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Nip Infidelity in the Bud

Here are 7 signs your mate may be thinking of straying.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Think cheating is something that can never happen to your relationship?

Think again.

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Statistics from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy suggest that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have had sex outside of their marriage. When emotional affairs or sexual intimacies without intercourse are included, the number jumps by 20%.

But straying is not inevitable, no matter how many soap operas you watch, says Frances Cohen Praver, PhD, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in Locust Valley, N.Y., and the author of Daring Wives: Insight into Women's Desires for Extramarital Affairs.

"For the most part, people don't just go out and cheat. There are warnings," she tells WebMD. The good news is that knowing the common signs and addressing them head-on can save your relationship from infidelity.

Red Flag No. 1: Crying Out for Help

"The most common warning is when a partner tells you something is amiss and you don't believe it," Praver says. "He or she may say, 'This marriage isn't working,' or 'I am not happy.'"

Marriage Saving Solution: Taking the Bait

"This is akin to being hit over the head with a 2 X 4," Praver says. "If your partner is reaching out, take the bait," she says. "First open up a dialogue, and if you can't get anywhere, consider couples therapy."

Red Flag No. 2: Sudden Change -- or Interest -- in Appearance.

Is your husband talking about getting botox to eliminate his frown lines? Did your wife recently start coloring her hair and scrapping her jeans for a low-cut black dress? If so, this may indicate he or she is on the prowl, experts say.

Marriage Saving Solution: If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them

"This can make you bitter or better," says John Van Epp, PhD, a therapist in Medina, Ohio and author of the forthcoming How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk: the foolproof way to follow your heart without losing your mind.

"If they are going through changes and you are fairly certain no one else is involved, this is an opportunity," he says. "Join in and spice up your relationship."

Red Flag No. 3: Unconstructive Criticism

"If your partner says, 'You need to see a psychiatrist,' 'You need help,' 'Get a job,' 'Lose weight,' or 'Go to the gym,' and is constantly critical, it's all part of the same theme -- which is that there is something wrong with you," points out Elizabeth Landers of Gross Pointe, Mich., co-author of THE SCRIPT: The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat.

"Unconsciously, they are setting it up to say their partner was nuts and wouldn't even go for help." Another tip-off is when he or she starts picking fights about something you are good at, so you fight back and then he or she calls you argumentative," she says. "These things happen 100% of the time."

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