TimT Show full post »
TimT
PLEASE READ...

This topic has received many comments from members whose contributions I deeply respect. Those of you who have written here have been, as far as I recall, encouraging and supportive to each other in other conversations. But it is obvious that a nerve has been touched here. 

And you know what? There are some very important points that each of you make, but this question of "blame" has stirred a bit of anger and so these points likely get missed in the effort to defend positions, etc. There is a way to share, to be honest, to disagree, and even to argue, without moving to judge the heart or motive of each other. Actually, I think you've done pretty well, but I imagine some comments felt like accusations or attacks.

Please be careful. Everyone here has a different story and is trying to find their way to a healthy place. (When I believe that's not the case, I am personally attentive to it because I want this Community to be a place where we all process, learn, and grow.) Not everyone's experience will be like yours. Not every conclusion will be the same as yours, either. Be honest, but offer grace, too.

Let me point out two things:

1. I didn't even realize it until this morning, but HonestWife actually got it right when she wondered if the original question was a misprint. I asked, "Who is more responsible for the affair: you or your spouse?" But this topic was suppose to be about attentiveness to recovery and empathy for a betrayed spouse's pain. What I meant to ask was "Who is more responsible for the affair recovery: you or your spouse?" But I didn't realize that when I popped in to respond to HonestWife's post. 

However, that doesn't change the fact that I think it's a valid question to ask of a person who has had an affair. It's a question I ask often in my counseling. Questions and answers are important in understanding each other, whether we agree or not.

2. This issue of affair cause/fault/blame is a very sensitive one in affair recovery. As a counselor, I have to encourage an open, authentic dialogue between the spouses. Each needs to listen to the other if they hope to build a trusting, intimate marriage and not just get over the affair. This is especially important when the marriage was in trouble before the affair began. In those situations, here are the contrasting fears usually stirred up when we start asking these questions:
  • The betrayed spouse fears that any attention placed on the unfaithful partner's disappointment or dissatisfaction in the marriage means they are somehow to blame for the affair. Because they do not want to accept any responsibility for a choice of infidelity (and I agree that they should not), they guard against anything that sounds like blame. There is no move toward empathy for the unfaithful spouse. There needs to be. I wouldn't expect this to happen too early in the recovery process, but eventually the betrayed spouse must move to an empathetic position. If not, that couple will not build genuine connection and intimacy. 
  • The unfaithful spouse fears that by accepting all the blame for the affair, the matter is closed. They fear that there will be no honest discussion about the marriage; that saying "I'm guilty; that's it" means that they can expect to return to an unchanged marriage. They fear that the betrayed spouse now feels justified in making no effort toward change. They return to a marriage, but without hope of having any real satisfaction in it.
If either partner stands firmly on their justifications, then they may feel like they've won the argument, but they are losing love.

As I said, I've read the posts from both sides of this discussion. (Sorry Kalmarjan: you ended up being the lone spokesperson, so far, for one side.) It seems to me that most of you are saying the same thing, but you've learned a different language in expressing it. This is a great place for WS and BS to learn from each other's perspective. You won't always agree, but I hope you'll keep encouraging each other in the progress you're making.
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Kalmarjan
TimT wrote:
. In those situations, here are the contrasting fears usually stirred up when we start asking these questions:
  • The betrayed spouse fears that any attention placed on the unfaithful partner's disappointment or dissatisfaction in the marriage means they are somehow to blame for the affair. Because they do not want to accept any responsibility for a choice of infidelity (and I agree that they should not), they guard against anything that sounds like blame. There is no move toward empathy for the unfaithful spouse. There needs to be. I wouldn't expect this to happen too early in the recovery process, but eventually the betrayed spouse must move to an empathetic position. If not, that couple will not build genuine connection and intimacy. 
  • The unfaithful spouse fears that by accepting all the blame for the affair, the matter is closed. They fear that there will be no honest discussion about the marriage; that saying "I'm guilty; that's it" means that they can expect to return to an unchanged marriage. They fear that the betrayed spouse now feels justified in making no effort toward change. They return to a marriage, but without hope of having any real satisfaction in it.
If either partner stands firmly on their justifications, then they may feel like they've won the argument, but they are losing love.

As I said, I've read the posts from both sides of this discussion. (Sorry Kalmarjan: you ended up being the lone spokesperson, so far, for one side.) It seems to me that most of you are saying the same thing, but you've learned a different language in expressing it. This is a great place for WS and BS to learn from each other's perspective. You won't always agree, but I hope you'll keep encouraging each other in the progress you're making.


Thank you Tim, you put it right there in terms that I can get around. I couldn't say it any better.
I didn't take the time to analyze what I was writing, therefore I came off as defensive.

I do not blame my wife for my choice to have an affair. I made that choice, and I will stand in judgement in that. (I was raised a Baptist but I am not a believer in the church as it is. I believe that the judgement I stand in is today, and from society.)

In the end I think the responsibility for the repair needs to come from both ends. 100%/100%. And you know what, I agree 1 000 000% about something Tim touched on. It's not about who wins.

I read somewhere that in infidelity there is no winner, just survivors. My wife doesn't win because I came to my senses, I don't win because I get to go back. One partner doesn't have to do all the work, while the other sits back and basically just accepts that the WS is a cheating jerk so they better just do right.

Oh, I read somewhere here that I don't seem to have my wife's perspective on things? I guess I don't express it because this thread is asking from my perspective. Most threads here are asking for my perspective. There are no threads asking me to put down what my BS feels.

I also put my perspective there in an honest fashion with no holds barred so you all can understand a bit of the mindset I was in and perhaps it would help you.

I talked to my wife about what I was doing here, and she said that as long as I was helping someone understand, and it was helping me understand the perspective of a BS that it was something very cool to do.

I have gained a lot of insight from the bs here, enough to ask the questions that I need to get communication going with my wife.

Tim, if you had a section where someone could post about what they think or know how their BS feels, I woukd gladly post there.
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Anna26

If I can just add my four penn'orth,  as a BS I was never upset by the phrase Tim used,  'who is more responsible for the affair, you or your spouse'.  Anyone can phrase something in the wrong way, and I just assumed that he was meaning that from the point of view of the WS, who should be more responsible for making more effort at repairing the damage done.

I've always thought it is so easy, when sending a text, an email, (or even one of those antiquated letter thingys) to put what you don't mean.  Because you can't see the person you are corresponding with, you have no idea how they are taking what you have written.  We read so much from a person's facial expression when we are speaking to them in person, whether they agree with what you say, are listening with interest, or actually just 'get' what you are expressing.  It's so difficult to convey all those verbal intonations, non verbally.  I've done this a lot in the past, quite innocently, and people have been quick to take umbrage at what I've said.  Needless to say, these days I do a lot of pen chewing and thinking beforehand! 

I've read with interest the comments on here and can see both sides, and I personally feel that somewhere lurking in the depths of our marriage, there will be something(s) that have surely contributed to our situation, and that both of us need to work on, including my own faults and failings.  However I believe none of us have any control over another persons life, or their decisions, or their choice to have an affair.  We should take responsibility for our own personal choices.

As Tim said, everyones situation is different, and everyone has to make the right decision for themselves.  The whole point of these discussions is to be able to say what you feel, but in a supportive way, and with empathy and thought. It seems we should sometimes expect the unexpected too!
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Gmann
Who is more responsible for the affair: you or your spouse? What does your spouse do to make you aware of their pain? When confronted with their pain, what do you do (retreat from it, get angry, try to understand, attempt to comfort, etc.)? What helps you or hinders you from being able to open to empathizing with your spouse's pain?



I am definitely responsible for the choice to cheat but I feel as if we both had worked harder to address our marriage issues I would never been in the position to make the bad decision. I'm not putting blame on my wife there are several other ways I could have handled my problem but here I am
I wrote this earlier and came back to delete as I feel worded wrong but then thought maybe leave as an example of what is going through the mind of a WS at times I should of said that if I had focused on my marriage in a positive way instead of looking down on what was happening I wouldn't have put myself in the dark and lonely place that allowed me to make the bad decisions to betray everything my wife believed was us. I wasn't placing blame on her or our marriage but could've been read as so I reread a lot of things here to make sure I get all the whole picture even my own posts


It seems I am aware of her pain most when she is pointing out that I didn't do something or not enough of something else like I am expected to do everything to make this work while she just sits back waiting for me to do something and if I don't just step back a little more from me and be disappointed in my lack of efforts

I try to comfort her pain when I see it but sometimes it comes out in anger towards me and I slip back to reacting as I used to before I even know it and the cycle starts over and I begin to hide behind my emotional wall that I been trying to break down

It is hard for me to constantly empathize with her pain as I know I should when I am sill on edge whether or not she is sure she wants to be with me and giving everything to that cause. And she is still resistant to showing any empathy towards my pain and feelings. This is understandable as I have hurt her so deeply but just a little hope here and there to let me know I'm not sentenced to life in misery would help so much.
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