on January 7, 2013
Pro's - I think this book attempts to show a betrayed spouse that an affair really has nothing to do with the betrayed -I commend the author for that. An affair is not a symptom of a marriage, but a recreation of childhood struggles, hurts, behaviors and dysfunction. Compassion seems to be the overriding theme of the book.
Though the author puts the roots of infidelity in childhood hurts, there is the contradiction that the betrayed spouse should take responsibility for their part in the affair. I think this is an ill attempt at simply stating that there is dysfunction in the relationship, and the dynamics of the dysfunctional dance need to be looked at. Stating that dysfunction in a relationship makes the betrayed partly responsible for the affair is blame shifting There are plenty of people in dysfunctional relationships who CHOOSE not to cheat. I feel as if the authors thoughts on compassion could be confused with putting the betraying spouses well being before your own and encouraging codependency, especially for those who are in an abusive relationship and accustomed to gas-lighting and blame shifting.
The idea that the betrayed partner has any responsibility in an affair is ludicrous. We can no more control someone else's actions or behaviors than we can control if we are the victim of a crime. We can live in safe neighborhoods, be on the lookout for suspicious characters, park in well lit parking lots, and take all the precautions necessary to keep ourselves safe. Yet, if a perpetrator has chosen to rob us, no precautions we take, can stop them from making that choice. To blame ourselves for someone else's selfish, self serving choice is destructive to our well being.
On compassion: Compassion helps us understand why people make the choices they do, but problems can not be solved with compassion alone. We can have all the compassion in the world for a straying partner, but if they are not willing to change, we are still in the same situation. At some point, compassion can become the catalyst for continued betrayal and abuse.
If we strip away all the reasons, justifications and rationalizations from an affair, what we are left with is a person who is afraid of conflict / emotions and have a sense that they are entitled no matter what the cost to others. This egocentric view is the major contributor to the relationship dysfunction. No amount of compassion can make them change and face those fears and dysfunction. If cheaters were healthy in this area, any perceived problem in the relationship (which they say led them to an affair) would have been on the table - actively being worked through. Instead the cheater chose to run from their feelings/problems into a fantasy where they were perceived as wonderful and validated for doing nothing other than lying about who they are (contrary to popular opinion, great, wonderful people of integrity don't cheat.) Cheaters don't want to have to do the hard work it would take (in their primary relationships) to be perceived as fantastic, fascinating and wonderful. They think it should just be handed to them with no effort on their part. This isn't to say that a cheater can't change this, THEY can (but you can't CHANGE THEM)
Bottom line - All affairs are different, but all are because of some pain in the cheaters life. Often after much soul searching a cheater will see they have taken the lead in the dysfunctional relationship dance. Attributing the self induced pain of a cheater as the betrayed's fault is destructive, unethical and blaming the victim.
If the pain is because the cheater is not in love with their spouse, but is afraid to leave - it's time to grow up and face the problem. Instead of inflicting a painful, destructive and abuse wound in hopes you'll avoid being the "bad guy or gal" ending the relationship.
If it is because they feel unappreciated - it is their job to communicate their feeling to their spouse.
If it is because of ************* (fill in the blank), it is their job to address it.
Your spouse is not a mind reader, and assuming that they know you are not happy, have low-self esteem, aren't happy in the marriage, or whatever your "issue" is, the bottom line is you are an adult and responsible for communicating your wants and needs. Having an affair to escape your problems is a cowards way out. It is not your spouses fault you can't communicate your needs/feelings/desires in an honest and forthright manner.