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Surviving Affairs

Learning from Your Partner's Affair Does NOT Mean that You Take the Blame

By Susie and Otto Collins

When a couple is trying to rebuild trust and repair their
relationship after infidelity, they can encounter many stumbling blocks along the way.

After the affair is discovered and long after as well, a dangerous either/or dynamic can develop.

What we mean is this:

One or both of the people in the marriage or love relationship might look at the affair as EITHER my fault OR my partner's fault.

Quite often, the one who actually cheated is assumed to be to solely to blame for the mess that the relationship is in at the moment.

We aren't for one minute denying the fact that infidelity can severely cripple a relationship.

The betrayal of trust is something that can take a long time and a lot of work for a couple to heal from.

Sometimes, the person who had the affair turns it all around and blames his or her partner for the infidelity.

In both cases, too many couples who are trying to put the pieces of their relationship back together again after cheating get so caught up in assigning one of them as the victim and the other as to blame, that they can't effectively heal and move on to a healthier, closer relationship.

When a couple becomes stuck in these roles and this perception of what's happened in their relationship, there is little to no room for recovery.

Chloe could hardly believe her ears...

Her husband Frank just apologized for having an affair-- a mutual friend of theirs saw him kissing another woman at a bar. He told Chloe that he wants to make it up to her, that he's ended the affair and that he is sorry.

But, then, Frank claimed that he wouldn't have had the affair in the first place if Chloe was more open sexually to him.

After his short "I'm sorry," Frank spent several minutes listing off all of the reasons why he thinks that Chloe is to blame for his cheating.

She merely walked away in disbelief. Chloe is dumbfounded that Frank not only had an affair, but that he blames her for it!

Change your frame.
A change of frame is essentially a change of perspective.

If you truly want to stay in this relationship and you would like to improve things between you and your partner, you cannot remain in an either/or kind of frame, perspective or mindset.

Instead, it's advisable for both of you to set aside your insistence that either of you is wholly to blame.

Believe it or not, you don't have to view the affair in terms of blame.

In fact, if you are going to learn what you need to learn
about yourself, your partner and your relationship, it is a good idea to change your frame in this way.

This isn't a comfortable or appealing suggestion for many to hear.

What often happens is the one who was cheated on tends to think that we are suggesting that the partner who had the affair is freed from responsibility.

This couldn't be further from the truth!

Another way that people understand our suggestion is that we are blaming the "victim" of infidelity for somehow causing his or her partner to cheat.

Again, this is absolutely NOT what we mean.

When you change your frame and become less focused on who's to blame and, instead, begin to look at responsibility, you can widen your gaze.

You can also start to see those distance-causing habits that both you and your partner helped to create that may have contributed to the affair happening.

Give your partner the opportunity to take responsibility.
As you start to see the communication habits, intimacy tendencies and other propensities that may have helped drive a wedge between you and your partner, don't take the responsibility all on your shoulders.

Own what you did and what you still do that takes you further away from your partner.

At the same time, give him or her the chance to take responsibility for making that choice to cheat.

Yes, it is always a choice.

Even as you stop viewing this situation in terms of who's to blame and who is the victim, make sure that you are giving your mate the opportunity to take responsibility for his or her own actions.

If your partner says that you "drove him into the arms of another woman because you..." don't take on that blame.

If your mate claims that "the other man enticed her to cheat and made her feel... which you don't do anymore," don't go there.

Instead, make it clear to your partner that you can see that you played a role in the relationship dynamics that disconnected you two, but that you are not taking the blame.

You might ask your partner to come up with 3 things that he or she is responsible for in terms of the distance between you two. You could offer to share 3 things that you see that you are responsible for in turn.

Again, have a discussion with your partner about the difference you see between responsibility and blame and make sure that he or she understands it similarly.

When you two can own the habits that you each have that take you further apart-- including your mate's choice to have an affair-- you can then begin to learn from what happened.

You can start to change those disconnecting habits and develop new ones that will help you heal and rebuild trust.

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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email

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