Married Men And Affairs: Who’s To Blame?

By: Katie Lersch: Blame after a husband’s affair is a very common topic on my surviving infidelity blog.  Sometimes, the faithful wife will blame the other woman more than she blames her husband.  (An example is something like: “We were happy, but that woman sees a happily married man as a challenge. She was determined to have him and she wouldn’t stop until she got him.  She didn’t care if my family was destroyed in the process.  I loathe her for what she did to us.”

With that said, there’s no shortage of wives who place a good deal of blame onto their husband’s.  It’s not unusual for me to hear comments like: “my husband should be so embarrassed by his idiotic behavior.  Here’s a middle aged man chasing after someone who isn’t his wife.  Doesn’t he see that none of it is real? I’m the one who has always stood by him but I guess that doesn’t matter to him. What a jerk.”

The other woman who is cheating with a married man will often blame the wife for not giving the husband what he needed to stay faithful. (An example is something like: “it wasn’t my intention to become involved with a married man.  I didn’t purse him and I tried to avoid it.  But, he was so unhappy in his marriage.  His wife didn’t appreciate him and we just just connected and formed a bond.  I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m sorry if I did, but if she had appreciated what was right in front of her, he wouldn’t have sought me out.”

Who the cheating husband blames often more varied.  Sometimes, he will blame himself, especially if he has the time or personal insight to reflect on his actions.  It’s not unusual for me to hear comments like: “I was so stupid.  I had the most wonderful life and family and I jeopardized it over someone that I really didn’t know and still don’t.  I don’t know how I couldn’t been so dumb.”

Some husbands don’t have this insight though.  There are some who will place the blame on the women involved.  Cheating husbands will sometimes paint themselves as the innocent party.  An example is something like “the other woman literally threw herself at me on countless occasions.  I always stressed that I was married and not interested.    And then one night, I got drunk and gave in.  I will regret that for the rest of my life but I want my wife to understand that I did not pursue her.  She pursued me and I resisted for a very long time before anything happened.”

When a husband blames his wife for an affair, you’ll often hear things like: “I didn’t wake up that morning intending to have an affair.  Over time, it just happened.  Things weren’t all that great at home.  We hardly ever had sex anymore.   She never made the time to really listen to me and when I would approach her for sex, she would make me feel like it was a chore or that I was something to be scheduled or squeezed into her busy schedule.  I’m not trying to defend my cheating, but I want to make it clear that if our marriage had been better, I wouldn’t have had a need to go outside of it.”

What’s interesting is that all of the people in the above examples usually absolutely believe that they are speaking the truth at the time.  They don’t see their statements as ones that are meant to shift or assign the blame.  They just see their assertions as their truth. So, who is really to blame when a married man has an affair?  Here’s my take.

Which Person Is Most To Blame When A Married Man Has An Affair?: I have to admit that now that I’ve had years to reflect what lead up to my own husband’s affair, there was a varied amount of blame to go around in my situation.   But, even after all of my research and the help that I received, it’s still my opinion (and yours may of course be different) that the real blame belongs with the people who took the action to cheat or to have an affair.

Yes, the marriage may have been faltering or even toxic. Your needs may not have been met.  You may have been going through extremely difficult personal struggles. But none of this is justification for cheating.  There are plenty of people who have a multitude of problems who deal with them in ways other than cheating.  There is always a different path.  Counseling, reaching out to your spouse, working through your problems, a separation, or even a divorce are, in my view, options that are preferable to cheating.

As for the other woman, yes, I believe there’s some blame for her as well.  And, while she often doesn’t have accurate information available to her (as husbands will and do tell her things that just aren’t true) knowing that a man is married should be enough information.  Whether a man is happy or understood in his marriage or not, the very fact that he is married should be enough.

Finally, I do believe that there is always lessons to be learned for the faithful wife.  There is usually places where, in hindsight, you can see where your marriage was vulnerable and what you part you played in the same.  With that said though, I don’t believe that any of these vulnerabilities justify cheating.  But, I do believe that it’s important to take a long, hard look at them just the same and remove them so that they don’t continue to cause you issues and pain (and they can come into play in the future whether you save your marriage or not.)

So my own answer to the posed question is that I think there’s plenty of blame to go around when a married man cheats.  But, I think that, of the three people involved, the man himself is the most culpable because he himself intimately knows the circumstances in the marriage, he is the one who is married, and he chooses to act anyway. That’s not to say that the other woman is innocent.  She certainly is not.  But she isn’t as legally or morally bound the faithful wife in the way that the husband is.   And she is not the one who has to face the faithful wife and begin to heal the marriage. This is only my opinion that was formed through my own experience and through interactions on my blog.  Your experiences and opinions certainly might differ.

And, frankly, who is to blame doesn’t matter nearly as much as who is going to take responsibility for the healing.  The fact that a husband shares some of the blame doesn’t mean that he can never be rehabilitated or that he’ll never be a good and faithful husband in the future.  It can mean that he should be an active participant in healing as his actions set this whole thing into motion.

I know that deciding who is to blame for the affair might be very important to you right now.  But, in truth, the blame is often not as important as the healing.  And focusing on the blame for so long that you delay your healing can cause continued pain that could be avoided.  It took me way too long to realize this, but once I did, it made quite a lot of difference.  If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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