Eureka, We Found it: The Recent Origins of Blaming the Betrayed Spouse

 

blaming the betrayed spouse

By Sarah P.

For a while, I have wondered how the myth of blaming the (usually) female betrayed spouse found its way into modern psychology. After all, modern psychology purports to be a science and an art.

Indeed, thousands of studies have occurred just in the past decade within the field of psychology. But, there has never been one new and fully accepted methodology to treat cases of infidelity.

I had attended the Gottman’s training in Infidelity and Trauma almost a year ago.  But, even they clarified these were still concepts they were thinking about and testing. They were careful not to say what they found was the way.

What they found is similar to what some others have been saying; that infidelity can cause either PTSD resulting from being betrayed, or PTSD-like symptoms can occur during the  betrayed spouse’s recovery process and can last a long time.

Not every therapist is using one model to treat infidelity, even though there are many books by psychologists about affairs.  There is still no ‘unified model’ on how to treat infidelity.

My opinion is that to build a new and unified model of treating infidelity, we must first locate the recent roots of how our current treatment model developed.

Specifically, where did this current phenomenon of blaming the betrayed spouse (and it is usually a female betrayed spouse) come from?

(Note:  This article will primarily be about how women have been blamed when their husband has an affair and the roots of that blame. However, everything that I say about spouses making their own choices applies to men too. I address this towards the end of the article.)

Some psychologists still do it and even more community members blame the female betrayed. The moment someone in a community finds out that Jane’s husband left her for Judy, the speculation in the community gossip mill begins:

  • Did anyone notice Jane put on ten pounds?
  • Have you seen how Jane aged over the past year?
  • Tina said Jane was frigid. Can you believe it?
  • I heard Judy used to be his coworker… obviously she understood him more than Jane.
  • Jane should have known her husband was in his prime midlife crisis years… why did not Jane pay more attention to him?
  • What happened to Jane will never happen to me because I know how to keep a man happy.
  • Well, obviously their marriage was deeply unhappy even though Jane pretended things were wonderful.
  • Someone said Jane was blindsided by her husband’s affair… do you believe that? The wife always knows, so I do not believe it for a second.

Such statements as the ones above are both without compassion and untrue. Every example given above is false in that there is no research data available to back up such statements. These statements all put the blame on Jane in some way, even if it is more subtle in nature.

It is impossible to make a spouse cheat. However, this thinking—that it is impossible to make a spouse cheat—is actually very recent.

In fact, there are still many marriage counselors who will ask Jane what she did to destroy her marriage. Their first inclination is to blame Jane, to put Jane and her behavior under the microscope, and to point to something about Jane that they believe caused Jane’s husband to cheat.

Putting the blame onto women for various events that occur has been entrenched in Western culture for a very long time.

Why are some women so quick to blame a female betrayed spouse so quickly?

I have always believed such speculation about a female betrayed spouse starts due to the fear that strikes deep into the heart of wives when they hear such stories.

Their gut makes them wonder if that could happen to them and the thought is so frightening that they look outwards for an answer. They look at something to latch onto to ensure they don’t do whatever it is that they believed caused Jane’s husband to cheat.

If they make Jane the problem, then these wives maintain the illusion of control over their lives. They reassure themselves that, unlike Jane, they have not gained 10 pounds, aged, and they are not frigid.

Even though none of that is true and even though a betrayed spouse cannot make their spouse cheat, these myths still persist in some circles, even if they are not spoken.

 

Infidelity in Marriage: It’s Always a Choice

 

The Roots of Blaming the Woman

Please humor me while I take you on a brief journey that explores the roots of blaming women for many things. Sometimes I ramble, but I do like to provide context for long held beliefs and to trace the “thread” of those beliefs through time.

It felt important to give context about how far we have come in even the past 50 years, especially considering that for thousands of years, many women took the blame for everything and had no rights at all.

We are still in a culture that continues to shed these beliefs; they still show up in subtle ways.

The ancient roots of the idea that the woman is to blame for (insert disaster) are deeply entrenched in Western culture as well as other cultures. But, today we will be talking about Western culture.

Greek Mythology features beautiful sirens whose singing voices are so irresistible; they put men in a trance.

The intention of their siren songs? …To be sneaky and to lead men to shipwrecks and a watery grave.

Why?

Well, because these beautiful sirens have their own agenda and their agenda is to be the ocean’s answer to serial killers.

But, more importantly, they are an inherent feature in fictional lore that follows a certain structure or trope– what Joseph Campbell called “The Hero’s Journey.”

So there were the sirens…

But, then there was also a terrestrial and naïve sister to these sirens; there was Eve. But, after Eve, we had the Delilah’s and the Jezebel’s who stole strength and seduced. Then, we had the alleged Witches of Salem and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Property Ownership, Voting, and Freud

Depending on which country you lived in, which gender you belonged to, and which race you belonged to, your right to own property and your right to vote was given to you less than one hundred years ago, with black women being the last to get such rights.

If you were a woman or especially a woman of color in the United States anytime before the Civil War, life was frightening. You see, in legal terms, you were referred to as chattel. And chattel was something that men owned and chattel had no rights.

Then there was Freud. During his time, it was taken as fact that women envied a man’s penis. Wrong, Freud, women envied men’s right’s.

During the 1800’s, it was taken as a fact that any kind of mental issue or unruliness a woman experienced was due to her uterus. Literally. The belief was that her uterus caused her to develop a disease called hysteria. This belief originated in ancient Greece and made a comeback.

Hysteria was the catchall diagnosis for when a doctor did not know how to diagnose something or have a treatment for it. So, a woman was labeled as hysterical and often she was sent off, against her will, to a locked-in mental institution.

If a woman was unlucky to be put into a locked-in and non-voluntary mental institution, she was in big trouble. Women could be institutionalized for forgetting where they placed their keys.

 

 

Meet the beautiful and smart Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was famous for pretending to be insane in order to uncover how America treated mentally ill women. She had heard of the abuses that occurred, but she wanted to see it for herself so that she could blow that case wide open. Nellie was a brave change-maker.

Often, women were thought of so poorly during this time that few considered they might be actual human beings (as opposed to chattel). Most often, completely sane foreign women were sent to brutal insane asylums due to their inability to express themselves in English.

Ouch.

What a terrible penalty when someone just could have called the local translator.

“In the late 1880s, New York newspapers were full of chilling tales about brutality and patient abuse at the city’s various mental institutions. Into the fray came the plucky 23-year Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Cochrane, she renamed herself after a popular Stephen Foster song). At a time when most female writers were confined to newspapers’ society pages, she was determined to play with the big boys. The editor at The World liked Bly’s moxie, and challenged her to come up with an outlandish stunt to attract readers and prove her mettle as a “detective reporter.”

The stylish and petite Bly, who had a perpetual smile, set about her crazy-eye makeover. She dressed in tattered second-hand clothes. She stopped bathing and brushing her teeth. And for hours, she practiced looking like a lunatic in front of the mirror. “Faraway expressions look crazy,” she wrote. Soon she was wandering the streets in a daze. Posing as Nellie Moreno, a Cuban immigrant, she checked herself into a temporary boarding house for women. Within twenty-four hours, her irrational, hostile rants had all of the other residents fearing for their lives. “It was the greatest night of my life,” Bly later wrote…

Although other writers had reported on conditions at the asylum (notably Charles Dickens, in 1842, who described its “listless, madhouse air” as “very painful”), Bly was the first reporter to go undercover. What she found exceeded her worst expectations. There were “oblivious doctors” and “coarse, massive” orderlies who “choked, beat and harassed” patients, and “expectorated tobacco juice about on the floor in a manner more skillful than charming.” There were foreign women, completely sane, who were committed simply because they could not make themselves understood. Add to that rancid food, dirty linens, no warm clothing and ice-cold baths that were like a precursor to water boarding.

And worst of all, there was the endless, enforced isolation:

“What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? . . . Take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.”

As soon as Bly arrived at Blackwell’s Island, she dropped her crazy act. But to her horror, she found that only confirmed her diagnosis. “Strange to say, the more sanely I talked and acted, the crazier I was thought to be,” she wrote.

Finally, after ten days, The World sent an attorney to arrange for Nellie Moreno’s release. Two days later, the paper ran the first installment of Bly’s story, entitled “Behind Asylum Bars.”

But for Bly, it wasn’t about the fame. “I have one consolation for my work,” she wrote. “On the strength of my story, the committee of appropriation provides $1,000,000 more than was ever before given, for the benefit of the insane.” (1)

Nellie Bly risked her life to change to lives of many women she did not even know. There were no goodies for her except for the knowledge that mental institutions would now be under the microscope and human rights practices instituted. Nellie is a hero.

But, let’s think hard about that… most of the women in these subhuman conditions were merely sane, foreign women who did not speak the language or know the culture. They were subjected to conditions that would make anyone crazy if such conditions persisted for years on end.

Can you imagine?

The Father of Let’s Blame Andrea

Now we come to the juicy part of the story: the story of person who brought the “let’s blame the betrayed woman” counseling model into Marriage and Family Therapy.

His name was Paul Popenoe and he came to be called Mr. Marriage. He was the driving force behind saving marriages and wrote regularly for the Ladies Home Journal and his column was called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?”. The New Yorker stated,

“For decades, the stories in “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” came from Paul Popenoe’s American Institute of Family Relations, based in Los Angeles, the country’s leading marriage clinic. Reporters called it “the Mayo Clinic of family problems.” At its height, in the nineteen-fifties, Popenoe’s empire also included stacks of marriage manuals; a syndicated newspaper column, “Modern Marriage”; a radio program, “Love and Marriage”; and a stint as a judge on a television show, “Divorce Hearing.” People called him Mr. Marriage.

They also called him Dr. Popenoe, even though his only academic degree was an honorary one. For a time, he counseled more than a thousand couples a year.

Consider a case published in 1953: Dick is about to leave his wife, Andrea, for another woman. He is bored with Andrea. “Living with her is like being aboard that ship that cruised forever between the ports of Tedium and Monotony,” he says.

Can this marriage be saved?

You bet. At Popenoe’s clinic, Andrea is urged to make herself more interesting. She learns how to make better conversation, goes on a strict diet, and loses eight pounds. The affair is averted.

Popenoe’s business launched an industry; marriage clinics popped up all over the country. They are popping up still. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, founded in 1942, has some twenty-four thousand members, although the actual number of therapists who see couples is much higher.” (2)

Well, Paul Popenoe’s advice seems very culturally appropriate for the time. During the 1950’s, there were many publications that advised women on how to be the perfect wife.

Not only was she supposed to always look beautiful, stay fit and trim, always wear a smile on her face, prepare home cooked meals, and bear wonderful children, she was also supposed to entertain and keep her husband interested in her.

All articles around the time centered on what a woman needed to do to be a satisfactory housewife; the list was long and unimaginable to most of us in 2018.

Admittedly, I would have failed being a 1950’s housewife. I would not have stood up to Popenoe’s scrutiny because he would have been subject to my Inquisition Skills. That would have made me immediately cold and defective.

Women were not supposed to think…unless they needed to become more interesting because their husband named Dick said life with them was like being on a ship that cruised forever between the ports of Tedium and Monotony. Then they could think. But otherwise, forget it.

There were no articles about how to be a good husband and father… it was all about a woman. It was about every aspect of her and assigned the blame for marriages falling apart to her. This was generally accepted as true at the time… and it still is in some circles.

But, here is the kicker.

Why was Paul Popenoe so interested in saving marriages in the first place?

Was he some kind-hearted man who wanted to save marriages so that children’s hearts would not be broken?

No.

Far. From. It.

So, what was his intention… can you guess?

Well, before he became Mr. Marriage, he was one of America’s leading eugenicists and an advocate who ensured mass-sterilization of certain populations: mainly all populations that were not of Northern European and blond-haired and blue-eyed stock.

He researched and promoted sterilization of anyone deemed inferior.

“In 1918, Paul Popenoe and Roswell Hill Johnson wrote “Applied Eugenics,” to explain “the practical means by which society may encourage the reproduction of superior persons and discourage that of inferiors.” It became the most widely assigned college textbook on the topic; it was also translated into German. Where Grant blamed “swarms of Polish Jews” and the like, and “half-breeds,” Popenoe and Johnson blamed college girls. Education, they warned, “is tending toward race suicide”: “Many a college girl of the finest innate qualities, who sincerely desires to enter matrimony, is unable to find a husband of her own class, simply because she has been rendered so cold and unattractive, so overstuffed intellectually and starved emotionally, that a typical man does not desire to spend the rest of his life in her company.” (Popenoe was, at the time, unmarried. Two years later, at the age of thirty-two, he married a nineteen-year-old dancer.)” (2)

So, the man who would come to found marriage counseling (as a large business) was a racist, eugenicist who promoted the “breeding” of certain types of people—those favored as superior—and supported the sterilization of anyone he deemed as inferior.

The 32-year-old man who called educated women cold, unattractive, and undesirable to men married a 19-year-old dancer. This was the man who, without a degree, went on to help build an entirely new field of psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy.

Because his work was never researched or questioned, it found its way into psychology textbooks and influenced generations of would-be psychologists. His advice was taken for granted and rarely challenged.

Since then, Marriage and Family Therapy has progressed and there are different modes of counseling couples: The Gottman’s and Sue Johnson have the most compelling work. But, the Gottman’s base all of their ideas on how to keep marriages together on well-researched and proven concepts.

While we have a variety of ways to counsel married couples, no one has yet come along and truly destroyed the assumption that if a marriage is in trouble, the first person we look to is the wife. No one has come along and built a model of counseling couples through infidelity that is universally accepted and thoroughly researched.

 

4 Reasons Why Couples Counseling is Not a Good Idea if the Affair Has Not Ended

 

Back to Mr. Marriage

In essence, the man who became the authority of marriages began as a eugenicist and his motive for doing so was to keep marriages together so that the RIGHT and superior people would have children.

He was very concerned about marriages between the right and superior people staying together because then they could “breed’ more of the right people. This is his view, not mine, and I am not using satire. This is what he believed.

In order to keep a man in his marriage and breed more of the right people, Mr. Marriage believed that a wife must be trim and interesting.

That way her husband would stay at home, the family could stay together, and perhaps with her new-found trimness, her husband would be so attracted to her that another child was conceived.

Thus, this would accomplish the original motive of eugenics: to ensure we had a superior race of people who possessed Nordic stock and superior intelligence. This was Popenoe’s belief and he wrote and published books like Applied Eugenics and helped usher in sterilization laws through both his personal influence on people and through his books. Sterilization laws were passed in most states and came before the Supreme Court in 1927.

“The constitutionality of compulsory-sterilization laws was brought before the Supreme Court in 1927, in Buck v. Bell. As measured by an intelligence test, Carrie Buck and her mother were considered “feebleminded,” a trait that was associated with “moral degeneracy.” After Buck, who was raped by the nephew of her adoptive parents, bore a child out of wedlock at the age of seventeen, she was placed in an asylum in Virginia, run by J. H. Bell, who scheduled a tubal ligation. (Buck’s daughter was deemed an imbecile at the age of seven months, after a social worker testified that there was something about her “not quite normal, but just what it is, I can’t tell.” Reporters who met Carrie Buck later in life—she died in 1983—described her as a woman of normal intelligence, who liked to do crossword puzzles.) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., writing for the eight-to-one majority, concluded, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Buck was sterilized. Not long afterward, in “Sterilization for Human Betterment,” Popenoe and Gosney reported on operations performed on thousands of “mentally defective” and “mentally diseased” Californians. A German edition of the book was published in 1930.

That same year, Popenoe opened his marriage clinic. Its services included a premarital conference to eliminate those among the betrothed who “are not qualified to marry.” He used a personality test called the Johnson Temperament Analysis, devised by his co-author from “Applied Eugenics.” It consisted of a hundred and eighty-two questions, a Stanford-Binet of nuptial fitness. In counselling, Popenoe stressed the importance of sex, subscribing to the belief that nearly “every instance of marital disharmony” arises from “sexual maladjustment.” He recommended that a husband determine whether his bride is “frigid, normal, or ardent,” as “some frigid women require surgical treatment.” (2)

There we go again… more origins of “let’s blame the female, betrayed spouse.” Since marital problems allegedly came from sex and since the woman was allegedly fit or defective due to her frigidity, normalcy, or ardency in the bedroom (pick only one) then this would determine a marriage’s outcome.

But, before a woman even had the opportunity to be scrutinized to that degree, a couple had to be pre-screened to see if their marriage was worth saving.

If they were the “right kind of people,” only then was a woman worthy to be scrutinized for her sexuality and evaluated if he sexuality was harming her marriage.

Because is Popenoe’s mind, marriage collapse was NEVER about the man. It was about the wife and her sexual fitness.

The future of marriage and the future of generations of “the right kind of people being born” rested on a wife’s sexuality, specifically her frigidity, normalcy, or ardency.

A male, racist eugenicist who did not have any kind of degree, except an honorary one, built the first marriage therapy clinics.

This same male, racist eugenicist built the first marriage clinics for the sole purpose of ensuring more of the “right people” would be born.

In order for the right people to be born, this same male, racist eugenicist knew that a couple who are “the right kind of people” in his mind had frequent sexual intercourse to ensure the “right kind of babies” were born.

But, he believed this entire process rested solely on the wife. If the marriage was falling apart, the first thing they looked at was the wife’s sexuality and then her personality.

And if a man were tempted to have an affair with his female coworker, the “let’s blame Andrea” model was born.

But, first Andrea and her would-be wayward spouse had to be fit to counsel by ensuring they were the right kind of people.

After that, there was a bogus test (that is not backed by any research) given to scrutinize Andrea and her sexuality and her personality. If Andrea was too boring and too fat, then Andrea was told to become interesting and lose weight. Otherwise, her husband would be off eating cake with his female coworker.

Even though some couples claimed for this to work, my guess is that the affair happened and just went underground. If the affair were to be discovered, then a husband could rely on the “Let’s Blame Andrea” model to show his wife everything she did wrong.

Surprisingly…

Here is what is surprising to me. When I took a graduate class in Marriage and Family Therapy, I do not recall any mention of Popenoe. If there was mention of him, the other details were not mentioned.

The dictionary-sized textbook described various therapy models and their founders. There was much mention of Adler, Ackerman, Bowen, Haldane, Jackson, Johnson, Minuchin, Satir, Skynner, Whitaker, and White.

But, there was no Popenoe.

I just checked the Wikipedia page (note that people are constantly updating Wikipedia) and there was still no mention of Popenoe.

Popenoe was Mr. Marriage for such a long time and his name appears to have been wiped from the textbooks.

He never showed up in any textbooks that I have encountered. But, I only have the experience from one school.

Popenoe had such an impact of both popular culture and on marriage therapy for quite some time. Yet, he was unknown to me until recently.

Additionally, the field of Marriage and Family Therapy has always been mired in controversy. Some experts think it is a sham and waste of money, while others say it is extremely helpful.

My opinion is that the Gottman’s and their institute have been the best thing to happen to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy since almost all of their information is based in research.

But, back to Popenoe.

 

 

What Do You Think?

Knowing where the first marriage clinics came from and how they came about, do you think about couple’s therapy differently?

What do you think about Popenoe’s views and his approach to couple’s counseling?

Do you still see Popenoe’s influence in everyday life? I sure do.

Knowing what you know, do you think the current infidelity model (that some still use) where a betrayed spouse is told they are half the blame is still relevant?

Has this information about the origins of marriage clinics and the approach used in these clinics surprised you?

It’s Time for a New Treatment Model

For the past several years, my opinion has been that we need an excellent and unified counseling model to effectively treat infidelity.

Many therapists cobble their own treatment plan together and customize it. This is a great idea since everyone is different.

However, I believe there needs to be a standard and unified system of treating infidelity that is adopted by all therapists and has at the core of its very that an individual cannot make his or her spouse cheat.

I believe that this one statement must be the foundation onto which everything else is built. This “Truth” about marriage and about how we cannot make another cheat cuts through the jargon, redirects the gossip mill, lays waste to the excuses the wayward spouses uses, and helps a betrayed spouse hold his or her head high, knowing that he or she did not cause a spouse’s affair.

Most of all, it puts the focus back onto the wayward spouse, his or her behavior, and his or her choices that led to an affair.

I have come to understand that having an affair is a metaphorical journey of a thousand steps. At any one of those steps on the way to an affair, a spouse could choose to stop the journey.

Plus, having an affair is not as easy as it seems.

One day I was thinking about everything someone would have to do if they wanted to have an affair one day.

Why was I thinking about that?

I was trying to understand the process and all the acts of duplicity that are involved in order to have an affair. That is when I realized having an affair is a journey of a thousand steps.

There are so many points where a person can stop the process. Maybe they have gotten to the point where they have purchased the burner phone to talk to their crush from (name location/hobby/sport). They can look in the mirror and say, “Is this really what I have become?” and they can throw away the phone and turn back.

If someone is married and has children, how do they hide such a thing from their spouse and their children? How do they find the time? How do they even get to the point where they are buying burner phones?

There are so many things in daily life that would prevent someone from having an affair. At one point, I gave up thinking about all the steps that have to happen for someone to have an affair.

Why?

It hit me that the massive duplicity involved in getting to the affair was enormous.

That thought triggered me.

Most of us think we know the person we are married to and/or engaged to. I realized there is no process where someone just innocently happens to end up in an affair.

The level of duplicity, planning, and strategy involved and the idea that a wayward spouse could keep such a large secret just stunned me.

Then I thought about affairs that carry on for a while. How does a wayward spouse function as a “pretend” loyal spouse and appear as a good person and then go and do acts that are horrendous and unthinkable?

How does someone maintain that for a period of time? Just thinking about it literally gives me a migraine.

The only answer psychology has is compartmentalization and dissociation. (That is IF someone is not a sociopath or narcissist).

 

 

How to Stop Blaming Yourself

Now that we know the origins of where blaming the betrayed spouse came from—specifically the blaming of the female betrayed spouse— we need to find ways to stop blaming betrayed spouses and stop blaming ourselves if we have been betrayed.

We have an intellectual understanding of how the myth that it is the woman’s fault if a man strays came about. We can intellectually see that it is bogus to blame a betrayed wife.

There is no research to support that a wife causes an affair or can prevent an affair. The reason for putting the blame on the woman served the needs of a racist, male eugenicist who had a vision of bringing Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch into being and en masse. 

But, for such a thing to occur, the “right people” had to get married and have babies. Thus, it was up to a woman to be slim and lusty to create Popenoe’s vision of the future—a race of blond-haired and blue-eyed Übermensch. In the end, Popenoe didn’t care about keeping marriage in general together—Popenoe cared that the right people got married, had children, and that everyone else was sterilized.

This is the framework upon which the concept of “Let’s Blame Andrea” began. This framework in not only wrong—Andrea cannot cause her husband to cheat—it is also nefarious in its intent. There are many ethical questions to be considered when the government enacts mass-sterilization projects.

So the pain of being betrayed still hurts and I know personally that little voice in your head still whispers “you weren’t good enough because of (name an arbitrary reason).” That little voice in your head that says such things needs to be evicted. 

Here are some concrete ways to do so:

  • Never accept your wayward spouse’s blame-shifting. If your wayward spouse says you are the cause, your need to tell your wayward spouse their choices and their deficits as a human being are the cause.
  • Surround yourself with a support system that will reflect your inherent self-worth back to you.
  • Pick a new hobby/project and get really good at it
  • Don’t believe anything negative that your wayward spouse says about you. Why? Most often, the wayward spouse is projecting his or her deficits and shame onto you. Or, the wayward spouse has come up with an “alternative story” in his or her mind that they were always unhappy and they will say things to you that are not true.
  • Locate the facts of the affair. Hire a detective so that you can see all email or text communication.
  • Let your wayward spouse know up front that this terrible situation will NOT go away even if it is ignored. Tell your wayward spouse that he or she has a “last chance” of sorts. He or she had an affair, but to restore trust, he or she must tell you truthfully about the affair, even if it hurts. In this way, a wayward spouse can prove that he or she is capable of telling the truth. This act in itself will help restore trust.
  • Remind yourself no one wants to be the ‘bad guy.’ Someone who cheats on his or her spouse is the Bad Guy. Most people are so ashamed to be the bad guy that they will look for excuses to shift blame onto another.
  • Remind yourself that the other person is not special. He or she could have been anyone, except for if a spouse poacher is involved. They set out to aggressively wreak havoc on your life and they make the choice to do so. When a spouse poacher is the other person, both you and your wayward spouse could be their victim. They do not like it when they do not get their way.  Spouse poachers have a pathology and it has nothing to do with you. You just happen to be in the way.
  • Remind yourself none of us can truly control other people. We can negotiate, we can ask, we can set boundaries, we can remind, but we cannot control. Each adult is responsible for himself or herself and his or her decisions.
  • Do not look in the mirror and chastise yourself. If you do so, you are buying into the ideas established by a person with no degree and who wanted to create a race of “superior beings.” His pathology has nothing to do with you.

 

 

For the Male Readers…

This article was about how women have been blamed when their husband has an affair and the roots of the blame. However, everything that I have said about spouses making their own choices applies to you too.

In fact, society can be just as hard on male betrayed spouses and these days’ men are being betrayed in equal numbers.

I have personally heard people who are not informed question the masculinity of men who are betrayed. I have heard the stereotypes about how a real man knows how to keep his “woman” at home.

These stereotypes are untrue and damaging.

If you are a betrayed male spouse, you have done nothing to make your wife cheat. She had her own choices to make. I am sorry of your wife made a bad choice; but she made a choice and you did not cause it.

My own marriage has been one of ups and downs, especially in the beginning. I can point to a three-year period where I cried myself to sleep almost every night.

Why?

Why am I telling you this?

My best friend knows the whole story and the ins and outs of it all. To this day, she does not understand how I stayed strong during that time. She has told me she would not have thought less of me if I had an affair.

But, that did not matter. I would have thought “less of me” if I had an affair. Thus, I endured and cried myself to sleep, if that was what was needed. I simply refused to find consolation in the arms of another man.

I know from the bottom of my heart that infidelity is a choice. In fact, if someone’s marriage is in a terrible place, having an affair turns a small disaster into a disaster of nuclear proportions. Still, if you are a wayward spouse and reader, I do not judge you. Life is never perfect and many people talk about 20/20 hindsight. That is a real phenomenon.

In Summary

The modern roots of blaming a betrayed spouse for an affair were not based in research and were not stated by some well-meaning aunt who believed that a woman could bring her husband back to her via seduction, thus providing the illusion of control over another.

It is impossible to control anyone but ourselves.

The origins of blaming a wife for her husband’s affair came from a racist, male eugenicist who opened marriage clinics with the motive of ensuring “the right kind of people” were reproducing. Prior to that, he was helping get bills passed that called for mass-sterilizations in disenfranchised parts of the population.

I think it is time to dispel the myth that a woman can make her husband cheat.

But, it is also time for marriage counselors to stop asking betrayed spouse’s to take half the blame.

I have believed for a long time it takes two to tango and it in my opinion that the blame should be split between a wayward spouse and his or her lover. In any other field, such an opinion would make sense, especially in the legal field.

If a betrayed wife symbolizes a bank and a wayward spouse and his lover plot and willingly “rob” the bank together, they share the blame for the robbery as co-conspirators to a crime.

This is why I do not blame a betrayed spouse for an affair and why I believe a wayward spouse and his or her lover share the blame in an affair.

Whether you are a male betrayed spouse or a female betrayed spouse, you did not cause the affair and cannot control its outcome. If you are a wayward spouse reading this article, I hope that you can find it within yourself to stop blaming your wayward spouse (if you are doing so).

The only way to make it up to your betrayed spouse is to tell the truth, blame yourself for your actions, to earn trust back by being a trustworthy person, and by giving a real apology based on actual and sincere remorse. And in case it was not obvious, you should have broken up with the other person long ago; that is the first and most important step.     

Until a new model of infidelity comes along, I suggest that we abide by the 10 Core Principles as a foundation.

 

Goldi-Child, the Three Bears, and Beds: Who Takes the Blame for Infidelity?

 

Ten Core Principles of Affair Recovery:

1) It takes two to tango and both affair partner and wayward spouse share blame equally (if the affair partner knows the wayward spouse is married.)

2) The betrayed spouse is NOT to blame. I have done tremendous amounts of research and have discovered a betrayed spouse cannot make another adult cheat or un-cheat.

3) A person who has affairs can control his or her behavior if he/she wants to do so.

4) A wayward spouse cannot blame-shift his or her behavior or his or her bad choices to make another person, including his or her spouse, responsible.

5) Wayward spouses and the lovers of wayward spouses must be held accountable for their behavior because they caused the disaster.

6) If a marriage is that terrible, having an affair makes the marriage 100 times worse. 

7) All of us have terrible experiences at one point or another, but having terrible experiences cannot be a valid excuse for choosing to harm betrayed spouses through infidelity.

8) People who choose to cheat with married people and attempt to break up marriages are emotional bullies and spouse poachers.

9) Betrayed spouses go through a grace period where they are allowed to verbally rage, swear, cry, punch pillows, confront their wayward spouse and even verbally confront the other person if they feel the need to do so. Note: if we judge betrayed spouses for acting less than perfect, we become a partner in their abuse and invalidation. We must validate the betrayed spouse’s experience and never fault them for being less than perfect during this life-shattering experience. We do not have to live through the pain—they do. Additionally, they did not ask to be betrayed; quite the contrary, they expected and trusted their spouse to be loyal.

10) The other person who knowingly chose to have an affair with a married person is not a victim. In having an affair, this person has helped victimize a betrayed spouse and/or his or her family.

What do you think?

 

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30 Responses to Eureka, We Found it: The Recent Origins of Blaming the Betrayed Spouse

  1. bor October 2, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    I agree its hard to imagine how someone makes that decision 100s of times over a year and half affair and still cannot make up their mind after its discovered for a year. still waiting for her to show remorse and regret. A really good example of this is a movie called sidways. Accidentally it came up under comedy and i sat with my WW and watched it. Although it was the guy cheating on his soon to married wife. his best friend is pissed at him for being such an ass and keeps telling him to stop. Nope it was planned meet some girl, lie to her, have sex, start questioning what the right thing to do is, Clearly the soon to be good wife had nothing to do with this asshole. She was just unknowingly marrying a fraud. But the steps the cheater take are deliberate, selfish and thoughtless. I looked at my wife and said yep that’s you. Your friend told you to stop but you didn’t instead you made her a part of your affair to lie for you. Of course this didn’t go well and she said that is nothing like me. Divorce busting has the same take on it as well its the cheaters fault and it was not an accident.

    • Sarah P. October 2, 2018 at 8:04 pm #

      Hi Bor,

      I do like the Divorce Busting books. They are wonderful.

      I saw the movie Sideways with my husband years ago and it was so depressing. On the other hand, the movie uncovers the defectiveness that is present in so many people. It was just too much for me. However, I do support your decision to tell your wife she is just like the cheating character. That character in Sideways was a particular archetype and could have been male or female– the character just happened to be male.

      A therapist wrote an article a couple of years ago about how he had incorporated watching certain films into couple’s therapy. That is a great idea because it allows a couple to see a dynamic played out by completely fictional characters (in which they have no emotional investment) and with whom they would never meet in real life. It allows them to vent about the behaviors and dynamics of people who don’t exist. That way, no one takes it personally.

      Taken to its full extent though, it is possible that a betrayed spouse will point out that their wayward spouse is just like a fictional character in a movie that a couple saw. Most wayward spouses don’t want to hear it, but if they could dish out an affair, they can certainly “take” the feedback that they are like a negative character in a movie.

      Also, many of us find ourselves saying things that are “not like ourselves” when we have discovered our spouse has cheated on us. The betrayal and the pain of betrayal is so visceral that we find ourselves saying things we wouldn’t normally say. You are covered by Principle #9 in the 10 Core Principles of Affair Recovery. 🙂

      Bor, what did your wife say when you confronted her?

      Sarah

      • bor October 8, 2018 at 8:06 am #

        It was what you typically expect, indignant that she would be compared to the jerk in the movie. The movie was of course fiction. after the broken nose you think he would have been repentant. Instead he goes to the next level of crazy. Affairs must be like a drug addiction, to take a helmet in the face and then still cheat again because the feeling is so high. We are still not out of the woods I have told her i am stopping couples therapy and asked her to go on sue Johnsons sight iceeft. If the eft doesn’t move us forward it maybe the end. I have tried all i can try to have her step up and do her own work. she insists she is good.

      • Bor October 8, 2018 at 11:38 am #

        I really haven’t been at the yelling and screaming for over two years. The last time was the discovery of the divorce letter. And it was a simple “How could you? you POS!. It was my oldest that read the letter also and called her and said “don’t do anything stupid” All i have been waiting for is to feel that 1) she gets it finally. 2) she feel she needs to do some work on herself. I see so many US that post about what they realized about themselves after they did the work. How they reassure their BS with the montra I don’t want to be that person again. and they back it up by working on themselves, reading books, IC, The apologies, empathy and compassion they have comes through their words and action. Because of the lack of all these things it has let me become unattached to the outcome of the relationship. I come to expect more and will not settle for less. it would be a huge step if she could say back to me after a trigger. I am sorry i have caused you that pain. I regret that i did that, i don’t ever want to do that again. I am working on .. so I don’t do that again. The defensiveness and the blame she throws back on me of what I was doing to hurt her after i found out about her affair has pushed a strong connection to disconnection. I am hoping the EFT counselor is good at working through the infidelity. Both of our CC really would not stop her from going defensive in counseling and has left me no choice but to stop with them. I have asked her if she would start her IC with our former CC who does imago if she want to.

  2. Hopeful October 2, 2018 at 5:50 pm #

    So many thoughts on this one….

    Personally, I fell into the society mindset on dday. What did I do wrong, how could I be so dumb, what should I have done etc. I think also at least when the woman is betrayed society in general blames women and has too high of expectations in general. That goes for domestic life, child rearing, even many times in the workplace.My husband was emphatic from the beginning that he was 100% to blame. In a way I am lucky based on his mental health background/career that he was educated this way. He never had extensive exposure and never had an entire class that covered infidelity however he was not in line with the “old” way of thinking. I think most therapist have a general education, sometimes a specific training and then most of the time have a general practice. Very few I know specialize. My husband said there are all sorts of therapists out there. He has encountered more therapist that push for women to leave their husbands if there is betrayal no matter what. So the complete other side of what you are describing. The therapist I found said they would support me either way unless there was verbal or physical abuse then they would want me to create an exit plan.

    As far as a new methodology I think that has great merits. I would say the Gottmans are one of the first professionals I gravitated to. I will also say my husband was drawn to them before and after dday. I find their blend of being in touch with modern day and using the science behind everything is compelling and easy to relate to. I hope they keep moving forward. I have told my husband there is a lot to be shared or even developed after what we have been through. He is not a researcher/scientist. So I do not think that appeals to him. I am still trying since it would be the way to reach the greatest number of people. The good news is he helps people every day.

    In the end I agree that this is the way most people think in our society that it is the woman’s fault or at least a good portion is their fault. It is so sad since I completely agree with you that the entire blame falls on the wayward. It is not that easy to cheat. I said to my husband unless you were drugged or forcibly raped against your free will this is your fault and I am sure you had a thousand different times you could have stopped. He had all the knowledge, resources and experience to know it was wrong. Many months if not years after dday he spoke about how it was a gradual process. He said even when he was young and we were dating he would get irritated if a woman, waitress or whoever would try and chat with him. Gradually he let his guard down. As he said his boundaries shifted with others. He said it was so slow it took place over years. He has not used this as an excuse but more as a reflection. His take away is he must be vigilant to protect himself and us.

    Great job with this one. I love your ideas!

    • Sarah P. October 2, 2018 at 8:59 pm #

      Hello Hopeful,

      So glad you loved the ideas in this article. Your immediate looking at yourself after you found out about your husband is what anyone with empathy will do. People with empathy look at their part in a dynamic. But, this is the one area where betrayed spouses cannot look at themselves as part of the blame. I believe it sets up a toxic environment for recovery because it gives a wayward spouse the opportunity to tear a betrayed spouse down, re-write the entire marriage, and then frame himself (or herself) as an innocent victim who was driven to cheat. Plus, there is no research to show we can make another person cheat or do anything at all (barring having them do something under duress, which would only occur if someone was in actual physical danger like being raped at gunpoint). But, if this occurred, it would be called rape and not adultery.

      Yes, this is an area that needs to be researched and built. The Gottmans are the best place to start because they are researchers above all else. Developing theories based on research in how it must be done if we as a society want a positive outcome for the future. I loved their class about Affairs and Trauma and here is something extremely interesting. This course has been completely taken off their calendar of training. It appears to have been replaced by “The Art and Science of Love,” which is very different than the infidelity course they developed. I may have attended the very last Affair and Trauma training they will be giving; at least in the near future. There were about 300 people there and I sat in the back because I don’t like crowded rooms. I also promised myself that I would not talk to John or Julie out of respect of their time. But, during one of the breaks, John walked next to me down the hall and then we happened to be next to each other on the long walk back. So, I said “hello” and thanked him for the vast amount of knowledge he and Julie have contributed to the field of psychology. They are both very sweet people and it is clear that this is their life’s passion and life’s work. It is clearly more than “just a job” to them and they are inspiring. I have been wondering why they took their affair training off-line. My best guess would be that they took it offline for ‘political reasons’ within the field of psychology itself. I am well-aware that some well known psychologists in the field attempt to reframe infidelity in a very positive light. I am also well aware of the promiscuity within the profession. That was the biggest and most disheartening surprise; so many psychologists take it for granted that when they go to conferences, they hook up with each other. Of course they NEVER tell their spouses about this because they know it’s wrong. But, hey, they have a whole quasi-scientific vocabulary at their disposal to explain away why hooking up at conferences is good, clean fun and why a spouse should not know. There was a book we had to read when I was doing my PsyD. (I had to drop because taking care of two kids with special needs and the time required for a PsyD is not possible until my children have fully launched.) The book was by a well-known psychologist passing down the alleged ‘gems’ he learned. His book was okay. There were no ‘aha moments.’ But, I lost respect for him at the end when he talked about affairs and his own personal moral code. He talked openly about the hook-up culture at conferences between married psychologists, defended it, and chastised patients and other people who thought less of the married psychology professionals who hooked up. He defended the married psychology professionals and their affairs at conferences and talked about how to chastise and gas-light patients who had an issue with these things. In other words, he was teaching therapists who to ‘gas-light’ patients who had a moral code. And where does that gas-lighting stop? Why would a therapist with a PhD promote gas-lighting at all? I never took the time to write a complaint about the book, but should have done so. Why is his book relevant to this conversation? Well, since affairs are so prevalent among psychologists (per his book) my best guess is that the field of psychology (in general) does not want to develop any kind of infidelity methodology that truly makes affairs wrong, puts the blame on the wayward spouse, and points out the CONCRETE HARM that occurs due to affairs. The Gottmans showed in great detail and through many years of research that great harm is caused by affairs in their Affair/Trauma Class. The research evidence that affairs deeply harm others, destroy lives, and cause intergenerational trauma was presented by the Gottmans. Since their name holds enormous influence and since they have their own center and institute based in Seattle and since they get money through research, I would assume that (privately) they took a lot of flack from the folks that fund research. Or perhaps they got a threatening letter from the APA. This is pure speculation on my part, but it is based on knowledge of the big picture and the ‘politics’ and culture found in the psychology field regarding infidelity.

      What do you and others think about adopting the 10 Core Principles as the guide to steer future content? I had developed these 10 Core Principles several articles ago after so much thought (and research) on this topic.

      These principles belong to EAJ, but I am wondering if they should be aligned with this site in a much larger way and guide all future content for betrayed spouses. I wonder if they should be placed on the aqua-colored bar on top of the home page and be “official.”

      Does anyone have feedback on making these 10 Core Principles official and using them to guide future content for betrayed spouses?

      Does anyone have amendments that you would personally make to the 10 Core Principles?

      Please let me know.

      There are only three of us who work on this entire site– what you see is what you get and everything is filtered through our own experiences with infidelity and/or filtered through the research we studies we have read.

      What does everyone else think?

      Sarah

  3. Shifting Impressions October 3, 2018 at 11:16 am #

    I think it’s a natural reaction after the shock of d-day to say “what happened here?” “What on earth did I do to you to make you behave in such a hurtful way?” You feel like you have been kicked to the curb like a piece of trash. Being betrayed makes one feel “less than” or somehow “not good enough”.

    But just because those are the feelings and thoughts that rise up….DOES NOT MAKE THEM TRUE!!! It’s just cruel to blame the BS especially since there is a good chance they are already struggling with a sense of worthlessness!!

    Very early on after d-day I said NO….I am not “less than”. I did NOT deserve to be treated this way. Was I a perfect wife? Did we have a perfect marriage? NO but I loved him and was not to blame for his poor choices.

    Any reading material that smacked of blaming the BS went straight to the garbage. Only one friend sort of insinuated some blame and I stopped her dead in her tracks.

    I agree with the ten core principles except maybe #one. I don’t really bother putting blame on the other woman….she was in the wrong of course but she never made any commitments or promises to me. I blame my husband 100%…It was up to him to walk away. He made the promise to stay faithful! He betrayed me.

    It is interesting to read where this blaming the betrayed has it’s roots.

    • Sarah P. October 5, 2018 at 7:48 pm #

      Hi Shifting,

      I am grateful that you figured out pretty quickly that anything that blamed the betrayed spouse went into the garbage.

      I see what you are saying about the other person and their culpability. There are a couple of gray areas for me and that is one of them. Yes, your spouse chose to betray you, but sometimes I wonder how much a wayward spouse is like a frog in a pot.

      The thing I look at with the other person is the information they have to go on as well as intent. If the wayward spouse takes great pains to appear separated or single, then the “other person” actually thinks they are dating a (more of less single or soon to be single) person/spouse. If they don’t know, the blame goes 100% on the wayward spouse. A very good friend (in real life) almost got caught in such a situation. My radar went off, so I started investigating him. He was a dentist and it turned out he had two clinics. One in her state and one in my state; that was a coincidence. His primary residence and family lived in my state and he was looking for a girlfriend for the times he flew and worked in her state. We were both so grateful to find this out before it turned into anything romantic. He was really pushing her and it sent up all kinds of red flags. That is what led me to investigate him. So, there is that kind of situation.

      Then there is intent. There are single people out there (like the one that broke up my first (almost marriage) who are spouse poachers and who are proud of it. She knew all the factual details about my life and made a decision to see if she could take my fiance and my house because she saw it as a game. She talked about the thrill she got from being able to “steal” someone else’s life… and the more committed the man appeared to be, the harder the chase (on her part) and the bigger the thrill she got if she were able to “steal” such a relationship. I believe she was a sociopath based on all the others who met her and interacted with her. Some have said she is the scariest person they ever met. Of course, my ex is at fault for taking the bait. But, from what I understand, the other person hunted him with the sole intent of getting him and wouldn’t give up. It’s such a creepy thing to do. It is hard to even imagine meeting a married/engaged man in a committed relationship and to make it one’s sole life purpose to “hunt and get” that person. So, I honestly still struggle if such people should have any culpability.

      Any ideas on those extreme situations?

      For everyone….

      There is also a principle that I have been thinking about. Please read it and provide feedback:

      Principle #11: If two spouses are living together and if a wayward spouse is cheating for a long time, and refuses to stop cheating despite being asked to stop, there is really no marriage. The partnership that spouses have had ended a long time ago (with the affair) and the marriage doesn’t really exist since the wayward spouse refuses to stop cheating and/or rebuild. At this point, a person is married under the laws, but the so-called marriage is not really a marriage– not in a holistic sense. Spouses are like roommates at that point.

      The situations that come to mind happen in the wealthiest circles of the world’s elite. For example, Princess Diana was “married” to Prince Charles, but Camilla was always in the background. Diana’s role was to birth and mother future hiers to the British throne. And Camilla was Charle’s (alleged) true love. (That one still baffles me. In my opinion, Diana was 100 times the woman Camilla is). This happens in the United States as well… the Kennedy family comes to mind. Bill Clinton also comes to mind. And certain republicans come to mind.

      Here is another example of Principle #11. I have a very “weird” life and it was always been this way. Wherever I go, strangers approach and start telling me their life story. My husband is still stunned every time he witnesses it. When I was in Hawaii and on my way to pick up food alone, I was walking outside on my own and an Asian American woman with an adorable dog struck up a conversation. We talked for about an hour. The next day, she invited me to her house since she lived in this gated area where I was looking at land. I went to her house and she was married to a very nice Caucasian man. She talked about how she quit a job in SF as a VP at a tech company because of what happened in her personal life. (And this is all open information. I had asked her if I could mention it on the blog if the opportunity came about and she agreed.) She recounted how at 22-years-old, she had been swept off her feet by a 27-year-old Italian man who was from a family that was FILTHY rich and a branch of the Italian aristocracy. She had just finished college and they got married. It took her 15 years to figure out that he had 30 different girlfriends spread across all the major cities on the globe. He traveled all the time and she worked in Silicon Valley. Of course, she attempted to go to marriage counseling with him and he did not understand why she was upset. He told her that this was a cultural issue and she could take it or leave it. They did not have kids and she filed for divorce. She said she had a large group of so-called friends in SF and they all knew about her husband but no one bothered to tell her. They assumed she knew that when you marry into aristocratic families, this is how people ‘roll,’ They do what they want, everyone pretends they don’t see it, and no one talks about it. During her divorce she became the favorite topic for gossip in a that group of friends. After the divorce, she retired from her job and married another man who had retired from Silicon Valley. That was her current husband. They were a lovely couple. I felt terrible for them because each had wanted children but unbeknownst to her, she had pelvic inflammatory disease for years and it had made her sterile. They were heartbroken when she and her current husband had tried for kids and nothing worked. It was HEARTBREAKING to me. They were such a wonderful couple. But, this is where Principle #11 comes from. In that woman’s case she had a marriage on paper when she was married to the aristocrat, but she didn’t truly have a marriage.

      What are everyone’s thoughts on that particular gray area? The idea that sometimes people can be married on paper, but since one spouse cheats constantly and refuses to stop and/or rebuild, there is not really a marriage. I don’t know what to do in that case, but it I think is worth mentioning.

      Thoughts?

      Sarah

      • Sarah P. October 6, 2018 at 1:29 am #

        Shifting,

        Meant to ask you something. You are so right about the universal feelings of being kicked to the curb like garbage and feeling less than. And you are double right about the idea that just because you think something does NOT make it true.

        Everything you described about how it feels is spot on.

        I am so grateful that you figured these things out early on, rather than blaming yourself for years on end.

        Meant to ask you if you remember the thinking process that occurred that made you realize early on (very correctly) that you were and are not “less than.” That is the absolute truth of the matter, but not everyone realizes this truth easily.

        Did your husband attempt to reinforce any feelings that would cause you to feel unworthy or that would cause you to feel as if you were responsible?

        Or did he own up to full responsibility immediately?

        How did you come to the realization early on that you were not to blame, especially since so many books like to tell the betrayed spouse they either caused an affair or contributed to it?

        Do you remember if you had any key insight that caused you to realize you were not to blame?

        It is such an incredible feat to realize you were not to blame considering the fact that you figured this out so early on in the process. It’s an incredible feat to throw the self-help books that blamed betrayed spouses in the garbage. Many betrayeds would be so blindsided by the grief that they would not be able to discern their worth and blamelessness so early on. You had the strength and presence of mind to see you did not cause your situation and the courage to reject any narrative that would have blamed you.

        How did you did this? It’s such a rare person who can take such a strong stand in their thinking so early on and to realize the truth: they don’t deserve to be treated that way and they are not to blame.

        It’s a testament to your strength and I would love to hear how you gained that clarity so quickly.

        Some people, even after many years, have that nagging doubt that they may have caused an affair.

        Evicting that negative and blaming voice from one’s mind is sometimes nearly impossible.

        How did you do it? We have a LOT to learn from you.

        Sarah

        • Shifting Impressions October 8, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

          Sarah
          Thanks for your kind words. In response to your questions I went back through my journal. My husband did take responsibility but was also quite difficult to live with the first year or two after d-day….to borrow Doug’s expression, he had his head up his ass for quite sometime after d-day.

          I had just turned 60 that spring and d-day came the following fall….after almost forty years of marriage. You are right about being blindsided by grief….but it just didn’t make sense for me to take the blame for his poor actions. I have never bought the notion that the victim of abuse or violence is to blame.

          I have always been an avid reader and have always had an interest in psychology, relationships and family dynamics etc. We also spent many years in a very unhealthy and almost cult like religious system. It was like pulling ourselves out of quicksand…leaving that particular church. It wasn’t the same church I had been raised in but one we started going to in our early twenties when we were young, naive and idealistic.

          I grew up in a loving family with strong moral values….so I had a fairly good sense of self. Those almost twenty years in the controlling religious system in our early twenties in many ways almost destroyed us. Those years definitely contributed to my husband loosing touch with his own feelings. The process of pulling ourselves out of that system was excruciating but was not without some life lessons.

          I had to accept that I allowed that to happen….we allowed ourselves to be treated a certain way. I learned I can say no….I don’t need to live according to someone elses agenda. I am more able to spot when someone is not authentic and I question more. I learned to listen to my gut. And interestingly enough I found the Christian books on infidelity just set my teeth on edge. My gut just screamed NO whenever any type of blame was assigned to the BS.

          I also saw marriage as a journey of ups and downs…a journey that we would navigate together. I expected that some seasons of life would be more difficult to navigate than others. But I trusted we would be there for each other. I trusted in our honesty. I believed in the vows we made to each other.

          I valued our marriage even in the hard times and I always loved him and besides that I really liked him as well. I loved him more after almost forty years of marriage than when we started out.

          So, even though I was devastated I knew I did not deserve to be betrayed….I refuse to take the blame.

          So in conclusion, probably the combination of my upbringing and the experience of pulling ourselves out of an abusive spiritual system gave me the wherewithal to see that blaming myself was not the way to go.

  4. Blindsided October 4, 2018 at 12:19 am #

    Oh my goodness … so much to think about and respond to here. I have written and rewritten this post several times, and landed on this: I can only speak to my marriage, my experience. Here’s what I know … I have been in a marriage with a man that I love for 35 years. There has been every kind of up and down that one can imagine. For me, the good has far outweighed the bad. Presently, I am mired in the worst, most awful part of my life, not just my marriage. Healing from my husband’s affair is the most excruciating, painful and debilitating experience imaginable. I pray and hope every day to come out of this having learned about myself in a positive, holistic and graceful manner. When I examine the past several years, and especially before he started his affair, I know that I failed both of us. Does that excuse his affair? NO! Does that place blame on me for his affair? NO! He made choices that I have no part in. HE decided to leave our marriage and begin, and carry on for far too long, a relationship with another woman. And, not but, AND I had power prior to his decision to change the trajectory. This is the very last and most remote outcome of our emotional separation that I would have thought could occur. Yet, it is a fact. In order for me to ensure we remain married, committed and devoted to one another I have to look at who I was being that he would risk our marriage. This is NOT blame – this is reality. We are two people, two beings, living a human experience. There is a story that I cannot tell properly, but goes something like this: Gandhi’s son lied to him. While incredibly disappointed that his son would do such a thing, Gandhi reflects internally, ontologically, on who he was, who he was ‘being’ that his son would lie to him. That is where he found peace. I cannot change another person, I cannot control their decisions, but I can be the person who deserves respect, honesty and causes another to interact with me in integrity. I was not living that life immediately prior to my husband’s infidelity. Again, is it my fault, am I to blame? Absolutely not. My analogy, though not perfect, is this: we have been in a dire financial situation for some time. Much of this, but not all, lands squarely in my husband’s lap. It is OUR problem, situation. It is up to both of us to deal with and solve. If I decided to rob a bank, to embezzle money, would my husband be to blame? NO! It would be a horrible, terrible, against-all-our-values decision that I would have made. And it would be a fact, something that he would have to deal with, to choose to forgive/forget. And it would affect him for the rest of his life in one way or another. And the fact, the truth, of what I had done would be with him forever.

    I am a betrayed spouse, but I refuse to be a victim. I will not live with a victim mentality. I don’t feel persecuted; I don’t believe that my husband deliberately hurt me. I believe that what he did was out of my control, that I was not in any way, shape, or form part of his decision(s). Yet, I do take some self-responsibility for my actions, and my actions alone. I pushed him away – that is a fact. I was not the kind of wife I aspire to, or that I am proud of. Does that make me culpable? Absolutely not. He was weak, stupid, and a million other adjectives. Yet, I have decided that I will not sit in a place of superiority, I have to sit in a place of grace and forgive him or we have no future. I will not live the rest of my life with the center-point being his transgressions. I must believe him when he asks for forgiveness, shows remorse, and I will work everyday to find it in my heart and in my actions to do all that I can to forgive. Or we have no marriage, we have no future. And I believe, with all my heart, that I still want to be by his side more than I want to be anywhere else. When I chose him as my husband 35 years ago, I thought such a decision, once made, was final and irrevocable. Now I know that the selection of a life partner is not a one-time decision but an ongoing process. And I have chosen him again and again. Faced with changes and alternatives, I have become keenly aware that a marriage lasts only so long as both partners desire each other above all others. And today, more than any other time in the past 3+ decades, we have chosen one another.

    • Hopeful October 4, 2018 at 12:27 pm #

      I love hearing your story. Mine feels like the total opposite. I am far from perfect however beyond little petty items I cannot think of what else I could have done. My husband said the only thing I could have done was leave/divorce him pre dday differently. I will say my husband’s affairs were sporadic over ten years with two women. So looking back I can see why it was confusing for me. He would go a year without talking to either woman. He has told me as time would pass without any contact things would change for him and he would repress his guilt. I was a major advocate of working on our marriage. I asked him very pointed and direct questions about his behaviors and decisions he made when he was not with me. Each time he lied directly to my face. I specifically asked him about other women and other topics like that. I was very specific with my questions over the years. I was not naive about what could happen however I was naive about his ability to look me in the eyes and lie to me. For me the betrayal has been the hardest thing I have ever dealt with in my life. However I have said before dday was the biggest ah ha moment/ relief. It made everything come into focus and make sense. I know my husband found it very odd that through all of this pain I was like finally I have answers. It was like I was living in a puzzle and half the pieces were missing.

      Before dday I chose not to leave my husband since I was still trying to piece everything together. If we did not have kids I would have left him I am almost sure. I however am not sure if he would have betrayed me. I think in many way kids factored into his decisions. We will never know. Since dday the only reason I stayed at first was the kids. I am glad I am still here over 3 1/2 years later. Each day is not easy and sometimes I question myself. He has made an amazing transformation which I am grateful for. I am happy for both of us and our kids. It is great seeing him be happy and living his best life. I still struggle since this is so complicated but I keep focusing on the day in front of me not looking behind or ahead.

      • Blindsided October 4, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

        Thanks for your message – happy for you that you are grateful and happy. As I said in my post, I was only writing about me, and telling my point of view. I believe you that you have no blame in the affair – me either. AND I believe you that you don’t think you could have done anything differently. I don’t know if I could have prevented my husband’s affair, I will never know. What I do know is that I could have been a better partner and I am committed to being the best partner I can be moving forward. Having regrets about my part in our marriage is not at all the same as taking blame – apples and oranges. I, too, have said that D Day was a huge “a ha” moment for me, a reality check and a wake up call. Here is one point that I failed make clear in my post: my husband lied to me before his affair about other things. I called him on it, and he really cannot pull a fast-one on me. And, as he hid our financial situation years ago – not lying to my face, but rather lies of omission and keeping quiet – I let it pass. I believe that I didn’t want to know what was going on. So I enabled his lying by letting him get away with it. I love this quote by Tony Gaskins, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” I “taught” him that it was ok to lie to me. Now he is very clear, 100% certain, of what will happen to him if he lies to me: we will be done, over, kaput.

        • Hopeful October 4, 2018 at 11:26 pm #

          Such good points. I an look back and see how my husbands deception seeped into every aspect of his life. It became a way of living. And I am sure as you said sometimes it was by omission. For me I prioritized what I could control me and my kids. I found his treatment and messaging confusing. I also know a lot of what he did was to make things seem like we had the perfect life at least to the outside world.

          I am sure the betrayal was difficult and on top of it the financial deception just added to it. I think my husband’s betrayal was also born from his success career wise and financially. He also has regret about his decision regarding how he spent money. All we can do though is look forward and learn from it to make better decisions in all aspects of our life.And hindsight makes it feel like I should have figured things out. I question if a private investigator would have found things. I spent a lot of time going through 10 years of cell phone bills. There was not that much activity for having two affairs. It was so sporadic. We have very set boundaries and my husband knows I am serious. Also much of our work has moved beyond the betrayal and women to all aspects of life. I made it clear even if he were to never look at or talk to another woman I expect all aspects of his life to be elevated. At first I think he thought I am being so good nothing is going on with females however he was still staying out late only with the guys drinking too much. It was hard though creating an entire new dynamic. He had lived his entire life basically doing whatever he wanted when he wanted to. Thankfully we are progressing rapidly towards a new healthy dynamic.. This is exhausting though.

          • Blindsided October 5, 2018 at 9:37 am #

            Hi Hopeful,

            It sounds like you and I have had incredibly similar experiences! I so appreciate your post, and your final line … “this is exhausting though”.

            Amen Sister.

          • Sarah P. October 6, 2018 at 1:58 am #

            Hi Hopeful,

            I have some questions about you and your H. If I recall, he was the one who pushed marriage and pushed having a life together so quickly.

            If I also recall correctly, you were raised in a home a lot like mine. That is, hard work, integrity, honesty, self-sufficiency, kindness, and earning things fairly were ideas that were focused on and carried out in your household.

            You had mentioned before that your H came from a different type of household. I got the impression whatever he wanted was either given to him without question or things came to him easily early in life. He didn’t have the same boundaries instilled in him that you had instilled in you. I also got the impression that he never really had a ‘set personality.’ It appeared to be malleable and easy to influence according to whom he was with.

            I am referring to what life was like BEFORE D-Day and also during childhood. I also recall you gave up your career for his and helped put him through school.

            Is this more or less correct?

            If so, the question that I have is why was he so attracted to you, having different family backgrounds? Why did he have the need to move things along so quickly? I know you are a GREAT person and a catch. But, I don’t understand why he pursued so ardently only for him to be flaky. What did he have to gain when he could have taken things slowly and let the relationship unfold?

            I can’t wrap my head around why he would ardently pursue you just to have a double life for 10 years. (I know he didn’t have affairs often– he hid it from you for 10 years). I don’t get it. Usually when someone ardently pursues someone it is because they can’t live without them and they are so happy when they marry them that they are happy for the rest of their lives and would not do anything to remotely endanger a relationship. I especially don’t understand it since he KNOWS better. He had all the tools he needed to psychoanalyze himself or seek counseling with a trusted colleague.

            I don’t understand it. Is it a character flaw within him? Does he suffer from emptiness on some level? Or was this about his male friends since they introduced the OW’s (or were somehow connected to them) if I recall?

            This one twists my brain so I can only imagine what you have been going through since D-Day. His actions are so contradictory and I don’t get it. Does he say why? Has he ever said why he pursued you so much and why he was rushed to marry you just to live a double life?

            Sorry for all the questions… it just boggles my mind.

            Sarah

            • Hopeful October 9, 2018 at 1:03 am #

              Ha Sarah yes you sound like what was going through my mind on dday and the years following and even sometimes still. His affairs were sporadic especially the one and there was only in person contact 3-4 times over the 10 years and sometimes he would go a year without any contact. He admitted he did not like this person but felt flattered when contacted and kind of pulled back in. The other person was somewhat more frequent. When I say ten years for that one that includes the 3-4 years of her stalking him. And then it was about 1 year three months after he broke it off with her until dday. But there was never an intense constant I cannot live without you relationship from what I can tell or was told. He has said he never wanted to leave me. The only reason he considered was to “save face” and to be perceived as the good guy still and lie about why we wanted a divorce.

              You are accurate in describing our upbringings. I think he was attracted to me mainly since I was so independent. I was not the person that needed someone friend, boyfriend or otherwise. I was content all by myself. I have always been that way. I have found over the years this can be hard for people and draw people towards you. I think maybe subconsciously it felt like a good fit for him since I was not going to be needy or bossy. He could do his thing and I do my thing.He also has a long list of reasons why he wanted to be with me. He made mention that it was probably too young. When we met neither of us had any intention of it lasting or looking for that. So maybe it was him dreaming of what he missed out on? IDK. I think that was him grasping at straws.

              You are right he knew right from wrong and had all of the tools that many do not have. I will say I have gotten along with every single friend of his through all of these years and they all love me and enjoy hanging out with me. There was only one that did not like me and he introduced him and was good friends with both of these women. I challenged my husband on this issue. This friend was lower level in all aspects of life. And not just education and financially however the way he lived his life it was marginal in every way. I do not care how much someone has it is how they treat others. I really wanted to know why he was even spending time with this person both since he did not like me and since he was a low life. My husband was highly successful and doing really well. He did not need to be around this guy to make himself feel better. All he has come up with is that when he was at this phase he was a different person who was so detached and he did not handle anything in his life well except his work.

              As far as the double life thing I do not think it was how he viewed it. I think it was purely and escape from day to day life. He did say that for years he would never have even been approachable by a woman but over time his boundaries lowered and made it possible. But like over ten years. He has said and I agree he never spent time with them without drinking or being drunk. I am sure he had contact via phone sober but that was not common. The phone records I had access to it was all late night calls or texts while he was out but not at home. And he claimed that neither of these ow wanted a relationship. I find that odd. The one I guess makes sense and seems to fit that but the other has had a long term boyfriend since. I cannot imagine that was her dream to have this secret sporadic affair.

              It does eat away at me some days. It is so complicated. My therapist was very intrigued by it all to say the least. My therapist had never heard anything like it. Through all of my therapy I was highly skeptical of my husband. It was hard to believe him. I felt like any changes he was making or what he was telling me was just what sounded good. He is of course very good with difficult situations and is well spoken under the highest levels of pressure.

              In the end my therapist said based on an extended track record that he seemed genuine and to be making solid changes. My therapist did not feel that there was any way my husband could consistently be acting the way he was now with these changes. Over time with that much consistency just not possible.

              I feel sometimes like it is the twilight zone after going through all of this. I think sometimes why am I still here after what he did. But then I see how he acts and listen to his words. I would say his dedication to us and me continues to increase daily. We will see what the future holds.

    • Sarah P. October 6, 2018 at 2:10 am #

      Hello Blindsided,

      There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in your post: not being a victim, offering forgiveness when he shows remorse, and realizing what needs to happen to remain at his side to restore and rebuild.

      That is so true about the selection of a life partner. It is an on-going process. A couple must “choose each other” each day. When I wake up each morning, I tell myself I have chosen my husband and my family and continue to choose them through the good patches and the rough patches. Marriages have incredible ups and downs. The ups are easy and sometimes euphoric, the downs are hard and sometimes feel as if they are chipping away at the foundation of a marriage or even the foundation of our souls.

      But at the end (and the beginning) of the day, each and every day, we must choose our spouse. It doesn’t mean life will be easy; it just means that we commit to walking through this life with our spouse at our side regardless of the trials we face. We choose to hold their hand through the trials inside of holding the hand or another or facing trials alone.

      What does your husband say about the affair? Is he happy that you still choose him?

      I extend my warmest blessings to both of you.

      Sarah

      • Blindsided October 6, 2018 at 3:25 pm #

        Hi Sarah,

        Thanks for the reply. I love your line, “It doesn’t mean life will be easy; it just means that we commit to walking through this life with our spouse at our side regardless of the trials we face.” That sums it up just about perfectly.

        To answer your questions:
        What does my husband say about the affair? It was stupid; it was dumb; I don’t know what I was thinking; I didn’t think you wanted me, and this woman made me feel special, interesting, hot … he seems to be kinda stuck in a limited vocabulary to put around what he was thinking. He is working on digging into (truly) what he was thinking. Again, the sharing on this is pretty limited, but he is definitely in self-reflection and understands that this is something he will need to share with me when he can put words to his thinking and feelings. Thinking vs. feeling … to me they are different, not mutually exclusive, but different. The thinking was fantastical/magical thinking from where I sit – for a few months he believed he could have both of us, though he vehemently denied it … said he was ‘trying’ to end it. I enabled, for reasons I may not ever understand about myself, and was fixated on catching him in his lies – feeling superior. I think in some f-ed up way, I was feeding my then-fragile ego by repeatedly pointing out to him what a cheater he was, and I was the wife standing by, through better or worse … the better person. Uggghhhh. Glad we are past that. The feeling is what I am waiting to learn about.

        Is he happy that you still choose him? Yes, and he tells me every day. He is attentive, devoted, grateful, loving and kind. He is working harder than I ever seen him work on anything. And, he tells me that he chooses me.

  5. Rose October 4, 2018 at 11:30 pm #

    There is a lot here, Sarah. But my heart hurts tonight, for me and all women. If Brett KavaNO is confirmed tomorrow, as I suspect he will be, women have gone NOWHERE. We are back to being treated as second-class citizens. I heard his “apology” tonight and it reminded me of the emotional abuse I (and a lot of us here) have endured…”I’m sorry I said those things and acted that way, but you made me so angry.” I am hopeful that we as women can rise up and vote the old, abusive, white bastards, who wear Depends, as well as women who put party ahead of country, OUT OF THEIR JOBS. And you should all read the Stephen King book Sleeping Beauties. It chronicles what happens when women are no longer around and men have to do without.

    • Hopeful October 5, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

      Rose, The entire process has escalated and brought out so many negative feelings in so many men and women I know. It is disturbing where our country is. I find what you say exactly true people that put the party above our country. He scares me how he reacted. Even if everything is wrong that is the worst way to act. I can only imagine him with some alcohol in him much less a lot. I could go on and on but I wanted to support your statements.

    • Sarah P. October 5, 2018 at 8:01 pm #

      Rose,

      I hear you about Kavanaugh. I am not a member of any political party. I take each candidate and attempt to evaluate them based on what they say and how they handle situations.

      Obviously, I try not to bring politics onto EAJ because everyone (in general) gets so upset over politics and it causes division.

      But, what is going on with the Supreme Court affects all of us in the United States. I am not happy with how Kavanaugh has conducted himself and his past is very upsetting and frightening. My opinion is that he views women as second class citizens. I am very upset with what is happening with the Supreme Court and I do NOT see life getting better for women if he is elected. I do not know why I get such a terrible vibe from him, but he has raised all my red flags and he scares me.

      Sarah

      PS- I am not trying to alienate anyone who supports Kavanaugh. Obviously if you do, you get a totally different read on him than I do and I do NOT fault you for your opinions and do not wish to make you feel less welcome here. I am stating my opinion solely as a woman and it in no way represents EAJ or Doug and Linda. So please don’t give them heat for my opinion that is unrelated to this article.

  6. Lynsey October 5, 2018 at 5:53 am #

    Well said Rose. I couldn’t agree more. November can’t come soon enough to vote for people with a conscience and who respect women!

  7. Soul mate October 26, 2018 at 2:23 pm #

    Hi Sarah,

    You had asked folks previously whether they felt the AP was just as much to blame if they had knowingly participated in inappropriate behavior with a married man and I say YES! ABSOLUTELY! My husband did not have sex with his AP, however if he had, I would have considered her just as aggressive and malevolent as a rapist! And in many ways i do. She aggressively pursued him knowing full well he was married. Using her position as his Case Manager at work to text him and drum up a friendship that she moved into sexting, dirty pics, naked skyping while working. She’s a fed. Our wonderful tax dollars at work. She even offered to arrange a hotel room and my husband refused. When things didn’t work out the way she wanted, she sent me an anonymous letter to my job! Aggression much? In this day and age we are all aware of the life threatening dangers of disease in having multiple sex partners. She is single never married. Im sure my husband is not her first frog in the pot. We are all also aware of the violent abuse and murders that occur because of adultery. It is absolutely an act of selfish deviant sexual aggression to engage in sexual behavior with a married person without the spouses permission. Period! Therefore the spouse leech is just as responsible as the cheating spouse. People talk of the excitement of the secret in affair sex and I believe it. To take that which you absolutely know does not belong to you is criminal. Just as a rapist talks of being sexually excited by the act of aggression in the sexual attack. Sex with my legally bound husband means you are having sex with me against my will as I most definitely will suffer the repurcussion of your disgusting life habits and you did not have my permission. That’s a direct assault! I am a victim and i represent that sexual excitement needed by this parasite in order for her to get her rocks off!

    My husband told her that I would destroy her if I ever found out and she didn’t even blink an eye. Just kept up her attack.

    The one thing the disgusting parasite didn’t count on is I’m not afraid. Nor am I blind. I did fight back. And I won!

    • Sarah P. October 27, 2018 at 5:48 am #

      Hello Soul Mate,

      What you are describing is something I have witnessed personally. Before witnessing and being the recipient of such things, I believe the cheater was 100% to blame.

      This paragraph really struck me because I had never thought of it this way:

      “To take that which you absolutely know does not belong to you is criminal. Just as a rapist talks of being sexually excited by the act of aggression in the sexual attack. Sex with my legally bound husband means you are having sex with me against my will as I most definitely will suffer the repercussion of your disgusting life habits and you did not have my permission. That’s a direct assault! I am a victim and i represent that sexual excitement needed by this parasite in order for her to get her rocks off!”

      There was a time when adultery was criminal in all 50 states. Both adulterers were punished (wayward spouse and lover) because the law saw them both as equally guilty. They are co-conspirators to a crime. Adultery cannot occur if there is only one person.

      It takes two people to be classified as an act adultery.

      The sexual aggression angle is also interesting. I know women who sexually aggress married men because they get a high off the power.

      I keep thinking of a spouse poacher I had worked with. I witnessed the whole thing happen since the man who was poached shared an office space with me. The spouse poacher wanted to get a promotion. She was young and married to a handsome man her own age who not only worked at the same company, but also on the same floor as we did. She saw the 50-something married guy (who was truly unattractive) as a conquest because he was a “big fish” who could make big decisions. I watched her go after him with a vengeance and I watched how he kept it professional for a long time despite her throwing herself at him. She also threw herself at my ex since he too worked at the company. My ex told me about it because she wasn’t his type. He even showed me some emails she had sent him and showed me his response. She had accidentally taken a work computer home and wanted my ex to come pick it up at night when her husband was away on a business trip. She alluded to how fun a laptop trip might be for him. He said she could bring it to work in the morning and what he and I shared an email account. That shut her up. But then she started doing things like grabbing my exes penis under the conference room table. She did it just to get the rush of power. He told me all about it– full disclosure. Again, I don’t think she was his type. Then a few more married men confided in me she was hitting on them and asked if they were misinterpreting. I told them they were not misinterpreting. Well, fortunately these men would absolutely disgusted. They worked directly with her husband and could empathize with him. They couldn’t wrap their minds around how a woman could be so cruel since they all knew the husband. I always wondered if they would have taken the bait if they didn’t know her husband. She could have made up any lie she wanted about him. She was so callous, one time she told me and another female coworker she was waiting for her husband’s parents to die. They were millionaires and she wanted to take the $$ and run. Luckily her H divorced her before that could happen. But, the guy who did fall for it and gave her all the promotions (she was not qualified for) got slapped with a sexual harassment suit when she had finally got the big fish role she wanted. She had sex with him until she got the role she wanted. She hated having sex with him, so at the first opportunity, she slapped him with a harassment suit and he was fired. And she got an even bigger promotion and some $$ so she wouldn’t sue. Why do I know this? She was always bragging to very small groups of women about what she was up to. I always knew she was dangling bait. She was hoping we would go to HR, tell HR what was going on, she would deny it, and her female competition for management roles would be eliminated. So I never took the bait.

      Yes, these women exist. I have seen some men put up a real fight until they are worn down. This one was a master manipulator and (allegedly) former beauty queen. My ex did not like her because he said she “drew her face.” And that was correct. She wore pancake make-up, huge false eye-lashes, dark burgundy lipstick, cat eyes, and so much make up it was impossible to tell what her real face looked like. I have never seen such a thing. Most women wear make-up, but this one wore it to create an entirely new face. My ex was perceptive enough to see what she was up to.

      But, he was not perceptive when the other poacher came along. He took that one hook, line, and sinker.

      There is nothing like hearing about a woman who doesn’t know you and has never met you, but finds it a sport to ruin your life. This spouse poacher ruined my life and bragged about it to everyone my ex and I knew in common. People would come up to me white as a ghost and say they had never met anyone as evil as she was. She loved taking down other women and was hoping to drive me to suicide so that she and my ex could have the house. She would snidely announce to people I knew that her goal was to drive me to suicide so that she could take everything.

      It says a lot about him for choosing such a person and in the end, he got what he deserved: being married to a person like that. If a person can get a high off of destroying the life of a stranger who have done NOTHING to her, what high would she get destroying people who told her “no,” or people who looked at her the wrong way. And how would she treat her children? Doesn’t sound like nurturing mom.

      How did you get the coworker out of your husband’s life?

  8. Soul mate October 29, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    Hi Sara P.

    You ask how I got rid of the parasite from my husband’s life?

    I guess I could say that she did that herself.

    It’s been 1 year Oct 5 that was our DDay as I consider it. I received her anonymous letter a couple of days before at my place of work. I called my husband, he was outraged, denied it of course and blamed it on his ex-director who had removed him from his contracted position the second week of August without cause. For 2 days I believed it like an idiot, however finally on the 5th, I looked up on line our cel phone statements and the whole story unfolded before my eyes. A quick Google search of the phone number and there she was. Like a tick attached to the soul of my husband, her ugly face appeared before my eyes.
    My husband and I have been married for 27 years this year. We have raised 5 kids and have been blessed with 13 grandchildren. We have always been a very close and loving couple. But a series of very traumatizing events took place in my husband’s life that, I believe, is what caused his temporary lapse in judgement as he was very depressed. He lost his Dad, was attacked and severely assaulted by a friend’s brother in front of me and suffered head injuries. He lost an executive position in his company started his own, but it never took off. All the while I worked but was having health issues of my own and our sex life dwindled. Then he finally found a contracting position at half the status and half the pay and he took it. From the beginning he was paired with the parasite for training and Case Management. And from the beginning he never felt validated by his superiors for his level of expertise in the field. He would constantly complain about it and I would listen but try to understand a man I know had always been full of confidence and wisdom say and do things totally at odds with himself. Why?

    In the meantime, I’m a professional as well. I’m working, doing the family thing, taking care of the house and wham, I fall and break my ankle. Down for 5 months. My husband took over all of the physical work of caring for me and all of the household duties himself.

    In the meantime, the parasite dug her ugly little claws into my husband. The flirty words. Called him handsome every day. Told him how smart he was and how fast he caught on. Sewed desent between him and other coworkers who were friends of his and helped him get the job. Sent him flirty texts at all hours of the day even after she was asked to stop. Cried on my husband’s shoulder about how bad her boss treated her. Well, you know the rest from my previous post. All the while my husband talked about his family and how much he loved us all. This I validated from our friend who worked there and warned him that she was bad. I am convinced she was the cause of my husband’s removal from that contract. Who knows what she was telling her superiors.

    My husband told me that he always told her he loved me, would never leave me and the few times he gave in and kissed her, he stopped her and told her nothing physical would ever take place. She never gave up.

    Then after he lost the job, she asks when she would see him again and he said she wouldn’t he had no reason to. Then I received the letter.

    Now my husband and I are in our mid 50’s. She 49. Never married and gave her only child up for adoption. Her only other friend at work is another married man whom my husband says everyone dislikes. Hmmm? She has portrayed herself as a mouse. Weak. Needs protecting type. Our friend that worked with her and my husband never believed it. Never liked her. Described her as a dumpy middle aged fake. And our friend is a retired law enforcement agent. I’ll take her opinion on anything anyday.

    Back to DDay. I called and confronted her that very day. I asked her if she had been having sex with my husband and she adamantly denied it. Crying she told me my husband loved his family and was a good man. He would never do anything to hurt his family. That she “missed her friend”. Ugh! Can I throw up now! I told her he wasn’t her friend, he is my husband and if she valued her status in her job and her reputation, she best stay away from my husband or I would ruin her and enjoy every moment without an ounce of regret! And i meant every single word i said to her. Conversation over. We hung up. Then she called me back crying. Told me she was only a friend and it’s all a misunderstanding and that her job was all she had. I told her that she should have thought of that when she was overloading my husband’s phone with thousands of texts, pics and calls. I told her that I would be talking with my husband and she had better pray it was a misunderstanding or she could kiss her career goodbye.

    Then I called my husband, we talked. He said they were friends nothing more. Then I proceeded to the ladies room and threw up. Went home. My husband and I talked more. He offered me his email, cel phone passwords. Told me he told her to never contact him again. But that did not satisfy me. I told him. It’s her or me. To make up his mind because life is to short and I wasn’t going to waste my time. He said there was never a choice. He loved me and only me. Never once considered leaving. Never cared for her like that and never would.

    So the next morning, I stayed home. After a sleepless sobbing night of my husband holding me and repeatedly telling me he loved me, never stopped and always will he got up, took me in my office, picked up the phone, put it on speaker, called her, informed her I was on the call and told her to never contact him again for any reason. And that was that. The end of the parasite attack! Her nasty little invasion into our life ended.

    My husband has since proclaimed his relief that it has ended. Embarrassment and shame that it ever happened and he let his guard down. His remorse in the pain it has caused me and his family. And his actual resentment and hate towards that parasite for her part in all of it. He has realized what a completely ugly and selfish action it was. His words. And although it has been a bumpy ride of trickle truth about what happened, not once has he ever expressed anything but his true love for me, his 100% fault in all of it, his desire to continue in our marriage his endless apologies, how he deserves my anger and distrust, his regret and shame. And his willingness to allow me whatever time it takes to heal and learn to trust him again.

    So sometimes I think I should thank that parasite for her letter. But for her overwhelming selfishness in thinking it would ultimately detroy me and our marriage, it has brought my husband back to me fully. He is now the man he was before the trauma. Way before she latched onto him and made his life a living hell as he puts it. He has demonstrated to me his love, day after day and night after night with the compassion, love, patience, remorse and undying attention any woman would covet as I’m sure she did. But it was always mine as he has undeniably demonstrated, but for a short blip in our lives, and according to him, would never take for granted again. She was a loser from the start. She was just to stupid to understand that, and thought my husband was just malevolent, ignorant and selfish enough to destroy what he had, for her.

    She was wrong! I win.

    Peace.

    • Sarah P. October 30, 2018 at 1:57 am #

      Hi Soul Mate,

      Wow, that is a textbook story. Mid-life crisis years. Loss of loved ones. Loss of job and prior executive status. Hired at half status. Work spouse poacher. I am shaking my head.

      Because men and women work in teams at corporations, they become friends. But, there is a boundary. The industry I had worked in was probably 70% male. Everyone chit chats all day about what movie they saw, or what project was bumming them out, or what was on the news. But it doesn’t include texting men or sending pics.

      Women like the one you described look for “good men” and go after them like tigers.

      I am glad you won and I am glad it brought you closer.

      I want to warn all betrayed wives and I want to warn men who go to work each day and don’t mind when a female coworker flashes a breast, sits on his desk with her legs apart while wearing a skirt, flatters with compliments about appearance etc.

      It may not be what you think.

      Let me explain. When I was working in corporations I saw several cases of women seducing men, achieving proof of the affair, and then taking the proof to HR and saying that they were coerced into sex– basically raped. Then these same women talk about the attorney they spoke with. Or maybe HR gets a letter from an attorney persuading the company to pay the woman a sum of cash to keep quiet and to fire the man.

      There are women who specifically target men so that they can launch a sexual harassment suit at a large company and attempt to get a large pay out, both financially and through promotions.

      Speculation on my part?

      Nope.

      Experience.

      So even though it may seem like a spouse poach on the surface, the spouse poacher really wants to file a sexual harassment suit. She will use the man until she gets enough proof to file a case. Then she gets cash and the man gets fired.

      Of course there are also the ones who want to take a husband away from his wife and family more than anything else. They want to destroy the marriage.

      Either way, the man, his wife, and his family LOSE.

      To the men out there who are thinking of the pretty, little philly who says they are irresistible, there is NO GOOD END to the story.

      It’s a matter of degrees of toxic and degrees of utter devastation. You can get a little devastation or a tsunami of devastation.

      If you men fall for it, you end up in the mud and in the doghouse. You are playing with FIRE.
      Affairs are not these carefree things where people rediscover themselves and sail into the sunset. Affairs kill people.

      An affair can kill someone emotionally or it can kill them physically; or both. Any way you look at it, there is death of the relationship you once knew, death of the marriage you had etc.

      Soul mate’s story is a best care scenario because it was caught BEFORE it got truly out of hand and Soul Mate’s husband never intended to leave her. The experience brought them closer and that is a best case scenario.

      But, I give a warning to all men who think it’s okay to bathe in the admiration of female coworkers. (I am not talking about a professional coworker who thanks you for a presentation that helped the team or that tells your boss to give you certain tasks because that’s what you are good at.) I am talking about the women who flirt, fawn, flip their hair, act like little girls, touch your shoulders and arms, get too close for comfort. If a man falls for this, he is sitting on a time bomb. He can diffuse it by asking for a transfer or my documenting it and bringing it to the attention of HR or he can allow it to keep going on until that big, old bomb blows up and laws flat his entire life. Men, don’t get too comfortable with these types.

      One time I had to travel to DC for my job. I had to go out there alone and a male coworker was in charge of picking me up at the hotel and dropping me off at night. He and I were both married and he was someone who had flown out to our offices. There was never any flirtation between us, but we were friends since we worked on many projects together. His wife insisted on riding in the car both when he picked me up and dropped me off. She was Hungarian and cute and smart. She and I looked at each other and no words were exchanged, but she was there to check me out and I broadcasted the vibe that she was one, smart cookie to do so and that she had nothing but my respect. She sat in the front seat next to her husband and held his hand while they drove. She was a smart woman and worked at the Embassy. One night on the way home I joked with my colleague in front of his wife that he was a lucky man to have such a gorgeous, savvy, and smart wife. She smiled and looked into his eyes and she said, “He is my prince.” He laughed and said there were better princes than him. She looked at him and said, “You are prince enough for me and the only prince I need.” Then I told him he was really lucky to have her and that they were an inspiration as a couple. They were both really smart people, but he had indeed married up. She was younger, smarter, and very beautiful. I reiterated that to him at work several times and said “don’t screw up.” There were many spouse poachers in the DC office. I told him his wife was really an exceptional person and never to forget it. I loved riding with her in the car. She was a very fun person. And I totally respect the fact that she rode in the car. That was smart on her part even though she immediately saw I was married and not someone who was interested in flirting with male coworkers. But, she knew that any time a man or woman are alone and hotels are involved, rumors can fly. Rumors can especially fly since he was picking me up at my hotel and dropping me off. In fact, some of the other male coworkers in the DC office joked about it in front of us and did the “wink wink” and “nudge nudge.” These male coworkers were single and immature. I was later told the single male that started the conversation and implied that there could be a “score” had a crush on me. But, I was offended and said that my married coworker’s lovely wife was there to ride with us in the morning and in the evening and how much I enjoyed her company and appreciated her. That put a stop to any off-color jokes or any potential fodder for the rumor mill. My married coworker’s wife was smart. And she adored him and her love for him was inspiring. And I hope he appreciates her because she was an incredibly cool person– someone I would have loved to have as a friend. Sometimes men forget how gorgeous and amazing their wives are and need to be told by others that they have terrific wives.

      For male wayward spouses out there– do not forget that you are being used by the OW. I know the OW might look at you with doe eyes and say that she has never met anyone as special as you and she could never love anyone but you and that no one could understand you like her, but if a private detective followed her all week, I bet you would see her saying the very same thing to four different men and also sending pics to all of them. These types are pathological. They will RUIN YOUR LIFE.

      Soul Mate, thanks for telling us your story about the almost disaster with a spouse poacher. She sounds like an awful person. Yuck.

      So glad your husband came around!! Disaster averted! (Whew!)

  9. Rose October 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

    Soul mate, my H’s A’s were at times he was unemployed or somehow felt less of a man. It’s so weird because I’ve had times in my life where I felt bad about myself, but the cure was never going to be an A. I don’t get it.

  10. Soul mate October 30, 2018 at 11:08 am #

    Sarah P.

    Thank you for all of your blogs that you share here on this sight. I’ve shared the one that you wrote specifically about spouse poachers with my H and he said it woke him up to women’s behavior patterns of which he already knew after so many years of managing and directing people. He just can’t understand why he didn’t see it coming with her.

    I believe it’s because she played in a leadership role as a fed. And it was gradual. She actually had reasons for phone contact, when it was work related. According to our friend who worked there as well, she put on this show as the weak shy mouse type. My H even called her a mouse. I had to laugh when he did because I said to him, I didn’t know mouse types sext married men while knowing their wives are sleeping in the same house, and send pics of themselves in compromising positions. What did she say, “is wifey sleeping yet”? And Skype them under the guise of a work meeting then show up in a robe and then strip. My husband told her to put some clothes on! Mouse types don’t offer to pay for hotel rooms for sex either. And they definitely don’t try and have sex in a car in a parking garage! Sheesh! The woman was desperate!

    I never thought I would ever comment on any of these blogs because I was ashamed that it was US. My husband and I who would somehow experience this tragedy in our lives. I thought we were impenetrable but the reality is that no couple is. None.

    Bottom line, I hope through sharing our experience it will empower those betrayed with the knowledge that yes, absolutely there are people out there who will intentially attempt to destroy you and take that which belongs to you.
    They have no problem using the thought of your trust and ignorance of what is happening behind your back as a form of sexual excitement and validation and act on it. Just like a rapist!

    This woman sexted my husband on nights that I was sleeping in my bed in the same house. He was drunk and made one big bad decision that cost him dearly. No matter what. The acts she performed in her attempt to seduce my husband knowing he was happily married, knowing he loved his family and only saw her during work hours (He always came home on time, never went out with the boys and never spent the night away from home or slept alone, but in our bed holding each other and there is absolutely no unaccounted for money) is an act of deviant malevolent assault on an unknowing victim. To find excitement in that act is sick.

    So in the end the “AP” is just as responsible in the act of deviant vicious assault on the betrayed. They willingly participated without any guilt of thier actions against another’s safety, health and wellbeing.

    Where the cheater will have tremendous guilt and shame. They will in the end cry victim. And also will push the blame back on the betrayed if they win or if they lose, the cheater. Monica Lewinsky and #me too comes to mind.

    Refuse to accept this and speak out! If your cheating spouse loves you and wants to be with you, they will accept this and support you, and if not, they are not worth one more minute of your time.

    I confronted that disease head on, on DDay. Then I wrote her a nice long email again 5 months later to the day. I have no regrets about that. She has a clear understanding now of who I am. I don’t scare easy and I absolutely will fight when attacked!

  11. Soul mate October 30, 2018 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Rose,

    All I can say to your comment is Ditto!

    Peace

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