A man who cheats on his wife is bad enough. When your husband cheats and blames you for his cheating, he is not only unfaithful, but dishonorable as well. Really?! Come on guys, if you’re cheating, man up! Take responsibility for your own actions!
Seriously, why do cheaters blame their spouse? Did you force him to screw his secretary? Did you demand that he start confiding in his co-worker? Did you make him lie about why he was so late getting home from work? NO!
I have never heard from one midlife woman going through divorce who intentionally made her husband go find someone else, but many women are made to feel responsible when your husband cheats and blames you.
ADVICE: When your spouse cheats and blames you, don’t immediately feel guilty and start thinking about how you need to improve yourself! As women, we seem to always ask ourselves first, “What did I do wrong? How can I change to make him love me again and stop cheating?” Do NOT take responsibility for your spouse’s wrong behavior!
Especially during a long marriage, there are always things both spouses can do better. You made mistakes. He made mistakes. But even if you were “not meeting my needs” (a statement wives sometimes hear!), cheating was his decision, not yours. There are other, more effective ways to deal with dissatisfaction or problems in the marriage. Like talk about them! Get help! Fix them!
Men not only blame us for cheating, but then they also try to blame us for the natural consequences that happen because of their cheating! Your cheating spouse needs to realize that his actions have consequences that are his responsibility alone.
The unwanted consequences for cheating are common. Usually, if you cheat, your spouse is devastated, hurt, furious, etc. Your children are mad and may not speak to you. Your friends are disappointed. Many cheating husbands try to say the wife they cheated on is turning people against him. That’s usually not the case. The cheating spouse has done that on his own.
People are usually not all out to hurt cheaters. Uncomfortable stuff naturally happens when you cheat…(well, sometimes, women ARE trying to hurt them in response to how hurt they are by their spouse’s infidelity…)
Think of Lorena Bobbitt who cut her husband’s penis off when she found out he had been cheating on her! Remember, your husband’s decision to cheat and blame you is horrendous and sometimes marriage destroying, but it isn’t worth doing something that could send you to jail!
The repercussions for cheating are almost always negative. Most people don’t admire cheaters. We all reap what we sow.
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How Men Blame Their Wives
One RADiCAL woman had a husband who blamed her for not fixing their marriage after his infidelity. She endured years of his cheating. She gave him every chance to change. He never did. At the end, when she said “enough is enough,” instead of taking responsibility for his cheating, he said something to the effect of “if you hadn’t been so unforgiving we could have fixed this. If you had given me one more chance that last time you caught us together, we could have fixed our marriage.”
How infuriating is that?! Instead of acting like a man and saying something like “I am so sorry I kept cheating and breaking your heart over and over again! I have been a fool! Can you please ever find it in your heart to forgive me?” he blamed her for his cheating and then tried to pretend their eventual divorce was her fault.
“I didn’t leave you. You left me,” a cheater often says after we decide we can’t stay in a marriage where our husband cheats…and then he sometimes has the gall to blame us for the divorce! Women, as a rule, are too quick to blame ourselves for our husband’s bad choices. We sometimes allow ongoing abuse and humiliation to save our marriage.
In my experience working with hundreds of women, putting up with abuse of any kind never works. Abuse and real happiness are incompatible. Some men take advantage of a woman who desperately wants to keep her family together, and he keeps “doing her wrong;” yet she gives him chance after chance after chance for her whole marriage.
Some husbands who cheat blame their wife for things like being overweight or not being “fun enough” or not being interested in his hobbies or whatever. If those are big enough problems for him in the marriage, he should tell her that! If the problem can’t be fixed, get a divorce and then do whatever you want, but don’t drag your wife and your family through all the lying and deceit and hurt of infidelity, and then blame her.
To have a good marriage, we each need to care for ourselves. I gave a talk once about how to have a more positive impact on our culture. It’s good advice for keeping a marriage together too.
We each have responsibilities to ourselves and to others. Along with being loving and kind partners, in my opinion we also should do our best to be:
If we see our body as the vessel of God’s spirit (as I believe it is), we will care for it and not abuse it with food, alcohol, drugs, porn, or any kind of addiction (even work or exercise!). If we are a fun, upbeat, positive person who tends to see the good instead of the bad, we will be appealing as well. We should be curious about what’s going on in our culture and be intellectually interested in our world. We also have to speak the truth and be who we are and stand up for what we think is right.
Of course, we can be all of those things, and our spouse can still cheat. It’s not our fault. We might contribute to problems in our marriage, but when your husband cheats and blames you, that’s an embarrassing cop-out for him. Sadly, sometimes our spouses are dissatisfied, but are afraid to tell us, and want to try out “a new model” before they cut the cord with us.
He’s Shifting His Guilt
“Why do cheaters blame their spouse? First of all, he is probably feeling guilty and knows that cheating is wrong and hurtful for you and for the marriage. So instead of manning up, he has to try to make himself look better by trying to make his wife somehow guilty for causing him to have to go find love and fulfillment somewhere else.
Again, cheating is bad enough, but trying to shift your guilt to your spouse is cowardly and weak. Instead, face the problems in the marriage. Be honest with each other. Get help. If you are both not willing to fix things and have a good marriage, go your separate ways.
He’s Rationalizing His Actions
When a woman comes to Midlife Divorce Recovery for help, and tells me, “He cheated and blamed me,” I know that she was married to someone who is trying to save face or trying to pretend that circumstances forced him to abandon his morals and betray the promises he made to his wife. Unless she held a gun to his head, nothing she could do would make him do something he didn’t want to do.
But often these guys are charming and charismatic and in positions of power. A cheater has to somehow make what he has done, “Okay,” even if just in his own head. And sometimes the more someone lies to themselves, the easier it is to believe those lies, especially if it’s a lie like blaming you or his job or his lover or a midlife crisis or whatever for his cheating. If a man cheats, that’s on him, no matter how much he might try to convince himself or anyone else otherwise.
Understand that cheaters who blame their spouse are usually manipulators. Sometimes men cheat and manipulate their lover by saying they aren’t happy at home. They may give the lover a long list of ways his wife doesn’t “get” him…and at the same time make the lover feel like she knows exactly what he needs.
Then he manipulates his wife saying that she wasn’t meeting his needs, and so he had to find love with someone else. He manipulates on both sides of the bed so to speak. A manipulator’s cheating is devastating for the wife, but it also hurts the lover. He’s a coward on both fronts for not taking full responsibility for his bad behavior. Men who cheat make things so much worse for everyone by blaming you or anyone else!
He’s A Narcissist
Narcissists usually tend to make their bad behavior someone else’s problem. A cheater who blames his partner for his own cheating is often a narcissist who demands constant affirmation especially from those who are closest to him. He can’t allow anyone to think that any problems are his fault.
A narcissist’s life is focused on making sure he is adored and admired, so anything that puts that in doubt has to be squelched. Blaming his spouse for his own cheating becomes a necessity. It can’t be his (the perfect one’s) fault! If things are getting unbearable, take a look at our blog about divorcing a narcissist husband.
It’s Not Your Fault
I remember lots of people telling me during the cheating and the divorce that followed in my own life, “It’s not your fault.” I didn’t believe them. I thought, “it has to be something I’ve done or didn’t do. His cheating has to be a failure of mine to see that he wasn’t happy or to recognize that he was losing interest or whatever.” It was agonizing to think that I had somehow driven him away without even knowing he really wasn’t happy.
Now, when I see or hear a beautiful, good, fun, accomplished woman who tells me, “He cheated and blamed me,” I reassure her that his infidelity is not her fault. He made the choice to cheat. Even if there was trouble in the marriage, she does not have to take responsibility for her husband’s cheating, no matter how loudly he tells her she should. He’s a big boy. He decided to cheat. Now he has to bear the burden of the destruction that cheating has caused.
If you are dealing with a cheating husband, especially if he is blaming you for his cheating, contact us. Sign up for our free 10-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course to get started. Don’t try to slog through this alone! We can help!
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