If you suspect your spouse of cheating, you may want proof of infidelity.
Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
This proof may include checking phone records, following your spouse when he or she goes out, or even looking for biological evidence.
You may be wondering if it matters if you have proof of infidelity. In some states, infidelity can be used as grounds for divorce if you decide your marriage cannot be saved. Even in “no fault” states, proper evidence can influence a family court judge, particularly if there are children whose custody is at stake. Part of this may depend on whether your state laws consider adultery to be a crime.
If you feel that your spouse is capable of actually harming you, you may want to find evidence of an affair to satisfy the requirements of criminal law. For example, a study has shown that if you are harmed and have proof of infidelity, you stand a better chance of convicting your abuser.(1)
Researchers have also looked at the potential of violence being inflicted by one partner who is jealous of the other due to a suspected affair. Delusional jealousy, when no affair exists, is known as the “Othello syndrome.” In this case, the delusional partner sees any type of incident as proof of an affair, and uses it as an excuse to inflict violence on the spouse, who may have done nothing wrong.(2)
Some people enter relationship therapy because they have a vague feeling that something is wrong. In the course of treatment they find out that their spouse has been cheating, and they often ask, “How could I have missed the clues?” It is interesting to note that men and women react differently to clues about infidelity. One study gave men and women a series of tasks to do. While they were doing the tasks, the researchers gave them information that was irrelevant to the task. Both men and women were able to easily ignore the clues which were “neutral.” However, men were unable to concentrate on their given tasks when clues of sexual infidelity were presented, while women broke their concentration when clues of emotional infidelity were presented.(3)
Proof of infidelity may not be the same for everyone. Some people
act on mere suspicion, while others require biological evidence. Some
need proof of a sexual act before they will feel that they have proof of
infidelity, while others need only proof of an emotional attachment
before they act. No matter what level of proof you currently have, if
you are feeling uncomfortable in your relationship, you may benefit from
seeing a Relationship Specialist to work through your feelings.
(1)Friedman, Richard D. and Park, Roger C. Sometimes What Everybody Thinks They Know is True. Law and Human Behavior 27(6): 629-644. December, 2003.
(2)Sukru, Uguz; Huner, Aydin; and Yerlikaya, E. Ercument. Violence by Proxy in Othello Syndrome. International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice 9(4): 121-124. December, 2004.
(3)Schützwohl, Achim. The Disengagement of Attentive Resources from Task-irrelevant Cues to Sexual and Emotional Infidelity. Personality and Individual Differences 44(3): 633-644. February, 2008.
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Did Your Husband, Wife, or Intimate Partner Cheat on You?
Don't let infidelity, an affair, or a one-night stand destroy your relationship.
With professional intervention it is often possible to work through the pain of betrayal and come out stronger on the other side.
Steven Cohn, PhD is a seasoned Relationship Specialist with extensive experience in working with couples struggling to recover after an affair.