An alert chump, anotherErica, posted this ridiculous article from Slate yesterday “The Upside of Infidelity — Can cheating on your spouse save your marriage?” Articles like this, which Hanna Rosin must imagine are so unique and taboo-breaking, come out every couple of weeks on HuffPo and elsewhere. In fact, I argue against this crap so often I have a favorite rejoinder for the trope that Affairs Improve Your Marriage — yeah, and shooting off your kneecaps improves your tennis game.
Does anyone buy this shit? Embezzlement improves your pension fund performance! Food poisoning can enhance your dining experience! Child molestation could be the best thing that ever happened at summer camp! Hey, it’s all in how you look at it.
Chumps, let’s take a moment to contemplate the upside of infidelity. Was it the STDs? The sudden weight loss from the shock? The stolen 401K spent on prostitutes? Oh! Was it paternity testing your children? No? How about abandonment and legal bills? Was that jolly? Or the thousands of dollars you spent on therapy while your spouse blithely continued to cheat on you? Was it explaining infidelity to your grade school children, that mommy has a boyfriend and you’re not supposed to have boyfriends when you’re married and daddy’s really upset right now? Or maybe it was explaining to your Obgyn while you’re 8 months pregnant that you need an STD screening because your husband’s been unfaithful. That wasn’t awesome?
Got trust issues? Hypervigillance? Insomnia? Do you just go around staring at this person thinking “I have no idea who you are. I can’t believe I invested my whole life in you. What a boondoggle.” Do you plead for them to love you and then later that same day fantasize about gutting them with a fishing knife?
Well, be comforted to know, that really you could save this relationship if you just owned your part.
“the person “at fault” might not just be the one that had the affair, but that both parties created a space for infidelity.”
Yes, chumps, you ALLOWED this to happen. Now, of course, you might have had no clue what was going on, but that’s no excuse! According to Emily Brown, (a therapist you need to avoid if you live in Arlington, Virginia) you must not focus on the affair, but the subterranean issues that compel people to fuck others they are not married to:
Brown has to quickly move the affair off center stage and get to the underlying issues. This is the tricky part, because opening the box of emotions means risking rage and helplessness and crippling guilt and obsessing over details of the affair. But Brown tries to delicately reframe the affair as a situation not just created by the wife but also something the husband allowed to happen.
Has any chump in the history of chumpdom experienced a cheater’s “crippling guilt”? Also referred to as “toxic shame.” I think it’s about as mythical as the reconciliation unicorn. Have there been sightings? Cheaters lack shame. IMO, if they had more shame, toxic or otherwise, they might keep it in their pants.
But this article is criticizing therapists for acknowledging a basic power dynamic — that one spouse did a damaging thing to the other spouse.
No! That’s Puritanical! It’s ascribing blame! We shouldn’t feel ashamed of the Bad Thing. Mustn’t even ascribe “judgment” that it was bad. In fact, the cheater isn’t even at FAULT. The chump “allowed it to happen” and “made space for it” in the relationship. If there is any blame, it must be shared.
Early on in Brown’s counseling career, affairs were not much mentioned in the family therapy literature and the attitude about them, even among therapists, was fairly conventional and judgmental.
To observe the OBVIOUS — that betraying someone is “bad” makes you conventional and “judgmental.” Rosin then goes on, weirdly, to blame the Catholics. Yeah, who knew they were a secret cabal running all the therapy. Someone tell the Jews. There’s competition on this New World Order thing.
“People shriek and cry when they are confronted with an affair,” Brown writes in her essay, “The Affair as a Catalyst for Change,” which appears in the book Infidelity “Almost never do they realize that it might be the best thing that ever happened to them.”
Yeah, shriek and cry. Imagine that. You don’t say?
I have to agree with Brown on one thing, however. Affairs are catalysts to a new and better life. After you dump the cheater. And while you’re dumping, throw out the quack lit that wants to blame you for being chumped.
Hanna Rosin — May your husband impregnate your babysitter, may your savings be invested in a Ponzi scheme, and may your father be your uncle. And may every soul you turn to for comfort denounce your grief as Puritanical. May you take the blame. And may you be forced to convince your tormentors each day that this was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.