Are you a victim if your spouse cheats?

In the case of infidelity or an affair you might feel like a victim no matter which side of the equation you are on…the one who cheated (I was literally forced to cheat by that bitch/bastard because they were so despicable.  Or the one who was cheated on (I didn’t do it; he/she betrayed me!) In both cases, you have made yourself into a victim, which is not a very desirable place to be.

Victims are sad people.  They feel “done to.”  It’s always someone else’s fault.  And by making it someone else’s fault, they absolve themselves of responsibility for their lives.  “Here’s my life,” they unconsciously say to another.  “Do with it what you want.”   Victims grouse and complain and there’s always a “yes but” when they are given alternative ideas.  They wear their friends and acquaintances out going over and over the same things and never budging from their stance.  They wait for somebody, or something else to make their lives better.  Problem is, they could be waiting a life time.  We all have to step up to the plate and take responsibility for ourselves, thereby giving ourselves the power to make our lives what we want them to be.

Here’s a fact about relationships that makes it hard to play the victim.  Relationships are co-created, with each person contributing 50/50 to make it what it is. So if relationships are a 50/50 proposition, then how can anyone be a victim, even in the case of infidelity?  Granted, “no victim” is harder to accept in this case because it sure looks like the one who strayed is the perpetrator, the louse, and the other the poor victim.  But taking our 50/50 concept, it just can’t be.   True, one person did cheat, and the onus is entirely on that person for tramping on the agreement made.  But both partners have contributed in some way to the circumstances that led to what happened.

Why does infidelity happen?  There are many reasons, and it is true that it’s not always completely about the existing relationship.  I mean, even if the relationship needed repair, wouldn’t it be better if there was mindful talking about the things that needed attention?  Unfortunately in the case of infidelity, that probably didn’t happen.   Of if it did, the talk never got to the bottom of what was going on, and the probem(s) continued to fester.

A lot of the time cheating is about the life circumstances of the person who cheated…his/her stresses at work, at home with the kids, their age, simple curiosity, unsatisfying sex, etc.  Still, it’s my feeling that even when it’s not primarily about the existing relationship, the relationship is still implicated.  If it were all wonderful, why would anyone risk it?

My husband stepped out with a young honey one day.   He needed to grow and the marraige structure didn’t permit the kind of lessons he needed to learn, so he chose to do it in this way…to my horror!   Even though it had a lot to do with him and where he was in his life, it also had to do with me and our marriage.  Our relationship needed changes…and I knew it, but didn’t go far enough in trying to make the change happen.  Along came the perfect storm (his circumstance, a seductive woman, the blips in our relationship), and, voila, he gave in to temptation.  Believe me, I blamed and screamed and played the victim for a while.  I needed to do that.  But I didn’t stay in that place because it’s not a good place to be.  Rather, I took the huge upheaval in my life as an opportunity to examine myself and to grow so that I could first and foremost be happier within myself, and second in a relationship, whether it was with him or someone else.

So even if you don’t think you had anything to do with the infidelity, this is where you find yourself.  And it would behoove you not to waste a lot of time standing on your self-righteous soapbox and blaming, but to dig deeper into yourself and your relationship so that after all is said and done, you become a happier, wiser, more insightful person whether your relationship survives or not.  I guarantee you, it will be worth it.

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, to learn how my husband and I got through our crisis and made our bond ever stronger.  You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including

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