by Laura Miolla, Certified Coach, Mediator and Parentology Coach
Infidelity is a LOADED word. You think you know what it means. You might know how it feels. You definitely don’t want it to happen to you. The very thought of it creates an immediate knee-jerk reaction of fear and anxiety. Like most people, you probably define infidelity as cheating … sexual relations outside of the marriage … and yet, that definition only scratches the surface of what infidelity REALLY is and how it can sabotage your marriage.
Infidelity is defined as “the action or state of being UNFAITHFUL to a spouse.” And there are THREE types of infidelity, not just one: Emotional, Physical and Financial.
They all represent a betrayal of your trust and confidence, but each is progressively worse based on the degree of damage they cause. And certainly, all three together is the equivalent of an atomic bomb in your life.
It’s important to make the distinction that your relationship and your marriage are two separate things. In your wedding vows, you both pledged “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” Your vows represent your EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL commitment to each other, no matter what happens, for as long as you live. Emotional and Physical Infidelity are therefore betrayals of your relationship agreement.
Marriage, on the other hand, is the LEGAL contract that binds you together FINANCIALLY. All of the assets and debt accrued, from the date of the marriage until the date a divorce petition is filed, is considered joint marital property. It doesn’t matter who earned it or whose name is on the bank account. The legal contract of marriage is what makes you truly accountable to one another in a very tangible way … through MONEY. So, Financial Infidelity is a betrayal of your marriage contract. This explains why Emotional and Physical Infidelity (Adultery) are not considered cause for divorce in the U.S. … they have no LEGAL relevance.
Financial Infidelity can hide under the radar for a really long time … but only because most people don’t want to recognize it for what it really is. In one case, my client was in constant arguments with her husband. He always agreed that saving money for emergencies and retirement was important, but he was still racking up huge credit card bills every month. He bought what HE wanted, regardless of what was wanted or needed by the family. AND he would always be expecting her to clear his debt because she was the primary breadwinner. His behavior kept her in a state of constant money fear and scarcity. She knew it felt like a violation to her, but she didn’t realize it was infidelity. It is.
Unfortunately, your spouse could be unfaithful across the board with all three types of infidelity, as was the case for another client of mine. This client married straight out of school. She and her husband built a family, a business and a life together. They were the perfect couple. She insists it was true because everyone told her so. And he was the perfect husband, generously buying her jewelry and designer clothes. Even when he became more and more distant, he was still buying her things. That’s love … right? She thought so until she noticed money missing from their joint bank account. A LOT of money. That’s when she started to doubt that maybe her perfect life wasn’t so perfect after all.
A private detective confirmed her worst fear. He was having an affair. As you can imagine, the other woman was half his age. And to add insult to injury, he had diverted money from their business to buy her a house and put her on the payroll with a 6-figure salary. And from the forensic analysis that exposed all the ways he tried to hide money, we know the other woman was also getting jewelry and designer clothes, along with spa treatments and romantic getaways in exotic locations.
Unfortunately, my client’s situation is all too common. Friends and family blame his cheating for their divorce, but that minimizes the true depth and breadth of his betrayal AND her pain. Now she has to deal with the emotional devastation of his betrayal and also the current and future financial consequences of his actions. Just because he earned the money, doesn’t mean it was his to spend. And once the money is spent it can be really difficult to claw back in a divorce.
In the words of Penelope Douglas, “we all eat lies when our hearts are hungry.”
Infidelity … of any type … can go undetected for years, quite simply, because you don’t want to believe it. The breaking of trust … betrayal … is at the core of infidelity. Even more insidious is the accompanying deception that is intended to keep YOU choosing and acting from a belief that the trust in your relationship is still intact. Your power is in your ability to choose and NOT knowing the truth of your relationship and marriage takes that choice away from you. Their deception is intended to keep you powerless and to manipulate and control you to their benefit.
The hallmarks of successful relationships and marriages include trust, respect, honesty and appreciation. If you’re not getting one of them, it’s likely you are being deceived about the rest as well. Don’t be afraid to question or to trust your gut instinct. If you’re feeling something is off, you are probably right. And now that you know the different types of infidelity, you are more likely to expose it for what it is and address it faster than you would have otherwise.
Related post: Three Phases of Healing from Infidelity
Laura Miolla is a Certified Coach, Mediator and Parentology Coach empowering women to lead in the midst of seismic change. Schedule a consultation with Laura or learn about her online divorce preparation course designed to save you huge time, money and stress in the divorce process.