YOU can help you stay centered, focus on the future, and avoid doing the things that may drive him away permanently or harm you.  You should know that the majority of affairs are time-limited.  Often the man does not leave the marriage; he has no intention of doing this.  I know this sounds like agony, because it is agonizing, so learning how to cope while this is going on can save your sanity.   How you cope with this adversity will help or hinder when other adversities occur.  

You need to figure out who you are and what this means to you in the long run.  Can you live with a man who does this?  Can you forget?  Forgive?  How can you survive while you wait it out?  If he does give up The Other Woman, can you ever trust him again? 

These are big issues to deal with, none of which are your fault, you weren’t the perpetrator.  It takes a clear head, and the ability to manage some very tough emotions while you consider the best course of action for you, and the children. 

You don’t want to make a rash decision in the heat of the moment.   If you want a divorce, are you prepared for one?  Will you and the kids be financially okay?  Do you know where the assets are?  What about medical insurance?  Child custody?  And how can you even think straight with that assortment of negative emotions overwhelming you and the person you would ordinarily turn to talk things over and get perspective is the very person causing all the trouble? 

You don’t have to go through it alone.  There’s help available for you, so take advantage of it.  Talking to your mom or your best friend isn’t enough, or even a good thing to do.  What if you decide to stay with him?  Your mom and your best friend are generally solidly in your camp.  If they take sides, which is what you expect them to do, what if you decide to stay with him?  They may say things about your husband they can’t take back that you’ll resent later on, and that will strain these important relationships.

One coaching client told me, “She kept saying how terrible he was, and finally I couldn’t help it.  I told her all the reasons I couldn’t stand her husband.  Then they got back together and she wouldn’t speak to me again.”

Arm yourself with information – both about what’s going on, and how best to cope with it.  Develop your emotional intelligence so you can manage the emotions while making some important decisions.  Take care of yourself and remember it isn’t about you.  It’s about him and what’s going on with him, but the only person you can work on is yourself.