We all know that it is our spouses , and ONLY our spouses who are to blame for the adultery.
I personally cannot remember blaming anyone else; ever. We blame them, and quite rightly so, for individually betraying our trust and throwing us to the dogs of non-considered consequences. We hold them responsible for their bad choices and our subsequent misery and heartache. The journey to marital recovery after adultery allows for intimate investigation and analysis of the betraying spouse and guilt and shame are the everyday passengers. I know I have spent years living with what my husband did to me and his idiotic selfish behaviour that prevented him from keeping his ridiculous dick in his pants. Adultery is not a pretty picture. Ever! But, the balm offered by his genuine remorse along with significant behavioural changes over time helps oil the cogs of the healing progress. This doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven him or that I trust him. It means I have chosen to advance our relationship rather than end it, enjoying the benefits of cooperation and support that only a long term relationship can offer.
However, I do not consider his actions in isolation from the situation and context in which the adultery occurred or the people that happily encouraged and facilitated the behaviour. I don’t know why, but whenever I start to take this track in my blog, I get a spluttering of responses which accuse me of not blaming my husband. Somehow, holding others responsible equates with not blaming my husband. I get given advice on what I should do. I’m told to forgive the OW (for a range of reasons not well articulated) and to remorselessly punish my worthless, cheating husband. It’s like there’s something awry if I hold others responsible for their actions which they knew impacted upon my life, but to be honest I think attempting to excuse others who were directly involved is a bizarre idea. Whilst I fully agree my husband should stand centre stage here, I do not accept that others, involved in one way or another with the adultery, were acting in any way benignly towards me or can be assuaged of the moral turpitude they were willing to engage in just because it’s over.
Alice Vachss who was a brilliantly successful sex crime prosecutor in New York, identified a very interesting aspect of the field that she was working in which went beyond just the acts of the individual being prosecuted:
“My first lesson about sex-crimes prosecution was that perpetrators were not the only enemy. There is a large, more or less hidden population of what I later came to call collaborators within the criminal justice system. Whether it comes from a police officer or a defence attorney, a judge, or a court clerk or a prosecutor, there seems to be a residuum of empathy for rapists that crosses all gender, class and professional barriers. It gets expressed in different ways, from victim bashing to jokes in poor taste and too often results in giving the rapist a break.”
Whilst not suggesting for one moment that adultery is a sex crime, her observations offer insight into the wider social context in which adultery takes place. Whilst my husband was, unknowingly to me, my enemy during the time he was committing adultery he was not my only enemy. There was a larger population of collaborators. Of course, the woman (Pig Shit) who knowingly chose to shag my husband and who hoped he would leave me for her is responsible for her choices and actions. She was happy to collaborate. She could have insisted that he leave me BEFORE embarking on her intermittent and infrequent shag-fests. I suspect that she knew that she wouldn’t stand a chance if she asked for this.
The couple who actually introduced Pig Shit to my husband and went on to socialise with them together and who offered their spare bedroom for fornication purposes are responsible for their choices and actions. (My husband and I had been on holiday with this couple and spent many occasions together.) This couple were content to mix with my husband and Pig Shit and my husband and me; keeping the secret safe. The female of the couple was Pig Shit’s best friend. Go figure – would you encourage your best friend to start any kind of relationship with a married man? This female also gave Pig Shit my mobile telephone number so that that she could text me 48 hours after she realised that she’d been dumped by my husband. Maybe this so called friend was more my enemy than Pig Shit!
Then the male friends who were happy to sit in the pub and share drinks with the adulterous couple; could they have found another pub to drink in and refused to collaborate?
Then the Dutch business associate who started to avoid me on the telephone and who met Pig Shit and husband on a business trip to Rotterdam. He could have insisted that my husband went on his own or went with me rather than be a collaborator to adultery.
All these collaborators decided that I didn’t need to know that my husband was shagging another woman. All seem to be of the opinion that adulterous behaviour is totally acceptable for my husband. Then I read so much junk about the so called inevitability of adultery. The supposedly unrealistic expectations of people like me hoping for monogamy. The academics who intellectualise the sexual antics but obscure any analysis of the pain of betrayal that adultery forces upon the betrayed spouse. The social surveys that continuously churn out reasons why people are unfaithful without ever addressing moral concerns; as if morality sits outside the topic being investigated. Where is the research on the consequences of adultery? Where is the research on so-called monogamish marriages that pay lip service to fidelity? Does the extra marital sex remain a secret? Is betrayal shrugged off as an unlikely cause for concern? What about honest spouses who decide to inform their spouses that they’re a bit bored and wanting something different? How does their spouse handle their jealousy?
There seems to be a residuum of empathy for adulterers that crosses all gender, class and professional barriers. It gets expressed in different ways, from frigid wife blaming to jokes in poor taste and too often results in giving the adulterer a break. Where can we find empathy for the betrayed spouses?
Why isn’t the truth out there? Adultery is a wasteland and it diminishes everyone it touches. How on the one hand can we have people chanting ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ whilst at the same time have women knowingly shagging a married man in the hope that she will have a ‘proper’ relationship with him one day? It doesn’t make sense? Where are the men with their heads in their hands, filled with despair at what they’ve lost? All for what? The selfish motivation and belief that you can have your cake and eat it too. Well, you can’t and that’s the truth!
There are some serious issues here for all of us. We have to make our distaste for adultery explicit. If we socialise with a spouse and they bring along their bit on the side what should we do? Refuse to be a collaborator. But, would we, should we tell the spouse who is being betrayed? Would we want to be told if it was our spouse betraying us? If we choose not to tell the betrayed spouse do we become a collaborator?
If people knew that there was a strong likelihood that someone would break the secret, would this change their behaviour?
Image Credits: Man And Arrows by renjith krishnanTeam; Unity Concept by pakorn via freedigitalphotos.net