Why Do We Blame Ourselves When Our Husbands Cheat Or Have Affairs?

By: Katie Lersch:  When you’re an outsider looking in, it’s hard to understand how a wife can blame herself when her husband cheats or has an affair.  Before this happens to you, you probably think it’s very clear cut that if a husband cheats or has an affair, then he (and the other woman) are very clearly to blame.

But when an affair or cheating does happen in your own marriage, the lines become somewhat blurred.  Everything you assumed about how you would react or what you would do seem to go right out of the window.  And you might just suddenly find (even though you may not realize it) that you’re also putting a lot of blame on yourself.   Most of us know that this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever since we aren’t the ones who cheated or had an affair.  But, for whatever reason, we blame ourselves anyway.

In the following article, I will discuss why wives sometimes blame ourselves when our husband cheats or has an affair and how to stop this cycle and focus on things that are more constructive and healthy.

Sometimes, Wives Blame Themselves For Their Husband’s Infidelity Because It Seems Easier And It Seems To Give You More Control:  I have to say, that just because a woman might secretly or deep down blame herself for her husband’s infidelity, this doesn’t mean that she isn’t blaming him, the other woman, or thinks that there isn’t enough blame to go around.

She often does blame every one involved. It’s just that deep down, she worries what she could (or should) have done to prevent this.  And she looks at her marriage that was once happy and wonders what she might have done to make everything change.  She wonders how she could have missed the signs and thinks that maybe she took her husband for granted, didn’t show him enough appreciation, or keep him satisfied enough to stay faithful.

And even though there’s a little voice in the back of her head telling her that this is all nonsense, she will sometimes still feel partly to blame.  I think that part of the reason for this is that you suspect that if you blame yourself, you have more control.  After all, you have control over and can actually change your own actions.  But this isn’t true of your husband or anyone else (like the other woman.)

So, in that sense, it’s actually easier to blame yourself and theorize that if you are to blame, at least you have the ability to change your actions, and hopefully by doing that, you can also change the course of how things turn out.

Sometimes, Wives Blame Themselves For Their Husband’s Affairs Or Cheating Because The So Called Experts Tell Us That Men Cheat Because They Don’t Feel Appreciated, Etc.:  It actually makes my blood boil when I see so called experts tell wives that men cheat because they don’t feel understood and appreciated.

I don’t debate that many men who cheat will tell you (and likely feel) this exact same thing.  And I certainly don’t claim to be an expert myself.  But, I am a woman who has been cheated on and I certainly believe in free will.  Every one has times in their marriage when they feel that they aren’t heard or appreciated.  This includes wives.  But not every one goes out and cheats on their spouse.

Women with unfaithful husbands certainly have enough to worry about without someone telling them that actually, his infidelity is her own fault since she didn’t pour on enough attention or affection.  This insinuates that the husband isn’t a grown man who can’t ask for what he needs rather than being dishonest and unfaithful.

Certainly, part of the recovery process if you’re saving your marriage is identifying these types of issues and understanding any feelings that might have lead up to the cheating.  But assigning blame on wives who didn’t cheat isn’t even close to being fair.

What To Do If You Are Blaming Yourself For Your Husband’s Cheating Or His Affair:  I know that no matter what I say, you’re likely still going to blame yourself, at least somewhat.  And you can also vow to stop doing this and find that it’s easier said than done.  I know this because I did it myself.  My brain knew that I wasn’t really to blame, but my heart just didn’t buy it.

If you find yourself in this position, my suggestion would be to just acknowledge it, take any insights you gain from it, and then move on in a way that is going to keep your self esteem and dignity in tact.  For example, let’s say you worry that your husband cheated because you let your sex life slide.

The most constructive way to deal with this would be to acknowledge it and ask yourself how you can use this concern to strengthen your marriage (or any other relationship in the future if you don’t save your marriage.)    At the end of the day, you want for something good to come out of this.  So if these thoughts bring your attention to something you can change and improve upon, then that’s the whole point and actually a positive thing. If focusing on the changes in your sex life inspire you to improve it, then that’s actually a good thing.

But no good comes out of allowing yourself to think that someone’s actions are your fault, that you’re not good enough, or that you yourself are lacking in some way.  Taking the blame onto yourself doesn’t really help anyone. The blame really does lie with the two people who carried out the cheating.

But if you can look at this and learn something constructive about yourself and your marriage that actually leads to an improvement, then that’s the best way to approach it.  You want to set it up so that some good comes out of the bad.  And when you’re continuing to beat yourself up and blame yourself, this can’t happen.   And things end up being worse rather than better. 

I totally get the blame game after your husband cheats or has an affair as I played it myself.  I thought it was all my fault for leaving him (and our marriage vulnerable.)  But after a while I realized this truly was a losing game and I decided to focus on making things better rather than making myself feel worse.  If it helps you can read more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com .  There are also some good free newsletter resources on the side of this blog

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