By Cheryl Lavin

How did you know your spouse was cheating?

Mandy says, “Let me count the ways . . .”

The first clue was when her husband Tom started coming home later and later and became defensive when she asked him where he’d been. And then the outside of his wallet developed a circular imprint from his wedding band. He said he took off his ring because he didn’t want it to scratch the steering wheel of his new car.

“He was really into cars.”

And then he started carrying breath spray. And rented a post office box. And she found a picture of a woman under the floor mat of his car.

“I replaced it with a Pamper.”

And she noticed long blond hairs in his brush after he got home from a business trip. And his shirts smelled of a strange perfume. And he came home wearing a different cologne than the one he wore when he left the house.

And she found an unfamiliar door key in the glove box of his car. And a hoop earring among his loose change on the dresser. And a canceled check from a jewelry store.

“Since Christmas was just a few weeks away, I thought he was buying me jewelry. Wrong! I received a camera, a cookbook and high heels. Strange, he never bought me shoes before!”

And then there was the time she was stopped at a traffic light and saw him in oncoming traffic although he was supposed to be on a business trip.

“He saw me as well and motioned for me to pull over. He told me he’d come home a day early to surprise me! ”

But everything came to a head when he had a sales meeting in Florida. “He told me he’d drive to the airport and park the car. Strange I thought. I always drove him to the airport and we had a new car, which he was very proud of. I didn’t think he’d want to leave it at the airport.”

While Tom was gone, Mandy got a call that there was a package for him at the air freight terminal at the airport.

“I figured while I was at the airport, I’d check on the car. I drove through both the long-term and short-term parking lots, but the car was nowhere to be found.”

Mandy called Tom at the sales meeting and told him his car was MIA.

“I asked, ‘Would you like to tell me where our car is or should I call the police and report it stolen?’ He blabbered about us having a talk when he got home.”

Mandy could have walked out after that talk, but she chose to stay married to Tom until their sons were both in school and she was able to get a job.

“The whole thing was sad because he broke up a family with two young boys. We had a great life and actually got along and had fun together. I’ve now been happily married to my second husband for 18 years. Tom just married wife No. 3.

“My sons are both married and have children. They know their father is flawed when it comes to remaining faithful in a relationship. They love him, but they also feel sorry for him because he can’t maintain a strong and loving long-term relationship.”

Were you married to a serial cheater? Send your thoughts along with your questions and problems to cheryllavinrapp@gmail.comAnd check out my new ebook, “Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front.”