I have to tell you – I have found only a couple of blogs by cheating spouses that I respected. One of them is Morgan Carter’s Morgan vs. Morgan. As the title of her blog suggests, she shares her internal struggles – the battle within herself – to feel whole and content with her life and herself. It is not easy for a betrayed spouse to read some of her posts – it brings up all kinds of triggers. But I have found it valuable and important to my own struggle to rebuild my marriage. So if you are in the first year out from D-day, you may want to wait a while before reading it. But if you can handle the triggers, it is enlightening. It also gave me a better perspective on the big picture. She is not a monster. She is a human being who stepped onto that slippery slope and slid headlong into disaster.
Morgan does not shift blame. She brings up the reasons her marriage was vulnerable at the time she started her affair, but at no time does she say her husband shared in the blame. She is human. She is doing her best. And she does it with grace and compassion.
Her point about betrayed spouses shifting blame to the OP is well taken. It is only natural for us to resent the OP and to sometimes obsess over that person – at the beginning. What kind of person was able to take our spouse away? What do they have that we don’t? Most often, nothing. But it’s not healthy, though, for us to stay focused on the OP. At some point, we have to place our focus back on ourselves to discover ways to improve our lives and our marriages, if we choose to stay in them.
I went through a phase where I hated my husband’s OW’s guts. I took pictures he had of her and burned them. I enlarged a photo of her and used it for dart practice. I wrote more than a dozen scathing letters to her, but burned those, too. After that anger was spent, I had to come to terms with the fact that my husband was just as much to blame as she was.
And I realized, too, that she could never truly take my place in my husband’s life. We have a unique history that binds us together. So I needed to turn my focus to my marriage. I still take pot shots at her once in a while, but she is no longer any kind of thorn in my side. More like an ugly weed that I pluck out and throw into the composter.
As I’ve said before, it hasn’t been easy. I have only recently been able to say she is not a thorn in my side. Dr. Harley says that finding out your spouse had an affair is the worst possible thing that can happen to a person. Worse for many than the trauma of being the victim of a violent crime. Worse for many than a death in the family. Worse for many than losing a child. I personally think I stop short on that one, but it’s terrible nonetheless. So it’s not easy to work on the marriage sometimes. But I do love him and I do want to spend the rest of my life with him. I will do everything in my power to build a new and better marriage. But it takes two. I am still not convinced that he truly wants the same.
The fact that Morgan is someone else’s OW does not escape me. It’s something she has to live with and she is sorry. But I digress.
I wrote in Pinning the Blame about cheating spouses also shifting blame. I guess we all do it at some point, everyone on all sides of this sorry mess. But like I mentioned above, there comes a time when cheating spouses also have to stop doing that. They need to accept the blame and learn what caused them to step outside their marriage. Unmet needs are not a cause. They are a catalyst. When a person does not properly handle stress or negative emotions or whatever, unmet needs are unmanageable for them. So what was it in themselves that caused them to take that path of destruction? Other people, indeed many people have unmet needs and do not succumb to the temptations of illicit relationships. So why did they fall into it? Doug from Emotional Affair Journey took this deep look at his innermost self. He truly is one of my heroes.
I am not saying that the problem of unmet needs does not need to be addressed. My husband and I have gone through the books to learn what our needs are and we have talked about how to fulfill them for each other. (Problem for us is he is inconsistent.) But that is not enough. The cheating spouse needs to look deep within him or herself to really find out what caused it and how to address it so that it does not happen again.
That is a huge deal for me. Will he do it again? Has he learned anything? He is so inconsistent and he stopped reading and learning very early on. I worry that his lack of desire to learn or to take that deep look at his inner self will mean that I will end up at another D-day. But that is a whole other topic for another day.